Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “New York”

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.

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?

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.

KS Stevens

KS Stevens, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright
New York, New York USA

When I look for inspiration among playwrights, I look to Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, Laurents and Sondheim. The attention paid to crafting rich stories and characters made my experiences in the theatre emotional ones. I grew up devouring the musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein. When I got older I rented their musicals and to see what else they had done and saw South Pacific. When I first watched and heard the song “Carefully Taught” I cried. Here was this writing team from the ‘40s and ‘50s that I thought only wrote sweet musicals with children in King and I and Sound of Music and I now heard this song talking about racism being taught and learned, 30 years before I was born. It was so bold and unique. That’s when I realized musical theatre and theatre could have social impact for the better. They tackled racism and civil rights in their shows over and over. When I realized without them there would be three less Asian-American musicals it really made me stop and think about their views and what drove them as artists to use theatre as their artistic vehicles.

My new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION is intentionally ethnically diverse on stage and behind the scenes. It is historically the first Off Broadway production that was created by and has lyrics, libretto and composition written by an Asian-American woman. In addition to this, I am self-producing it. It is very funny because it talks about loss, family and the impact of HIV, civil rights, and cancer within a close circle of friends. It also gives voices to those that haven’t seen much representation. My characters are dynamic because they are beautiful, with flaws, and could be anyone’s best friend, brother, sister, daughter or son. And if one person stands up for someone else inside the theatre, then hopefully they will continue in real life.

KS Stevens debuts her new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION June, Off Broadway. (creator, producer, librettist, lyricist and composer.) Credits: Butch Mamas!, Yellow Lens & The Scene, “GO Magazine’s: 100 Women We Love.” Member: Dramatists Guild of America, Women’s Initiative 50/50 in 2020, Asian American Film Lab, & WOW Cafe Theatre.

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.

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.

Joyce Liao

Joyce Liao, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenLighting Designer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?

What’s your favorite book?
Open by Andre Agassi

What play or production changed your life?

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Being a #1 tennis player

I feel most like myself when I …. am eating.

What is your best escape?

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I am a black belt in Judo.

Joyce Liao won an Peggy Ezekiel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design. Her lighting design helped Soul of Shaolin garner a Tony nomination in the category of Special Theatrical Event and a Drama Desk award, Unique Theatrical Experience.

Judith Binus

Stage Manager, Director-in-Training
New York, New York USA

What’s your favorite cocktail?
Brandy Alexander (my Aunt Dorothy’s recipe)

What play or production changed your life?
Louisville Children’s Theatre production of Tom Sawyer. I had five lines, saw a big black box with levers offstage right, said “What’s that?”, was told it was the light board, ran the board for the next production and never set foot onstage again.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?

I feel most like myself when …
…I’m working in a theatre

Where do you look for inspiration?
Smart directors; smart, well-written plays and smart, professional actors

What is your best escape?
Doing the New York Times crossword

Judith Binus: My original ambition was to be a lighting designer but fell in love with stage managing. To participate in the development of words on a page to a full-fledged, brilliant production brings me great joy. After a sabbatical, I am looking for plays to direct, beginning a new chapter.

Saviana Stanescu

Saviana Stanescu, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright / Professor
New York, New York USA

Inspiration, perspiration, persuasion (with an accent)

Inspiration? In newspapers, magazines, TV/radio shows (yes, even reality shows), books, blogs, subways, trains, planes, streets, cafes, conversations, confessions, my own imagination, and that ambiguous and magic place of ideas floating around above streetcars named desire.

Guilty pleasure: I watch “American Idol”, “The Voice” and “Fashion Star” for the thrill and suspense of eliminations and the joy of seeing people in the process of becoming famous, before the celebrity veil obscures their genuine qualities.

6 main ideas that haunt me when writing (since I moved to NYC in 2001):

Immigration – I am obsessed with people living in that inbetween space between two worlds, having to negotiate permanently between the old culture and the new culture.

Power – I am fascinated by the ways in which people’s lives are shaped by the social, political and geographical circumstances of their birth and by the power dynamics between countries. I dramatize the convoluted relationships between the West and the East (if the dichotomy is still relevant) and the confrontations among people of various backgrounds. What is the root of violence? Almost always – the lack of love.

Love – I never get tired of analyzing various forms of love

Humor – All my plays walk a (hopefully meaningful) tightrope between comedy and drama.
“If you’re going to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh. Otherwise, they’ll kill you.” George Bernard Shaw

People – I find the human spectacle endlessly fascinating. Flawed human beings, the underdogs who dream of becoming topdogs, are my favorite characters. I never underestimate the discrete charm of losers and slackers.

I learn something from each person.
I’ll never cease learning.
I’ll never stop believing in creativity.
I’ll never stop believing in kindness.
(I’ll never depend on the kindness of strangers :))
I hope.

Women – Yes, women are people, I know. But I gotta close my notes on inspiration by re-emphasizing the need of complex women protagonists in our “small” plays and on their big stages. Let’s keep telling our hi/stories, describe our e-motions, and persuade/seduce/force male artistic directors to produce us! 🙂

Saviana Stanescu is a Romanian-born award-winning playwright. Plays include Aliens With Extraordinary Skills (Women’s Project, published by Samuel French), Waxing West (La MaMa, 2007 New York Innovative Theatre Award). Member of: LARK’s artistic cabinet, NYTW’s Usual Suspects, EST. Saviana teaches at NYU and ESPA – Primary Stages.

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