Blog30

Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Catherine Porter

Catherine PorterActor, Producer/Artistic Director, Development Director
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere  – NYC and its history, in particular.

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / cocktail?
Favorite book is still John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany – it made me sob on the subway. Movie:  harder, but among the most formative is To Kill a Mockingbird. Line from a play: anything Lady Bracknell says. I’m not a big cocktail drinker, but anything involving bubbly is a winner.

What production changed your life?
Oh, lordy, lots at different times! Mac Wellman’s Crowbar by En Garde Arts in 1990 is as good as any. I’d been in NYC three whole days when my friend Dan called and asked if I wanted to be in the ensemble of a play he was stage managing. Looking back, I can’t believe I hesitated, even if only briefly. The production was a whole new world. I’d never heard of site-specific theater before, I’d never read or seen anything like Mac’s work, I’d never imagined exploring every nook and cranny of a former Broadway theater (the Victory, pre-New Victory). The production became a huge hit, with celebrities in the audience every night. I met wonderful folks, like Richard Caliban, Annie Hamburger, Jan Leslie Harding, Juliana Francis, Michael John Garces, Lou Moreno, Richard Sheinmel and Anita Durst. I got my Equity card. And it entirely changed the kind of work I wanted to do.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Traveling to Barcelona, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Karnak. Singing in a rock band. Playing an instrument. Playing Beatrice in Much Ado, Martha in Virginia Wolf, the Chorus in Henry V. I am filled with aspiration!

I feel most like myself when I ….
Performing in a show… and riding in a car with the windows down listening to ‘70s rock.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I have done considerable fishing in my life – not in a while, but at one time, I was fairly adept at baiting a hook, casting a line, and gutting trout.

Catherine Porter is Co-Founder/Artistic Director of the OBIE-winning Peculiar Works Project, and has performed Off and Off-Off Broadway with myriad companies. She is Development Director for Dixon Place, and is on the board of A.R.T./New York and Concrete Temple. She was named one of nytheatre.com’s 2010 People of the Year.

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Week in Review, April 23 – 29, 2012


LPTW’s Blog30 was created to highlight the diversity, passion and brilliance of the individual members of the League of Professional Theatre Women in celebration of the organization’s 30th Anniversary. Every Sunday, the women featured in the previous six days, as well as three others from our first two months, receive a little more attention, a second chance for readers to learn about them. Sunday is often a day for reflection, offering the opportunity to catch up on the previous week’s activities. Now, the Week in Review gives our readers the opportunity to experience a week’s entries in one easy sitting. We hope you enjoy the latest addition to Blog30.

My best escape is to go walking in the Scottish Highlands – by mountains and loch-sides, wild and remote places of my homeland, with my friend Jenny. – Gerda Stevenson, April 23

Happily, these days, I find myself right in the midst of the theatre that changes my life everyday. – Anne Dunning, April 24

I am obsessed with unicorns (yes I admit I had those pastel and medieval posters all over my room when I was younger). – Natasha Lee Martin, April 25

Someday, when I am an old woman (besides wearing purple), I want to have a sheep farm, so I can card, spin and dye the wool and then knit and weave lots of beautiful things…and have a huge garden and a huge barn and a huge farm table and cook fabulous meals and have my closest friends over for dinner. All of the time. – Lisa Rothe, April 26

I still dream of owning a farm! – DeVida Jenkins, April 27

And in my heart, still a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. They’ll be back; nobody can live in LA forever. – Penny Landau, April 28

From the Archives:
Everyone knows me, because I’m an open book. – Mari Lyn Henry, January 23

The theater, after all, is about humanity, and all of us have it. – Cindy Cooper, January 31

The received wisdom is that women don’t reveal their age, but in my part of the world, I once read a statistic that said on average, woman here don’t live past 40, so for me, it is something to celebrate. – Mumbi Kaigwa, February 6

Penny Landau

Penny Landau, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPublicist, Producer, Writer, Editor at www.nitelifeexchange.com

Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to the pros in my business. There is an exceptional group of women who paved the way for my generation; Betty Lee Hunt & Maria Pucci, Berenice Weiler, Dorothy Olim, Madeline Gilford. These are the women I learned from, or tried to. I only hope that I can be as good at my job as they are at theirs.

What’s your favorite book/movie/line from a film?
Exodus, by Leon Uris, which sent me on my first journey to Israel. The other is To Kill A Mockingbird, both Harper Lee’s novel & the film. Nothing has ever touched me the way those words did. My other favorite film is Random Harvest. It’s probably the most romantic film on the planet & everybody knows that Greer Garson can do no wrong. The opening number with her in a kilt & tam as a British dance hall performer circa WWI, alone is worth the price of admission. Movie line? “First of all, your name’s not Eve Harrington!” & it ends with Mrs. Fiske.

What play or production changed your life?
Funny Girl. I’d never seen anything like Barbra Streisand on a Broadway stage before. I was 16 & absolutely mesmerized & saw the show ten or twelve times. Well, in those days, standing room was $2.50 & a seat was $6.75…do the math.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Returning to Israel one more time & appreciating it in ways that I didn’t when I was younger.

What is your best escape?
Paradise? Hawaii. Mental Health Days? Atlantic City. I love the boardwalk & the beach. My mother told me that it was her mother’s favorite place to go & that was during the “Boardwalk Empire” days. It must have been glorious!

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I’m a total SciFi junkie, obsessed with quantum physics, time-travel & the space/time continuum. Yup, I’m an egghead geek! And in my heart, still a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. They’ll be back; nobody can live in LA forever.

Penny Landau saw her first Broadway show, West Side Story, when she was 9 years old. Since then, she’s performed, stage managed, directed, teched, taught & for the past 28 years, run her own PR firm, Maya PR. MA: Brooklyn College/Theatre History; PhD: Bowling Green University/American Theatre History & Directing.

DeVida Jenkins

DeVida JenkinsGeneral Manager
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

What’s your favorite line from a play?
“For, look you, there is humour in all things, and the truest philosophy is that which teaches us to find it and to make the most of it.”
– Jack Point, The Yeoman of the Guard by Gilbert & Sullivan

What is your favorite Movie?
WUTHERING HEIGHTS with Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier

What is your favorite show?
42nd Street

Any hobbies?
Fiber arts, especially needlepoint.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
I still dream of owning a farm!

I feel most like myself when I …
am watching an audience experience a production I am involved with.

What is your best escape?
the beach

Favorite cocktail
gin and tonic

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
How extremely shy I am.

DeVida Jenkins began her career as a lighting designer. As General Manager of the Merriam Theater (1997-2009), she created many educational programs, including Broadway on Broad and the Student Critics Program. DeVida is an aspiring farmer, who successfully farms one third of an acre in her spare time.

Lisa Rothe

Lisa Rothe, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenFreelance Director & Director of Offsite Programs & Partnerships at the Lark Play Development Center
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? Travel, music, books, art, my friends, the people I love and admire…

What’s your favorite book? Possession by AS Byatt. I have never cried so hard, reading a book.

Favorite movie? Dancer in the Dark.

Favorite pop culture guilty pleasure? I totally like reading the trashy magazines at supermarket check-out counters.

Favorite cocktail? If I didn’t get migraines from them, I would drink dirty, dirty, dirty Bombay Sapphire martinis whenever I wanted.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? Someday, when I am an old woman (besides wearing purple), I want to have a sheep farm, so I can card, spin and dye the wool and then knit and weave lots of beautiful things…and have a huge garden and a huge barn and a huge farm table and cook fabulous meals and have my closest friends over for dinner. All of the time.

I feel most like myself when I...am in rehearsal. I love process so much. As much as I loved acting, I realized I just didn’t have the temperament for it when I was finished on opening night. I was so happy when I started directing and could leave after opening and move on to the next project!

What is your best escape? Driving. Anywhere.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? Well, some people know this, but I was a biomedical engineering major in college.

Favorite line from a play?
Septimus: “When we have found all of the mysteries and lost all of the meaning, we will be alone, on an empty shore.”
Thomasina: “Then we will dance.”
(Arcadia by Tom Stoppard)

Lisa Rothe has developed and directed over one hundred new plays, musicals and operas, and has taught and directed at many theatre programs including NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, Yale School of Drama and The Juilliard School. Affiliations: Drama League.

Natasha Lee Martin

Natasha Lee Martin, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActress/Director/Playwright/Professor
Jersey City, New Jersey USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
Children/ The absurdity of everyday life / People in high power positions who do not take themselves too seriously.

What’s your favorite line from a play?
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

What play or production changed your life?
Hidden A Gender by Kate Bornstein. I played Al/Kate in it about 10 years ago and since a mentor of mine, Dr. Noreen Barnes, had worked with her in the first production at Theater Rhinocerous in 1989, I had the good fortune to interview her about the role. She is a fantastic inspiration for artists of what it is to be a human, regardless of self-imposed/societal identities, and to truly persevere in life. More about her work: http://katebornstein.typepad.com/

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Turn our country’s artistic commerce away from this eco-capitalist system.

I feel most like myself when I ….
Am onstage exploring other psyches.

What is your best escape?
Sailing and teaching it to young people. The only time we are truly free of technological chatter and imposed media; to breathe and just be…

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I am obsessed with unicorns (yes I admit I had those pastel and medieval posters all over my room when I was younger). If I am alone at night I will sleep with the corner of the blanket rolled up over my head from when I was a child and afraid of whatever “thing” would get me. I still do it out of habit because the blanket has magical protective powers — obviously.

Natasha Lee Martin holds an MFA in Performance Pedagogy, and has enjoyed performing and teaching for the past 15 years. She has appeared in television and film roles on FOX, TLC, DISNEY, NIPPON TV JAPAN & stages throughout the USA. She is a Guest Artist / Asst Professor of Performing Arts. www.natashaleemartin.com

Anne Dunning

Anne Dunning, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPrincipal Associate, ARTS Action Research
Boston, Massachusetts & New York, New York USA

I couldn’t point to any particular theatre experience that changed my life, but I have had plenty of experiences that inspired and shaped me along the way.

I was fortunate to grow up in Toronto where Susan Douglas Rubes founded Young People’s Theatre in 1966 and where the Stratford Festival was less than two hours away. Throughout my childhood, I remember going to productions at both venues and being engaged, challenged and inspired by what I saw. I particularly remember a YPT production of The Miracle Worker that held me in thrall from beginning to end and those early experiences of Shakespeare at the Stratford Festival still remain with me.

Balancing my academic life as a committed science student, college brought a whole range of new theatre experiences – Albee and Ionesco productions presented by on-campus theatre groups, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Improv Theatre Sports and big touring productions of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera among others.

Leaving the world of science to embark in the world of culture, I pursued every opportunity to see theatre and dance and music productions of all kinds. As a young adult, I saw an array of Canada’s best from Robert LePage’s epic The Seven Streams of the River Ota to Daniel McIvor’s disturbing Monster to Tomson Highway’s haunting Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, alongside international productions presented every year at World Stage at Harbourfront Centre.

Most recently I am fortunate to be able to engage in theatre productions created and presented by the many talented colleagues with whom I work. From the heightened language productions of Red Bull Theater to the investigative theatre of The Civilians, from the amazing re-inventions of Elevator Repair Service to the inspiration of young people finding their voice in Our Time Theatre performances, from the delightful diversity of Here Art Center’s programs to the
charm of Clubbed Thumb’s original offerings, from the energy of Vampire Cowboys pop-culture hits to the boundary-pushing productions of Soho Rep and beyond. Happily, these days, I find myself right in the midst of the theatre that changes my life everyday.

Prior to joining the AAR team in 2004, Anne Dunning spent ten years in administration with the Danny Grossman Dance Company in Toronto. She was founding chair of the Canadian Dance Assembly, a trustee and chair of Dance/USA and sits on the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation’s Strategic Initiatives Advisory Committee.

Gerda Stevenson

Gerda Stevenson, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor/writer/director/singer-songwriter
Scotland

I look for inspiration all around me, in my own and others’ experience, in the work of fellow artists, and in research.

I have many favourite books – Germinal by Emile Zola, Sunset Song, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, and I love the poetry of Sharon Olds.

Ran – Kurosawa’s version of King Lear – is a superb film, and I admire Pather Panchali by the great Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

I love the line: “If music be the food of love, play on…’ from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. For me, music is indeed this – I come from a family of musicians – my father is the composer/pianist Ronald Stevenson, my sister the harpist/composer Savourna Stevenson, my niece the fiddler/composer Anna-Wendy Stevenson. And my brother Gordon is a violin maker. My son, Rob MacNeacail, plays bass guitar, bagpipes and piano, and right now, my favourite bit of pop culture is his band, Miasma, with their debut album, Feathered Feet – it’s memorably melodic, has great harmonies, and intelligent lyrics.

My guilty pleasure would be Crannachan – a delicious Scottish dessert – whipped cream, whisky, heather honey, and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal. It goes down well with a glass of champagne!

Two plays that made a huge impression on me when I was young were The Trojan Women, directed by the Romanian, Andrei Serban (La MaMa theater company), and The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil, by Scotland’s 7:84 Theatre Company. The former was a passionate expression of pacifism (like Kurosawa’s Ran), and the 7:84 production was a powerful piece of political theatre, about the exploitation of the Scottish people and their land by successive British governments.

My best escape is to go walking in the Scottish Highlands – by mountains and loch-sides, wild and remote places of my homeland, with my friend Jenny. We’ve known each other since we were born. We take our dogs with us, carry our tent, basic food for a few days, collect firewood on the way, choose where to pitch our tent each evening, and light our camp fire. There’s no one around for miles, no cell phone reception, and it’s paradise.

Gerda Stevenson: Twice nominated for Critics Awards Theatre in Scotland, BAFTA Best Film Actress Award. Nominated LPTW’s Guilder/Coigney Award. Original plays, and dramatisations of classic Scottish novels for BBC Radio. Stage play, Federer Versus Murray, shortlisted London Fringe Theatre Writing Award, 2010, runner-up Best Scottish Contribution to Drama on Edinburgh Fringe, 2011.

Week in Review, April 16 – 22, 2012


LPTW’s Blog30 was created to highlight the diversity, passion and brilliance of the individual members of the League of Professional Theatre Women in celebration of the organization’s 30th Anniversary. Every Sunday, the women featured in the previous six days, as well as three others from our first two months, receive a little more attention, a second chance for readers to learn about them. Sunday is often a day for reflection, offering the opportunity to catch up on the previous week’s activities. Now, the Week in Review gives our readers the opportunity to experience a week’s entries in one easy sitting. We hope you enjoy the latest addition to Blog30.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?  Founding the first nocturnal kindergarten right on top of my upstairs neighbor.  – Olga de la Fuente, April 16

As a sound designer, music is really important to me, I try to listen to as much music as possible, which is also the most fun part of my job. – Jill BC Duboff, April 17

I love theaters almost as much as I love theater, especially old theaters, especially endangered old theaters. – Enid Futterman, April 18

I feel most like myself when I ….hear people laughing. Especially if they’re laughing at my jokes. – Carolyn Feleppa Balducci, April 19

I wanted to be a scientist until I was subjected to listening to Rush Limbaugh all summer long in a lab I worked in. – Lanie Zipoy, April 20

Helming an Off Broadway production providing jobs for over 70 theatre professionals in the midst of a down economy was especially rewarding. – Sheila Speller, April 21

From the Archives:
From an image, to a taste, to a flash of color worn by a passer-by — inspiration can strike when you least expect it. – Anna Nugent, January 8

Is there anything you still dream of doing? Yes, creating a US civic theatre. – Helen E. Richardson, January 15

 What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? I can fall asleep stroking my ears. – Orietta Crispino, January 22

Sheila Speller

Sheila Speller, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenProducer, General Manager
New York, New York USA

Where do I look for inspiration?
I find inspiration in all that surrounds me that I can integrate into my life. The collaborative process of creating theatre inspires me. My mission is to produce original works from new voices that speak to a multicultural America that are refreshing, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Stories that touch many and reflect our common human experience. Producers inspire me because the business and entrepreneurship of theatre drives me. Helming an Off-Broadway production providing jobs for over 70 theatre professionals in the midst of a down economy was especially rewarding.

What’s my favorite book, movie, cocktail …?
Favorite books, From Option to Opening by Donald C. Farber, Esq., The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter, and Oh, the Places You Will Go!, Dr. Seuss. Favorite escape movie, The Five Heartbeats. Favorite cocktail, Water!

What play/production changed your life?
Performed the Steam Heat dance number in a high school production of The Pajama Game. Two Gentlemen of Verona and Raisin on Broadway are two out of many! The Maids by Jean Genet, the first full-production play I produced in NYC two decades ago and portrayed the lead role of Claire.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Influence new audiences of theatre-goers and supporters, one production at a time.

I feel most like myself when I …
… am in motion.

What’s your best escape?
My Bikram yoga practice.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about me?
I still feel a thrill of excitement walking through the Times Square Broadway theatre district.

Sheila Speller is the president of Orielle Creative Company, a theatre business consulting company. Holds an MBA. Commercial Theatre Institute (’07). Member: Women in Arts & Media, Past-Board Member (VP, Communications), League of Professional Theatre Women, New York Women in Film & Television, The Broadway League – Adjunct.

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