1) Who is Rusty Faris Wheel Productions?

John Faris and I, Justin Adkins, created this production outfit in January 2015 in an effort to make films that we are excited to see. After film school, we both realized that we work well together and have strengths that would benefit the company and our films. As such, we created Rusty Faris Wheel Productions to produce all types of films with a focus on horror and action/superhero fare.


2) What are you working on at the moment?

Currently, we are producing a superhero short film called “The Friend.” Principal photography begins on November 2, 2015. We are also finalizing our three additional projects for the upcoming screening.


3) Do you have any upcoming events you would like people to attend?

We are having the Rusty Faris Wheel Screening Event, presented by Artists Without Walls, on November 6, 2015, at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd Street, NY, 7:00 to 8:30, which will screen all three current projects. (Promo piece below.)




4) What are 3 of your favorite films/shorts and why?

Between the two of us, three of our favorite films are The Evil Dead (Justin), The Dark Knight (both), and 48 HRS (John). The Evil Dead is Justin’s favorite movie of all time. Sam Raimi is a true inspiration as a low budget, young filmmaker who established a strong career. The Dark Knight is, for both of us, one of the strongest cinematic depictions of any superhero derived from an existing comic book. 48 HRS. is widely recognized as the pioneer American buddy cop movie and is a perfect example of a simple film on a minimal budget that stands the test of time.


5) Who are the filmmakers past & present that you admire and why?

Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock, Walter Hill, and Mario Bava. All of these filmmakers are fantastic storytellers who can create a visual, tense, gritty, violent, and beautiful picture for the audience as the stories unfold.


Justin Atkins and John Faris


6) Who is your greatest inspiration and why?

For me, Justin, it is Sam Raimi. As stated above, he started out as a young, ambitious filmmaker who raised money, gathered his friends, and made a little cult movie. This led to greater things in the form of the Spiderman movies. For John, it is Christopher Nolan. In the same vein as Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan started small by writing, directing and producing his first feature film, Following, in 1999, while working a full-time job and using his friends as actors. Nolan proceeded to wow critics with Memento and is credited with the resurrection of the now billion dollar DC Comic Film Franchise.


7) Name 5 things that you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

-Make at least two feature films
-Work full time on our films
-Help other filmmakers produce their visions
-Continue to develop relationships with other artists for collaboration
-See the distribution of our films


8) If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would it be?

We would like to venture into the musical arts in the form of creating music and scores as well as singing. We also envision making films that are far beyond our comfort zones of the horror/action-comedy/superhero genres.


9) What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


We enjoy watching movies as well as creating new characters and stories for our films. We also enjoy the fine art of beer drinking.


Who is Melissa Ritz?



I’m an Army brat. My father was in the military and although I was born in Fort Sill, OK, I’ve lived all over the United States and Europe.


I’ve always had an interest in the arts. When I was attending an American high school in Germany I learned of a local English-speaking theater called The Frankfurt Playhouse. I immediately signed up to audition for their first show of the season, Funny Girl, and I got cast in the chorus. My relationship with the community of artists was magical. It opened my eyes to theater, music, acting and rehearsing. Working with military spouses, German locals, and defense contractors I also performed in Oklahoma! and Hello, Dolly!


My family moved from Germany to Alabama during my senior year of high school, but after graduating from high school I longed to return to Europe. The easiest way was to join the military. This stunned my parents; I was the ‘artsy’ type and never had expressed any desire to go into the Air Force. I mean, I had purple hair!


IMG_0574I learned about a military entertainment program called Tops in Blue while working as a medical laboratory technician in the Air Force. The program is comprised of musicians, technicians, vocalists, and dancers who perform a 90-minute show at military installations around the world. I auditioned and was accepted for the program. My confidence burgeoned; I began to see the “big picture” and years later drew from my experiences to create a one-woman show, “Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story.” 


Just after 9-11, I was working in a hospital in Germany. I was on a 24-hour standby deployment for a MASH unit in Baghdad City, and although I never deployed to Baghdad, many who suffered casualties from the Iraqi invasion were brought to the hospital. I reevaluated my life after seeing so many soldiers die at such a young age. Was I following my passion? Where was my heart guiding me? All answers led back to the theater.


Military_Mel_2001I wanted to go somewhere new, somewhere that wasn’t as stressful and completely different from the military. I moved to Las Vegas, where I worked as a cocktail waitress in a major “Strip” casino. How’s that for different!


I used my GI Bill to get my BA in Dance, and MFA in Theater Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. My training and experiences were empowering; I was ready for a move to New York City, which I did in October 2013.



What are you working on at the moment? 


Cocktail South PointMy one-woman show, Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story. Ina Ray Hutton was a ‘female bandleader’ of an all-girl band, The Melodears, in the 1930’s. What started out as a novelty act became one of the most sought out and lucrative musical acts of the Big Band era. Ina was the first woman to conduct male bands; she pioneered women in jazz and often arranged women performers’ initial gigs.


Born on the South Side of Chicago, Ina had to deal with racial issues, which created a number of challenges in music and in the theatre during the early part of the 20th century. Ina’s life off stage was equally challenging: She was married six times but never had children.  She was, however, in many respects, business savvy, including negotiating her own contracts and creating her own image. 


IMG_2039After I arrived in NYC I volunteered at the United Solo Theater Festival. I saw a gorgeous show called Magdalen, by Artists Without Walls’ member Erin Layton and Erin put me in touch with her director Julie Kline. After meeting Julie, I asked her to direct my show.


During the show I highlight Ina’s career accomplishments through songs, tap dancing, and video projection. We debuted “Ina” at United Solo this past October and sold out all four performances. I’m very proud that I was honored as “Best Emerging Actress.” I hope to take the show to Las Vegas this summer. More info can be found at Journey of a Bombshell.



Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend? 


I’ll be performing a scene from “Ina” at Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre on Tuesday, January 27th. I will also be performing the full length show on Sunday, February 15th, 9pm, at the Triad Theater/Stage 72. It’s located just above Seven’s Turkish Grill on 72nd and Broadway. Tickets can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets



5006_A Journey Of A BombshellWho are the actors/writers / playwrights, past and present, you admire?


Playwrights: Tennessee Williams, Lynn Nottage, Shakespeare, John Patrick Shanley


Actors: Tilda Swinton, Cherry Jones, Anna Deavere Smith, Joaquin Phoenix, John Lithgow



Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


WWII Veterans, WAC/WAAC’s, and war Vets. During my time in the military, I met many amazing people who changed the course of history including The Tuskegee Airmen, Medal of Honor recipients and the first women admitted to military. Their sacrifices and accomplishments inspire me to make the most of opportunities that become available.



Name five things you’d like to do or accomplish in the next five years.


1. Visit Borobudur

2. Write a screenplay version of my show & have it optioned

3. Financially support myself as an actor

4. Speak a foreign language fluently.

5. Open my hips enough so I can finally do lotus pose in yoga!



If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would it be?


I’d love to play a musical instrument. Any instrument! Having the ability to play an instrument really well seems like a super power.



What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


Bikram yoga. I teach at Bikram Yoga NYC and Bikram Yoga East Harlem. Try it out!




Melissa’s Facebook page   


Melissa’s “Journey of a Bombshell” Facebook page. Click here to like her page. 


Journey of a Bombshell website








Who is Renata Hinrichs?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am a Midwestern girl.   I was born in Dubuque, Iowa and moved five times before I was 12 years old, ending up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am the daughter of a Lutheran minister, and growing up in the church watching Dad preach every Sunday was like going to the theater every week.


My first acting lesson came from Dad when I was asked to read a lesson from the Bible for a Youth Service at age 12 or 13. He said breathe, understand what you are saying, follow the punctuation, say it like you are really talking to someone and remember to look up. I was painfully shy and hated speaking in public, but when he gave me tangible things to do, I did it without crumbling in terror.   I was always most comfortable dancing. I can’t remember when I didn’t dance.


Mom must have noticed me dancing in the living room or in the backyard as a child. Of course I thought my cloak of invisibility made that impossible, but she saw me and took me to my first ballet when I was seven. It was THE NUTCRACKER at the McCormick Place Theater in Chicago. I was totally enthralled. I saw other children dancing for the first time and afterwards she said, “Would you like to learn how to do that?” And I said, “You mean they learn how to do that? You don’t just do it?” Thus began my journey with dance.


IMG_5317My first teachers were Russian, and the way they taught dance was another form of an early acting lesson. They first focused on technique, placement, and precision, but they also emphasized musicality and the character of the movement. They taught us to think of movement and music as phrases of speech. What is your intention? What do you want to communicate with this movement through this music?


When I arrived in New York after high school to pursue my dream of being a dancer, I got a scholarship with the Harkness Ballet School but, I found the ballet world to be very restrictive. I longed to be more creative than being one of 25 other girls in the corps de ballet, so I started exploring modern dance. Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Eric Hawkins, Phyllis Lamhut and May O’Donnell. Then I saw the first performance of Pina Bausch’s company in the United States at BAM.   Her production of THE RITE OF SPRING changed my life. That piece completely transformed my perception of what dance and theater could be.


Around that time I met Annie B Parsons, a young dancer and choreographer at Columbia University. She used me in much of her early work. We continued to work together for the next 15 years. Then she and Paul Lazar started BIG DANCE THEATER.   I am proud to be one of the founding members. That was the perfect way for me to explore my love of dance and theater. Working with Annie B Parsons and Paul Lazar has been a major influence on my work.


What are you working on at the moment?


I am working on a solo play called RANDOM ACTS an autobiographical piece about some of the events and circumstances that shaped who I am as a person and an artist. It is the first of a trilogy I am developing.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was living in downtown Manhattan during the events of 9/11, and that experience unearthed some of my earliest childhood memories. One incident that happened on the way to school when I was 5 on the South Side of Chicago was the spark of the piece and everything followed after that.   I have had a lot of support and encouragement from Lee Brock and Seth Barrish from the Barrow Group. Lee was the first person to suggest I develop a one- person play based on my experiences. I first performed it in a Solo Flights Festival for FAB Women of the Barrow Group and then as part of the Emerging Artists Theater New Work Festival.


Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


I am performing RANDOM ACTS, which is directed by Camille Saviola, in the United Solo Theater Festival at Theater Row, 410 W. 42nd St.


The show is playing, October 12th at 2pm and on October, 18th at 6 pm.   I have sold out the October 12th date, but tickets are still available for October 18th. If I sell out that date, they will give me another date. That would be nice, but we’ll see. Tickets can be purchased through Telecharge.


Who are the actors/writers/playwrights past and present that you admire?


Writers: Lidia Yuknavitch, Colum McCann, and James Joyce. Playwrights: Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Annie Baker, Theresa Rebeck, Alan Bennett, Rajiv Joseph, Sarah Treem, Lisa Kron, Laura Eason, John Guare, David Lindsay-Abaire, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Rebecca Gillman. Actors/Actresses: Deidre O’Connell, Anna Gunn, Janet McTeer, Eve Best, Julie White, Martin Moran and Kate Mulgrew.  


Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


I am most inspired by random acts of kindness. Any time someone goes out of their way to help someone whether it’s holding a door open or in the case of my friend, Stephen, holding a woman’s head after a train crash, when he was also injured, until help arrived and in so doing saved her life. That inspires me.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe person who most inspires me is my mentor, Greta Schreyer Loebl. She passed away several years ago, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. She escaped the Nazis from Vienna in 1938 at age 18.  She arrived in New York unable to speak a word of English and became a jewelry maker, fashion designer, painter and poet. We met through a mutual friend when I was writing my first solo show about a Dutch woman who died in Auschwitz in 1943.   She thought I might learn something from her. Well, I started out as her model, then I became her assistant, and in the process, she became a dear friend and a grandmother I never had.


Greta created in some way every day. Her life was a work of art, whether painting or drawing or writing, planting flowers or making a beautiful meal for friends and sharing her amazing life stories. She was always curious and engaged. She never became famous and didn’t sell as many paintings as she wanted, but she did her work, practiced her art. She was true to herself and brought joy to the world.   She encouraged me to create and trust my own voice and vision and for that, I am most grateful.


Name 3-5 things you want to accomplish in the next 5 years.


Finish the trilogy as part of the New Harmony Theater program and/or in The Sundance Theatre Lab and see them fully produced. Write a multi-character play. Develop a TV show. Continue to act in theater and on television and get better at surfing.


randomactspostcardIf you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would it be?


I would like to write and direct a film.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


Cooking, eating and drinking red wine with my husband. Being by the ocean or a beautiful lake. Having lots of downtime to daydream. Being in nature, going to museums, listening to music and hanging out with my nieces and nephew.


All photos from Renata’s show are by  Maryann Lopinto.


To find out more go to: and sign Renata’s mailing list.

Connect with Renata on Face book and Twitter or!/renatahinrichs

For tickets to RANDOM ACTS on October 18th at 6pm here’s the link:




IMG_2806_2Who is Ed McCann?


I’m an Irish-American kid from Queens whose favorite childhood memories involve family camping trips to the Adirondacks.


The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a park ranger; I wanted the cabin, the Jeep, the dog, and the hat; I wanted to be that guy down front in the amphitheater with the clicker, narrating the night-time slide show about raccoons, with fireflies winking on and off in the tree line.Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 3.14.46 PM


In a sense, moving to New York’s Hudson River Valley to finish college was a dream come true.  I fell in love with the place and chose to make my home in a semi-rural part of Ulster County; today I continue to enjoy all the pleasures of those childhood camping trips – relaxing by a fire beneath the stars, listening to the calls of owls and coyotes – and I don’t have to carry water and firewood or wear flip flops in the shower.


Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 3.21.24 PMSix years post-college as a local television writer and producer afforded me extraordinary access to many of this region’s cultural and historical treasures, and turned me into a genuine Hudson Valley booster.  As a history nerd, it was thrilling to bring a video crew to a location like the FDR home in Hyde Park and have the curator remove those velvet ropes for us.  I left broadcasting for a year-long stint creating cooking videos at The Culinary Institute of America before my partner Richard Kollath and I struck out with our own business, Kollath-McCann Creative Services.  Richard and I have spent the last twenty years producing books, magazine features, television segments, and special events from our home office and studio outside New Paltz.


First and foremost, I’m a professional writer with features and essays published in national magazines and literary journals (American Baby, Better Homes & Gardens, Country Living, Gardener, Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Sun and more).  I’m a longtime contributing editor at Country Living, I’ve written the text for Richard Kollath’s design books; and my blog, My Rescue Mutt, chronicles my adventures with Willie, an eleven-pound canine from central Louisiana who looks like a Border Collie someone left in the dryer for too long.


Incidentally – as a long-time gardener and bird feeder I’m no longer so enamored of those raccoons.  Did you know they have opposable thumbs?


What are you working on at the moment?


My training as a producer – managing crews, locations, budgets, and deadlines – provided a valuable skill set that’s translated into several arenas.  Most recently, Richard and I have been heading interior design projects at various National Historic Sites – a few of which are located in Yosemite National Park in northern California.  It’s been a privilege to toggle back and forth these past several years between The Hudson Valley to The Yosemite Valley.


Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 3.18.02 PMOn the writing side, I’ve recently completed a memoir and am at work on a second one that tracks my family from Ireland to Brooklyn and to the stages of Vaudeville.  I’m building a collection of observational essays that relate to the various critters that share the land surrounding our home, and I’ve been faithful with my twice-weekly blog posts at
Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 2.42.53 PM.

Most recently, I’ve been focused on the launch of a new literary endeavor called Writers Read — a platform showcasing both established and emerging writers and a celebration of writers, writing, and the spoken word.  Our live, staged events planned throughout the year will be organized around a single, broad topic that invites a range of expression.  Individual readings will be professionally videotaped for web streaming, and audio recordings of the staged readings will be edited for broadcasts and podcasts.  Upcoming topics and deadlines are listed under the submissions tab of our website: Writers Read Online

If you share our passion for good writing and original voices, visit our website to join our e-mailing list and help us spread the word.  To paraphrase humorist Dan Zevin, who joins us at our launch event on June 14, please also “Like” our Facebook page; you can still hate us in real life.



Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


The inaugural event for Writers Read is called Listen To Your Father.  Inspired by Listen to Your Mother , a national live reading program launched in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin, it takes place this Saturday, June 14, at 2pm at The Cell Theater on West 23rd Street in New York City.  Featured writer Steven Lewis said it best in this email message he sent this week to his friends:


“Mark your calendars and take the old man—or if you’re the old man, take someone who loves you—to this fabulous celebration/remembrance of fatherhood.


I know that most of you are already shaking your heads no and possibly breaking out in hives, but I promise this will be the best of all possible literary events: Ten really FINE writers reading ten really SHORT pieces that are guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and remember that guy with enduring fondness (despite, you know …).  We’ll even get you outathere in less than two hours.  Plus, it’s the day before Father’s Day, so there’s no conflict with golf, grilling or going to the stadium (or, dare I mention it?— it might just get you off the hook and you can have Sunday to yourself).”



Who are the writers, past and present, you most admire?


I have loved reading ever since that remarkable moment when the letters on the page arranged themselves into recognizable words.  My first favorite writers were Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey who co-authored the Curious George series.  What a thrill to be issued my very own library card – a license to carry home stacks of those slim yellow hardbacks filled with George’s adventures (“he was a good little monkey, and always very curious…”)


The list of writers I admire today is very long; in non-fiction, my favorites include Dan Barry, Katherine Boo, Anthony Bourdain, Dominique Browning, Frank Bruni, Bill Bryson, Laura Shaine Cunningham, John Darnton, Edmund DeWaal, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Andre Dubus III, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bruce Feiler, M.F.K. Fisher, Nick Flynn, Linda Greenlaw, Gabrielle Hamilton, Laura Hillenbrand, Steven King, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Lamott, Jennifer 8. Lee, Aldo Leopold, Rosemary Mahoney, Frank McCourt, Jessica Mitford, Elaine Pagels, Michael Perry, Michael Pollan, Peter Quinn, Ruth Reichl, Mary Roach, Richard Russo, Eric Schloser, Alice Sebold, David Sedaris, Rebecca Skloot, Helene Stapinski, Paul Theroux, Abigail Thomas, Calvin Trillin, Sarah Vowell, Jeannette Walls, and Bailey White.


For fiction, I have great respect for the craftsmanship of Caleb Carr, Willa Cather, Michael Chabon, Jeanine Cummins, Angela Davis-Gardner, Junot Diaz, Jennifer Egan, Louise Erdrich, Gail Godwin, Robert Heinlein, William Kennedy, Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Lee, Colum McCann, Cormac McCarthy, Carson McCullers, Alice McDermott, Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oats, Ann Patchett, Peggy Payne, E. Annie Proulx, James Salter, Alice Sebold, Betty Smith, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, Colm Toibin, Kurt Vonnegut, and Eudora Welty.


Whew.  And there’s a lot more on the shelves upstairs.



What are three of your favorite literary works?


That’s a fluid list that’s always changing.  The first three things that leap to mind are Barabara Kingsolver’s novel, “The Poisonwood Bible,” Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac,” and Joe Queenan’s memoir, “Closing Time.”  Wait!  I forgot to include Queenan on my favorites list!


Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


Creative inspiration sometimes comes from those who strived for something and failed, or who wished for something but didn’t actually to the work to achieve it.  It’s the motivation of the negative example.


There are many memoirists and non-fiction writers who inspire me, but I’m really inspired by kindness and generosity as much as by someone’s talent; people who make the time — and the room — in their lives to help others and transmit knowledge without any personal gain.  These are people who make you want to pay it forward, and on that scale – and within my personal sphere — my partner, Richard Kollath, rates near the top.


Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 3.52.51 PMWithin the AWoW membership, Charles R. Hale, Peter Quinn and Honor Molloy also leap to mind.   I’ll cast a broad net to include a few more friends: Julia F. Parker a native American ranger in Yosemite National Park; Mike Barton of the Ulster County Beekeepers AssociationSusan Arthur, San Francisco yogi, doula, and educator; Steven Lewis, writer and mentor to the multitudes, Peggy Herzig, gardener and friend to all animals, Nancy Olson, North Carolina book lover, bookseller, and champion of good writing; and Kathy Yanas, friend, model, mother, and advocate of open adoption.  I am incredibly fortunate to have such good and inspiring people in my life.



Name five things you’d like to do or accomplish in the next five years.


I’d like to publish my book, I’d like to start a foundation to support writers and writing, and I’d like to spend a lot more time on my bike and in my kayak.


If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would that be?


I’m doing it right now, in real time, and just launched Writers Read Online The site will become a resource and a repository for both writers and readers, and the live events I’m designing are the type of events I’d really want to attend myself (I once brought binoculars to a Sarah Vowell reading in Troy, NY.  And I was in the third row).



What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


Reading and writing.  Time with friends and family is also really important to me – and it’s even better if that time involves bikes or kayaks.





Who is Sasha Papernik?


Photo by Richard Velasco
Photo by Richard Velasco

Sasha Papernik is a first generation Russian-American classical pianist, singer, and composer who draws on her dual heritage and wide range of talents to present concerts spanning the genre and continental divide. Lauded for her “lightly transparent performances of Chopin and Scriabin,” The Washington Post (July 2013) calls her “uncommonly attractive and entertaining…managing a comfortable balance of the formal and the casual.” Prokofiev, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, folk songs, and original compositions appear in her repertoire. Her 2013 self-released bilingual album, Victory, has been hailed by reviewers as “an eye opener,” (Wildy’s World) and “unparalleled in its aesthetics and musical elegance,” (Indiemunity). Sasha is currently a featured artist in this year’s 2013-2014 Lincoln Center Meet The Artist school series and Carnegie Hall’s Musical Explorers program. Her bilingual program, “I Speak Music,” has also toured New York City schools for The Center For Arts Education. Sasha was a recipient of a 2012 and 2013 Wildacres Artist Residency in North Carolina. Recent engagements include performances at The Smithsonian American Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., The David Rubinstein Atrium, Walter Reade Theater, Bruno Walter Theater, Clark Studio Theater in New York City, and The Joint, Las Vegas. Sasha is a Teaching Artist for Lincoln Center Education and The Center For Arts Education and she is on the piano faculty of the Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Manhattan School of Music.



Photo by Richard Velasco
Photo by Richard Velasco

Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


Yes! I am presenting my program, I Speak Music, at Joe’s Pub on Sunday, June 1st at 9pm. I have invited the other singers from my recent Carnegie Hall program to share the stage with me! It’s going to be a fantastic night of music and culture.  



What is/are your favorite songs/albums?


A few of my favorite songs: Killing the Blues (John Prine), Jolene (Dolly Parton), Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young) What’ll I Do (Irving Berlin), Always (Irving Berlin), All of Me (Gerald Marx and Seymour Simons), Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Carole King and Gerry Goffin), Yesterday (Paul McCartney)


Favorite Albums: Ella and Louis, Raising Sand


300x300Who are the songwriters you admire?


I come from a classical background and generally feel like I came to know rock, popular, and folk music as an adult. I love all genres of music. My top favorite songwriter is Irving Berlin because I admire his songwriting craft and identify with his being Russian-American.  I also love that his popular tunes have become standards and were played at a time that all genres of music were kind of blending – classical, jazz, pop….they all were influenced by each other then. Other songwriters I love are John Prine, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Don Gibson, Leonard Cohen, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Carole King. I’m sure I’m missing many!


Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


My parents are my greatest inspiration. I admire their tenacity and endurance for immigrating to a new country and building a new life here when they were already in their 30s. I can’t imagine packing two suitcases, saying goodbye to family and friends possibly forever, and starting again in a new world. They have taught me to be resilient and strong, to learn as much as I can, to value myself, and to follow my dreams.


Sasha Papernik - Carnegie Hall / Music ExplorersWhat would you like to accomplish in the next five years?


  1. 1) Write a musical about the East River and Lower East Side immigrants of the early 20th century!
  2. 2)Begin research and writing on a book about the female partners of great composers and their influence on their famous husband’s works. 
  3. 3) Collaborate on an original program with a choreographer.
  4. 4) Collaborate on an original exhibit with a visual artist.  
  5. 5) Place an original song in a movie or television show.


10333302_10203720491353522_5415325512232586829_oIf you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would that be?


I love multi media collaboration. I have never collaborated with a visual artist on a large scale project – and visual art is the other art form I feel most drawn to. I would love to try to create an installation of original art and music that commented on the Multicultural-American experience.


What was the best gift that someone gave you that inspired or facilitated an interest in your art?


A close family friend bought me a grand piano when I was young. I was so enchanted and in love with this piano (and still am!)– it inspired me to spend long hours practicing and learning lots of new music. I also felt like just by giving it to me, the friend and also my family believed that I had something special that I should continue to pursue. And so I did!








Who is Erin Layton?


I’m a St. Louis, MO native and proud of my Midwestern roots. I attended elementary, high school and college within a ten mile radius of my family’s suburban home so I’m a true St. Louis county girl, born and bred.


The artist, Erin was a wildly imaginative and terribly shy kid content with a box of crayons and yards of blank computer paper. My mom still has stacks of drawings from my early days in a high chair. I was the visual artist of the family and my sister was the actress. I would often do impersonations of Saturday Night Live characters for my family’s amusement but never considered myself a performer much less talented – impersonations came so naturally to me. In my sophomore year of high school, my drama teacher insisted that I audition for the spring musical and though I couldn’t hit a note to save my life, I won her over with my audition for the part of the old mother, Mammy Yokum in Lil’ Abner. She literally shook me and with eyes brim-full of tears told me that I was a natural born MAG_2013 SC Fringeactress. I was cast as the lead (non-singing) roles in every high school play and musical up through graduation. I loved the theatre – taking on the different characters, accents, costumes, never having to play myself. I felt so completely natural and comfortable on stage. The summer before I went to art school I was cast in my first professional theatre gig with the St. Louis Shakespeare Company and received a glowing review from the big St. Louis theatre critic at the time. I was on cloud 9. In the fall, I pursued my BFA in Painting but art school was a blur. I grew quickly bored of the culture – the drugs, drinking, hours alone in a damp studio silently chipping away at concepts that seemed too epic to communicate on the 2-dimensional plane. I learned a ton about my artistic impulses but ached to apply those to the stage. Once I graduated, I threw myself into auditions again and was immediately cast in a tiny Jane Martin two-hander called The Boy Who Ate The Moon, as part of a ten-minute short play festival. My scene partner and I were the talk of the festival. I was hooked for good.


Layton_Erin_128-FPYears later, I devised a new play with an ensemble of actors and writers that introduced me to the Suzuki/Viewpoints methods which altered the course of my life for the positive. It was with them that I discovered my true calling and within a year packed my bags, New York City bound, to study with the Suzuki/Viewpoints founders, namely Anne Bogart and her SITI Company. The SITI Company training and community was foundational and mind blowing.


I’ve been swept under by the expectations that every New York City actor faces about the kind of work you “should be” pursuing – the kind of career you “should be” chasing but have recently emerged realizing that I truly enjoy the challenge and sheer delight of writing and performing for myself. I’ve shared the room with some of the most incredible directors, actors, devisers and writers and hope to continue doing so but it wasn’t until I grabbed the helm and created my own work that the moving and shaking really started happening for me – not them.

DSC_0423-1What are you working on at the moment? 


I am presently working on a tour of my one person play, MAGDALEN about Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries in the early twentieth century. I’ve been performing it in NYC for the last couple of years and toured it to a festival in CA last year but am mining Irish communities in New York State who will appreciate its message and want to showcase it as a full production. I’m working with another solo artist on the possibility of double billing our plays as a tour to theatres in rural Ireland next year. I’m also writing a new solo play about my Midwest roots and enjoy sinking into the writing process again, especially exploring some of these old family ghosts.

Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend? 


The next big event is a performance of MAGDALEN on Thursday, October 2 off-broadway at Theatre Row as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival ENCORE series. I hope to book a few more performances this summer though!


SC Fringepic_2013Who are the actors/writers / playwrights, past and present, you admire?


 Playwrights: Marina Carr, Brian Friel, Tennessee Williams, Brecht, Beckett, Ibsen, Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov; Actor/Writers: Pat Kinevane, Anna Deveare Smith, Louis CK, Spalding Gray.

Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


I’m daily inspired by people – even someone that stands up on a crowded train to offer another person their seat inspires me but in my theatre work, director Anne Bogart is my hero. I’m inspired by Anne’s adaptability as a leader, a thinker, deviser and storyteller. She’s incredibly humble and brave and commands a room like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And with all of Anne’s success, she’s still such an approachable person. I’m sure she has dark days like the rest of us but I truly respect her and strive to grow into my career with the same level of sophistication and grace that she has.


05Name five things you’d like to do or accomplish in the next five years.


Write a full length play that is not intended to be performed by me. Become an international solo performing artist. Buy a home. Win a really big award for something that I’ve created. Get an MFA.


If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would it be?


I love dance, especially original movement. There’s a hip hop dancer named Storyboard Professoar or Storyboard P who I absolutely adore. He trained in classical ballet so he’s strong and fluid but when he moves, he levitates – like a dream. He’s fascinating to watch with a body full of narrative. I’d like to dance like him. I also dream of being a member of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal Ensemble.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


Hours of uninterrupted downtime to daydream, read, cook and hang with close friends.




Honor Molloy
Honor Molloy

Who is Honor Molloy?


I guess I’m a product of the cities I’ve lived in:  New York City; Allentown, PA; Dublin.


Born in the Rotunda Hospital—Europe’s oldest maternity hospital—I grew up in a lively theatre family. Artists, journalists, actors, musicians, even The Dubliners, gathered round the fire for parties in the teeny stable that my father had converted to a mews. This paradise came to an end as what my mother called “The Troubles” arrived at our door. The drink drove us out of Ireland and my American mother brought us home. Allentown was a dreary place in the 70s. It was alienating and I only wanted to escape. So, I studied all forms of art, fostering my discipline, ready for the day I could start my real life somewhere else.


I came to New York to attend the NYU Graduate Acting Program. As a result of that I embarked on a decade of producing and performing in my own work in the small theatres of the East Village, the Lower East Side, and SoHo. At the same time, a group of actors founded The Working Theater—a company dedicated to making play-going a regular part of working people’s cultural lives. I got swept up in their mission and became the development director, writing grants, as well as reading all the plays that came in the door. I often thought, “I could write a better play.” So I went off to graduate school to study with Paula Vogel at Brown. This led to Brecht and to the Royal Court in London and to a more political approach to playwriting. Back in New York after grad school, I thrived in the company of theatre people—a highlight of this time was a residency at New Dramatists.


I spent ten years working with Simon & Schuster Audiobooks, immersing myself in storytelling, meeting actors, producers, writers, and publishing professionals. I started writing a memoir which eventually became the autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. Once published, I discovered New York’s Irish American community and have come to terms with that kid who left Dublin all those years ago—washing up in the cultural wasteland that is Allentown.



Maria Deasy, Paddy Moloney, Aedin Moloney, Niamh Hyland, Vera Hoar, Honor Molloy
Maria Deasy, Paddy Moloney, Aedin Moloney, Niamh Hyland, Vera Hoar, Honor Molloy

What are you working on at the moment?


I’m writing the first draft of the book for an Opera / New Music Theatre Work that I’m developing with Composer / Performer Corey Dargel. This piece concerns three patients confined to a long-term psychiatric ward and their psychiatrist. Each patient believes she is Christ. This piece examines the brain, memory, and what constitutes personality.



Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


World of Words: Queens

April 12th  3 – 5pm

LaGuardia Performing Arts Center

31-10 Thomson Ave,

Long Island City, NY 11101



Who are the writers / playwrights, past and present, you admire?


Sam Beckett, Caryl Churchill, Jim Cartwright, Ntozake Shange, Tennessee Williams, Sebastian Barry, Maeve Brennan, Maura Laverty, Sarah Waters, Sarah Atkinson, Alice Munro, Zadie Smith, John Cheever, Frank Conroy, and, of course, Shakespeare



Honor Molloy (lower left with ball) and family
Honor Molloy (lower left with ball) and family

Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


My mother, Yvonne Voight Molloy, for being a mighty spirit and getting us out of Ireland.



Name five things you’d like to do or accomplish in the next five years.


Five is too many for me, so I’ll do two:


See The Three Christs in production


Write Naked Allentown – a collection of stories about my childhood in Allentown



If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would it be?


O, to be a visual artist. I have always been jealous of artists and their paintings, sculptures, and installations.



Honor Molloy and Charles Hale
Honor Molloy and Charles Hale

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


Reading and running. In that order.


Smarty Girl at Amazon


Smarty Girl Audio Book


Honor Molloy reading “Up Went Nelson”



Who is Eamon Loingsigh?

Final Diddicoy coverAuthor of fiction, including Light of the Diddicoy (Three Rooms Press) and Irish-American historian. With boots on the ground, telling the tales of those who have to fight from the very bottom of the social strata with dignity, humility and hard work as their only weapon. When there was not a system in place to help them, people still survived and fought as best they could to support their families and make a living. This poetry made from real life is the inspiration for my writing.  
What are you working on at the moment?
The second book of the Auld Irishtown trilogy (Light of the Diddicoy is the first). 
IMG_0718Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?
On April 10, I will be reading with Terry Golway at the Cranford Community Center, Cranford, NJ. I will also be attending and reading at the April 22nd Artists Without Walls’ Showcase.     
Who are the writers, past and present, you admire?
I have so many writers that I admire and learned from. Some writers I emulated when I was younger, as many writers do, and others I studied. For a writer, establishing style and voice is of the greatest importance. It takes great soul searching and it takes a lot of missteps and mistakes. Over time, while reading others’ works, I learned that being myself was a great exploration and freed me from my own expectations.
signingName five things you’d like to do or accomplish in the next five years.
I’d like everyone to know how to pronounce “Loingsigh” as “Lynch.” Also, finish the Auld Irishtown trilogy and another book of poetry and maybe another novella. I would really like to establish myself not as an “Irish writer” but simply as a “writer.”  
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Reading, what else? Also love being with children.


Who is Nadia Parvez Manzoor?


slide2 Nadia P. Manzoor is a writer, performer, and producer. She was born a twin, in the USA, to Pakistani parents. She was raised in Dubai, Singapore, and London, and she is as diversely talented as her geographical upbringing. She is a storyteller because she believes that the stories we tell become the stories we live and she lives as enthusiastically as she tells. Nadia moved to NYC to shake up her own understanding of self, and place, and creativity, and earned a Masters from Boston University in Social Work. Her passion to merge the arts and social reform has brought her to designing arts curriculum for marginalized teens affiliated with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, to teaching and performing improvisation with Improvolution. Throughout all of this, she has written, and her writing has now taken her to the stage where you can see her perform with wit, insight, humor and precisely real characters.


burq_smDo you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


Yes! Burq Off!  My autobiographical one-woman show just finished a sold out run in December, and due to its success, it’s coming back!


We’d love for you to join us for Burq Off!’s second run:

 Walkerspace, 46 Walker St., NYC.

 Dates: March 27 at 8pm, March 28 at 8pm, March 29 at 2pm & 8pm and March 30 at 2 pm

 Click here for info on the show.

 Click here to purchase tickets.


Unknown-1What is your favorite dramatic work/s?


John Leguizamo’s Freak is an amazing piece of theater and a big inspiration for my one-woman show. His wry, outlandish, sense of humor, his vibrant physicality, and his dance moves transform his hour and a half long solo show in a spectacle of hilarity, brilliant storytelling, and personal expose. His ability to turn stereotype on its head, and to make you laugh so hard you cry and cry while your laughing is something I really aspire to on the stage.


Who are the playwrights (and writers) you most admire?


Irshad Manji is someone I deeply admire and respect because she has the balls to ask really provocative questions in the face of an extremely dogmatic and confined religion. In her passion for reconciling faith with freedom, she is standing up and challenging the leaders of the Islamic world to reconsider and upgrade their religious and spiritual ideals. I’ve never seen anyone whose work is so deeply infused with that level of moral courage.


I also find Jason Silva to be pretty incredible. His ability to synthesize ridiculously complex facts about science, existentialism, and technology and put them into these bite sized poetic rants is just absolute beauty.


And recently, I’ve been really intrigued by Russel Brand. The way he takes the things he cares about and presents them in an entertaining and humorous light, along with his sheer lack of self-consciousness is mind-blowing to me.


th-1Who is your greatest inspiration and why?


Radhika Vaz, Indian writer and comedian, is one of my best friends and biggest inspirations. Rad’s ability to take an idea and make a show from it is what inspired me to believe that I could make a show about my life. Rad is continuously moving forward, following her passions and interests. She’s not letting doubt get in the way of her creativity, or of pursuing her dreams and putting herself out there.


What are the top five things you’d like to accomplish in the next five years?


1. Let’s start with this year, in which I hope to complete a successful international tour of Burq Off!


2. Once Paprika Productions has taken the show to England, Dubai, Singapore, Toronto, and India, I am absolutely dedicated to bringing the show to Pakistan in an effort to promote and raise money for women’s education in the Muslim world


3. In the future, I can see Burq Off becoming a Broadway show. It’s unique combination of Bollywood dancing and street dance has not been seen before, and its blend of eastern and western aesthetics and choreography would make it a brilliant piece of theater on a bigger scale.


rAtElgFZ5PD8sxu8fqSFjHcp-4iPeHxK_K9btbDQuKQ4. On another scale, within the next five years, Paprika Productions aims to be working on a screenplay. In fact, in five years time, my team and I would like to have completed the screenplay and to be in the beginning phases of production.


5. In five years time, Shugs and Fats, the comedic characters in the web series that Radhika and I are currently co-producing, will hopefully be established and recognized personalities who create laughter and conversation around taboo topics.



If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would that be?


Rap and spoken word. Some of my biggest loves are the art of freestyle, movement, and hip hop. I’m enthralled with improvisation because I love the art of creating something from not knowing—you’re forced to lose yourself and respond in the moment, and there’s a realness in that. I also am fascinated with words and language and finding meaning through poetry, so for me the next step in bringing all of these elements together would be doing rap and spoken word.


slide5What was the best gift that someone gave you that inspired or facilitated an interest in your art?


The stories my mom would tell me every night at bedtime gave me the yearning to imagine and dream. I loved how a story could transport me to a different dimension, to a different world where different rules would apply. And if I let myself go into that world I would have different powers. I would imagine myself as the protagonist of the story I would be able to do all of these things that I never even imagined were possible. But because of the stories I could dream. I think breaking outside of the limitations of what we think of as real is really important for us as humans. It’s what allows us to fight the bigger fight, and to overcome the impossible.


Nadia P. Manzoor Website 

Nadia P. Manzoor Facebook page


Who is Vincent Cross?


IMG_0793I’m an Irish-born, Australian-raised roots-oriented songwriter and composer, now based in New York City.


Do you have upcoming events you’d like people to attend?


Yes!  I’ll be showcasing at this year’s Folk Alliance in Kansas, Missouri, touring California in the spring, and Australia in the summer.  For folks interested in more details, you can find the dates and venues on my website:


 LISTEN TO VINCE SING: Home Away From Home


What is/are your favorite songs/albums?


So to the albums, let’s line up the Dylan’s first. There’s the first album, Bob Dylan that has only two originals. Then Freewheelin,’ that was nearly all self-penned tunes, with the classic ‘Blowing in the Wind.’ My all time favorite, though, has to be the Times They Are a-Changin’. It was a game changer in terms of what can be done with great lyrics and simple acoustic accompaniment. You couldn’t help but be drawn into these hypnotic ancient tales of murder, pain, and loss. Who were these people? What history was this? To be honest, Dylan’s early albums formed my interest in roots music. It was the chance encounter with a 5-string banjo player while busking on the streets of Zurich in my late teens that continued my interest in acoustic roots music, as I was introduced to bluegrass.  That was my second musical awakening.


Vincent Cross 2Bluegrass seemed both familiar and challenging. I was writing songs but I was also seeking something musically that would help me grow as a musician. You could only go so far with Dylan and his solo guitar, and the electric stuff, well, which was electric anyway.  So when I bumped into a bluegrass banjo player in Switzerland, and started busking, I received a first rate education on Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and still my favorite, the Kentucky Colonels their Living in the Past, and Muleskinner still blowf my mind. I moved to London and became manic about playing guitar like Clarence White, and practiced all day long while playing bars and cafes and on the subway for living expenses. I kept that going for a couple of years listening to as much bluegrass as possible, and almost lost sight of the fact that I really was songwriter and that lead to my interest in other songwriters.


The emergence of songwriting as a force sort of began with an interest in Leonard Cohen’s Other Songs, andTom Waits, Rain Dogs. Those guys were fascinating, but their frame of reference was harder for me to focus on.  They seemed to be more about the persona than the song, and so I wasn’t sure about their music.  I didn’t really get to more contemporary artists and their albums until well after they had established themselves such as Ron Sexsmith’s, Ron Sexsmith and Wilco’s Being There.


IMG_0075-2Who are the songwriters you admire?


Woody Guthrie was fascinating but way beyond my comprehension when I first heard him. If you thought Dylan was rough and raw, then Guthrie was another world entirely. His songs were so real, and so I was happy to keep listening to Dylan. No songwriter completely obsessed my adolescent mind as much as Dylan, he just seemed to have put together the best of Americas roots music, and coupled that with the best songwriting ideas under one roof. He had the delta blues of Robert Johnson, the Appalachian high lonesome sound of Roscoe Holcomb, and the confessional voice of Hank Williams. After Dylan (AD) we had a whole slew of guys and gals that had something to offer: Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchel, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Ralph McTell, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Shane MacGowan, Dick Gaughan, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Steve Earl, Ron Sexsmith, David Gray, Jeff Tweedy, Gillian Welch and Richard Buckner. I admire all these guys, and I bet I’ve left out a whole bunch of folks too.



5DEbvfOScYSllLzl2S2hF2MqB90esIyj2Tu8e1e7zOkWho is your greatest inspiration and why?


People should be inspiring but they don’t hold a candle to Nature. Nature would just blow that old candle out each time. It never ceases to amaze me and draw my attention to detail.  


What are a few things you’d like to accomplish in the next five years?


1. In terms of recording I want to record a complete solo album straight to tape with just me on guitar. No over-dubbing and all live.

2. Touring globally in venues that are responsive to songwriters.

3. Maybe relocation, but it’s hard to leave New York. It’s still got everything going on.


If you could dream of trying something in the arts you haven’t tried, but would like to, what would that be?


Writing the memoir. This seems to be something hanging over most artists, so I’m waiting for justification, or at least the need to go on this adventure into the past.

Vincent Cross Facebook Page

Vincent Cross Website