Liza Barley (Co-Creator/Co-Composer/Sound Designer) Liza Barley is the mother of a feisty toddler named Amalia who she considers her biggest ongoing creative work. She is also a violinist, violist, sound artist, and facilitator of collaborative creative approaches to making new artistic work in all kinds of community and professional development settings. A graduate of Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music (BM) and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London (MM), Liza has lived and worked all over the world. Some of her more significant works include Umoja Arts Project, a community arts initiative that she founded and still directs in Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa; workshops, installation and performances for Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Barbican Centre Creative Learning Department in London; workshops, performance, and installation at GNRation in Braga, Portugal; and a number of cultural musical performance/exchanges in countries such as Gambia, Argentina, and Palestine, among others. Her education work has also taken her far and wide, ranging from Chamber Tots at Wigmore Hall in London to community projects with the New England Conservatory in Boston, Peabody Conservatory and OrchKids in Baltimore, and Gateway to the Arts and Hope Academy here in Pittsburgh, as well as workshops in many different states and countries. More of her work can be seen at www.lizabarley.com.
Lisa Leibering (Costume Design) Lisa Leibering is the very proud mother of 2 emerging theatre artists: Wilson, a senior in Penn State’s BFA in Theatre program specializing in costume crafts, and Annabelle a freshman in the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s BFA in Theatre program specializing in scenic art. Leibering is also a professional theatrical designer, puppeteer, and teaching artist, who focuses much of her time on creating dynamic and innovative theatre and artistic experiences for young people. She holds a BFA in Puppetry/Children’s Theatre from West Virginia University, a MA in Theatre for Youth from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a MA in Theatre from the University of Pittsburgh. Her artists work can be seen in and out of the theatre, and her recent local credits include the set design for Porto Domi (part of the 2018-19 CSA at the New Hazlett Theatre); serving as production designer for Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks for the past 5 years, designing/building fabric “skins” for social robots for Fine Art Miracles, designing/building Frankie the Fish mascot for ALCOSAN, serving as costume designer for several shows for the Mariposa Theatre and designing/building giant food and flowers for Stage 62’s Pinkalicious. Outside of Pittsburgh, some of her notable credits include, serving as production designer for Weber State University’s touring Peter Rabbit, designing and constructing an 18’’ dragon puppet for Fourth Wall Scenic’s Shrek rental package, and creating the original mascot for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Lisa is also the Manager of School and Community Programs for the Education Department of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Tina Marie Cerny (Production Manager) Tina Marie Cerny is a mother to three kids ages 7, 5, and 3. She is currently the Production Manager for Prime Stage. Tina has had a long career in theatre throughout the East Coast, from Florida to Philadelphia and on tour with American Theatre Arts for Youth. She has worked with Riverside Theatre, Naples Dinner Theatre, several theme parks, and others. She proudly served as a founding member of Throughline Theatre Company as their Production Manager for six seasons, as well as Coordinator of Special Events and Individual Giving. Although she has lived here for over a decade, Tina is a transplant to Pittsburgh from North Carolina, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts at Catawba College.
Heather Graff (Lighting Design) is the mother of a precocious 3 year old. A Light & Scenic Designer, Actor & Educator from Chicago now based in Los Angeles. She has received 2 After Dark Awards, a Black Theatre Alliance Award & 3 Jeff Awards for her Scenic & Lighting Designs. Heather’s been the Resident Assistant Light Designer at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum for 12 seasons, where she’s also been the Lead Scenic & Lighting Teacher for their Theatre Crash Courses for Students & Educators. Heather has also taught with and developed curriculum for Northwestern University Center for Talent Development, Imagination Theater, Aarvark Theatre & Teatro Vista. Heather has been an Associate/Assistant Light Designer on Broadway for Donald Holder & David Lander on Bullets Over Broadway, Big Fish, Leap of Faith & Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. On the West Coast she’s designed for Center Theatre Group, Black Dahlia, Playwrights’ Arena, Pepperdine University, Pomona College, & American Academy Dramatic Arts. In Chicago she designed for Steppenwolf, Second City, Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, Hypocrites, Lookingglass, About Face, Chicago Dramatists, Timeline & A Red Orchid, among others.
Heather Irwin (Co-Creator/Actor) Heather Irwin is a mother to three children, ages eight, five, & three. Returning from Chicago to her home of Pittsburgh, she has recently performed as part of the Ensemble for the 2017 Young Playwrights Festival at City Theatre. Chicago credits include Heddatron and Strangerland (Sideshow Theatre Co), The Lady’s Not For Burning and Private Eyes (NEIU Center Stage) and Night Caps (Lincoln Square Theater). She has performed in two national tours with The Hampstead Stage Company (Barnstead NH), and has acting credits in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Akron, OH. Heather is the the Associate Producer and Community Coordinator for Hiawatha Project, and was part of the production team for JH: Mechanics of a Legend at the August Wilson Center in February 2017. Heather is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where she received a BA in Theater and English Literature. She has also worked in administrative roles for the Chicago Humanities Festival (Chicago, IL) and Sideshow Theatre Company (Chicago, IL), City Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA), and Porthouse Theatre (Kent, OH).
Anya Martin (Co-Creator/Director) Anya Martin is a mother to a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. She is also a writer, director and the Founding Artistic Director of Hiawatha Project. Martin has worked in New York with the Vineyard Theatre, West End Theatre, Epiphany Theater Company, and International Wow, and regionally with Arena Stage and the Living Stage in D.C. In Pittsburgh, she has worked with City Theatre Company, Bricolage Production Company, The New Hazlett Theater, ArtUp and the Mattress Factory.
Martin specializes in writing and directing devised works with ensembles of artists. With Hiawatha Project, Martin’s work has been called, “a fever dream of history that combines folklorically large emotions with a winnowing read on a nation’s past” (JH: Mechanics of a Legend – City Paper) and “smart, sharp and witty, not to mention spoken in three languages” (Camino – City Paper) with “scenes of imagination and poetic insight” (Camino – Pittsburgh Post Gazette.) Her show “Anthropological Data: with actual human footage!” was featured in Carnegie Mellon University’s International Festival and her show “Teatro Latino de Pittsburgh” was commissioned and produced as a part of Pittsburgh 250 celebrations. Her one woman show, “Muslims, Mennonites, and Mommies,” was presented at the Mattress Factory as a part of ArtUp’s acclaimed Sites of Passage. In 2018 her play “Helen at the Gym” was a winner in RedBull Theater’s Annual Short Play Festival in NYC and will be published with Stage Rights in 2019.
Martin is an Adjunct Professor in directing at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama where she also received her BFA in Directing. Martin earned her MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College with a focus on devised and experimental works. She is a 2011 Flight School Fellow with Creative Capital/Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and a Pittsburgh Magazine “40 Under 40” honoree for 2013. She was an artist in residence in 2013 for the New Hazlett Theater and a Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award nominee for Emerging Artist in 2016. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild.
Stephanie Mayer Staley (Co-Creator/Set Designer) Stephanie Mayer-Staley, the mother of 2 amazing boys (Aiden and Jace) who are the source of much inspiration, is an Idea Artist whose work ranges from scenic and lighting design to installation, land art, painting, photography and stone masonry. Originally from Germany, her art often reflects her desire for cross-cultural understanding. Mrs. Mayer-Staley’s work has been produced, displayed and honored in the USA as well as in Germany. Recent local Theatrical Designs include: Woody’s Order for The REP and The House of Bernarda Alba for the Conservatory Theatre Company at Pittsburgh Playhouse, Welcome to Here for Bricolage Production Company, Beckett for Corningworks and Tamara and The Hard Problem for Quantum Theater.
Jess Medenbach (Media Designer) Jess Medenbach lives with her partner and his four year old daughter in Pittsburgh and is auntie to two boys, eight and five, and one girl who is just about a year old. Jess is a video and media designer, filmmaker, editor and producer originally from The Hudson Valley in Upstate New York. Jess’s work ranges from media for theater, opera and live events to Augmented and Virtual Reality applications, short films, music videos and video installations. Jess has worked throughout the United States and Europe, had work displayed in Times Square and written about in The New York Times and The Creators Project. Jess holds a MFA in Video and Media Design from Carnegie Mellon University and a BFA in Film Production and Electronic Arts from Bard College.
Monica Stephenson (Co-Creator/Co-Composer/Lyricist) Monica Stephenson is a mother of a 4-year-old boy and a composer, vocalist, and theater artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Duquesne University School of Music, she has performed in regional and national tours and in Europe. Monica has worked with The Wilma Theater, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, TheatreworksUSA, Tanglewood Family Entertainment, The Pittsburgh Opera Company, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, Unseam’d Shakespeare Co., and Prime Stage Theater. Composer credits include The Carols and It’s My Party: The Women and Comedy Project (1812 Productions), Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues, a multi-disciplinary work that encourages young women to stand up, speak their mind, refuse to back down, and ultimately, change the world, in collaboration with Hope Academy of Music and the Arts; as well as a musical adaptation of This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing by Finegan Kruckemeyer. As a teaching artist, Monica has led a variety of classes and workshops in theater arts and songwriting for Dreams of Hope – TheatriQ, Hope Academy, LaRoche College, MGR Foundation and Children’s Aid Society, NYC. She is a current member of the Harvey Wallbangers Sketch Comedy group and often performs in music venues throughout Pittsburgh. You can visit her online at www.monicastephenson.webs.com
Nicole White (Assistant Lighting Design) a graduate from Point Park University with a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts, interned with Front Porch on The Last Five Years and The Light in the Piazza and returned as Master Electrician for Violet and Big Fish. She now designs plays, musicals, concerts, and events. Coming up this February she will be designing PICT’s Run the Rabbit. Her recent designs include PICT’s Jane Eyre, The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival ft Amy Schumer, The City Music Festival, Carnegie Mellon’s Spring Carnival, The Adventures of Nate the Great at The Pittsburgh Playhouse, Presence by John Petrucelli at the New Hazlett Theater, All Shook Up and Singin’ in the Rain Jr. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh.
Lindsay Zappala (PR and Marketing Coordinator) Lindsay Zappala is a mother to one 3-year-old leader-in-the-making (her greatest work-in-progress). After returning home from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, her focus has been in teaching; specifically, on-camera acting and audition coaching. She is an Adjunct Professor at Point Park University in the Cinema Arts department where she offers On-Camera Acting courses for both filmmakers and writers. Additionally, she teaches acting classes at Donna Belajac Actors studio. Lindsay also works as a teaching artist through Pittsburgh City Theatre. Prior to her move back to Pittsburgh, Lindsay worked in television production, working at FOX Network in TV development, the TV series “House” (NBC) and the TV series “Hemlock Grove” (Netflix). She transitioned into television casting as a Casting Associate on numerous TV pilots (“LFE” for CBS, “Untitled Cocaine Project” for TBS, “Mamma Dallas” for HBO) as well as the Showtime series “Masters of Sex.” While working with Emmy award winning Casting Director Stephanie Gorin in Toronto, Lindsay also helped cast various regional Broadway shows including “Peter Pan” and “The Lion King.” Lindsay received her undergraduate degree in Theatre at Northwestern University and received her Masters in Entertainment Industry Management from Carnegie Mellon University.