Jewish Women's Theatre To Perform In Jewish Communities In Six Southern States
The award-winning and nationally acclaimed Santa Monica-based Jewish Women's Theatre (JWT) will tour seven Southern states in November, bringing two of its most beloved, original shows to synagogues and JCCs across the South.
The tour is co-sponsored by the Goldring/Wolderberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) and was underwritten in part by The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation of Los Angeles as a way to bring innovative Jewish culture to both small and large Jewish communities. ISJL seeks to bring world class entertainment and enrichment to communities across its region. For a complete listing of the JWT Southern Tour itinerary and ticket information, visit: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.
"We are thrilled and excited to embark on this Southern Tour," said Ronda Spinak, JWT's artistic director, who worked on creating the tour for several years and who saw it transform from a dream into a reality. Spinak will accompany cast and crew members, board members, and JWT patrons on the nine-day tour. "We have an amazing itinerary that will allow us to meet with members of Southern Jewish communities, tour important Jewish historical and cultural sites, and put on nightly performances."
Tour stops from November 10 to17 will be Columbus, Georgia; Tallahassee and Pensacola, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi: and Memphis, Tennessee as well as sightseeing in vital Jewish communities along the way.
Now in its twelfth year, JWT is a nonprofit company that commissions and collects stories from Jewish writers and transforms them into theatre pieces produced in intimate settings. Their mission is to foster new material that provides a voice for contemporary American Jewish authors and artists. It gives life to Jewish stories via "salon theatre," an intimate way of storytelling that concentrates on the written word, expressed on stage without sets, costumes or props. The company also produced Not That Jewish, which recently played 200-plus performances off-Broadway.
JWTs talented, professional actors Shelly Goldstein, AJ Meijer, Emma Berdie Donson and Kate Zendall will each play several parts in JWT's touring salon shows The Art of Forgiveness and The Matzo Ball Diaries.
In The Art of Forgiveness, Jewish women reveal their personal secrets to forgiving. But audiences will leave wondering whether they really ever forget. "We asked people to explore pivotal moments where they could not forgive or they yearned to forgive, or they did forgive. As a result, the show is packed with both humor and tears," Spinak said. "For example, one story is about a father who abandons his family and runs off with a barmaid. How do you forgive that?"
The second show, The Matzo Ball Diaries, can be summed up simply. Ask any Jewish man, woman or child to describe a favorite memory and the response will most likely be about family, friends and food. The Argonaut newspaper called The Matzo Ball Diaries, "a recipe for a great show." It's filled with tales of Jews and food and features thoughts on Jewish "K" rations - kugel, kreplach, knaidela, knishes, etc. A secret recipe for the world's best brisket might even be revealed.
Key players on the Southern Tour are:
EMMA BERDIE DONSON (Actor) graduated with a BFA in acting (High Honors) from the University of Michigan. In addition to acting, she has begun a new journey as an independent producer and administrative business partner for Next 10 Ventures. She is currently producing her second feature film, Born That Way. emmadonson.com
Shelly Goldstein (Actor/Writer) has written for every genre of TV, film and stage. Her one-woman shows have played to sell-out crowds throughout the US and UK. She has written or punched-up sitcoms, dramas, films, lyrics, documentaries, animation, award shows, jokes and special material for such artists as Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin and Barbra Streisand.
AJ Meijer (Actor) is an Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence at JWT. He has appeared in films including Laundromat, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and on TV shows including Sneaky Pete, NCIS:LA and Hannah Montana. He is a member of the original cast of the off-Broadway smash hit musical Heathers and featured on the cast recording. ajmeijer.com.
KATE ZENTALL (Actor) is proud to be an Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence at JWT, where she has appeared in over 14 different shows. She has performed in many NYC venues, including The Public Theater, Guggenheim Museum, and Carnegie Hall. In LA, there's been lots of Shakespeare, Irish plays, English comedies, and modern dramas, at the Taper and other companies around LA.
Susan Morgenstern (Director and JWT Producing Director) began directing in college by staging musical-theatre concert readings while co-teaching American musical comedy at UC Santa Cruz. Her LA productions include Theatre West, the Falcon/Garry Marshall Theatre, and the Whitefire Theatre, among others. She also works as a consultant director at Disneyland.
Ronda Spinak (JWT Artistic Director and curator of JWT salon shows) co-founded JWT 12 years ago and since has created 45 original themed-shows, spotlighting Latino Jews, Persian Jews, Jews of Color and Sephardic Jews. She also developed five one-person shows, including Not That Jewish, which had a successful off Broadway run and Rain Pryor's Fried Chicken & Latkes. Spinak is a graduate of Stanford University and holds an MBA from UCLA's Anderson School of Management.
JWT, recently voted one of the "Best Live Theatres on the Westside" three years in a row by The Argonaut, stages and displays traditional and contemporary works and educational programming that provide a forum for the development, performance and showcasing of Jewish artistic talent. Learn more about JWT at: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.