Billy Yalowitz, Playwright
Billy Yalowitz’s theater and dance works have been presented at Culture Project, Dixon Place, Storahtelling Ritual Theater, Untitled Theater Co. # 61, NYC; the Painted Bride Art Center, Freedom Theater, and People’s Light & Theater Co., Philadelphia; and other regional theaters and international venues. He was named “Best Unclassifiable Theater Artist” by Philadelphia’s City Paper, Best Choreographer by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was nominated for a Barrymore Award for his choreographic work. In addition to his work off-off-Broadway and in regional theater, Billy has directed critically acclaimed performance-installations in several Philadelphia communities, including the Black Bottom in West Philadelphia, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture in Kensington, and with Art Sanctuary in North Philadelphia. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Jerusalem Post, and other publications, and profiled in Letting Go – Arts & Public History, Brother Keepers: New Perspectives On Jewish Masculinity, White Men Challenging Racism, and Body and Bible. Billy is Associate Professor and co-director of the Community Arts Practices Program at Tyler School of Art, Temple University.
David Schechter, Director
David Schechter is a multi-faceted theatre artist with a considerable scope and prolific achievement. David has directed and/or co-written over 150 productions, including the original musicals: Soul Doctor (Broadway), Hannah Senesh (Off-Broadway, Drama Desk Award Nomination), Almost September (8 Bay Area Critic Circle Awards, 7 Dramalogue Awards, including Best Director), The Jungle Book (Broadway’s New Victory Theater), A Letter to Harvey Milk (winner of 5 top jury awards at the New York Musical Theatre Fest.), Esmeralda (National Endowment for the Arts grant), Brechtspiel (commissioned by Lucille Lortel), A Talmud Tale (published by Ben Yehuda Press), Guarding the Garden (published in Lilith Magazine and Torah of the Earth anthology). He co-wrote and/or directed eight musicals for young audiences for Theatreworks/USA and Making Books Sing, four original musicals for The Clayton Opera House and his own one man show, Seen. He shared the Obie Award as a co-creator of Nightclub Cantata and contributed original material to the multiple Tony Award Nominated Broadway musical, Runaways. His adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s story Gimpel The Fool (La Mama, ETC) was honored by the Nobel Laureate’s personal endorsement.
Other regional directing credits include: Angels in America, A Little Night Music, Three Sisters, Our Country’s Good, The Miser, Candida, Antigone, Marvin’s Room, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Double Crossed (for the U.S. Holocaust Museum.) He directed the American premiere of Udo Zimmermann’s opera The White Rose at Opera/Omaha. David was the Artist-in-Residence for 12 years with Roots and Branches Intergenerational Theater, co-creating an original theater piece each of those years. He co-founded the traveling experimental theatre group, VIA THEATRE with Anne Bogart and Ossian Cameron. As screenwriter, he co-wrote Steve Buscemi’s film Interview ( 2007 Independent Spirit Award nod) and Stanley Tucci’s film Blind Date. He is the director of the documentary film Who Cares About Pal Frenak?
David directed the staged reading of East Towards Home at the Museum of Jewish American History in Philadelphia.
Eleanor Reissa as SYLVIE
Eleanor Reissa, born and bred in Brooklyn, is a Tony Award-nominated singer and actress, as well as a director and playwright. She has performed on Broadway and off, including a critically-acclaimed turn in the title role in Yentl. Most recently, Eleanor guest starred on CBS’s Unforgettable, and originated the role of “Old Gittl” in Dan Fishback’s The Material World.
A native Yiddish speaker and singer, Eleanor has recorded 2 CDs of Yiddish songs. She has performed her one woman shows Eleanor Reissa Sings English at the Metropolitan Room, and Hip, Heymish, And Hot in NYC/national tour. She has sung at international festivals including Warsaw, Israel, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
Eleanor is a former Artistic Director of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre. On Broadway she garnered a Tony Nomination for direction of the musical Those Were The Days, which she also choreographed and starred in. She was the winner of the Dorothy Silver Prize for her play Wishful Thinking and a finalist for Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
David Kremenitzer as YOUTH
David Kremenitzer is an actor, dancer and singer who has worked in film, television and on stage since the age of ten. Most recently, David performed in the world premiere new play Life Science, by Anna Ziegler at Berkshire Playwrights Lab, and with Parallel Exit in their new show I Heart Bob at the Joyce Soho. David originated the role of “Heshy” in the world premiere Off-Broadway Workshop, My Mother, My Sister & Me, opposite Tony Award winner Kelly Bishop.
Other roles include turns at Hartford Stage, The Bushnell Theater, The Wadsworth Atheneum and The Joyce in NYC. On television, David has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on Comedy Central’s Important Things with Demetri Martin, and on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. David graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Hartt School of Music, and has worked as an opera singer, tap dancer, and clown.
Brian Gunter as WOODY GUTHRIE
Raised on folk music in Kansas, Brian Gunter has performed nationally and internationally as an actor and singer/multi-instrumentalist.
Credits include Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Stage Repertory, Houston, TX); Careless Love (Oberon Theater, ART, Cambridge, MA); Austria, Italy, and the Czech Republic tour of This Land is Your Land; The Caine Mutiny (San Jose Rep, San Jose, CA). Gunter is a winner of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award – Leading Actor in a Musical, for his work at Berkely Rep.
Dustin Grella, Animator
Dustin Grella is an animator and filmmaker who has exhibited his work at galleries including the AC Institute, New York, NY, Japan Media Arts Festival, Tokyo, Japan; Visual Arts Gallery, New York, NY; Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH; Corsica Studios, London, England. His work has been screened at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, Anima Mundi, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the Anecy Animation Festival, France and DOK Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
Dustin has received grants from the LMCC Manhattan Cultural Art Fund , the Franklin Furnace Fund and was awarded the Next Great Filmmaker Award from the Berkshire International Film Festival, the Walt Disney Award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. His work has appeared through the New York Times. His Animation Hotline is a series of micro-animation that use crowd sourced voice-mail messages for content.
Michael Raine, Choreographer
Michael grew up dancing around the Boston area, and graduated with a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Choreography credits include: 42nd Street, Rent, Thoroughly Modern Millie, On the Town, A Letter to Harvey Milk, I Sing!, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He has also staged dances for several plays, including The Cherry Orchard, Miss Julie, Ring Round the Moon and Landscape of the Body. Michael choreographs videos and children’s programming annually for Oorah’s “Shmorg” DVD, including all six episodes of “The Mashal Man” and the Fiveish dance. He has been teaching tap, ballroom and historical movement at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program since 2008, and spent over a decade on faculty at CAP21 Conservatory. Michael has studied Puppetry and Biomechanics in Bulgaria, Stanislavski in Moscow, and the Viewpoints with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company. He is currently a resident director at the Flea theater, NYC.
Theater for the New City
Theater for the New City is an award-winning off-Broadway theater, having presented many influential theater artists and companies of the last quarter century, including Sam Shepard, Moises Kaufman, Richard Foreman, Maria Irene Fornes, Tim Robbins. Mabou Mines, the Living Theater, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and over 40 OBIE Awards.
Frances Acuña-Almiron, Stage Manager
Fran has worked several festivals, shows and toured nationally and regionally as a Stage Manager with various companies around NYC. Favorite shows include The Weir at Irish Repertory Theatre and the national tours of Anne of Green Gables and Skippyjon Jones! This is Fran’s first production with Theater for the New City and feels truly blessed to be a part of yet another amazing theater company in NYC!
Alexander Bartenieff, Lighting Designer
Alexander has long been the Lighting Designer-in-Residence at the legendary Theater for the New City in New York’s culturally thriving East Village. He also works in the Swedish Cottage Marionette House, a beloved destination for children, located in the midst of Central Park.
Joseph Blaha, Costume Designer
Joseph worked with our director, David Schechter, two summers ago on the multiple award winning musical A Letter to Harvey Milk at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. He has spent many seasons as assistant designer to David Woolard whose work is frequently represented on Broadway.
Daniela Hart, Sound Designer
Originally from Texas, Daniela is a director and music director based in Manhattan. Daniela holds BFAs in Musical Theatre and Acting from East Carolina University. She is a Resident Director with the Flea Theater, a member of the Tres Artis Directing Society in NYC as well as a Literary Wing member for The Lark Play Development Center. Her recent projects for directing and sound design include Smashed The Opera (Here Theatres and Opera on Tap) Iphigenia in Aulis (La Mama with Untitled Theatre Company#61) Young Frankenstein and Harvey [IslandETC] The Misanthrope (BrooklynONEtheatre), Yahweh on Broadway (La Vie Theatre).
Dana J. Schneider, Fundraising & Outreach Consultant / Production Coordinator
Lifelong Brooklynite Dana Jan Schneider is a consultant and facilitator who has been working for justice – and to create and support arts and culture in New York City and across North America – for over 15 years. Grounded by a belief in creating healthy practices and building sustainable movements, Dana works with social change groups and individual artists to grow their capacity, systems, and resources, and to increase overall effectiveness and impact.
Dana has held staff positions at the Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jewish Voice for Peace. She has extensive experience with individual and institutional fundraising, event production and outreach, program and board development, and strategic planning. She earned a BA from Wesleyan University, a certificate in Arts Administration from the Arts Leadership Institute, and a Masters in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU.
Amanda Joseph, Advisory Committee Chair
Amanda Joseph is a social and economic justice professional leveraging more than two decades of impact and collaboration in philanthropic, nonprofit and social enterprise sectors to support organizations and projects in which she believes. Amanda brings deep experience and proven expertise in building strategic partnerships and networks, philanthropy and fundraising, community economic development and impact investment, program and project management for both new and existing initiatives.
Most recently, Amanda directed affiliate operations at Solutions for Progress, assisting individuals and families to sustainably move out of poverty through the practical application of technology, public-private partnerships, and civic engagement. Previously, Amanda co-created and directed “TZEDEC: The Jewish Partnership for Community Investing,” the first and only national initiative to organize the American Jewish community to invest in low-wealth communities across the county. She holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management, an AB from Bryn Mawr College, and a banjo on occasion (special thanks to Billy!).
Antonia Z Brown, Graphic Designer & Online Media Manager
Antonia is a freelance graphic designer and online media manager, working to crowd-source support and build audiences for projects through well-designed and thoughtfully executed online platforms. For East Towards Home, she designs and updates the website, consults for and activates the Indiegogo campaign, sends out MailChimp newsletters and manages Facebook interactions.
Bob Finkelstein, Indiegogo Videographer
Bob Finkelstein makes short promotional videos for artists, small artisan-style businesses and non-profits. He is a freelance videographer and video editor living and working in Philadelphia. He used to work as a reporter for a major national business wire service and other daily and weekly publications, but finds it a much better use of his time to help small business owners and artists communicate what makes them unique and important. His video experience also includes producing web ads for (and against) politicians that have generated thousands of views, and attracted attention from media outlets on their own.