Diana Bukowska (Rose Klepfisz & Ensemble). My name is Diana Bukowska. I am an actress new to the Bay Area, having grown up, studied, and worked in Poland before moving to San Francisco in October 2022. Two years ago, I graduated from the National Academy of Theatre Arts, specializing in theater and film acting. With six years of experience in the field, I have been fortunate to perform in various theatrical productions in Wroclaw, including the Grotowski Institute, Wroclaw Contemporary Theatre, and my alma mater, where I showcased my talent in the diploma performance titled “Other People.”
I truly believe that acting starts with the body and movement. This belief has been shaped by my involvement with the physical theater company PSYCHOTEATR, which captivated me with the magic of body and movement on stage. In my acting journey, I cherish the connection and experience of emotions with the audience. My aspiration is to explore the world of performing in the Bay Area, exchanging international experiences, and nurturing a love for acting in an inclusive and friendly artistic environment.
Aviya Hernstadt (Young Irena & Ensemble) (she/her) is a queer New York-Jewish performance artist working primarily in movement, autobiography, and comedy, bouncing between Brooklyn and Oakland. She deconstructs Jewish rituals, traditions, and stories and reimagines them in contemporary, diasporic contexts. Aviya’s work also lives in symbiosis with her teaching practice with young artists. In addition to performing her own work across venues in New York City, she has performed in collaboration with Carmen Caceres DanceAction, Yehuda Hyman’s Mystical Feet Company, and The New Shul. She is grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the EmergeNYC Fellowship and the residency at The Sable Project in Vermont. Aviya can also be seen creating and supporting fantastical explorations of queer joy and mischief in queer nightlife performance spaces.
Ariel Luckey (Michal Klepfisz & Ensemble) Born and raised in Oakland/Huchiun, Ariel Luckey is an interdisciplinary artist and activist who blurs the lines between performance, ritual and collective action. His solo plays Free Land and Amnesia illustrate his life and family history as a cartography of race, class, land and intergenerational healing. His band Waystation’s debut album rememory remixes hip hop and klezmer and he continues to make music in a neo-traditional klezmer project. Ariel earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and has been an Artist in Residence at La Peña Cultural Center, the White Privilege Conference and June Jordan’s Poetry for the People at U.C. Berkeley. He is the Development Director at Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led land trust, and he is a co-founder of Jews On Ohlone Land.
Naomi Newman (Irena, the poet) Before co-founding A Traveling Jewish Theatre Newman was a concert singer, television actor, improvisational theater director, and psychotherapist. For over three decades with TJT, she changed hats between director, playwright, and performer, winning awards in each field.
Since the closing of ATJT she directed her colleague, Corey Fisher in his one man show, Lighting in the Brain and Mr. Fisher then directed World on Fire, a poetry/music piece about Climate Disruption, conceived of and performed by Ms. Newman and Barbara Borden, percussion, and Susanne DiVincenzo, bass and cello. This piece won the, Social Change Through Music award at the National Women’s Music Festival in 2021.
For her contributions to the cultural life in the Bay Area Ms. Newman has received a Tikkun Award, A Millie, and Theatre Bay Area’s Community Leadership Award. A volume containing the oral history of her life and career is now part of the Legacy Collection of The S.F. Performing Arts Museum.
Barbara Borden (drummer/percussionist) began drumming at age ten.
She has collaborated with many musicians and artists along the way, including 8-years with the all-women jazz quintet, Alive! She is currently playing with Joy Alive! featuring Terry Garthwaite and Susanne DiVincenzo. She has composed and recorded her CDs, Beauty in the Beat, & All Hearts Beating, and appears on other artists’ albums. Borden composed the score for her solo autobiographical percussion play, She Dares to Drum. She also co-created the score to World on Fire, a poetry-music theatre piece about climate change, conceived and performed by Naomi Newman.
Barbara loves to get people drumming by teaching privately and facilitating drum circles. She is the subject of the acclaimed documentary, Barbara Borden: Keeper of the Beat.
Barbara continues to dedicate her life to keeping the heartbeat of joy, compassion, and creativity alive.
Susanne DiVincenzo (bass and cello) is a founding member of the all women jazz quintet, Alive! and is currently involved in many musical projects: teaching workshops at the CA Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, and playing with the newly formed trio, Joy Alive! with Terry Garthwaite and Barbara Borden. Susanne has just come from the National Women’s Music Festival (NWMF) in Wisconsin where she played with the NWMF Orchestra and with Melba’s Kitchen, a Bay Area all women’s Big Band specializing in the music of Mary Lou Williams and Melba Liston. In a previous project with Barbara Borden and Naomi Newman, Susanne co-composed and performed the music for World on Fire, a poetry-music theater piece about climate change and related challenges.
Irena Klepfisz taught Jewish Women’s Studies at Barnard College for 22 years. She is the author of five books of poetry including Her Birth and Later Years: New and Collected Poems, 1971-2021 (winner of the 2023 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry; finalist for a 2023 National Jewish Book Award), Periods of Stress, Keeper of Accounts, Different Enclosures, A Few Words in the Mother Tongue, and a collection of essays Dreams of an Insomniac. She is one of the foremost advocates of the Yiddish language and its renaissance in the United States. Her work has appeared in Tablet Magazine, The Manhattan Review, The Georgia Review, In Geveb, Sinister Wisdom, The Current, and Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures.
Priyana Atwal (Assistant Stage Manager/Props) is excited to be working on this production with the Yiddish Theater Ensemble! She is currently enrolled in Chabot College and earning her Associates in Arts for transfer. She has previously been assistant stage manager and props master for Tartufe and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chabot as well as assistant stage manager for La Vida Lobo with Theatre Cultura. Priyana was also stage manager for the first time for Emerging Works! at Chabot College, a show made up of four short plays written and directed by students. She is very early in her theatrical career and she is thrilled to share her talent with the community. She is very grateful to the production team, Laura, Bruce, and Romeo for having her on board and giving her this opportunity. She would also like to thank her friends for supporting her in her career.
Bruce Bierman (Director) is Co-Artistic Director of Yiddish Theatre Ensemble. He directed and choreographed YTE’s acclaimed productions of Di Megileh of Itzik Manger and the award-winning filmed version of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance. Bruce performed and taught with the Aman Folk Dance Ensemble of Los Angeles inspiring him to return to his own cultural roots to study the origin sources of Jewish theater and dance. He served as Yiddish dance dramaturg for several productions of Paula Vogel’s, Indecent at the Arena Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and most recently with YTE’s award-winning co-production with the San Francisco Playhouse. His versatile theater work as actor, director, playwright and choreographer have been seen at South Coast Repertory, Odyssey Theater Ensemble, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Celebration Theater, 24th St Theater, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, New Conservatory Theater, and the Ashby Stage. Bruce is also a passionate teaching artist in the Creative Aging field, bringing dance and theater programs to elders and memory care patients of all abilities throughout the Bay Area.
Romeo Channer (Stage Manager) is an actor and stage manager from Berkeley. They are also a student of Jewish history, culture, and activism. Romeo is thrilled to be working with the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble for the first time! Their recent stage management work includes TheatreFIRST’s A Marriage and the Lower Bottom Playaz/Oakland Theater Project’s The Mojo and the Say-So.
Mark Faulkner( Film/Video Editor) Since moving to the Bay Area from New England in 1997, Mark has been producing, directing and editing film/video for artists, celebrities and journalists as well as for corporate clients. In addition to his work with YTE, he is currently editing feature stories for the PBS NewsHour.
Jeremy Knight (Film Designer) has created innovative projections for nearly fifty theatrical productions over the past twenty years. Two operas he provided projections for—Allen Shearer’s Middlemarch in Spring and Alban Berg’s Lulu—were among the San Francisco Chronicle’s “top ten operatic events” of 2015. His work was seen last year at West Edge Opera’s production of Paul Dukas’s Ariane and Bluebeard at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center, and earlier this year at Ninth Planet’s production of Allen Shearer’s Prospero’s Island at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. During the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic he was Production Designer, Editor, and Technical Director of Yiddish Theatre Ensemble’s 2021 film of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, painstakingly filmed using Zoom over the course of three months.
Kevin Myrick (Lighting Designer), is an Artist and Technologist. Kevin was one of the first to combine video projection and personal computers, stream video online, and was a pioneer in community television. Kevin was Technical Director and resident designer for over 20 years at the Buriel Clay Theatre in the African American Arts & Culture Complex, working with resident companies (AfroSolo, Cultural Odyssey, The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, The African-American Shakespeare Company, Push Dance). Myrick has designed Lighting, Sound and/or Projections, most recently for The African-American Shakespeare Company (Richard II, Echoes of Us), TheatreFirst (The Last Sermon of Sister Imani, A Marriage), Ray of Light Theatre (Caroline or Change), Youth Musical Theatre Company (Batboy, Rent), Throckmorton Theatre (Ragtime, Footloose, The Sound of Music), Lorraine Hansberry Theatre Company (Single Black Female, Intimate Apparel), San Francisco Playhouse (Hieroglyph, Twelfth Night the Musical), Altarena Theatre (Slow Food), Center Repertory Company (Sweat) and Aurora Theatre Company (Cyrano).
Karen Sellinger (Assistant Director) is a retired psychotherapist, actor and classical guitarist. She has acted with Stagebridge of Oakland, and Generation Theatre of San Francisco. She also is a musician for the San Francisco Playback Theater Company. This is her first time as assistant director and feels honored to be working with such a wonderful cast and production team.
Laura Sheppard (Producer) is Co-Artistic Director of Yiddish Theatre Ensemble, producer, and a professionally trained actor. She was co-producer and cast member of YTE’s popular musical production of Di Megileh of Itzik Manger (2014, 2015) and producer of their award-winning online production of God of Vengeance (2021). Laura’s original theater work includes Still Life with (Gertrude) Stein which toured internationally to theater festivals. Her recent theater piece, Paris Portraits, about the writer Harriet Lane Levy was featured at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Since 2000 she has worked as Director of Events at San Francisco’s historic Mechanics’ Institute, where she presents ongoing cultural events. She also serves on the board of KlezCalifornia.
Kayleigh Stump (Costume Designer) is a current student of Chabot College studying theater. She also works closely with the theater department to bring works to life such as Molière’s Tartuffe and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a specialty of Western European historical costume design and research in the Victorian and Elizabethan eras, Between World’s setting of traveling through the 1940’s Warsaw ghetto and to Brooklyn through the 70’s was a novel challenge of research and sourcing. She is honored to help tell important stories and work with the wonderful production team.