Sophia Romma (playwright)
Sophia Romma (playwright, poet, screenwriter, director) is the author of three plays, Love, in the Eyes of Hope, Dies Last, Coyote, Take Me There! and Defenses of Prague, directed by Leslie Lee, the executive director of the Negro Ensemble Company, and produced at La MaMa E T C. She is the author of Sickle, also directed by Leslie Lee and produced at the American Theater for Actors, and Absolute Clarity, an Off-Broadway production at the Players Theatre, directed by Yuri Joffe of the celebrated Mayakovsky Academic Art Theater in Moscow, Russia. Her play The Past Is Still Ahead, directed by Swiss director François Rochaix, has been performed as an Off- Broadway production at the Cherry Lane Theater, has toured London at the Pushkin House and has been performed at the JCC Theater and at Oxford University. It has also been performed to rave reviews at the Mayakovsky Academic Art Theater and at the Millennium Theater in Brooklyn, NY.
Her play A Sweet Word of Advice, which Ms Romma also directed, was performed at the JCC Theater in Manhattan and won honorable mention at the Midtown International Theater Festival In 2010, the Negro Ensemble Company presented Ms Romma’s two one-acts With Aaron’s Arms around Me and The Mire as an Off-Broadway production at the Cherry Lane Theater. The plays were directed by Charles Weldon, the artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company, and received grand reviews in the New York Times. Her most recent play, Doroga, premiered at the JCC on March 8th and was just performed at the Gene Frankel Theater. Ms Romma is the author of the Garnet Grand Prix-winning film, Poor Liza (first prize for screenwriting and best original film at the St Petersburg Literature in Film Festival in St Petersburg, Russia). The film was directed by the cult-director of Liquid Sky, Slava Tsukerman, and starred Academy Award- winner Lee Grant and Academy Award-nominee Ben Gazzara She also shot and directed the award-wining documentary Sex Acts for Hire (an undercover glimpse into the Russian prostitution ring).
Ms Romma has taught drama at the Lander College for Women, screenwriting at the New York Film Academy and fundamentals of playwriting and screenwriting at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center and screenwriting for Slavs at McGill University. She will be conducting the courses Screenwriting 1 and The Fundamentals of Playwriting this spring at the NEC, and is slated to conduct a course entitled "Classic Narrative Hollywood Film and Avant-garde Cinema" next term and "Memoire Writing from the Heart".
Ms Romma currently holds the position of literary manager at the Negro Ensemble Company She is awaiting the publication of her collection of plays on the Off-Broadway circuit, Foreplay for Broadway, which is slated to be published by Liberty Publishing New York this autumn. Cabaret Émigré was first performed as a staged reading at The Dramatists Guild of America as part of the Friday Night Footlight Series (Women’s Initiative). Sophia Romma has been a member of The Dramatists Guild of America since 1998. She is a member of the Professional League of Women in Theatre, the National Association of Professional Women and a member of the Alumni Association Board at New York University for five years.
Charles Weldon (director)
Veteran actor of stage, film and television, Charles Weldon is the artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company, having starred in more than forty plays including The River Niger and A Soldier's Play. His film credits include Stir Crazy, Roots the Next Generation, Fast Walking, The Wishing Tree and Hill Street Blues. Charles commenced his career as lead singer of the Paradon’s with the number one song "Diamonds and Pearls." From there he moved on to musical theater, starting with the original San Francisco company of Hair (where all the actors came to work in costume). He came to New York with the Broadway musical Big Time Buck White staring Mohammed Ali Mr Weldon would like everyone to know that he is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Negro Ensemble Co, Inc with such literary torpedos as Sophia Romma’s Cabaret Émigré.
Lev Zhurbin (composer)
Hailed by the New York Times as “dizzyingly versatile … an eclectic with an ear for texture … strikingly original and soulful ” Ljova (Lev Zhurbin) was born in 1978 in Moscow, Russia, and moved to New York with his parents, composer Alexander Zhurbin and writer Irena Ginzburg, in 1990. He divides his time between performing as a violist in diverse groups ranging from his own, Ljova and the Kontraband, to string quartets, jazz combos and Gypsy bands; studying and arranging music for Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, Jay-Z, Gustavo Santa Olalla, Osvaldo Golijov, Alondra de la Parra and others; and composing original music for film, TV, dance and the concert stage. (www.ljova.com)
Ves Weaver (lighting designer)
Ves began his lighting career in Washington, DC, with the DC Black Repertory Company under the tutelage of Robert Hooks, Eric Hughes and Vantile Whitfield. After four years in commercial television production and management at WJLA TV7 and a European tour with The Howard University Players, Ves moved to New York City. As technical director of the Negro Ensemble Company, under Artistic Director Douglas Turner Ward, Ves supervised technical production for the original productions of Home, Weep Not for Me, A Soldier’s Play and many others.
In addition to technical direction, Ves has designed lighting for theater, dance, musicals, concerts, video productions and industrials from New York to Los Angeles. Ves designed and directed concert and video lighting for the Miles Davis Group from 1986 until Miles’ untimely death in 1991. Lighting design credits include As Bees in Honey Drown by Douglas C Beane, directed by Prof Susan Watson-Turner at Lehman College; Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner, directed by Ron Himes at St Louis Black Rep; The Waiting Room by Samm-Art Williams, Savannah Black and Blue by Raymond Jones and The Picture Box by Kate Ryan, all directed by Charles Weldon for The Negro Ensemble Company.
Dara Wishingrad (set designer)
From theater to independent film, Dara’s set design credits include Hard Times at the Cell Theatre, Martin: a New American Musical, book by Leslie Lee, music by Charles Strouse, produced by Negro Ensemble Company; Defenses of Prague, playwright Sophia Romma, produced by La MaMa E T C. Her film production design includes John Leguizamo’s Fugly!, Alfredo de Villa, director; He’s Way More Famous Than You, Michael Urie, director; Certainty, Peter Askin, director, Mike O’Malley, writer; Death in Love, Boaz Yakin, director and writer, Joseph Zolfo, producer; I Hate Valentine’s Day, Nia Vardalos, director and writer; A Very Serious Person, Charles Busch, director and writer, Daryl Roth, producer. Live event design includes Superbowl, Tribeca Film Festival, U S Open Golf Tournement and many others. A second generation émigré, Dara is thrilled to be playing again with Sophia Romma on Cabaret Émigré.
Lora Jackson (costume designer)
Lora is a native New Yorker who studied theater at The City College. She has been the costume designer for the Negro Ensemble Company on their most recent production of Playing with Fire, for which she has been nominated for an Audelco for costume design. She has also worked with the New Federal Theatre on Knock Me a Kiss, and their most recent production of Court Martial at Fort Devens, as the assistant to costume designer Ali Turns.
Leslie Dockery (choreographer)
Leslie made her Broadway directorial debut with Rollin’ on the T.O.B.A. Her directing/choreographing credits include the revival of Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope (Tony Award season/Crossroads Theater) and as associate choreographer for the original workshops of Broadway’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Off-Broadway’s Beehive. Dockery received the Audelco Award’s Best Choreography nominations for Off-Broadway’s Little Ham, From My Hometown and, in 2010, for The Shaneequa Chronicles. Also in 2010, Ms Dockery’s choreography was featured in Dr. May Edward Chinn, catapulting Imani’s Audelco Award win for Best Director. At the National Black Theatre, Ms Dockery served as choreographer for Moms starring the late, great Clarice Taylor, and as director/choreographer for Just a Night Out. Between Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional engagements, Leslie Dockery, who staged and choreographed Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens International Scholarship Competition for over ten years, enjoys teaching dance and giving back to the young ladies of tomorrow. Ms Dockery is thrilled to be a part of this production
William Walker-Johnson (stage manager, sound designer)
Bill is honored to work with NEC and Sophia Romma, such a talented playwright. Bill received a B F A from Towson University in theater arts. Bill was a founding member of the American Theatre of Harlem and later he helped startup the Act Now Foundation. Bill is an Equity member who recently stage managed the Audelco nominated Playing with Fire Off Broadway, and The Colored Museum Off Broadway. Bill is a certified fire marshal. He is also a teaching artist in the NY school system. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live, Nurse Jackie, Bored to Death and Mercy. He has performed in many Off-Broadway productions including Succession, Caligula Maximus, Bus Stop, Streamers, A Street Car Named Desire, Bitter Apples, Pacos Tacos, Bye Bye Birdie, Godspell, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and The Colored Museum (twice).