A SHAYNA MAIDEL
Meet The Cast
Jillian Blair, “Mama”
I first fell in love with music and theatre while growing up in Ohio. I had long been a singer, but when I got into high school, I was in my first play/musical and right away I knew I wanted to be an actress. I was lucky enough to get into my dream theater school—Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) Music Theatre Conservatory in New York City—and was part of the first graduating class after they partnered with Molloy College. I’m mostly known as a character actress and play lots of villain roles! Mama is a selfless and brave woman. Faith and family are the most important things to her and she will sacrifice anything for them. I connect to her “everything happens for a reason” mentality. That’s a mantra Mama and I live by every day.What I think is most relevant for today's audiences about "A Shayna Maidel" is the idea of maintaining hope after (and during) suffering. Not to mention the narrative of an immigrant family, and how blocking people out can cause significant damage. I hope that audiences will take away from this production the idea that no matter what happens, things can get better.
All things are possible with love, family and faith.
Cristen Stephansky, “Rose”
My name is Cristen Stephansky. After graduating from the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts (3-year program) in 2012, I've worked as a professional actor in theater and film primarily in the DC area. Also, I write short plays for fun.
Rose White (born Rayzel Weiss) was born in Poland, but she moved with her father to America when she was 4 years old. They escaped in 1928 before the Nazis invaded Poland, the Great Depression and WWII. Unfortunately, her sister Lusia got sick and stayed behind with their mother; they got caught in the Holocaust. Rose grew up to be a "typical" happy American - loving movies, games, clothes, and food; speaking English; having a cheerful, positive outlook/exterior, and even changing her name to fit in. However, the absence of her mother and sister, and her somewhat tense relationship with her father, continue to haunt her. As a single woman in the 1940s, she has her own apartment and career in New York City and is a strong, independent person and a good cook. When the play begins, her father shows up at her apartment in the middle of the night to inform her that her sister, whom she doesn't remember, will be arriving and moving in with her in a few weeks.
Jerry Schuchman as “Mordechai”
I recently retired so I have a lot more time to work on my role (learning lines is definitely more difficult as one “matures”). Although I’ve had no formal training, I’ve been active in several community theaters for over 30 years as an actor, set builder, board operator, stage manager and producer.
Mordechai is the “Papa” of two sisters who are reunited after 16 years of separation caused by the Depression, WWII and the Holocaust. Playing this role has been especially challenging for me because of my own family’s Holocaust experience. More than with any part I’ve previously had, I’ve had to struggle to keep my personal feelings from intruding upon the character I’m playing.
Whether one calls it “fate” or “destiny” or “the will of God,” I think "A Shayna Maidel" will bring home to the audience the extent to which our lives are beyond our personal control. I applaud Peace Mountain Theatre Company’s selection of this play at this time, when so many Americans have lost sight of the fact that we are a country of immigrants who have had to struggle with separation from family, culture and, in most cases, language. Also, as with any production dealing with the Holocaust, our audience must leave the theater determined to redouble their efforts to protect our democracy because, yes, it can happen here.
Deliana Daskalova as "Hanna"
My name is Deliana Daskalova and I'm from Bulgaria. I studied theatre at the University of Maryland and upon graduation I moved to New York City, where I worked in film production for ten years before coming back to Washington D.C. I performed in and directed a few short plays while in New York, but most of my theatre experience is rooted back here in D.C.
I play Hanna, who is an incredibly strong and hopeful person despite the unthinkable horrors of the Nazi concentration camps she had to live through and endure. Hanna's unquestionable devotion to her best friend, Lusia, helps both of them to stay alive even when all of their family members vanish. She has touched me deeply and I highly admire her loyalty, stamina and gentle care towards her friend, even as her own health deteriorates.
I hope that the audience will be able to get even a small glimpse of what a lot of immigrants, including my family and I, felt upon first arrival in this new environment - the uncertainty, the feeling of not belonging, the hardship of starting a new life, the search for familiar language, culture, traditions, and of course—the excitement of a new beginning!
David Dieudonne as "Duvid"
David is pleased to appear in his second show at PMTC, having last been seen as George in "All My Sons". Other recent credits include: Brutus (Julius Caesar, with Capital City Players DC), Tom Wingfield (The Glass Menagerie) and Jim Reston (Frost/Nixon), both at Silver Spring Stage, and Arthur Roeder (Radium Girls, at Rockville Little Theatre). He will next be directing "Stonefish" for The Coil Project. Many thanks to Laurie for her guidance. Obicham te, Didi!
Annette Kalicki as "Lusia"
Annette (Lusia), making her PMTC debut, has performed as Bunny in "The House of Blue Leaves," Pearl in "These Shining Lives," Rose in "Enchanted April," and Honey in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (Silver Spring Stage); Mae in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Claire in "Proof," Doris in "Same Time Next Year," Catherine in "The Foreigner," and Ann in "All My Sons" (Rockville Little Theatre); Elvira in "Blithe Spirit" and Annelle in "Steel Magnolias" (Potomac Theatre Company); Ilona in "She Loves Me" (Damascus Theatre Company); and Bella Manningham in "Angel Street" (Montgomery Playhouse).
Laurie T. Freed, Artistic Director
Laurie is honored to direct "A Shayna Maidel," a play that resonates with today's important issues. Laurie has directed other Peace Mountain Theatre Company productions, "Collected Stories," "All My Sons" and "A Delicate Balance". Known throughout the D.C. area as a director and actress, Ms. Freed is honored to be the Artistic Director for PMTC. Laurie holds Master’s Degrees in Theatre and Drama Therapy and has taught theatre on both the West and East Coasts. Laurie thanks the cast and crew of A Shayna Maidel for their talent and dedication to this most wonderful play.
She would also like to dedicate this play to her two grandmothers, Yietta Taple and Dora Dudovitz, who came to America, built a home for their family, and passed on their wisdom to future generations. Such "Shayna Maidelehs"!