Blog30

Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Margaret Fofonoff

meg's photo 2Executive Producer/Artistic Director/Writer
Boston, Massachusetts USA

What is your favorite line from a play?
“What are we crazy or something?” from Guys and Dolls characterizing those wonderful and stressful moments in our theater world that we would not trade for anything.

What play or production changed your life?
A production of Ragtime at The Strand Theatre in Boston. It was a show that I always dreamed of doing since I love the score, story and imagery. It was the experience of a lifetime to do this show where it really meant something in the heart of inner city Boston. We also made an important political statement just before the 2012 election that was heard far and wide. It is not often one has partners like the American Civil Liberties Union and The City of Boston, who both really care about making a difference. We all are on the same mission to make the world a better place for everyone. It is rare one has the opportunity to give back.

When I looked around on opening night at the diverse sea of faces in the audience, I knew this was not like any audience I had seen in any other Boston theater. At intermission I remember a lovely older African American patron, unconnected to anyone in the production, approached me, grabbed both my hands and said, ”Thank you so much for doing this, it means so much.” I will never forget that moment as it embodies why we all do what we do.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
So many things! A production in NYC, writing a new work, collaborating with my son writer/filmmaker, changing the world for the better in as many ways as I can.

What is your best escape?
Ballroom dance. It takes me away from everything else and the music and steps fill my head and make me smile.

Margaret Fofonoff (Executive Producer & Artistic Director, Fiddlehead Theatre Company) founded Fiddlehead theatre in 1993 and continues to produce and direct all shows and drive the artistic direction. Fiddlehead is a medium professional IRNE and Broadway World award-winning theater. She has a BA from Boston University with honors.

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June Rachelson-Ospa

-2Book Writer, Lyricist, Producer, Educator
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? I look at my family and friends. I love
writing for kids. Making them feel good about who they are in the world.

What’s your favorite movie / pop culture guilty pleasure? My favorite movie is Casablanca. I love the Eagles. And I adore old black and white horror films. Homicidal by William Castle is the best!!!

What play or production changed your life? Hair on Broadway when I was a teen. My Dad took me and Fluffer hopped off the stage and pulled me up to sing Let The Sun Shine In. At that moment I knew that THEATRE WAS FOR ME!!!

Is there anything you still dream of doing? I dream of having something that I’ve written getting published and touring all over the world!

I feel most like myself when I ….am hanging out with my two sons Jon (20) and Jake (26). Unconditional Love does it all the time.

What is your best escape? Horse Back Riding in the mountains.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? How shy I was when I was a kid. I used to avoid people and walk with my head looking down at my shoes.

June Rachelson-Ospa’s company is Bozomoon Productions. Writing and Producing musicals with Partner Daniel Neiden over 15 years. Tourettaville, the first musical we wrote about my son Jon’s struggle with tourette syndrome, went to the Kennedy Center. Jon is a film major in college, son Jake is an animator and husband Jerry designs Macy’s Parade!

Talia Pura

Talia-Pura-200actor, aerial dancer, playwright, filmmaker, educator
Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada

Inspiration comes from every aspect of life: snippets of conversations, interesting news articles, even from dreams. Once, I dreamt the entire plot of a feature-length drama. As I dreamed, I knew that I wasn’t in the story, just watching it unfold. It was right there in front of me when I woke up. All I had to do was write it down. If I knew how to make that happen again, I’d do it every night! I’ll even admit to taking notes when certain friends call me to chat. Sometimes reality makes the best fiction. I’m also very interested in writing about historical women who should be famous, but are largely forgotten, like Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire’s brilliant mistress. She deserves to have her story known.

When I want to write a relationship play, you can’t beat the advice columns in the daily newspaper for all the myriad ways in which people mess with each other. Sometimes, you just can’t make this shit up! After shaking my head and having a chuckle, I’ll imagine the ‘what if’ moments between the characters described in the column, and another play is born.

I feel most like myself when I am doing what I love: Writing something truly satisfying, seeing my students make discoveries in class, performing on camera or stage, and physically – when I am climbing silks. As an aerial dancer, I experience the pure joy of flying. A side benefit is the thrill of hearing audience members gasp when they’re sure you’re plummeting to the ground, when I know that I’ve made a knot that will catch me just in time. Another benefit is being more fit than ever before in my life. As a dancer on stage, I was always slender, but there is something truly satisfying in being able to haul your own body 25 feet up into the air on nothing but fabric, knowing that you have the strength to hang on as you perform complicated wrapping patterns and poses, falling and twirling and spinning through space.

Talia Pura is an independent theatre artist. Her book, STAGES: Creative Ideas For Teaching Drama, is available on Amazon. Her five shorts have screened at various film festivals. She also loves performing on silks, producing her one-woman plays and teaching drama at the University of Winnipeg. www.taliapura.com

Zanne Hall

Zanne photoPlaywright
Kew Gardens, New York USA

I look for inspiration by keeping my eyes open, my ears clean and unwavering concentration on life around me. It’s not always easy because we all get wrapped up in the problems of daily living and lose focus on activities around us, whether it be the sunlight streaming through a window, our pets, the grocer down the street – whatever. We get scared and worry far too much. It’s not good to primarily focus on the self a majority of the time because then we lose our perspective of how ever-changing life is. Look at how a child sees everything around it as new. So do animals. How many times have I said to myself – “I don’t remember seeing that before?” – but it was always there. I just wasn’t paying attention.

What hones my day-to-day inspiration and helps me plug it into my creative writing process is music. I think that music is the purest artistic discipline because it directly connects to our emotions. The music I listen to or even just the sounds of everyday living (perhaps hearing distant wind chimes) helps me to create worlds inside my head and then influences them to manifest theselves outside of my head.

Favorite Movie – “Fasten your seatbelts…” What else? A movie about theatre: All About Eve!

One Thing Nobody Knows About Me – If I told you, then you’d know!

Zanne Hall: Theatre’s been in my blood since I was a kid stage actor in Pittsburgh, PA and continued through to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. I began writing plays later in life because I had such fun creating characters and putting them in unusual situations that surprise and inspire.

Week in Review, February 18 – 22, 2013


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. Today, the women featured in the previous five days receive a little more attention, a second chance for readers to learn about them. The Week in Review gives our readers the opportunity to experience a week’s entries in one easy sitting.

I dream of living to be 114 years of age, like a woman I heard about on TV. – Laurie James, February 18

I am quite metered and even keel. When I see the blitz and buzz of Futurism, I find a forward momentum.– Marcina Zaccaria, February 19

Cocktail: Gin Martini, stirred, not dry, not dirty, straight up, olives on the side. – Cecilia Copeland, February 20

I started acting at age 40 so I have to say the play that changed my life was Getting Out by Marsha Norman. – Susan Wallack, February 21

As a theater director, I want to open the question of participatory art and audience engagement. – Mahayana (Yana) Landowne, February 22

Mahayana (Yana) Landowne

yana_landowneTheater Director
New York, New York USA

I am inspired by you, women of the theater. By how we find our path and realize our vision. By how we grow and support growth in others.

My goal as an artist is to inspire creative thought – I want to dive into and mine the past to replenish a jaded cultural community. As a theater director, I want to open the question of participatory art and audience engagement. I want to encourage empowerment of all involved in the process of making an artistic experience.

Here is a clip of the Picasso Project – I want to develop it into Enter- art- ment (working title) – a play/movement piece about activating and inhabiting fine art. Using paintings by modern and contemporary artists as storyboards, we will create a series of scenes; which will intertwine opening up meaning and the permission of diverse interpretation for performance company and the audience. Each individual scene explores excerpts from an artist’s body of work and is sculpted by the rhythm, visual world, and energy of the artist’s work.

When first starting to explore this idea with Picasso’s Blue Period, I was amazed by the depth of plot and visual meaning that could be mined by physically exploring the painting. Now I’d like to experiment with a variety of artists such as Goya, Toulouse Lautrec, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali. Any suggestions of artists would be fantastic.

I want to make a piece that can perform locally and tour. The tour performance will include an interactive audience workshop, so they can experience inhabiting paintings too. I can see this piece performing at museums and performing arts centers around the country and the world. It expands definitions and is a playful way to encourage engaging in Art.

And then there are the streets and taking performance and radical transformation 😉 that is a different side of the story.

Mahayana (Yana) Landowne‘s projects include: Impossible Country (MudBone), Fairytale Experiment (Rubulad), MIXED (Baruch), Beyond My Remote Control (Wild Project), Picasso Project (Luna Stage), The Heiress, (Mint), Machinal (Rochester). Favorites include Skriker, Seagull, brass logic, Streetcar, Obgynt, Lear, and Mud. Collaborator- Lush Vally. NYU-BFA-acting YSD-MFA-directing. Creativity Workshops – Radiant Axis (Radiantaxis.com). yana.landowne.org

Susan Wallack

Susan WallachActor
New York, New York USA

I’m inspired by theater and film. After seeing a wonderful play, either new or a revival I think “how amazing”. I saw Joe Egg 3 times and the 1 with Eddie Izzard was unbelievable. 4000 miles, Other Desert Cities, One Man Two Guvnors I thought were great.

I don’t have a favorite movie, but genres. I love black and white films from the 30’s and 40’s-comedies and dramas ranging from the Marx Brothers, The Thin Man, The Shop Around The Corner, Breakfast at Tiffanys, Katherine Hepburn films, The Third Man, Shadow of a Doubt and most Hitchcock movies. Just saw Argo and it was wonderful.

I started acting at age 40 so I have to say the play that changed my life was Getting Out by Marsha Norman. It was in DC where I lived and it was my first real play. Got rave reviews so I knew I was doing what I had wanted to do my whole life. The reasons I never started are too long and complicated to write about.

I then commuted from Maryland to New York every week to study with the best teachers as there was no place in my area to get a theater degree. It was tiring – 2 kids and 1 husband at 1 end and studying and rehearsing at the other.

I do mostly off, off and indie films so my dream is Off Broadway, but at my age the competition is tremendous because all the well-known actresses work in all the theaters no matter how small. It’s often the name that counts.

I feel most like myself when I’m rehearsing and performing. You’re in other times, places, worlds that are not really in your life.

I read a lot to escape. I go on mystery binges – all the Scandinavian ones and others and then more serious ones. I have to read before I go to sleep.

I love what I’m doing and will stop when I die or when I can’t memorize whichever comes first. I’m trying for 100.

Susan Wallack. Getting Out, Merry Wives.., 3 Penny…, Good Doctor, Starting Here…, Jacques Brel…Columbia Stages: Crucible. Three Sisters, Barbarians, Baal, Ghost Sonata, Bacchae, Walkabout Yeolha, Uncle Vanya. New plays: New Georges, Abingdon, Algonquin, Fringe. Outstanding Performance -Turnip Theater; Best Supporting – Planet Connections 2010. Indie films; all unions; NYWIFT, ARTC, WORKSHOP, MTWorks.

Cecilia Copeland

Cecilia CopelandPlaywright and Artistic Director
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? I don’t typically look for things but just start writing and then they present themselves fully dressed demanding an audience and a suitable story to go with it.

What’s your favorite movie – Dune; cocktail – Gin Martini, stirred, not dry, not dirty, straight up, olives on the side.

What play or production changed your life? The first play I ever wrote solidified for me that I was meant to be a writer. It was a one act called The Amusement Bomber and was made into a short with Metro Screen Productions. The writing was an instruction in thought development and the piece turned out to be very synchronistic in ways that I couldn’t explain beyond to accept that by writing I was beyond the limitations of myself. That sounds more vague and esoteric than I wish it sounded, but it’s the truth.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? Lot’s of things! I want to have a major Broadway Production of one of my plays that features a female protagonist in the science fiction genre, explores poetic realism as a style, and uses Transmedia. I would also like to have a family with a partner who engages me on all levels, especially the intimate ones. I would like to promote and assist in establishing government policy that develops the Arts in the United States and to earn a very comfortable living via my creative writing.

I feel most like myself when I … am around someone who gets me or when I’m writing.

What is your best escape? It’s pretty rare for me in my life right now, but I think making love is the best escape ever because it’s not a solitary escape it’s a co-created reality that’s good for one’s soul, body and mind.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? I was going to say that my answer to the last question might be a good one, but I don’t know if I can answer because I don’t believe I can truly be certain of what someone else doesn’t know.

Cecilia Copeland. Playwright and Artistic Director, NYMadness. Recipient of the Lennis J. Holm Scholarship at the Writers Workshop, Finalist for Mabou Mines Residency, and Semifinalist for The O’Neill Playwright’s Conference. Her work has been produced by Metro Screen Australia, Culture Project, IATI, The Disreputables and workshopped at TerraNOVA and New Dramatists.

Marcina Zaccaria

Marcina ZaccariaWriter, Director, Administrator
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
I find that often I look toward painting as a source of inspiration. Lately, I have been interested by the Futurists. I recently became interested in the futurists who originated in Italy in the early 20th century, as I previously had some understanding of futurism with regard to Russian art. The Futurists loved speed, technology, and the industrial city. Futurism, as described by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, prides itself on throwing away the static and irrelevant concepts of the past and celebrating change, originality, and innovation in culture and society.

I am quite metered and even keeled. When I see the blitz and buzz of futurism, I find a forward momentum. Futurism speaks to finding transformation in motion. Sculptures like Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space’ are inspirational in terms of their analysis of movement and fluidity. How can I use that patterning to create interesting options for choreography? How can that movement immediately lend itself to thinking about how to direct a scene from a play?

I am just beginning to consider painting again, and I constantly ask myself to attempt that practice even though it is outside of my artistic discipline. I enjoy looking at the dynamics of movement and the expression of natural forms. I find it incredibly freeing. How do we use light and shadow to create the perception of forward momentum? How do we find vocabulary to critique the lines, curves, twists, and bends that can be found in futurist paintings?

I appreciate working on this on a two-dimension canvas, as it seems easy to create options in a choreographic rehearsal, particularly when a skilled scenic designer is nearby. When I become too reliant on what I already know, and when my thinking gets to be a bit static, I think it is quite liberating to test out these ideas. After all, futurism influenced art movements such as Art Deco, Constructivism, Surrealism, and Dada. Maybe, it’s where the next great idea is, and I think it’s worth looking.

Marcina Zaccaria is a director, administrator, and writer. She has directed at New Dramatists, Soho Rep, HERE, and DTW, and has been an administrator at Lincoln Center. A NY International Fringe Festival Adjudicator, her monologues are in “InterJACtions: Monologues from the Heart of Human Nature (Vol. II)”, available on Amazon.com.

Laurie James

Laurie_JamesPlaywright/Actor
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
I am inspired by all around me, what I see, hear, touch, read, while walking along the water’s edge under a hot sun, but mostly just by people, what they say, do, their daily lives, how they interact and react to situations, the choices they make, the company they keep, the pets they keep, the clothes they wear.

What’s your favorite movie?
Could there be any movie better than Gone With the Wind?

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
I dream of living to be 114 years of age, like a woman I heard about on TV, I dream of being able to speak Italian and live in Italy for at least a year; I dream of writing plays and having them performed in regional theatres, off-Broadway and on Broadway; I dream of standing on stages facing and inspiring audiences; I dream of every woman being able to bring forward her individuality and reach her potential and desired goals; I dream of a world without war, at peace, in happiness.

What is your best escape?
The beach, white sand, blue water either crashing or quietly cascading, scraggly trees bending and inviting, myriad shells daring you to pick up and add to your already overflowing collection.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
Nobody knows that I like to walk in crowds, study the varied faces, wonder where each one is from, where going, what doing, how their lives are lived, etc., and make up stories.

Author/actor Laurie James has toured her original solo dramatization, Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller, throughout USA, in theatres, Chautauquas, colleges, libraries, conference sites as well as Mexico, Hong Kong, Edinburgh. Her book, Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller, won New York Foundation for the Arts non-fiction award. www.lauriejames.net

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