Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet
Two River’s most popular education program breaks the mold to create something entirely new with Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet, co-directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar and Em Weinstein (A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night).
Since 2014, Two River Theater has produced A Little Shakespeare, a 75-minute cut of a Shakespeare play directed and designed by theater professionals, and performed and supported backstage by high school students. This season, the program used the limitations of 2021 as a unique opportunity for students to delve deeply into the play and give them the agency to tell the story in their own way, filming scenes from home. Over the course of the program, 21 students partnered with industry professionals to learn more about acting, visual design, music, fight choreography, and filmmaking. The result is an eclectic and energetic production of Romeo and Juliet featuring original music, TikTok dances, FaceTime calls, and more.
“This year the Tiny Shakes company embraced a new way of exploring Shakespeare,” said Co-Director Aneesha Kudtarkar. “Despite the distance between them, they found imaginative ways to come together, collaborate, and think deeply about the themes in the play. It’s been a joy to watch the student’s creativity blossom over the course of this process, and we’re thrilled to share this production of Romeo and Juliet with Two River audiences!”
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EDUCATOR ACCESS CURRICULUM GUIDE
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MATTHEW BLANKLEY is so excited to be a part of Tiny Shakes! Matthew is a drama and vocal major at Red Bank Regional High School and has been a part of his school’s productions of Moby Dick: Rehearsed (Ishamel) and The Music Man (Tommy), as well as last year’s Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Fabian)! He would like to thank his family, especially his mom and dad for supporting him so much.
TAYLOR BRINSON she/her. I’m really good with fashion design. I’m hoping to grow, to express my creativity and to work with you guys. I was surprised on how relatable Romeo and Juliet is in today’s times.
GABRIELLE COSTANZA is so excited to make her Tiny Shakes debut working on Romeo and Juliet! Most recently she has played roles such as Grace Fryer in Radium Girls at The Count Basie Center for the Arts, and Narrator in the Mini Misfits Podcast. She will also appear in Studio 7 Productions upcoming short film Cliff. She is a sophomore at Howell High School, where she is an Acting Major in the FPAC program and hopes to further pursue the arts in college!
KIMANI CULBREATH is 16 years old and a junior drama major at High Tech High School. She is very excited to be making her first debut with Tiny Shakes. She has previously played in High Tech’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and All in the Timing. She also recently performed in a black history month documentary, made by High Tech’s drama department. Kimani hopes to pursue a career in television and film, but she really enjoys theatre. Kimani wants everyone, including the cast and crew, to enjoy the show because she knows everyone worked very hard on it.
JACK CUSICK returns to Two River Theater once again for their production of Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. This is Jack’s 3rd performance at TRT, with prior roles in A Little Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Malvolio) and The Comedy of Errors (Duke Solinus), as well as being a 2019-2020 Metro Scholar. Other past stage credits include 12 Angry Jurors (Juror #3), Arsenic and Old Lace (Jonathan Brewster), All Shook Up (Sheriff Earl), The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Michael Kelly), and Capital Production’s Peter Pan (John). Jack would like to dedicate this performance to the family and friends who have been with him since the start, and the team behind this production.
TORI DILLON This is Tori’s first show at Two River Theater and she couldn’t be more excited!! She’s a sophomore at Howell High School and in the FPAC Acting Program. She loves writing and music and plays piano, guitar, and ukulele. Her most recent show was Bring It On! at Howell High School in February of 2020 and she’s excited to be jumping back into theater. She wishes all the cast and crew to break a leg and all the best in their future endeavors!
Herrin Oum Fontenette
HERRIN OUM FONTENETTE is delighted to be making her virtual theatre debut with Two River Theater. She is a senior at Henry Snyder High school in Jersey City, NJ, and has studied under the guidance of her high school Honors Theatre Teacher Ms. Susan Murphy, and actor and producer Douglas Taurel. Her recent credits include The Scarlet Ibis with The Jersey City Arts Theatre Company, Sunday Workshops Manhattan 2020: The New (AB)Normal and Sunday Workshops Manhattan 2021: Unplugged, with Girl Be Heard. A talented artist and passionate activist, Herrin is an active performer at Girl Be Heard’s Sunday Workshops Manhattan, where she collaborates with brilliantly talented young women using their voices to spark change on a national level. Herrin is an accomplished poet, having her work published by Americahates.us, and has performed Spoken Word pieces on Systemic Racism in America and the Fetishization of Black Women nationally. As a graduating senior, Herrin intends to major in History while in college with a concentration in Black Studies.
ABIGAIL GILDER is delighted to be performing with Two River Theater. Her recent credits include a show with Colts Neck High School and a show previously performed with Two River Theater. She is a student at Colts Neck High School, where she is a musician in multiple bands.
JESSE KODAMA is very excited to be a part of this completely virtual production of Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. He is a senior at Red Bank Regional High School and will be studying acting in college. Last year he was in A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night at Two River Theater. He has also been in high school productions including The Diary of Anne Frank, Moby Dick – Rehearsed, The Music Man, and Into the Woods. Jesse would like to thank the cast, crew, Kate Cordaro, directors Em Weinstein and Aneesha Kudtarkar, and everyone at Two River Theater for making this production possible.
LILLY LIGHT is so excited to be working in her first show with Two River Theater. She loves Shakespeare and is delighted to be working in the production. Lilly has been a part of the RFH Tower Players for the last three years, and is looking forward to branching out after working as both as both an actor and Scenic Artist in the recent past.
ELIANA MANDELBERG An actress, singer, and award-winning orator and essayist, Eliana has played a wide range of roles in many live and virtual productions. Some of her favorite roles include Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray and Paulette in Legally Blonde. Eliana is also a member of a high school a cappella group, All-State Chorus, and other musical productions. She is enrolled in a prestigious performing arts program and has created several viral videos, including one with more than one million views.
QUINN MCMANUS (she/her) (YOUNG IRINA) is excited to perform in her second Two River Theater production. Her first production was Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. Quinn has performed in high school productions at RFH as well as Communications High School and is excited to perform in a non-virtual production this year. She hopes everyone enjoys the show and that the whole cast breaks some bones!
CLAIRE MUNLEY is a senior and drama major at Red Bank Regional High School. Throughout these four years, Claire has represented several companies on and off stage in numerous productions. Theater credits include: Twelve Angry Men (Juror #7), Macbeth (The Doctor), Into the Woods (The Witch), The Comedy of Errors (Luciana), All’s Well That Ends Well (Diana), Taming of the Shrew (Bianca) Wedding Band (Princess), A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Assistant Director, Costume Assistant). Theatrical accolades include: Two River Theater’s Metro Scholars program, a student marketing internship at The Professional Performance Prep, and an “Honorable Mention” through Kean University’s Senior Endeavor Playwriting Competition. Claire is very excited to aid Em Weinstein and Aneesha Kudtarkar as Assistant Director for Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. Even in these challenging times, to be able to express herself, ideas, and voice through the arts means the world to her.
KAITLYN NICKERSON is delighted to be making her debut with the Two River Theater. She is a junior attending Middletown High School North, and has aided in many of their drama club shows such as Clue (props), Do You Wanna Dance? (props) and Our Town (prop manager). She is so excited to immerse herself in a new community and be a part of something so special!
KIRI PATIENT is very excited to be one of the assistant directors of Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. This is her first show with Tiny Shakes and she is delighted to be working with this amazing cast and crew. She is a sophomore at Ranney School where she has been in many productions. She has always been on stage so she is very excited to try something new and be behind the scenes. She would like to thank this amazing company for giving her this opportunity.
DYLAN PITANZA (DON JOHN) is a senior in the VPA Drama program at Red Bank Regional HS. He is proud to be in his 3rd Little Shakes production. Other credits include: Romeo in Tiny Shakes: Romeo & Juliet and Sir Toby Belch in A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night with Two River Theater; Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank with RBRHS. He has also performed as Young York in Richard III with Shakespeare Downtown NYC. He would like to thank his family for their support; Kate, Rakesh & Diana for the opportunity as well as the cast & crew for putting on a great show!
SAORLA RAFFERTY is proud to debut with the production Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. She is currently studying film at High Tech High School. She recently contributed to “In Flew Enza”, an award-winning film for the Golden Door Quaranscenes Film Scramble.
MAYA RAMDAYAL is thrilled to be a part of Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. She is currently a Drama major in the Performing Arts Academy at High Tech High School. Since a young age, she has performed in countless productions, including the Jersey City District production of Les Miserables, Snug the Joiner in High Tech High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mrs. Peacock in Clue at Mile Square theatre two years ago. She has also directed and edited “Hidden Voices”.
ALEX REYES is ecstatic to be given the opportunity to debut with Two River Theater in their production of Tiny Shakes: Romeo and Juliet. They are especially excited to be working with director Em Weinstein. They are currently a sophomore at Canutillo High School in El Paso, Texas. Their previous credits include: Almost, Maine (Shelby), Ladies Sigh No More (Lady Anne), A Christmas Carol (Jacob Marley), Powerline- The story of me, Mario, and your mom (Bartholomew, Jae), as well as The Shadow Box (Hair and Makeup). Alex would like to thank Jesus Ramirez, Alex Van Den Bogaerde, Tom, Trinity, Matthew, their family, friends and the amazing Two River Theater cast! Break a leg everyone!
Maya Sta. Ana
MAYA STA. ANA is thrilled to be in her second production at Two River Theater! A Level IV Actor at HHS FPAC, Maya has been named a two-time Theater winner by the National YoungArts Foundation and candidate for the US Presidential Scholars Program. She has studied at Two River Theater’s Summer Program and the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. She is a member of NJ All-State Mixed Chorus and the Carnegie Hall Voices of Hope Ensemble for Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation. Other theater credits include: A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Feste), Love/Sick (Liz), Summer Brave (Madge), Runaways (Jackie). Maya thanks Two River Theater, family, friends, and the amazing cast and crew!
Dianna "Gracie" Whaley
DIANNA “GRACIE” WHALEY is beyond ecstatic to be making her Tiny Shakes debut in Romeo and Juliet. She would like to thank her friends, family, and directors for all their support in her acting journey. She has managed to do an astounding 16 shows during her high school career, only paying the small price of no sleep and constant eyebags. Most importantly, she would like to thank her mommy for being her biggest (and most painfully honest) supporter. In the wise words of Nicki Minaj, “I couldn’t do it all alone, we.”
ANEESHA KUDTARKAR (she/her) is a New York-based theatre director. She is a trained Indian Classical dancer who calls upon her background in dance to create compositionally driven pieces of theatre that often centralize and celebrate underrepresented communities. Her directorial projects include The Who and the What (TheaterWorks Hartford) Men on Boats (Southern Methodist University), [Veil Widow Conspiracy] (National Asian American Theatre Company), Trouble in Mind (Yale School of Drama), The Purple Flower (Yale Cabaret), Mud (Hangar Theatre). Aneesha is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. www.aneeshadirects.com
EM WEINSTEIN (they/them) is a writer and a director of new plays, films, musicals, and interactive installations. While getting their M.F.A. in Directing at Yale School of Drama, Em directed numerous stage productions such as the first workshop production of Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris and Arden, an immersive musical co-written with Michael Breslin that explored queer utopias and featured original songs by Julian Hornik. Em’s short film Candace has played at festivals worldwide including the Mill Valley Film Festival, Outfest, the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and the American Pavilion Emerging LGBTQ Filmmakers Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won Best Film. Em has developed and directed work with companies such as Rattlestick Theater, New Georges, the 52nd Street Project, Shakespeare & Company, Glasshouse Lab, Collaboraction, Working Theater, En Garde Arts, the Prototype Festival and the Museum of Ice Cream. B.A. Smith College, M.F.A. Yale School of Drama 2019 www.emweinstein.com
STEFANIA BULBARELLA (she/her) is a Director and Projection/Video Designer from Argentina based in Brooklyn, NY. Her latest credits include Video/Projection Design: Disclaimer (Under the Radar- The Public), Home for the Holidays (Broadway Cares), Uncle Vanya (Fordham University) Una niña, una familia , un pueblo (PRELUDE), Essential (Chicago Freestreet) Closure (The Movement Theatre Company- 1MOVE: DES19NED), Unstuck (The Tank), 12 Angry Animals (NYU Tisch), Field Awakening (Corkscrew/Columbia Stages), Azul Otra Vez (BRIC/PRELUDE), The Revolution (National Sawdust). Associate/Assistant Projection/Video Designer: Bollywood Kitchen (Geffen/ Hypocrit), Circle Jerk (Ars Nova/ Theatre Mitu), Broadway Bares (Broadway Cares), Fandango for Butterflies (Engarde Arts), Warriors Don’t Cry (Theatre USA).
Sound Designer / Engineer
BAILEY TRIERWEILER (they/them) is a non-binary, East-Coast based sound designer, engineer and artist, currently pursuing an MFA in Sound Design at the Yale School of Drama. They work with their sound collective at UptownWorks and are most interested in uplifting marginalized voices and engaging community through thoughtful collaboration and various forms of media. Bailey enjoys cooking and complex, sound related problem solving. Select design and engineering credits include A Voice in the Dark (Yale Cabaret), Till’ Death (Black Women Are Scary Podcast, S1.EP6); Music & Animals (Cadence Podcast, S3.Ep6.); Auntie Vanya (Ars Nova); Girls (Yale Repertory Theater); Yell: A Documentary of My Time Here (Yale School of Drama). www.uptownworksnyc.com
Scenic Designer / Consultant
Gerardo Díaz Sánchez
Gerardo Díaz Sánchez
GERARDO DÍAZ SÁNCHEZ (he/him) is a NYC-based scenic designer from Guayama, Puerto Rico. His theater credits include: Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf Theatre), El Huracán (Yale Repertory Theater), For Carmen in San Sebastián (Merry-Go-Round Theatre), Tent Revival and Romeo and Juliet (Yale School of Drama). Other recent credits include Novios Part 1, Yale Dragball, It’s not about my mother, Mud, This American Wife, Re:Union, Yale School of Drag 2017 (Yale Cabaret); and The Trojan Women (Yale Summer Cabaret). He received his MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and his BA in environmental design from the School of Architecture at the University of Puerto Rico, with a double major in theatre design and techniques
COLE MCCARTY (he/him) is a New York based costume designer originally from Texas. Recent credits: Circle Jerk (Fake Friends), Read to Me (Portland Stage Company), Circle Jerk (ArsNova Makers Lab), This American Wife (Next Door at NY Theater Workshop), A Doll’s House, Part 3 (Ars Nova), Kiss (Yale Repertory Theatre). Upcoming: This American Wife (Fake Friends). MFA: Yale School of Drama
JULIA BATES (she/her) (STAGE MANAGER) is thrilled to have worked on KISSES THROUGH THE GLASS / BESOS A TRAVÉS DEL CRISTAL. Regional credits include: Mr. Burns, Romeo & Juliet, and Cyrano (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival) Queen of the Night (Dorset Theatre Festival), Manahatta (Yale Repertory Theatre), Once Upon A One More Time (Shakespeare Theatre Company) and A Little Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet (Two River Theater). Film/TV: 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend, MTV Unplugged: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, and the 2021 Golden Globes.
Sound Designer / Engineer Assistant
Dramaturgy Consultant & Editing Assistant