Meet the Cast of Handball NYC

Last fall, Urban Theatre Movement produced the world premiere production of HANDBALL to rave audience and critical reviews. If you missed this compelling and powerful portrait of a neighborhood in flux, with characters both real and larger than life, here is another opportunity to experience it. With director Brenda Banda back at the helm, the mostly original cast will perform at all engagements during the Summer Stage festival in New York City, courtesy of City Parks Foundation.

 

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Seth Zvi Rosenfeld (Playwright) was born and raised in NYC. Most of his plays are loveletters in one form or another to New York. He started his career as a Playwright nurtured by the Ensemble Studio
Theatre and the now defunct Double Image and Angel Theatres. His plays include “The Writing on the Wall” produced by the Westbeth Theatre Center, “The Blackeyed Brothers” which he directed as well, produced by Double Image Theatre and winner of the Samuel French short play award, he also directed his plays “A Brother’s Kiss” and “After the Marching Stopped” with Ana Traina, produced by Angel Theatre at Intar and retitled “Brothers. Mothers and Others”, “Servy-n-Bernice 4ever” produced commercially Off-Bway at the Provincetown Playhouse, “A Passover Story” commissioned by the late Joseph Papp for the Public Theatre, “The Flatted Fifth” and”Everythings Turning Into Beautiful” produced by The New Group, his play “Handball” Premiered In Los Angeles at Urban Theater Movement before coming to NYC for Summerstage 2014.
His latest play “Downtown Race Riot” was produced by New York Stage and Film in June 2013.

He has worked extensively in Film and TV as both a Writer/Producer and Director. He has written and directed the films “ A Brother’s Kiss” and “King of the Jungle” which were both adaptations of his plays. Also wrote the film “Sunset Park” as well as script doctored several films and developed screenplays for nearly every major studio.

In the year 2000 he co-wrote produced and directed the ground breaking internet series “We-Deliver” for Palm pictures and Sputnik7.com. He wrote and directed an episode of SUBWAY STORIES for HBO. He’s written pilots for the CW, Fox, CBS, HBO, Showtime, FX and A&E among others. He served as Writer/Producer on HBO’s “How to Make it in America” for two seasons. Currently he is a Writer/Producer for a Netflix series tentatively titled “Before Crack” in collaboration with Stephen Adly Guirgis and Baz Luhrmann.

Seth spent three semesters as an Adjunct Professor in Graduate Film Program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He’s taught Playwriting for The Young Playwrights Festival, The Labyrinth Theater Company, Urban Arts, The Working Playground and Urban Theatre Movement.

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Brenda Banda (Director) is a LA native actor/director/writer whose career spans over 15 years. She has studied with a number of theatre companies including Steppenwolf West, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Ruskin School of Acting in Santa Monica, CA. Her acting credits include Jenny in Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter (Off Broadway), Sirena/Chavo in Digging up the Dirt, a world premiere written and directed by Cherrie Moraga and Auggie in Melancholia directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela at the LATC.

Brenda began her career at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA where she began studying acting and immediately found a passion for theatre. While at Cerritos, she performed, wrote and directed her first plays. These four years saw Brenda truly fall in love with theatre. And it was this love that inspired her to co-found Urban Theatre Movement and serve as the company’s first Artistic Director (2010 – 2011).

With UTM, Brenda developed her skills as a producer while learning from her co-founding partner, Paul Tully and friend and adviser, director Jeremy Aluma. Together this trio created an explosive establishing year for UTM with productions such as Bert V. Royal’s Dog Sees God at the Lounge Theater in Hollywood and Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Last days Of Judas Iscariot at Company of Angels in Downtown LA. The company later went on to successfully produce the critically acclaimed Short Eyes by Miguel Pinero at the Los Angeles Theater Center. Brenda is happy to see that UTM is now stronger than ever as the company works to position itself among the country’s top theatre companies.

Brenda’s vision for this company is now becoming fully realized with the production of Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s Handball. She envisioned a theatre company of not just friends, but family members who could grow together and produce their own work. A family of actors, writers, directors and producers who come together to create a voice for the authentic, beautiful and too often painful urban life they all know so well. It is Brenda’s belief that theatre is healing and it is this is a belief that drives her career. It is this philosophy she hopes will propel the next four years of this company. Brenda admits that her journey with UTM hasn’t always been easy but it’s been highly educational and she hopes to keep growing as an artist, as a woman and as a human being.

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Isabel Davila (Laurie) has been a UTM member since the beginning and is thrilled to be part of Handball. Most recently she has been seen in the UTM One Act Festival production of her play, Don’t be Dumb, Jimmy. She’s also appeared in, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Vagina Monologues, Hamlet and the feature film Piñata. Handball has been a unique experience, with a lot of crazy energy thanks to Seth’s heartfelt writing, Brenda’s meticulous directing and the cast’s commitment. Isabel would like to thank Freedom for this amazing opportunity. (SAG-AFTRA Eligible.)

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Luis Kelly-Duarte (Gee) is a native of Nicaragua, who began his career at Contra Costa College in Richmond, CA, under the watchful eye of Peter Temple. Luis credits Peter for sparking in him a flame that can never be quenched. Since then he’s gone on to study the Meisner technique with Tom Ormeny of the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, CA . Luis’ foundation in the craft of acting is built upon experiential acting as taught through The Eric Morris Method by one of Eric’s most esteemed students Mr. Mark Majarian. In Speaking of Mark, Luis says, “he gave me the tools to build a complete house”. On stage Luis has brought to life rich classical characters such as Paris in Romeo and Juliet, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, Sebastian in The Tempest and both Duke Frederick and Duke Senior in As You Like It. With the character of Gee, Luis tackles his second contemporary role and will push the limits of his training to breath life into Gee.

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Jeff De Serrano (Panama) a Cleveland Ohio native, arrived in New York City to pursue a career in acting after receiving a business degree from Ohio University. He made his first appearance on stage as Mountain McClintock, in the Off-Broadway production of Requiem for a Heavyweight. Jeff quickly found footing working on daytime television with recurring roles on All My Children, One Life To Live, and Another World. Jeff came to Los Angeles to work on the pilot of MTV’s Lyricists Lounge, and decided to make The City of Angels his home. Since, Jeff has been able to put together a body of work on Television, on shows such as CSI Miami, Karen Cisco, NCIS LA, Dexter and HBO’s Family Tree to name a few. He has also been fortunate to have worked with directors such as J.J. Abrams, Cameron Crow, Matt Reeves and Jonathan Mostow in his feature film career. Jeff is presently recurring on the hit contemporary Western, Longmire. Jeff would like to thank his wife, Eunice, who he calls his “Rock”, for all the help support and guidance.

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Dani de la Fe (Lil-Lucy) is a Cuban-American actress born in Miami, Fl. After leaving the University of Miami she came to Los Angeles to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Upon graduation she returned to Miami to film the 75 episode Nickelodeon Latin American television series, 1111 En Mi Cuadra Nada Cuadra. Dani produced and starred in the short film Retrograde Future which she very recently completed. She is currently co-creating a new web series titled While You’re Not Around which she is also starring in and producing. She is extremely excited to have the opportunity to work on the second run of this play and honor the city that inspired its creation. She would like to give thanks to Seth Zvi Rosenfeld for his words and to her director Brenda Bana for pushing her to new levels. Sarah Tither Kaplan for her great talent as a writer and actress. A thanks to her creative partner and confidant Rene Rodon for his ongoing encouragement
brought on by his unparalleled humor and great insight, without him there would be no movie or even idea for the next project ahead. Thanks to her Mom and Dad for their commitment and motivation to pursue all her dreams and to her two brothers, Christiaan and Ernie, who have always brought balance to her life.

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Matias Ponce (Javier) A Toledo Ohio native, arrived in Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting after being inspired by his father to dream, no matter what. Since his arrival, he has booked roles on television’s Victorious, Sam and Cat (Nickelodeon) and Lie to Me (Fox) among others. He has also seized the stage in the Los Angeles Theatre Center’s productions of Short Eyes and Faith: Part I of A Mexican Trilogy, with Short Eyes having opened the 2012 International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami. On the stage for the 1st time professionally in New York, Matias is thrilled and inspired to be a part of UTM’s Handball. “5 years ago, I came to New York with my mother to chase my dream, 5 years later I have finally caught that dream.” He’d like to thank his Mother and Father (Domingo Ponce) for all their love and support, his manager Tina Treadwell (TEG) for believing, his cousin Jessica Lopez (IATSE Local 600) for pushing, the family of UTM, the cast
of Handball, & SummerStage, for allowing him to work and play, and of course…. Rosenfeld’s words.

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David Santana (Orlando) feels blessed to be a member of UTM and to have been given his first opportunity to perform in New York at SummerStage. He could not have asked for a better first experience! He is extremely proud of his company and would like to thank all the members for making everything possible. He is excited to share his work and this wonderful play with you. He is also thankful to be working alongside such an amazingly talented and dedicated cast. Recent stage credits include And Then it Rained, Cloud Tectonics and Short Eyes. Look him up at http://www.urbantheatremovement.com.

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Paul Tully (Barry) is a American stage, film and television actor who recent works include Short Eyes at the Los Angeles Theatre Center and the prestigious Adrienne Arsht Regional Theatre in Miami. Paul has also appeared in Urban Theatre Movement’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly guirgis, Jose Rivera’s Massacre (Sing to Your Children), The Verdict by Doug Thomas, and the original play
Decisions. He has also made television appearances in LA on shows like Raising the Bar, Operation Repo, The Golden Sisters and Usual Suspects. You can also see Paul in films like Life as a King, Tiger Cruise, Replica, and My Brother’s Keeper. Paul’s acting training began at HB Studios and he continued to study with coaches such as Maggie Flanigan, Gloria Gifford and Gary Perez. He is the Co-founder and President of the Urban Theatre Movement and a very proud, inspired member of the company. Paul gives all thanks to GOD his FAMILY and all those that support.

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Lloyd Watts (Ra-Ra) is a 2006 graduate from new school drama school. Lloyd’s most noted theater credits include the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Mother Courage starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline as a Soldier, Katori Hall’s play Hurt Village at Signature Theatre in the role of Skillet and the one man show national/international traveling production You The Man on violence against women prevention for Addverb Productions. Lloyd also had a recurring role on the HBO show Treme in the role of Jerome Cherry. Lloyd was last scene in episode 4 of the Emmy nominated show True Detective as L. Lloyd’s film credits also include roles in Mighty Fine starring Chaz Palminteri, From the Rough starring Taraji P. Henson, the Sundance hit film Newlyweeds and the indie film The Human Web where Lloyd won best actor at the Cannes pan du Africain festival in Cannes, France in 2010. Lloyd is very thankful to UTM, Summerstage and great cast and crew of Handball for this amazing and wonderful opportunity!

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Spencer Weitzel (Christopher) is a native of Southern California and a proud member of the Urban Theatre Movement. Acting has been a passion of his for as long as he can remember. Some of his most memorable experiences on stage include the world premiere and Los Angeles run of Handball by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, playing Eddie in Fool for Love and performing in a traveling Children’s Theatre Company called The Actors Project where he had the pleasure of writing, directing and starring in Marty Mcgillicuddy and the Case of The Missing Macadamia. UTM has proven to be a wonderful artistic home and he is thrilled and grateful also to be apart of SummerStageNYC. He always enjoys meeting and working with new people and encourages you to look him up at spencerweitzel.com to follow or join his artistic endeavors.

 

Caitlin Miller (Stage Manager) is a native of Seal Beach, Southern California. She’s an Actor, Writer, Director, and spoken word artist. She has stage managed and performed in SP!T, a spoken word theatre hybrid since her membership with Urban Theatre Movement began in 2012. She has also studied at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, Wayne Dvorak’s Meisner Studio in Los Angeles, and The Eric Morris Method, under her mentor Mark Majarian. She has received The Sharon Borden Acting Scholarship two years in a row, for her work as Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, and Bella Kurnitz in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers. Her portrayal as Bella got her nominated to compete in the Irene Ryan’s at KCACTF in Los Angeles, the first student to compete on behalf of Cypress College in eight years. She would like to thank her family for their endless support, Mark Majarian for his perseverance, pivotal influence and faith, Alex and Aileen Alfaro for
being extra handsome, and of course, Seth Svi Rosenfeld and Urban Theatre Movement for this life changing opportunity.

Kate Fry is a Costume Designer for theater, film, opera and dance. Her work seeks to explore clothing as poetry- to illustrate the complex nature of identity as both individual and contextual within society. In 2013, Kate was selected to participate in the Great Plains Theatre Conference as a “top emerging designer” and was also part of a juried CalArts initiative with Walt Disney Imagineers. Her work has been shown at NY City Center, Here Arts Center, REDCAT, Prototype Opera Festival, Highways Performance Space, L.A. Live Arts Exchange The American Place Theater, Santa Monica Playhouse and the Prague Quadrennial. MFA California Institute of the Arts. http://www.katefry.com

Charlie Jake Sanchez (Marketing Coordinator) is an actor, writer, and director with Urban Theatre Movement. The 2014 season marks his second stint as Marketing Coordinator for the company. A member since just after the birth of UTM, Charlie is proud and honored to help bring Handball from Los Angeles to New York for our first production in the city.

Daren Taylor (Producer) recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City, where he worked as a writer, director, and producer. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Daren’s work has allowed him to travel to Holland, Italy, and Japan, studying performance and creating original, site specific work. Back in NYC, Daren became one of the founding members of The Movement Theater Company, a group of devoted young artists dedicated to creating original works for underrepresented groups. Having produced a variety of readings, plays, musicals, and events all over NYC, Daren has developed a versatility that allows him to easily find creative solutions. With a passion for community based and innovative work, Daren is proud to be producing in Los Angeles with Cornerstone Theater Company and Urban Theater Movement.