The Fundamentals

Sam Underwood
Artistic Director
Alison Blair
Managing Director
Valorie Curry
Company Member
Natalia Ivana Escobar
Outreach Director
Spencer Aste
Company Member
Lauren Downie
Marketing Director
Kaitlyn Gill
Company Member
Stacy Lynn Gould
Company Member
Maks Kubis
Company Member
T.J. Mannix
Company Member
Roger Clark
Company Member
Carly Menkin
Marketing Director
Jon McCormick
Company Member
Tessa Fairey
Company Member
Laura Strausfeld
Creative Consultant
Virginia Podesta
Associate Producer
Rakel Aroyo
Company Member
Jamie Sims
Company Member
Maite Uzal
Fundraising Director

Sam Underwood

Sam Underwood, originally hailing from Woking, England, most recently starred opposite Kevin Bacon in Fox’s hit drama “The Following”, in which he plays twins Mark and Luke. Other recent television appearances include recurring guest star roles in Showtime’s “Dexter” and “Homeland”. Sam is also the founder of Initiative Productions. His debut film in collaboration with 3 Legged Dog and 26 Films, “Bus Stop”, premiered at this year’s London Short Film Festival, and he is also producing the upcoming independent feature film, “In The Rubber Room”. His New York theatre credits include CANDIDA at the Irish Repertory Theatre, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY at The Pershing Square Signature Theatre, and EQUUS at John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, in which he starred opposite Alec Baldwin.

Alison Blair

Alison Blair is a New-York based professional actor originally from North Carolina. She received a BFA in Acting from the University of NC at Greensboro. Favorite past roles include “The Whale and the Dog Star” (Selma), “Joking Apart” (Louise), “Private Lives” (Amanda), “Macbeth” (Lady MacDuff), and “Marat/Sade” (Quartet). She began working with FTP as an actor in 2013 and has appeared in several Think Tank readings, staged readings, and other productions, including “The Whale and the Dog Star” at Mass Rhetoric 2013 and The Peter Shaffer Award Gala 2016, as well as “Alone With Friends” at Holiday House 2013. She sees theatre as a way to tell truthful stories that help us connect to one another and begin dialogues about the important issues that affect our shared humanity. She is so thrilled to be working with Fundamental Theater Project and looks forward to telling more stories with them.

www.AlisonBlair.com

Ben Holbrook

Ben Holbrook is a Brooklyn-based (originally from NC) playwright whose works have been produced, developed, or commissioned by: Fundamental Theater Project, Ruddy Productions, Ugly Rhino (LA),  Seoul Players (SK), Holiday House, The Irish Arts Council, 45th Street Block Association, and Paper Lantern Theatre Company.  Also a writer and filmmaker, his work has been published in “Call of the Void”, a journal of visual and literary arts, and his films have been seen at the Big Apple Film Festival, The Comedy of Horrors Festival, The Sickest Short Films Festival, and The Films Open Mic Festival. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the inaugural recipient of the Peter Shaffer Award for Excellence in Playwriting. 

More can be found at http://holbrook.nyc

Valorie Curry

Valorie Curry is originally from California, where she studied acting and received a degree in Theatre Arts from California State University, Fullerton. She is a founding member of Los Angeles’ Ovation Award winning Coeurage Theatre Company, with which she starred in Balm in Gilead and the west coast premiere of Shakespeare’s Double Falsehood. Other credits include The Diviners at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and The Diary of Anne Frank at La Mirada
Theatre for the Performing Arts. She starred at Charlotte in the international blockbuster Twilight: Breaking Dawn. Her television appearances include Veronica Mars, Psych, and CSI: New York. She starred as Emma Hill in Fox’s hit drama The Following opposite Kevin Bacon, and recently joined the cast of Showtime’s Golden Globe winning dramedy House of Lies with Don Cheadle. She is the founder of production company 26 Films, and her debut film in collaboration with Initiative Productions, Bus Stop, premiered at this year’s London Short Film Festival. She can be seen next in Ewan McGregor’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, American Pastoral, starring as Rita Cohen.

Natalia Ivana Escobar

Natalia Ivana Escobar is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She started taking drama lessons when she was a child and never stopped. After graduating collage in her country she co-funded an independent theater company called “Ideas Líquidas” which continues exploring to create unique plays. Natalia came to New York in 2012 to study her craft in her second language. After graduating AMDA she worked with Love Creek in many One Act shows; understudied a role in “Coyote Dreams”; shot several short films; had a main role in “San Salvador Después del Eclipse” a play presented at the 5th Theatre festival at the Dominican Comisionate; became a member of the theater company Blessed Unrest and Started understudying the two female roles in Point Break Live!; among other things. She is happy to be part of Fundamental Theater Project and can’t wait to keep creating inspiring work!

Spencer Aste

Most Recently: Axial Theatre Company’s Maybe Never Fell. Various Roles in Bedlam’s St. Joan dir. Eric Tucker. Edinburgh: Hamlet in Bed, dir. by Lisa Peterson, 3-D Hamlet with Fundamental Theatre Project. Lincoln Center: Polonius/Gravedigger Hamlet (Lincoln Center Institute); Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (New York Philharmonic). A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra). New York: The Acting Company (company member): Richard Richard III, Iago Othello, Edgar Allan Poe Murder By Poe. Other NY Companies: Axis Theater Co. (company member), The Workshop Theater, Between Two Boroughs, Storm Theatre Co., The Cell, New York Theatre Workshop, MTC, MCC, Boomerang Theat. Co., Rising Phoenix Rep. and La MaMa among others. Favorite playwrights: Adam Rapp, Marc Palmieri and Edgar Oliver. Films: Ted (principal) 200 American; Parked Hippie Taking Woodstock (directed by Ang Lee); voice of Scratch Toy Story (directed by John Lasseter); Bern My First Kiss and the People Involved. Television: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Royal Pains (USA Network). Web Series The Thing www.theplayis.com. Spencer was recognized by NYTheatre.com as one of 2012’s People Of The Year. He received his M.F.A. from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, CO and his B.F.A. from the University of Utah. Much love to Erik.

Lauren Downie

Lauren Downie is an actor who’s hometown is settled on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland. She leaped across the pond to New York City over 5 years ago. Since then she has delved into every creative opportunity that has come her way, including; original musical tours, plays and films. Her recent credits include Strindberg’s ‘Playing with Fire’, and feature film ‘Love is a Broadway Hit’ which is to be released 2017.

She is a proud member of Fundamental Theater Project whose huge support has helped her stay in the U.S. 

Kaitlyn Gill

Kaitlyn Gill is an actor, singer, and dancer from Monmouth County, New Jersey. She moved to New York City in 2014 to pursue an education and career in the performing arts. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC and is an alumni of the Actor’s Playground School of Theatre in Freehold, New Jersey. She recently finished production on the short film “MERA,” in which she played twins. Kaitlyn has spent the past year studying deaf culture and learning American Sign language. She will be playing Hubble, a deaf girl who runs away from her hearing household, in the musical Runaways by Elizabeth Swados this February at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in NJ. She is so excited to be a part of the FTP family and is looking forward to all of the great adventures in store!

Stacy Lynn Gould

Trained in classical, contemporary and musical theatre,  Stacy works in as many genres of theatre as she can and in just as many different roles.  Past work includes Assistant Directing for “One Day When We Were Young” at 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and co-producing the Play.Sing.Give. festival off-off broadway.  Acting roles have included Baptista in Taming of the Shrew (South Dakota Shakespeare Festival-Nominated for Best Actress, Broadwayworld.com Regional), King Lear in the title role (Globe Theatre, London), and Linda in Fiction (Off-Off Broadway, Nominated Best Actress,NYIT Awards).  For further information check out her website www.msstacylynn.weebly.com.

Maks Kubis

Maks Kubis spent most of his childhood and adolescent years in Puck, Poland where he started his guitar and singing journey performing in a church band at the age of ten. Maks was a co-founder of a Polish blues-rock group Old Garage. The project resulted in over a hundred concerts around the country and an EP recording. He also created Project Cii… – Trio performing works of most notable Polish poets and writers. Maks composed and performed a hymn for the first Polish Whisky Festival. He is a Jacek Kaczmarski Poetry Festival laureate and three-time Regional Poetry Festival winner.
Training: BFA, The New School University. New York Film Academy. American Musical and Dramatic Academy – two-year musical theatre conservatory.
Theatre: Unrevealing Shakespeare, Rise and Shine, I Want It All, Strange Love, Pernambuco, Blur, Adventures of the Cheating Flea, High Fantastical Production Presents: Distortion (music director/performer)
TV: Gingerbread House, Legion of Grads, All that I Love.

T.J. Mannix

T.J. Mannix is an actor, voice-over artist, director, and producer. He has toured with Chicago’s The Second City/NCL. He recently appeared in the original cast of “BLANK! the Musical,” creating brand new 90-minute musicals every night based solely on audience suggestions.

T.J. has appeared in over 85 commercials, flew 50 feet in the air in a fat suit in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, scored the Law and Order Trifecta (Law and Order, L&O:SVU, and L&O:Criminal Intent), and recurred on most of the NYC soaps that no longer exist. A veteran improvisor, he has studied, performed, and taught with the UCB, PIT, and Magnet. He is also the founder/producer of the 7th annual New York Musical Improv Festival (www.NYMIF.com).

He admits to spending a very dark year as a Mouseketeer, and is thrilled to be working with such a creative and driven group of actors, directors, and producers.

Roger Clark

Roger Clark is a professional actor and voice over artist. Born in New Jersey, he grew up in Sligo on the west coast of Ireland and trained in the United Kingdom. He has worked as an actor in 45 different countries: World tours of MACBETH (where he received an accolade from the Singapore Arts Council for his performance of Macduff), DEATH OF A SALESMAN, FRANKENSTEIN, A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Theatre includes A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Theatre for a New Audience), TO PAY THE PRICE by Peter-Adrian Cohen (Off Broadway, Theater Three), A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (Sonnet Rep. Theater), ANNA CHRISTIE (Metropolitan Playhouse). Voice over work ranges as much as his accents do from video games to audiobooks and slot machines to sporting events. Roger now lives in New York City with his beautiful family.

Twitter – @rclark98.

Carly Menkin

Carly Menkin’s very first role was that of the Queen Bee in her school’s Hannukah play as a little girl growing up in South Africa. Since then she’s performed at South Coast Rep, Musical Theatre West, Primary Stages/ESPA, the Gym at Judson, 54 Below & many more. BFA Musical Theater, Cal State Fullerton. Fave roles include Gabby/Bobbi – City of Angels, Kate Haroney – I Married Wyatt Earp (West Coast premiere), Essie – Parade (LA premiere); 83 yr old Bosnian refugee Azra in Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets. She’s has the pleasure of performing alongside legendary artists like Stevie Nicks, Chicago & Carol Channing.

www.CarlyMenkin.com

Jon McCormick

Jon McCormick has been working with Fundamental Theater Project since 2011. As a member of the company, Mr. McCormick has been pleased to appear in ‘3-D HAMLET: A LOST GENERATION’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as several Staged Reading and Play N’ A Pint readings. The focus on new and challenging plays is the really exciting part of FTP: “I am a humongous fan of chewing through new material with a sharp group of people and trying to find the underbelly of truth… it’s a real turn on.”

Tessa Fairey

Tessa is from the South Downs in rural Hampshire, England where she grew up dancing at the Vanessa Golborn School of Dance, acting with her local village theatre company, West Meon Theatre and singing with her dad in a rock band.  In 2011 she moved to New York to further her theatre training.  She has since had the privilege of working with a diverse array of companies including Yael Tap, Ophelia Theatre Group, Classics on the Rocks, New York Theatre Barn and of course Fundamental Theatre Project.  In early 2015 Tessa could be seen tap dancing alongside FTP co-artistic director Sam in her 54 Below debut, and on NBC.com for Red Nose Day with Nick Cannon.  Her greatest claim to fame is that she appeared in the opening credits of an MTV reality show called ‘Girl Get Your Mind Right’.

Laura Strausfeld

Laura is a writer/producer/director of theater and film. Snatches, which she wrote and directed, premiered at the 78th Street Theatre Lab, played at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and transferred to the New End Theatre in London for a sold-out run. Radio versions aired on WNYC and BBC Radio 4. Laura first worked with Sam Underwood in a multimedia Henry V, which she directed for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. Laura wrote and created the electroluminescent wire puppets for The Frog Singer, produced by the Drilling Company. Columbia University’s Harriman Institute hosted a staged reading of The Real Vanya, Laura’s film adaptation of Uncle Vanya, at the Classic Stage Company in 2014. Laura is a Visiting Chekhov Scholar at the Harriman Institute and hosts an annual celebration of Chekhov, now in its 7th year. Laura is also a lawyer and activist and co-founder of Period Equity.

Virginia Podesta

Virginia Podesta is an Argentine expat and a seasoned writer/producer. She studied Film at the University of Buenos Aires and Screenwriting at NYU and has worked at the DirecTV, White House, NYFW, Disney and Discovery Channel, among others. Virginia has developed a wide range of productions across several countries, such as  the critically acclaimed short film “El Niño y el Mar”,”The Amazing Race Latin America” and the “U2:360 Tour”.  Also a published author and a TV reviewer for TVovermind, Virginia currently resides in NYC, where she is developing a number of projects for TV.

Rakel Aroyo

Rakel Aroyo is an actress from Istanbul, Turkey. She recently completed her BFA in musical theater at the New School. Before that, she attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and was trained in acting and musical theater. She is glad to be out of school and is ready to take on the audition scene and see what comes her way this year. She feels very lucky to have met and be working with the wonderful members of the Fundamental Theater Project.

Jamie Sims

Originally from Woking, England, Jamie earned a BA degree in Film Production from The University for the Creative Arts, Farnham with first class honors. He is an award-winning director of both theatre and Film, including more than forty short films over the last eight years. Selected credits include Beach Potato (London Short Film Festival, Film the House: Winner ‘Best Comedy’), Good Treatment (London Sci-Fi 48 Hour Challenge, Forster Film Film Festival: Winner Creativity Award), HOWL (No-Gloss Film Festival, Portobello Road Film Festival, Camerimage; The Golden Tadpole nomination, BKSTS/National Student Widescreen Awards’ Film of the Year, Screentest, winner Best Horror/ Thriller, Best Screenplay), and Bus Stop, which premiered at the London Short Film Festival, and was the winner of many awards, including multiple Best Film and Best Acting Ensemble at film festivals across the UK.

He’s currently the resident director at Initiative 26, where he is currently adapting his short film Ophelia into a feature film. Directedbyjamie.com

Maite Uzal

Maite graduated from the Musical Theatre Conservatory Program at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NYC). Before that, she was an attorney and Law teacher in Madrid, Spain, where she appeared in productions of Les Miz (Fantine) and Lion King (Rafiki). NYC credits include “Hyppolitus”, “Death Of A Salesman” and “Uncle Vanya” (Pearl Theater Company). She also shot the feature film, “Little Galicia” as well as the award winning short “Waist Up”. She has originated the role of Semíramis at Repertorio Español, role which she has earned her a Latin ACE Award and an HOLA Award, and has collaborated with The Living Theater. Most recently she has played the role of Camila Rosario at the Gallery Player’s production of “In The Heights”, the role of Julia in the feature “Retry” and she has originated the character Maite for the bilingual children’s TV show “Basura Aventura/Trash Bash”. Learn more at www.maiteuzal.com

About Us

Fundamental Theater Project is a NY-based 501c3 non-profit arts organization dedicated to fostering international collaboration in order to produce dynamic theatre and create a dialogue that continues beyond the theater doors. We support and cultivate emerging artists from around the world, and work with established industry professionals to tell engaging stories that resonate within the global community.

FTP was founded in April 2010 by Sam Underwood and Nicola Murphy, as a means to create exciting new work with other immigrant actors living in NYC. Their debut main-stage production, Trans-Euro Express by Gary Duggan, was an Off-Broadway and NY premiere, and established a relationship with Irish Arts Centre.

FTP quickly garnered the support of established artists, and in the fall of 2010, presented a benefit reading of Hamlet featuring Alec Baldwin, Kate Mulgrew, Zosia Mamet, and Jim Rado. Sir Peter Shaffer (Academy Award and Tony Award winning writer Equus, Amadeus) became FTPs Honorary Patron, and his contribution to the arts was later celebrated by the company in an evening that including a staged reading of his first play, Five Finger Exercise, as well as guest speakers John Guare, Juliet Mills, Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Tom Stoppard, Simon Callow and Alec Baldwin.

Given that the cultivation of international collaboration is at the heart of FTPs mission, their first production overseas was a part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest performing arts festival in the world. 3D Hamlet was the company’s adaptation of the Shakespeare text, which took inspiration from a NY Times article entitled “The Lost Generation” – Hamlet’s journey reflected the displaced younger generation across the world, struggling to secure jobs and under the governance of a corrupt bureaucracy. As the project was developed, FTP later incorporated the then current News of the World hacking scandal as a backdrop for Denmark. Guest Artists for the production included Anthony Rapp, Scott Adsit, Linda Marlowe, Simon Callow, Alec Baldwin, Richard Easton and Michael Emerson.

Mass Rhetoric: A New Works Festival nurtures the creative process of playwriting by offering the opportunity for their new work to be heard by an audience for the first time, and to provide support by means of venue, cast and director. The festival features five readings in five days.  Selections from past years include: Gotta Getta Girl, A Musical Comedy with book and lyrics by Peter Charles Morris and music by David Caldwell, The Low Road by David Libman, The Elephant by Kate Howard, Goldsboro by Nat Cassidy, Accidents Waiting To Happen by Jonathan Libman, Benjamin Button, A New Musical with Book and Lyrics by Brett Boles and music by Natalie Tenenbaum, The Ghosts in Aisle 30 by Matt Henderson, Enter the Roar by Barbara Hammond, C.O.A.L (Confessions Of A Liar) by David Brian Colbert and The Whale and the Dog Star by Ben Holbrook. Many of these pieces have gone on to be produced by major Off-Broadway and regional theaters.

Holiday House NYC, is an interior design room and tabletop show house where emerging and established talent showcase their work to raise money to win the battle against breast cancer. FTP had the privilege of being the first theater group to collaborate with a designer to produce a site-specific piece, presenting Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner in a fully furnished dining room. In the following years, original plays were commissioned to integrate into the playing space that was offered, including Turkey, a dysfunctional family comedy about a Thanksgiving celebration on the heels of the 2012 Presidential election, and Alone With Friends, a one-act romantic comedy at Christmas time.

With new directors, Tessa Fairey and Alison Blair, coming onboard in 2015, FTP looks forward to continuing to push boundaries and to producing high caliber and challenging work.