Special thanks to the following Instigators whose hard work and inspiring voices has helped the LA FPI take positive action over the years:
Jessica Abrams, E.h. Bennett, Nancy Beverly, Larissa Brewington, Korama Danquah, Jen Huszcza, Helen Hill, Sara Israel, Dana Leigh Lyman, Ella Martin, Sue May, Jane Miller, Lynn Moses, Madhuri Shekar, Kimberly Shelby-Szyszko, Laura Steinroeder
Jessica Abrams’ play The Laughing Cow had its world premiere this past April at the Meta Theatre on Melrose and received Pick of the Week by LA Weekly. Her short play, Melissa, is currently part of New American Theatre’s Short Play Festival in Los Angeles. The First To Know (the full-length play of which Melissa is a part) was read in the MaD Play Reading Series last Spring, and her solo piece If I Look This Good, Why Do I Feel Like Sh*t? was read at the ExAngeles Writers Collective’s A Month of Sundays Reading Series this past October. Her television writing credits include The Profiler for NBC and Watch Over Me for Fox/MyNetworkTV. She was a guest artist at the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive in 2010 and is a co-founder of the New Leaf Endeavors Theatre Company. She attended Barnard College of Columbia University in Manhattan.
Jessica was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger. Blogs by Jessica Abrams.
E.h. Bennett is a dramatist and retired librarian.
Her self-produced short film, I ONLY CRIED TWICE, based on her short play and dedicated to Charlie Hebdo, is in the final stages of editing.
Bennett’s plays have been produced by OC-centric New Play Festival, New Voices of Orange County, and Fullerton College Playwright’s Festival with staged readings by Orange County Playrights Alliance, Truman State University, White Horse Theater Company, and Fullerton College Playwrights Festival.
Her documentary Mendez v. Westminster: Families for Equality has aired on KOCE-TV (PBS) since October 2010. It is centered about her play El Primer Dia de Clases.
Her 10-minute play, A Waffle Doesn’t Cure Insomnia, was selected for publication in the Best American Short Plays 2011-2012.
Bennett received her B.A. in Theater Arts from California State University, Fullerton, where she studied acting with Donn Finn and Jose Quintero. Upon graduation she moved to Los Angeles where she studied acting with Stella Adler and Arthur Mendoza.
She was featured in Benicio Del Toro’s short film Submission. She worked for nearly ten years in dramatic television production on such shows as The Young Riders, Gabriel’s Fire, Under Suspicion and The Big Easy, as a writer’s and development assistant.
Bennett holds a Master of Library & Information Science from UCLA, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Orange County Playwrights Alliance.
E.h. was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger
In 2015, the writers/actors group Fierce Backbone produced Nancy’s play HANDCRAFTED HEALING in L.A., and her comedy COMMUNITY made the finals (top 12) in the American Association of Community Theatres play contest.
Nancy is also the co-writer and co-producer of the webseries THE CALAMITIES OF JANE, which has been shot and will be on the web in 2016.
Her film script SHELBY’S VACATION had the distinction of making the semi-finals of Chicago’s 2011 Pride Films and Plays contest and then being hand-picked by its executive director for a rollicking reading at a gay pride event in Vermont. Nancy is currently wearing the producer’s hat and turning SHELBY into a film.
Nancy’s professional life began at Actors Theatre of Louisville where she worked as the Assistant Literary Manager and read thousands of scripts, acted as dramaturg on a number of Humana Festival plays – and had several of her own plays produced in the ATL short-play showcases.
She moved from Louisville to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television and has worked as an assistant to the head of drama development at FOX as well as for showrunners on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and GHOST WHISPERER where she got to pitch story ideas. Simultaneously, she continued working in theatre and her L.A. productions include A NEW YOU at the LGBT-centric Celebration Theatre and GODISLAV at the Miles Memorial Playhouse. Additionally, GODISLAV had the honor of being selected for the Playwrights Showcase of the Western Region in Denver.
Nancy was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger
Larissa Brewington was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona. She penned her first one woman, one act, GREY MATTERS (a show about a woman experiencing physical abuse from her overworked, over stressed daughter) during her year as a professional actress and intern at Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem, PA. Discovering that one woman, one acts were her forte, she went on to write CHAOS ON THE EDGES (a young woman battling alcoholism), SPEAKING OF ASHES (a disgruntled young woman attempts to communicate with her dead father by being ‘candid’ with his ashes) and AN EVENING WITH HARRIET TUBMAN (about the legendary escaped slave who shuttled many other slaves to freedom).
Over the years she’s branched out to one act, two persons as well as full length plays. For the past five years, she’s submitted to Pandora Festival (panel judged festival contest featuring AZ playwrights) and has had the following plays stage read: SHADES OF GREY, TIE THE NOT, CIVIL UNION, WHEN AUNT NAOMI SPEAKS, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW, and THE FIRE IN MINERVA. Larissa is also an actress who has written and performed for The Herberger Theatre Center’s Outreach Program Lunch Time Theatre, for the past six years. (Plays performed have been: AN EVENING WITH HARRIET TUBMAN, QUALITY TIME, TRAILBLAZING SADIE, INTO THE BLUE WITH BESSIE COLEMAN, A VOTE FROM ALICE and the up and coming FREDERICK AND IDA.) Her full length play WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW was runner up for the AZ Theatre Company. She is the winner of the 2011 Short Play Artist Path Theatre Contest in Prescott with her one act, two person play A LITTLE SOMETHING CALLED FAMILY. She is currently preparing her for 7th original Herberger Lunch Time piece entitled THE LEAGUE.
Larissa was part of the LA FPI Communications Team
Korama Danquah is a writer and actor with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Brown University. She has performed in (and written) experimental and devised work as well as more classical and traditional pieces. Her favorite theatrical experiences have been writing and performing her solo show Mixtape for New Year’s Eve (or Secretly a Love Story) and developing her performance piece on body image, sexuality, and intimacy, Body the Limits. Korama is a member of the collaborative writing group Fell Swoop Playwrights and is thrilled to be a part of the Los Angeles theatre scene. She works on new plays every(ish) day; you can check out her personal blog and more info at www.koramadanquah.com
Korama was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger
Jen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.
She has a BFA in Dramatic Writing and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. After graduating from college, she stayed in New York and worked a variety of day jobs including video librarian and study guide writer. She eventually moved to Los Angeles for better weather and more trees.
Out in Los Angeles, three of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood. Also at the Blank, she was an Associate Producer on Michael John LaChiusa’s See What I Wanna See, and she was a Weekly Producer and Playwright Mentor for the Young Playwrights Festival.
She wrote and acted in Gunfighter Nation’s collectively written piece, LA History Project: Pio Pico, Sam Yorty, and the Secret Procession of Los Angeles, presented at the Lost Studio.
She is a script reader for a variety of theatre companies. She is a member of the Playwrights and Directors Lab at the Actors Studio West.
In addition to plays, she has written ad copy, film reviews, blogs, bad poetry, screenplays, a novel, and several short stories.
She has heard numerous pronunciations of her last name, but the one she prefers is Hooo-zhah.
Jen was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger. Blogs by Jen Huszcza.
Helen Hill is a licensed psychotherapist, and a writer about life and poetry. She works with at-risk youth, adolescents and adults on “coming out” issues. Helen is also an artist utilizing many different mediums from pencils to computer imaging. Her favorite medium, though, is the written word and her camera. Both are used to express ideas that go beyond sight and into the realm of insight.
You can see some of Helen’s artwork at http://www.new-gallery-of-art.com.
Her therapy site is found here: http://www.helen-hill.com.
Helen acted as an LA FPI Communications & Graphics Consultant
Sara’s introduction to the world of theater came when she was cast in the title role of a kindergarten play, The Magic Letter E (cap to cape, fad to fade). She has been engaged by words ever since. As a playwright, Sara’s work has been seen on both coasts (the middle of the country has alluded her, for now. . .) and has garnered her the American Theatre Co-op Playwriting Prize and a Playwrights Circle Award. She was also a Princess Grace Award semi-finalist for her play, bad Art. As a television writer, her first two produced scripts aired simultaneously — same night, same time, different channels. In addition, her television script Triumvirate was named “Best Un-produced Pilot” by Written By, the magazine of the Writers Guild of America.
Her work as a theater director has been seen at The Blank Theatre Company, Theatre of NOTE, the Dramatists Guild, the Marianne Murphy Reading Series, the Lillian Theatre, and Dartmouth College; she is also an alumnus of Directors Lab West. Her producing credits include Speech & Debate and Dickie & Babe for The Blank Theatre Company and an official entry of the 2009 Los Angeles Independent Television Festival. Sara is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
Sara was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger. Blogs by Sara Israel.
Dana Leigh Lyman is a Playwright, Stage Producer, Director and all around Arts Supporter born, raised and living in Los Angeles, CA. She started writing short stories at a young age and with a lot of encouragement from her family and teachers, went on to study English Lit/Creative Writing with Short Stories as her focus. In college, she spent her free hours helping out the Theatre Department with casting, dramaturgy and Shakespeare dialogue work. Two years ago, she was invited to fill a spot in a 24 hour theatre project as a playwright and loved the experience of seeing her writing brought to life by a wonderful cast and director. She has participated and written twice for these events and had a monologue “Do they count? How do I count them?” featured in Theatre Unleashed’s 25 Plays Per Hour at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2013 and her short play Sustenance was created as part of the Raze the Space Readings at Samuel French Bookstore in Hollywood in 2014.
After previously working as Director of Development for Theatre Unleashed and as a producing exec, she broke out on her own to do project to project work with other companies. For the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2013, in addition to writing and producing for Theatre Unleashed, she also worked as a Marketing Producer for Village Idiom’s production of [title of show]. That fall, she had the honor of working with Director Scott Marden as Assistant Director for Theatre Unleashed’s production of Trust. In 2014, she worked as a producer with Marden again for the world premiere Riot Grrrl Saves the World by Louisa Hill at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2014. In 2014, she also assistant directed and directed short pieces for Fresh Produce’d.
She has served as social media manager for organizations and stage productions as well as helping out with supplemental promotional material and events. She is also a grant writer and in addition to her work with Theatre Unleashed and a number of individual artists and organizations, she also worked with and helped form a documentary production company called Sueno Documentary Films.
In addition to writing and working on her first full length play, she is actively working as a freelance producer, director and dramaturge and is eager to connect and collaborate with as much of the LA Theatre Community as she possibly can.
Dana was part of the LA FPI Social Media Team (Twitter)
Ella Martin is a writer, director, and actor. Ella attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she was named a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar and focused in acting, directing, and theatre history, earning a B.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of Theatre Mab, a collective of risk-taking L.A. theatre artists conducting creative experiments & provoking audiences of all backgrounds.
She has directed for the Rubicon International Theatre Festival, Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, Santa Monica College Opera Workshop, LA Women’s Theatre Project, Theater Charity, and Theatre Mab, and assistant directed for The Road Theatre, LA Theatre Ensemble Scriptyard, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum Seedlings, and LA County High School for the Arts.
She has written plays that have been developed or performed at the Rubicon International Theatre Festival, the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum Seedlings, Theater Charity, and PianoFight LA.
Ella is an active member of 12on12off, a non-profit organization striving to regulate workers’ hours to create a safer, healthier working environment for professionals in the film industry.
To see some of her work as an actor, click here.
Ella was the LA FPI Study Director
Sue May is an multi award-winning independent filmmaker, fine art photographer and writer (Screenwriter/Playwright/Poet). She holds a B.F.A. in Sculpture, and an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from USC. Sue formed My Dog Spot Productions, an independent documentary production house addressing universal social themes focusing on the marginalized and underrepresented, women in society, spirituality, and the Arts.
The primary reason I choose to communicate through dialogue/film/visual art/imagery is to encourage a positive transformation within society, the kind of communication that displaces the notions of ignorance, fear, prejudice, hatred, and inequality. I believe that all beings ultimately seek happiness and when we illuminate each others’ minds by demonstrating our similarities – verses stressing our differences – the consequences can only be positive. ~ Sue May
Sue produced LA FPI Videos and “Persons of Interest” Video Blogs.
Jane Miller is a playwright and screenwriter born and raised in New York City, now living in LA. Her plays have been produced at The Looking Glass Theater, Squeaky Bicycle Productions, Aporia Theater, and The Network in New York City and the Lyric Theater in Los Angeles.
She has been a contributing playwright at the Last Frontier Theater Conference, the Sewanee Writers Conference, and the Southampton Playwriting Conference. She has taught screenwriting to re-college students at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC. Now she’s pursuing her MFA in screenwriting at UCLA.
She loves writing strong heroines and is obsessed with depicting authentic female friendships. She also hopes to prove that the rom-com isn’t dead.
Jane was part of the LA FPI Communications Team
Screenwriter, director and producer, Lynne is an award-winning filmmaker, a theatre director/playwright and a principal with Appleseed Entertainment, an independent film production company.
Lynne’s stage directing has included a staged reading of the feature script she co-wrote, Daybreak, as part of the Bruno Kirby Celebrity Reading Series at The Hayworth Theater, with a cast including Beth Grant, Rex Lee and Mackenzie Phillips, and a full production of the hit comedy Paging Dr Chutzpah at the Sidewalk Studio Theater in Toluca Lake. This twice-extended world premiere by playwright Mark Troy opened to great reviews and sold-out performances.
While living in Europe from 2008 to 2010, she directed several staged readings of Colette Freedman’s acclaimed play Sister Cities, translated into French by Maëlle Genet as Une ville, une soeur, as she prepared to direct its Paris debut. In 2011, after returning to Los Angeles, Lynne directed the world premiere of Joanclair Richter’s 20-something dramedy It’s Good 2 be Crazy at the Hudson Guild Theatre on Theatre Row in Hollywood.
Lynne’s most recent theatrical endeavor was to try her hand at playwriting. Her 10-minute Can You Hear Me Now? premiered at the Write Act Repertory in 2012 and she is currently working on several more before tackling a full length work.
Lynne formed the LA FPI Communications Team
Madhuri Shekar is a playwright based in Los Angeles, born in the Bay Area, and brought up in Chennai, India. 2014 saw the world premiere of two of her plays – In Love and Warcraft(Alliance Theatre, Atlanta) and A Nice Indian Boy(East West Players, Los Angeles.)
She was the 2013/14 winner of the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award and an alumnus of the 2013/14 Center Theatre Group Writers’ Workshop. She was a finalist for the 2013 Princess Grace Award for Playwriting, and the 2013 Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights Center. Her plays have been showcased or developed at the Kennedy Center, the Alliance Theatre, the Old Globe, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She received her MFA in Dramatic Writing from USC.
Madhuri was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger. Blogs by Madhuri Shekar
Kimberly is a writer for the stage and screen whose work has been produced, presented and developed at theatres and cultural centers throughout New York and California, among them LaMaMa, Hunter College, Irondale Theatre Ensemble, International Theatre Festival Berlin, Xoregos Performing Company, Manhattan Repertory, Red Thread Theatre, Left Hip Productions, Metropolitan Playhouse, and the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Kimberly mentors and teaches creative writing and theatre for various organizations, including the Virginia Avenue Project, and served as Literary Manager for the new play development program, Seedlings, at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. She also works as a dramaturg and script consultant for a number of theatre and film production companies, festivals and conferences, including Young Playwrights Inc. and Pride Films and Plays.
Kimberly has produced work for Manhattan Theatre Source’s Estrogenius Festival and served as Filmmaker-in-Residence for Girl Be Heard, née Project Girl Performance Collective. As a performer, Kimberly has voiced commercials and radio shows, live-modeled for sculptors, painters and installation artists, and been featured in television and film, as well as in theatre productions. She was a regular writer/performer at Brooklyn’s Write Night cabaret series, in Fort Greene.
Kimberly earned her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing at Hofstra University and is a member of the Antaeus Playwrights Lab and Fell Swoop Playwrights, in Los Angeles. Her prose, poetry, and articles on education, health, and the arts have been published in anthologies and periodicals, online and in print. Her work has been recognized with a Gold Award from Parenting Publications of America.
Kimberly was a “Persons of Interest” Blogger. Blogs by Kimberly Shelby-Szyszko
Laura Steinroeder is a freelance Theatre Director and Social Media Consultant. She serves as the Social Media Manager for Botanicum Seedlings: A Development Series for Playwrights, and the Solo New Works Festival at the LA Writers Center. She is currently working on marketing and outreach for two new devised pieces in NYC, and has curated several twitter chats for Howl Round’s weekly Howls on the topics of new play development, director/playwright relationships, and self-producing.
Laura created the facebook group, Theatre Director Resources to assist directors in finding and posting upcoming opportunities, as well as to provide an opportunity to share and discuss issues and inspiration. She tweets for the LAFPI and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Laura studied directing at the Claremont Colleges and attended the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. SDC Associate Member. @LSteinroeder www.laurasteinroeder.com
Laura acted as an LA FPI Social Media Consultant