MEET THE TEAM
ROBYN SHRATER SEEMANN - Artistic Director
Robyn founded Artists Circle to create opportunities and break down barriers for women by providing professional performing arts opportunities for artists across all genres.
Robyn is a multi-hyphenated theatre artist: writer-performer-producer. Selected credits include performing as a featured storyteller at Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts, The Deborah Lerner Gross Jewish Cultural Arts Center, Kehillat Pardes Open Mic, Here Happenings for Jewish Women, Olney Theatre Center’s “Share Your Story” project, and Artists Circle. She is the host and writer of the Shattering The Single Story podcast, sharing stories of beauty, light, love, laughter, frolics and foibles of life as a Jewish woman. Playwriting credits include The Cookbook, performed at the DMV Q-Fest playwriting festival; Uri and Ora Light the Menorah, which most recently was produced as part of Adventure Theatre's Winterfest; and Living Waters, which was chosen to be presented at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival. Robyn spent seven years as a columnist for “Capital Schmoozing” at the Washington Jewish Week.
Robyn holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University.
Robyn Shrater Seemann is supported in part by funding from the Montgomery County Government and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.
RENA KONAR - Acting Expert
Raised in Wilmington, DE, Rena moved to Philadelphia, PA after earning her degree in Theater-performance from the University of Delaware and studying at the Musica Humana Institute in England (Shakespeare ya’ll. You impressed?). In Philly, she joined one of the early (and only) improv groups, Comedy Airlines, and toured the Tri-State area comedy clubs with them. She moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1990, where she studied with The Groundlings and joined the Acme Comedy Theater and the sketch and improv group, Mordechai T. Hellhound. She worked for a music video company and wrote theater and culture pieces for the Los Angeles View newspaper. All these experiences led to working with such weird and random performers as Kathy Griffin, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Corolla and Timothy Leary (what-the-what?!?!). After becoming religious and attending EYAHT, Rena returned to LA, where she [got married and produced children] became one of the first teachers at Kol Neshama, a theater camp. She worked for the camp for 12 years and was a featured performer in several of their film projects. Most recently (after her move to Silver Spring), Rena has been serving as performance and directing consultant to Ashreinu School for Girls’ award-winning annual Shakespeare presentation at the Folger Shakespeare Theater (That’s right! Shakespeare again, ya’ll.).
MICHELLE PENN - Dance Expert
Michelle started dancing when she was three years old. At 14, she joined the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Ballet Theater, under the direction of Angela Mauti and danced soloist and principal roles, including the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and the evil stepsisters in Cinderella. After graduating from a Catholic high school, she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, IL as a Psychology and Dance Major. In her junior year, she took an internship with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, a contemporary dance company based out of the West Loop. After graduation, Michelle went to Israel to study at Neve Yerushalayim as an Abraham Scholar. Three months after arriving, she created the Neve Dance Company with Devon Stern. Over the course of the two years of the company, they performed for more than 2,000 women. Michelle has lectured at various schools across Jerusalem, where she co-created a show with Mrs. Lisa Marcus titled Behind the Masks in May 2013. Michelle opened La Zooz dance studio in Silver Spring, in 2015, where she works towards building a program that enables each girl to discover her best self.
ABBY PINES - Vocal Expert
Abby is a native of Montgomery County. All her life she has been involved with music, having come from a family of musicians. When she was a young child, her siblings had their own singing group, managed by their mother who was also a performer as a child. After graduating from high school, Abby attended Montgomery College as a classical vocal major. Two years later, Abby attended the University of Miami as a jazz vocal major. On a summer break from U. of Miami, Abby auditioned as a singer to perform on a cruise ship. Her summer job ended up lasting almost two years, taking her from Mexico to Alaska, from South Pacific to Brazil, and many places in between. It was during her time on the high seas that Abby started becoming interested in Yiddishkeit and, ironically, the first Halacha she learned was Kol Isha. After speaking with Rabbi Kalman Winter, ZT’L, Abby was not to be deterred and continued her learning while working on the cruise ships. After two years, she decided it was time to go to Israel and continued her studies at Neve Yerushalayim. In 1993, Abby married Jeff Pines, who, at the time, was stationed in Tucson, AZ in the U.S. Air Force. After four months, Jeff separated from the Air Force, and they moved back to Maryland. They have four wonderful children: Avi, Michoel, Dovid, and Rafi.