Welcome to LizaFest!
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Who's Who

Liza Lentini (Playwright) earned her MFA in Playwriting from Southern Illinois University.  Her plays have been performed at PS122, The Women's Project, The McGinn/Cazale Theatre, The Cherry Lane, and Manhattan Repertory Theater, garnering a multitude of honors and awards.  She is the creative director of Elephant Ensemble Theater, a company that brings performances to kids in hospitals.

 Manhattan Repertory Theatre (Producer) produces original plays in the heart of Times Square.  MRT runs seasonal play festivals, produces Manhattan Repertory Theatre company plays, and produces returning festival artists. Created in 2005 by Ken Wolf, Artistic Director, and Jennifer Pierro, Director of Productions, Manhattan Repertory Theatre has produced over 225 plays, and over 1,500 theatre artists have participated.

Nell Balaban (Director "C Zone" & “Small Talk”):  Katharine Heller’s Boy in the Basement (outstanding director award) at the 2008 New York Fringe Festival; The Front (Manhattan Theatre Club);  Associate Director on projects including Golda’s Balcony (B’way), Much Ado About Nothing (The Alley), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Paper Mill) and Rooms (New World Stages).

Brion Dinges (Director "Gentleman Caller" & "Tiny")  As an actor, Brion has performed at New York Theatre Workshop, The Public, Arena Stage, Rattlestick Theatre, 78th Street Theatre lab, The Lark, and Manhattan Repertory Theatre.  He has worked with such directors as Jo Bonney (SubUrbia), Loretta Greco (Sincerity Forever, Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea), Jerry Manning (Our Country’s Good), and Joy Zinoman (Three Sisters).  As a filmmaker, Brion has directed and starred in his full-length feature documentary, The Wizard of Wichita, and has directed many shorts for Elephant Ensemble Theater.  You can see more of Brion’s shorts via YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Burgeois He would like to thank Liza for all here inspiration and the opportunity to be a part of her “Lizatastical” work.

Lisa Garrabrant (Mrs. Beard, “Christiana & the Doctor’s Wife”)  Most recently seen in an original adaptation of War of the Worlds at the Hackensack Cultural Atrs Centre. Other roles include Aldonza in Man of LaMancha, Titania in Fools in Love, a musical version of Midsummer Night's Dream and Maggie in The Shadow Box. Upcoming projects include an internet television program entitled "Neighborhood Treasures" and "Jerry's Girl's" at HCAC.

Vanessa Guarino (Maria, “The Red Hands”)  Vanessa, unlike Maria, hails from the US, but they share something in common: the passion/strength of their Italian heritage, and she is proud to get back to her roots in this play! She been seen around town in various workshops/readings, short films and Off-Off Broadway productions with From The Ground Up Theatre Company, which she is a member. She would like to thank her family and friends for they continual and loving support on the road to her dreams and her Nana, for being the strongest women she knows!!

Deepti Gupta
(Kristina, “The Red Hands”) TV: Fringe, Knights of Prosperity, Kidnapped, Third Watch. Theatre: Mass/Person (Manhattan Theatre Source), There or Here (Hypothetical Theatre Co.), Ivanov (Mint Theatre & NAATCO), Merchant of Venice (American Globe Theatre), Baghdad Burning (Sixfigures Theatre Company), Spontaneous Combustion (Manhattan Theatre Source). MFA (UT Austin). For Film & VoiceOver visit

Michael C. Harmon (Blake, “Garden Party”)  Michael has been in numerous plays such as A View From The Bridge, Macbeth, Dial "M" For Murder, and many others. He has also starred in some independent short films. Michael would also like to thank Mom, Dad, Deb and the rest of the family for there love and support. 

Joan Kane (Director "M5" & "Beat the Sun") Director:  Cloven Tongues by Victor Lesniewski (Bank St. Theater) Professional Misconduct by Carol Berman (Ferber productions at Workshop Theater) Zugswang  by Jessica Hinds (Vigina Festival at Sage Theater) The Perfect Older Woman by Bridgette Boucher and Before the Door by Lanny Meyers (Smauel French Festival) World Premire of The Awakening by Kate Chopin and adapted by Gayle Stahlhuth (East Lynn Theater Cape May, NJ) Haiku Moon by Jeanine Hamilton  (Henry Street Settlement)  Director and writer of The Trial of Mary Reade (The Sackett group) Joan teaches puppetry arts & playwrighting in the NYC public schools. Member of SSDC. 

Aaron Kotte (Jim, “Small Talk” & Brick, “Gentleman Caller”) originally from Cincinnati, OH, has taken part in several readings in and around New York and is absolutely thrilled to be making his NYC stage debut with Lizafest. He would like to thank, Brion, Nell, & Liza for this opportunity. And to Lea: thanks for everything."

Lea Leneskie-Kotte (Max, The C Zone) graduated from Ohio University with a BFA in Performance in 2006. Her favorite roles include: Second Engineer (The Insect Play), Jane (I’ll Be Back Before Midnight), and Antoinette (A Flea in Her Ear). She would like to thank Jessica, Nell, and as always her husband Aaron; for everything.

Lindsay MacNaughton (Minnie, “Tiny”) is thrilled to be part of LIZAFEST, after working with Ms. Lentini on Woodhull and as part of the Elephant Ensemble.  Lindsay holds a B.F.A in Drama from Syracuse University.  She was most recently seen in Sick Little Productions’ The Outer Puppets.  Lindsay also teaches drama and musical theatre at the Creative Arts Studio.

Robert McKeon (Man, “M5”) Recent credits: Professional Misconduct at Workshop Theater and a national commercial filmed in California.  Robert Is thrilled to be, once again, working with director, Joan Kane.

Brendan J. O'Brien (Production Stage Manager) is the Resident Stage Manager for Elephant Ensemble Theater where he is currently working with both The Pirate and the Squid and Thumbelina.  Also with Elephant Brendan has stage managed Woodhull with the NY International Fringe Festival last summer.  Other Off-Off Broadway credits include A Year in the Life and From Gershwin to Berlin.  London credits include Stage Manager for Hillsong at the Dominion Theatre (West End) and Colour Conference 2009 at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Megan Ribar
(Christiana, “Christiana & the Doctor’s Wife” & Mary, “Beat the Sun”) is very excited to be showing her dark and twisty side in LIZAFEST!  Favorite credits include The Courageous One, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Muse for the Disaffected, and The Winter's Tale.  She is recent graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  Thanks to Liza, Christine, Joan, and Nell!

David Riley (Frankie, “Beat the Sun”)  LIZAFEST is David Riley's first New York stage appearance. He recently migrated from San Francisco to New York to begin the New School for Drama's MFA in Acting program. David would like to thank Joan Kane and Liza Lentini for giving him the opportunity to work with such a terrific creative team.

Andy Schneeflock (Gunther, “Garden Party”).  Andy is thrilled to be a part of LIZAFEST!  He has been in plays, TV and independent films. He was trained at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School and now teachers there.  He is a proud member of Josh Pais’ Committed Impulse Acting Ensemble.  Love to Leah.

Lindsay Schmidt (Nancy, “Garden Party”) is very excited to be back in New York and participating in LIZAFEST.  She spent the last four years acting in Chicago where she most recently appeared as Belinda in Neil LaBute's This is How it Goes.  Before going to Chicago, Lindsay graduated from the Atlantic Theater Company's two-year conservatory.

Christine Seisler
  (Director “Christiana and the Doctor’s Wife”)  As an actor, Christine has performed in numerous NYC productions including Off-Broadway roles in Fools In Love (Manhattan Ensemble) and Last Jew In Europe (The Triad).  Last summer she produced Elephant Ensemble Theater’s Woodhull in FringeNYC.  NYC directing credits include Surrender, The Euthanasist (also by Lentini), and most recently The Dispute by Moira McMahon.  Christine is the Managing Director of Elephant Ensemble Theater and is also a member of the bi-coastal theater company From The Ground Up.

Melanie Sutherland (Director “The Garden Party) Director: Harry the Hunk On His Way Out by Warren Bodow (Cherry Lane); Fargo by David Morse, and Easter in an Alley by Michael Rispoli, featuring Tony-winner Frank Wood (Circle Rep); A Pirate’s Lullaby by Jessica Litwak (Rattlestick); and a gender-bending The Misanthrope (AAI Productions).  Received John Golden Award for Directing; listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, and International Who’s Who. Judge: Callaway Award; Board Member: New York Women’s Agenda (NYWA), and League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW). Produce Networking Events; design Wrist Art.  Past President of the New York Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts & Media (NYCWAM). Artist Residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts. Directors Lab Chicago, Directors Lab West.  Member: SSDC, LPTW, NYWIFT, NYCWAM, NYWA

Eric Sydnor (Director "The Red Hands"). MFA, Purdue University (How I Learned to Drive), Intern, Steppenwolf (AD, …Cuckoo’s Nest). Chicago, (AD, Dinah Was tour); Los Angeles, Artistic Director, Spotlight Theatre (Director, One Neck); New York, director with AMDA, City Attic Theatre, Curan Rep, Common Thread Theatre Company. Ballroom Dance Instructor, American Ballroom Theatre, School of American Ballet.

Jessica Vera (Sam, "The C Zone")  Actress/Voice over Artist/Producer/Maker of Mean Enchiladas.  Previous credits include: Instant Theater: Attack of the Bedbugs, A Year in the Life (Producer), and La Ronde.  Most recent voice over completed for Betty Crocker.  A HUGE amount of gratitude to friends who support me with enormous patience, grace, laughter and love

Ryan Wright (Jack, “Small Talk”) is thrilled to be working on another Liza Lentini play after appearing in Woodhull at the NYCFringe Festival. Recent credits include Alley of Masks (Wings Theatre), Show Boat (Heights Players), Caligula (Horizon Theatre Rep.). BA in Theater from George Mason University. Thank you Nell, Aaron, and Lea!

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