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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the category “Performer”

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

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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.

Deborah Asiimwe

Deborah Asiimwe, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenMy full name is Asiimwe Deborah GKashugi, but I officially go by Deborah Asiimwe.
Theatre practitioner, playwright and performer
New York, New York USA and Kampala, Uganda

What’s your favorite book?
Maya Angelou’s I know why the caged Bird Sings

Favorite line from a play:
“When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad.” Betrayal in the City: Francis Imbuga

What’s your pop culture guilty pleasure?
I enjoy watching the episodes of “Army Wives”….endlessly 😉

What play or production changed your life?
The musical – Sarafina!

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Learning a new language.

I feel most like myself when I ….
This keeps changing, but for now, it would be when I am with my brilliant, funny 5-year-old nephew who is not afraid of asking me any questions that come to his mind.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Landscapes. Sitting by a water body. Silences.

What is your best escape?
Reading gossip columns

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I can’t ride a bike and I am terribly embarrassed about it.

Deborah Asiimwe is a playwright, producer and performer from Uganda. Her numerous plays have received productions and readings in the US and East Africa. Asiimwe received her MFA in Writing for Performance from CalArts and was the overall winner of the 2010 BBC World Service African Performance playwriting competition.

Zoe (Corell) Kaplan

Zoe Kaplan, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenProfessor, actor, writer
New York, New York USA

The plays and productions that chiefly inspired my theatrical passion were GB Shaw’s Heartbreak House, where I played Hesione Hushabye when I was 19,and The Barretts of Wimpole Street where Ii played Elizabeth at 20. (Both were college productions, with such professionals as a young Barnard Hughes, doing the men.)

I played featured roles in Joe Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park in earlier days, and acted in several Off Broadway theatres – and Fringe Theaters in London – as well as the “Play of the Week” on TV, and a few other TV shows.

I still participate in readings, the latest being at Jonathan Bank’s Mint Theater in a short DH Lawrence drama.

I was fortunate in growing up in Manhattan in a very intellectual and artistic household, as well as in having an uncle who was the Music and Drama critic of a NY newspaper From the age of 4, I was taken to theater, opera, ballet and concerts – in press seats – till I was a late teenager. As I always say, I’m the only person I know who went from the best seats to the gods, instead of vice-versa, as in the normal course of events!

I still hope to have some success in playwriting. I translated Alfred de Musset’s Lorenzaccio from the French, and Harold Clurman, at the end of his life, liked it so much that he opted to direct it but died before this could happen. The Guthrie also was interested in producing it, but it never materialized. As a lyricist, I wrote the lyrics for a projected musical version of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard – which I retitled The Trees of Silence. (Some famous composers were interested – George Kleinsinger, John Duffy – but considered it too operatic, being on the cusp of Sondheim’s capitalizing and popularizing of that form.)

The theater still beckons and remains a passion.

My biography of “Eleanor of Aquitaine”- a most dramatic lady-was published in the late 1980s.

Zoe (Corell) Kaplan, native New Yorker, attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London; has acted here in and in London. PhD in Dramatic Literature, History and Criticism from CUNY; taught for many years at CUNY, NYU and Marymount Manhattan College. Published poetry, short stories, lyrics, and working on plays.

Laura Caparrotti

Laura Caparrotti, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenArtistic Director of Kairos Italy Theater, actress, director, producer, critic, theater absolute lover.
Rome, Italy and New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? Life, images, books, social/political issues: when something strikes me inside, it stays with me until I do something with it.

The ONE OF your favorite: book The Via Veneto papers by E. Flaiano / movie: Rocco and his brother by L. Visconti / line from a play: Men shut their doors against a setting sun – Shakespeare –
To dream, to laugh, to move on, to be free, on my own
To have a keen eye and a voice of strong tone,
Wear my hat awry as I prefer,
For no reason at all engage in combat or pen a verse!
To work without worry of glory or fortune
Such a voyage of which we dream to the moon!
Pen not a line that from myself departs
And comes from anywhere except straight from my heart,
Be satisfied with flowers, leaves, fruits of the land
If they’re in your own garden and grew by your hand!
And, if at all, you should triumph by chance,
Don’t give unto Cesar, take up your stance
Stand up for yourself, you merit, ‘ti’s thee
In short, the parasitic ivy I disdain to be
So even without the tree or the stone
I won’t get very high, perhaps, but alone! Cyrano de Bergerac (not great translation)

/cocktail: too many!

Artists/People who changed my theatrical life: the Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo who taught me how to breathe at theater, the actor Mario Carotenuto who taught me how to smell theater, the actress Lucilla Morlacchi who taught me how sacred theater is. And my parents, who made me experience theater since I was little.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? A lot! I want to keep bringing Italian theater to the States and to open the first Italian theater in New York. And I want to do theater all my life!

I feel most like myself when I …. Dance/Theater.

What is your best escape? Dancing

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? I am an open book, able only to hide deep sadness. I guess it’s a survival instinct!

Laura Caparrotti is a director, actress, journalist, teacher, lecturer, consultant, dialect-coach, curator with an Italian accent. She studied and worked professionally for over ten years in Italy before relocating to NY where she founded KIT-Kairos Italy Theater, now the main Italian theater company in New York. And she can cook!

Catherine Schreiber

Catherine SchreiberProducer, Actress, Writer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
People

My favorite current quotes
“Any idea that isn’t dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
— Oscar Wilde
“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” -Louis D. Brandeis

What play or production changed your life?
Desperate Writers – successfully producing the play I co-wrote, and acting in it. This jump-started my producing career, and I started producing on Broadway in 2010.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Being a lead producer on a major Broadway hit and seeing shows like Scottsboro Boys and Stick Fly get the widespread attention they deserve.

I feel most like myself when I ….
am acting on stage

What is your best escape?
Traveling with my family, being away from computers and phones, but it’s pretty impossible. I have a hard time not working, but I love what I’m doing, so I really don’t need an escape.

Catherine Schreiber: Tony-nominated producer (four productions): Peter and the Starcatcher, Clybourne Park, The Scottsboro Boys, Next Fall; other recent productions: The King’s Speech (London), Stick Fly, Desperate Writers (Off Broadway). Catherine is also a feature/tv/stage actress and writer. Founder: Center Theatre Group. B.A. Yale College. Happily married with children. wowcatherine.com

Asmaa Yehia Eltaher

Asmaa Yehia Eltaher, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenAssistant Lecturer / Actress
Cairo, Egypt and New York, New York USA (til Feb 2013)

I’m in love with performances. When I saw an experimental play on Hamlet in a festival in Sweden 1996 performed by one Canadian actor for all rules and with only some cubes as the set, I fell in love with extra-ordinary performances. Also when I attended a performance from Swaziland performed in Egypt 1999 about the Odessa performed by only two actors for the multiple characters in the epic, I felt the power of the Actor. And whenever I see the powerful popular or folkloric performances in Egypt I dream of using my body as an instrument to be the storyteller, the dancer, the musician and the dramatist. My ultimate feeling is when I tell a story to audiences to be the master of my own body and sound. My lovely escape is belly-dancing when I dance I read the words with my body I feel great and love being a woman. I believe in what Grotowski said “the important thing is not the words but what we do with these words…”. I dream of making a theatre experience in Egypt- as we are a body-languaged people- to release our bodies from borders and tell what we really want to tell about ourselves.

Asmaa Yehia Eltaher is an Egyptian Visiting Scholar at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center/CUNY Graduate Center, and working on her Ph.D. thesis on African theatre. Assistant lecturer in Theatre at Egypt’s Helwan University. BAs insociology & drama and criticism, and MA in drama and criticism. Also an accomplished actor in Egyptian television, film, and theatre.

chandra thomas

chandra thomas, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor/Writer/Producer/Youth-Arts Advocate
New York, New York USA

What play or production changed your life?
i actually kind of bookmark my life by plays…

like BIG RIVER, the first play i ever saw when i was just a wee one. My mom took me to see a play at a “big theatre” (her way of describing a Broadway show). i remember it being one of the first times that i got to pick out my own outfit — my first step to what i perceived as womanhood.

There was THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES — the first play i ever performed in. After a year at a new school, it was my performance as Lady-In-Waiting #4 where i finally discovered a space and air and expanse that welcomed me just as i understood myself to be.

i learned how to balance embarrassment and purpose as i pranced around the stage in very little clothing in SWEET CHARITY in front of my Physics/Calculus teacher, Mr. Book (who was as by-the-book as his given name would indicate).

Of course, there’s THE LARAMIE PROJECT where i stepped onstage for opening night minutes after breaking up with a longtime boyfriend. Or A RHYME FOR THE UNDERGROUND where i gave myself permission to bring together all of the creative worlds that i so adore like multi-character performance, rapping, performance poetry, singing, dancing, writing, revising, producing & plain-ol’-makin’-it-happen.

But the game changer (or perhaps better called the “play changer”) was seeing the original Broadway production of RENT. This production was the first time i experienced people, stories, lives that i knew and recognized… and in a “big theatre” no less. Before my eyes and ignited in my spirit was a validation that what i had to say (and what people like me from where i called home had to say) had a place in the global discourse and in the professional theatre world. That what we had to say mattered.

Originally from New York, chandra thomas performs on stage and screens small & large, writes plays, performance poetry, screenplays and Twitter updates, produces performance and film projects and is continually inspired by the young women of viBe Theater Experience, the non-profit, arts-education organization she co-founded. www.chandrathomas.com

Marie Ann Chenevey

Marie Ann Chenevey, League of Professional Theatre WomenClassically Trained Operatic singer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?  
A still small voice – when I am very quiet

What’s your favorite line from a play?
“intermission” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Yes – performing the role of Carmen (I spent a summer learning it once and never got to do it)

I feel most like myself when I ….
Am singing – no matter where, it makes me happy and calms all my stresses.  Singing full out with a feeling deep in my being.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I was once a cantorial soloist in a synagogue – and I’m not Jewish.  Actually, I was asked three times to lead services (one was a community seder).

Marie Ann Chenevey is an opera and concert singer in the New York area.  Performances include Cherubino in Mozart’s “Le Nozze de Figaro,” Secretary in Menotti’s “The Consul” and a Lincoln Center debut in Mozart’s “Wegenhaus Messe”.  On radio: WQXR and WNYC.

Wendy Barrie-Wilson

Wendy Barrie-Wilson, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor, Potter, Teacher, Director
New York, New York + Ohio USA

What play or production changed your life?
From Stoppard’s Arcadia I learned what life was all about. If we could define a leaf mathematically, then we could define a tree, then a forest, and then the earth. And does that mean it is all predestined? And the answer is… we may never know — so Dance.

From Doubt I learned empathy is a long hard continuous road — learning how to walk in another’s shoes.

From summers watching the Stratford Shakespeare Festival – I learned what acting was about.

What’s your favorite play?
A Streetcar Named Desire –which I have had the fortune of working on 5 times. And Cyrano de Bergerac that I have done several times and played nearly all the women in it- just waiting to do the Duenna.

What’s your favorite line from a play?
“Sometime there is God so quickly”- Tennessee Williams
“I am in mourning for my life”- Anton Chekhov

What’s your favorite movie of late?
I had one of those deep cathartic desperate cries after watching Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go”. And filled with furious anger after seeing Rachel Weisz in “The Whistleblower”.

Where do you look for inspiration?
When those strange, synchronistic, wonder-filled moments happen in life that let you breath and see the world a little differently… even if only for a short time.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Everything. Travel to the Grand Canyon, The Dakotas, Angkor Watt, Bali, Samoa, and see Venice, Santorini and Kauai again. Learn Flamenco dancing, write a book, work on more feature films.
I’d really like to build a home. Put a pool in. Make a lot of money. The usual stuff.

But for now I will continue to caretake my mother who has Dementia (without any help from my family) and rest when I can while I wonder what life will put before me later on.

I feel most like myself when I ….
..am working on a show, rehearsing and discovering.

What is your best escape?
Working on a show. Or getting a long massage.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
A psychic told me I had three past lives. Russian, Victorian England and Native American. I think she was right.

Wendy Barrie-Wilson: Actor: Over 100 plays, including Sister Aloysius in European premiere of Doubt in Vienna, Austria. (SALT Award &  DayTony Award for subsequent productions of Doubt.)  Broadway: Our Town (Paul Newman) and All My Sons. TV: Mrs. Chitwood on The Guiding Light.  Director: “Einstein and The Roosevelts”. Professor: Acting – Denison University.

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