about us

WELCOME TO LALABALA PROJECT. We are a diverse collective of 10 emerging New York artists. We hail from many backgrounds and cultures—a group of actors, writers, composers, directors, visual artists, and producers. We have gathered together to create a fantastical work of theatre for the 3rd annual Lalabala Kathmandu International Children’s Theatre Festival. In May of 2020, we will travel to Kathmandu, Nepal to perform alongside artists from 14 other countries for Nepali children and their local community. We will also lead a workshop on creative, imaginative expression through theatre. 


Lalabala Project started when our founder, Fiona Rae Brunner, saw a beautiful piece of theatre created by a director named Tanka Chaulagain and an ensemble of Nepali children at a festival in Poland. After a year of staying in touch, Tanka invited Fiona and a team of collaborators to develop an original work of children’s theatre for his festival in Nepal. The piece we are creating is a fairytale journey into the natural world, following different mythical creatures and animals through oceanic, earthly, and celestial realms. Our work is born from our collective imagination through an egalitarian, multidisciplinary process. The piece uses original music and no text, exploring theatre’s potential to connect with an international audience without spoken language. Our design is minimal and mobile: how fully can we realize a theatrical world with the objects that fit in our carry-ons?


Lalabala Project believes in the value of generating spaces where people of many cultures, generations, and languages can gather together to interact openly and generously. We are exploring the theatre’s potential to serve as a foundation for such spaces through a combination of high-quality storytelling with youth programming and community engagement. Over the course of our development, we will work with immigrant and youth populations in New York, and we will offer a series of performances for our local communities. Once in Nepal, we will engage with a local and international milieu of citizens and artists. At its heart, our project is about exploring the ways in which theatre might be used to surpass the barriers that divide people from one another, forging bonds built upon integrity, curiosity, and a tacit belief in each of our fundamental humanity.


Photography by Spencer Kohn


Aya Aziz is a writer, actor, and composer from New York City. She has brought original work to Joe’s Pub, New York Theatre Workshop, The Civilians, the New York Musical Festival, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater’s New Songs Now, and the Fringe. She has also made music for film, most recently Ask for Jane, winner of Best Feature at the Big Apple Film Festival. Her solo show, “Eh Dah? Questions for my Father” (NYMF 2016) won awards for Most Outstanding Book and Most Outstanding Individual Performance and recently had a fully sold out run in New York Theatre Workshop’s 2019 “Next Door” series. You can listen to her recently released single “Rapids” on all streaming platforms.

Fiona Rae Brunner is an interdisciplinary artist - actor, writer, singer with an interest in international theater production, youth development, and community building. Being Swiss American she is motivated by work that is not restricted to any particular continent but instead exists as a collection of thoughtful and committed exchanges/ensemble projects, ultimately fostering a global community of artists and creative leaders. Performance work includes collaborations with AshTar Theater in Ramallah Palestine, Brama Teatr in Goleniow Poland, and Kunsthochschule Weissensee - for an opening in Piraeus, Greece. Her most recent New York credits include playing The Earl of Leicester in Pigeonhold’s production of “Mary Stuart Queen of Scots” and a solo spoken word feature entitled “King Boy, Boy King.” She holds a B.A. in Theater from Barnard College of Columbia University and has studied extensively with The Studio | New York, and The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. 

Kate Eberstadt is a performer, composer, and writer based in NYC. Recent projects include “Notes from the Basement,” an autobiographical staged mixtape currently in development, and “Rainmaidens of Eastworld,” at Nemetski National German Theater of Kazakhstan. She founded The Hutto Project, a music program in a refugee camp. Her work has appeared on NPR,, the New York Times, and internationally. Residencies: The Watermill Center, The American Academy in Berlin, The Center at West Park. She is one half of the alt-pop sister duo DELUNE. For more information, please visit

Lindsley Howard is a Texas-born, Brooklyn-based actor and storyteller. Select NY credits include collaborations with Playwright’s Realm, Ars Nova, The Lark and The Flea. She was recently nominated for a Helen Hayes award for her work in The Wolves at Studio Theatre in Washington DC. She holds a BFA in Acting from St. Edwards University.

Matt Martin is an actor and singer in New York City. He studied improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Shakespeare at the American Conservatory Theatre, and has a BFA in Musical Theatre from Indiana University. He lives in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island. Stalk him on Twitter and Instagram @matt_mart

Ali Bianchi is an interdisciplinary theatre-artist and performer based in NYC. He has performed in various mediums, including physical theatre, durational performance, and traditional theatrical productions. Past collaborations include performances and residencies with Double Edge Theatre, The Watermill Center's International Summer Program under the direction of Robert Wilson, and the creation of site-adaptive physical-theatre with FullStop Collective.

Maria Fernanda Diez is a Mexican American actor, singer and collaborator based in NYC with ties to Minnesota, Atlanta, and Mexico. Recent credits include: Two River Theater’s Crossing Borders Festival, Antigone En La Frontera at The Drama League, and Argument Sessions at Gural Theater. Internationally, she has worked with Ashtar Theater in Palestine, One Year Lease in Greece, and Croatia for their International Music Festivals throughout the country.

Molly Rose Heller is a multi-talented, queer theatre-maker based in NYC. Select directing credits include: Notes from the Basement (Corkscrew Festival, Center at West Park, Dixon Place), Motherly Love (Primary Stages/ESPA), Existential Questions (Green Room 42), Olivia K’s Planet Joy (City Winery), The Dybbuk (upcoming), Faust 2.0 (Mabou Mines, asst dir.), Convention (Irondale Center, asst. dir.), Cannibal Galaxy: a love story (New Ohio, asst dir.), and Missing Gemini (Winner, Best Direction). Other credits include Design for Living (Berkshire Theatre Group), Imagining the Imaginary Invalid (La Mama) and book/lyrics for Plath. (FringeNYC). She graduated Magna Cum Laude with Departmental Honors for a B.A. in Theatre and Drama Arts from Columbia University and a B.A. in Modern Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Jake Lasser is an actor/writer/visual artist in Brooklyn. He especially loves collaborating on original theatre; he has devised work with Mabou Mines, Theater in Asylum, The Brewing Dept, and Dara Malina. He also played Romeo in Stages on the Sound's Romeo & Juliet for young audiences. Jake is currently acting in developmental workshops of Kate Eberstadt's Notes from the Basement, directed by Molly Rose Heller. Education: B. A. from Columbia University, graduate of The Studio / New York's 9 Month Conservatory, disciple of Chris Bayes and the Funny School of Good Acting.

Schuyler Van Amson is a New York born and based actor and graduate of Columbia University where he majored in Theatre with a concentration in Acting. He was recently featured in Pocket Universe's Off-Broadway production of Juliet + Romeo and has been seen in other productions such as Steeplechase at the NY Theatre Festival Summerfest, Tumbleweed at Dixon Place, Blood Orange at the Fresh Fruit Festival and the Downtown Urban Arts Festival, Nature Whatever at New Georges and VANTABLACK at NYU’s Playwrights Horizon. Instagram: @schuylervanderwoodsen


Individual giving is a meaningful and vital way to support the development of our work. We are fiscally sponsored by the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation / The Watermill Center, and individual donations are tax-deductible. If you would like to help our initiative in its continued growth, consider making a donation today!

a thank you

Making theatre is a collaborative act, and no work stands alone. Lalabala Project would not be what it is without the generous partnership, collaboration, and advisorship of the following: Emma Rivera and The Performance Project at University Settlement; Fay Simpson and the Lucid Body House; Movement Research Lab; Gibney Dance; Matthew Glassman and Carlos Uriona of Double Edge Theatre; Justin Cimino of Pigeonholed Theater and Zara Aina; Annie Obermeyer; Johnnie Chase; and Mary Ellen Obias along with all of the staff at The Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation/ The Watermill Center.

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