THE CREATIVE TEAM

Jason Grant Shela (Founder & Creative Director)

Jason was born and raised in London, England. He received his theatrical training at the Sir Michael Redgrave Theatre. He won an international scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Baruch College, City University of New York. He then earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations from New York University. Jason received a Steven Spielberg Scholarship for international study at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland and a post graduate scholarship at Yale University. He became the first Englishman to be elected a Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency in Washington D.C. Jason is a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Golden Key and Beta Gamma Sigma, the National Academic Honor Society for Business Administration in the United States.

Jason is the Founder and Creative Director of My Generation Theatre and has written, directed and produced many live shows in New York, Memphis & Mississippi. He has received multiple ASCAP awards for original music composition. He has produced and composed original music for Fox Sports Channel and has licensed music for shows on HBO, Sirius and independent projects. He collaborated on an NPR Radio documentary about the Favelas during the World Cup. Jason is currently developing entertainment projects for the stage and the new alternative digital media arena. His production credits include: ‘And a Child Shall Lead,’ ‘Out of My Comfort Zone,’ ‘Secrets of Columbine,’ ‘Rock N Roll Dance Party,’ and The John Lennon 75th Birthday Tribute. He also wrote, directed and acted in ‘The Blitz,’ an original play about life in East London during World War 2. He was creative director for the stage production of ‘Mirror Mirror, The Other Side of Marilyn.’(A Drama about Marilyn Monroe) He directed and produced the audio sitcoms of Bless this House & Never Mind the Quality, based on the Classic British TV comedies scripted by his mentor Vince Powell, a legend of British Comedy.

Jason has been a community youth leader and social activist for over 30 years developing sports and arts programs in London & New York. In 2016 he founded My Generation Theatre as a creative, collaborative and educational organization of actors, writers and musicians. He is the founding producer & creator of The British Music & Theatre Festival, a live celebration of British music, theatre, comedy & culture. Jason has produced musical tributes to John Lennon, Mick Ronson & The British Invasion. He was creative director and producer for the special tribute to his friend & mentor Sid Bernstein (the man who brought the Beatles, Rolling Stones and many more to America and initiated the British Invasion) at the British Re-Invasion Musical Benefit at Morgan Freeman’s celebrated ‘Ground Zero Blues Club’ in Clarksdale, MS. Together with Sid Bernstein, he was Creative Director of the George Harrison Memorial Tribute Show.

A committed youth sports educator for many years, Jason founded The British Soccer Academy which has become one of the largest youth sports programs in New York City and was voted PSAA High School Coach of the year by his peers and led the Hunter Middle School Boys and Girls team to the NYC Public Schools City Championship & multiple Uptown City Championships. He also created The Soccer Goodwill Festival aimed at building links between players, their families and the wider community. He has developed a transformative soccer program for children with special needs across the spectrum. Jason also coaches the University of Mississippi Rugby Team and is the founder of Rugby United Club.

He served in the Royal Air Force Cadet Corps. Jason played competitive soccer for Wingate FC, and captained the Governor’s Island Championship team and coached & captained New York Select. He captained the Yale University Graduate Soccer team to victory over Harvard. He played rugby football in England for Wasps RFC, Fulham Rugby League FC and has represented Middlesex County, London and Great Britain at the Maccabiah Games. He created and developed innovative Creative Performance & Radio Broadcasting programs for Elementary School Children and started a Rock N Roll Creative Lab Program for Teenagers. Jason is currently spearheading the Social Enterprise Entertainment Project. Jason is committed to developing socially responsible initiatives within the framework of sports, music, theatre & the arts.

Mordechai Friedman  
Mordechai is Director of Animation at the JSP and runs the creative media lab. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studied Law and Art at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. While growing up in Johannesburg, he had a passion for music and started his very first rock band while in high school. He has spent his creative career as a graphic designer, artist and composer. Mordechai held the position of Art & Creative Director of the tourist weekly publication- “This week in Israel” ( a subsidiary of the Golden pages directory services.) As a political cartoonist and artist, Mordechai was published in Yediot Ha Acharonot , the Jerusalem Post, The Zionist Record (SA), The Jewish Herald (SA), The Financial Times (SA), & The Algemeiner Journal (New York). Mordechai presently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and family. He spends most of his time working, painting, drawing cartoons, playing music at various bars and venues, and writing and composing songs.

Paul Sladkus (Executive Producer)

Paul Sladkus has over 40 years of diversified experience in the television and media/communications industry. Paul was a senior executive with CBS & PBS Television for fourteen years working on over 150 television shows and series. While at CBS, Paul oversaw $60 million dollar corporate departments and $20 million dollar media projects. Paul’s TV credits include: Emmy’s for Love of Life on CBS and The Nature Series and The Brain Series on PBS/NHK/French. Other credits: All in the Family, The Emmy’s and Oscars, Sonny and Cher, Good Times, AFI Salute to James Cagney and Orson Wells, Captain Kangaroo, Maude, Matchgame, Carol Burnett, WCBS News, LA Lakers, Tony Orlando, The Young and the Restless, Cronkite, The Price Is Right, Rose Bowl Parade, Shirley MacLaine, Innovation, The Pacific Century, All Time Music Songbook, Big Band Music, World Earth Day (with NHK), Environmental Specials, China/America, first national American music radio program in China and numerous ethnic radio and television commercials, print ads and brochures and many events. He is the founder & senior producer of Good News Corporation.

Andrew Hertz (Musical Director)

Andrew is a composer, pianist and music director from New York. He has worked with Ben Vereen, Jack Black, Stephen Sondheim, Jason Alexander, and Kate Burton, among others, both locally and regionally.  He has garnered multiple awards for his writing and music directing, one in particular for his work with “The Apple Sisters” comedy group, performing with the likes of Chevy Chase, Seth Meyers, and the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”  He has served on the faculties of Brown University, Montclair State University, and Hunter College. He received his BA: Brown University and MFA: Tisch School at NYU, Musical Theatre Writing.

Malka Farnesi-Dubizh

Malka was born in New York, but has lived many years abroad in Spain, Israel, Switzerland and Brazil.  She prides herself on her ability to speak – or at least dabble in – eight languages and has taught English, Spanish and French to willing participants.  She received her BA in Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature from Brown University, her MA in T.E.S.O.L. (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Hunter College and is presently working on her doctorate in Linguistics with a focus on Multilingualism at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  As an educator she has worked for many years with young people to embrace the multicultural perspective that foreign languages possess.  Recently she has gone back to her theatrical roots and joined the Joseph Skakun Project as an actress and educational coordinator and looks forward to combining her professional skills with her love of Judaism in bringing people together to honor Jewish history and celebrate Jewish culture.  (She incidentally hopes to repair the world and bring about world peace…)

Nyla Kamlet

Ms. Kamlet is the Founder and Director of PlayTogether NYC and is a recognized leader in the field of child development. Her background includes extensive psychological training and clinical experience in child behavior and development. PlayTogether NYC is a play-based preschool that provides children with opportunities to realize their full potential by learning fundamental skills and strategies through interactive play and educational programs. Nyla serves as both teacher and clinical supervisor. Her specialties include communication, teaching art and pre-reading skills.  Nyla received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. She received her postgraduate training from The New York Institute for Psychotherapy in Infancy, Children and Adolescents.

Gianluca Tramontana (Director of Audio Programs & Senior Engineer)

Mr. Tramontana is an accomplished radio broadcaster and music journalist (US correspondent for JAM Magazine in Italy and contributor for MOJO Magazine and assorted others. His article on New Orleans R&B was mentioned in DaCapo Press’s “Best Music Writing of 2009”. He has written, produced and presented pieces for National Public Radio and has presented Untold Stories – international stories submitted by journalists abroad which is broadcast and streamed on KRCB in California. He has currently written and produced a documentary on the American hobo with Honey boy Edwards as the central figure for BBC Radio. Gianluca hosts a weekly interview radio show on London’s Resonance FM. Resonance FM’s awards include three Radio Academy Nations and Regions awards and runner-up for PRSF New Music Award 2008.The broadcast is called “Sitting With Gianluca from Country-Bluegrass-Blues to CBGBs” where musicians talk about their craft and then play a couple of songs. Former guests include The Proclaimers, Justin Townes Earle, Academy Award winner for best soundtrack, Ryan Bingham (Crazy Heart), William Elliott Whitmore and Texan songwriting legend Guy Clark.

Kate Peila

Ms. Peila specializes in programs that develop innovative training processes across the performing arts spectrum and inspires professional skills development. She has created and taught national award winning dance arts programs in the United States, Israel, Poland and the E/CE. She has a duel BA in Performance Art/Art Production and Medical Anthropology from Western Washington University and a Masters in Cultural Policy & Arts Administration from The Ohio State University. She has worked with some of the world’s top visual and performing artists and entertainers. She continues to train in a variety of international performance systems to expand her knowledge and share mixed media and movement/theatre performing arts and entrepreneurship to all ages.
Yris Bilia-Krell

Yris was born and raised in Israel.  She served in the IDF – Israeli Defense Force as an Air Traffic Controller in the Israeli Air Force and holds a Lieutenant rank. Once discharged from her military duties Yris moved to Tel Aviv, and studied  Psychology and Philosophy. An adventurous nature led Yris to move again to Manhattan where she resides for the past 27 years.

Yris developed an acting career and was a Talk show host on the International Channel Israeli programming, interviewing well known figures from Israel and US. Soon a career in Advertising took over.  As an Advertising Producer Yris worked on high profile accounts such as: Verizon, Siemens, The Perrier Group and others, traveling the world producing TV and Radio commercials working with top directors and talent. Yris won the prestigious advertising awards: Gold Clio and Gold Mercury for commercials she produced for Radio Shack and consulted advertising agencies in Israel on new business ventures. A travel lover, Yris founded Neshima LaNeshama a company leading custom tours in NYC in Hebrew and English. Yris also teaches Hebrew at Harlem Hebrew Charter School.

In recent years Yris returned to singing with The HechelNotes Choir and performs with them at venues such as the JCC, local Festivals and Senior Housing Residences.  She is part of Metal Park, a parent band at her children’s school that originated from a yearly school fundraiser at PS87 she was involved with since its inception 7 years ago and has performed on Broadway Night, another PS87 fundraiser that features Broadway stars. As part of her comeback to acting Yris performed in Henry Box Brown with the Children Acting Company and in the British Music & Theatre Festival. A mother of 4 and a complete family-holic, Yris imparts her love of the arts and zest for life at every waking moment. Her children inherited her love for music and performing arts.  Her older daughter, Mae is working on her EP and writes original music and lyrics, she is the founder and chief editor of TongueTiedMag.com an online magazine for teenagers. Yris’ middle daughter Ness, has been acting, singing and recording since she was 6 years old, and her twins, Cole and Cee follow in their older sisters footsteps. Committed to youth education Yris is heading the NY chapter of Friends of The Israeli Scouts, a program developed to maintain connection between the Tzofim (Israel Scouts) youth movement in Israel and North American Jewry.  It serves over 200 children ages 7-18 and their families in Manhattan and its surrounding.

Dalila Costa-Leroy

Raised in Paris, France. Upon receiving a Master degree from University Paris VIII moved to New York where she has lived for the past two decades. Since her arrival Dalila has worked in finance for various institutions. Fluent in 4 languages ( English, French , Portuguese and Spanish).

Ivy Vale

Ivy Vale is a writer, musician, artist and native New Yorker. Her plays have been selected and produced by GI60: The World’s First International 60 Second Playwriting Festival, New York and the UK. She is the primary songwriter and founding member of The Wyld Olde Souls, a female-fronted psychedelic folk band, who recently received two Hollywood Music in Media Award nominations and a nomination for Best Folk Group by The Indie Music Channel Awards. Their CD Ensoulment received multiple five-star reviews nationally and internationally, and the band was recently featured in The Huffington Post. Ivy has experience as a concert promoter, event organizer and in public relations. In February 2012, Ivy (along with husband Rick Reil) co-produced a slideshow segment for the Davy Jones memorial concert at BB Kings. In 2015 Ivy wrote and directed the Off Broadway Musical, Out of My Comfort Zone.

Rick Reil

Rick Reil is an accomplished singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer.  He is a member of The Grip Weeds, a popular psychedelic pop-rock band which has released 7 full-length CDs, toured the US and Europe, and garnered significant radio/internet airplay, including songs on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and Sirius Satellite Radio. The Grip Weeds’ song “What’s in Your Mind” (written by Rick) was licensed by CBS Television to promote its critically acclaimed series “Criminal Minds.”  Rick recently joined legendary 60s band The Left Banke as drummer for their Live Concerts and is currently touring with the Mark Lindsay band. 

David Brickman

Mr. Brickman is a dual UK/US citizen. He grew up in 8 countries and speaks 10 languages. Earning degrees from both Johns Hopkins/School of International Studies and Columbia University (BA/MA in International Relations, and an MBA in International Finance), he subsequently worked in the City of London in Investment Banking/Emerging Markets Equity Sales at Lehman Bros and Morgan Stanley. Being a third-generation thespian, David has been acting since age 6. He took courses at RADA and Central School in London, and has performed in Classical/ Shakespearean comedy, drama, and musicals on stage. Moreover, he has acted in numerous TV shows (‘General Hospital’ and ’24’), Films, Commercials, and Voice-Overs in LA and NYC.

Don Puglisi

Mr. Puglisi is a New York based actor/writer/musician who has had his work showcased in variety venues.  As an actor, he has had various supporting and speaking roles on TV shows such as Law and Order, Life on Mars where he played singer Jim Croce, the Golden Globe award winning HBO series, Boardwalk Empire and many others.   As a voice over artist he has recorded announcer spots for McDonald’s, Oreo’s, Carmax, French’s and dozens of others.  He has also voiced several animated series including many Japanese anime titles.  As a musician, Don has licensed music from his first solo record Goodbye New York to Academy Award winning director Ang Lee’s film Taking Woodstock as well as for the documentary Houston We Have a Problem.  Most recently Don has acted with Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis who played his mother in The Ballad of Salvatore Salustio.  Currently, Don is in post production for his second directorial effort I Ate the Band and recording his second solo record. He recently starred in the HBO series, Vinyl.

Chris Savery
Chris Savery’s first full-length play won the TSW/Southwest Arts Award for New Writing (UK). He formed the theatre company Plymouth Presents and staged his first production, ‘The Megahype,’ at The Academy Theatre, Plymouth, as well as ‘Oliver Cromwell’ at the Globe Theatre, ‘A Clash of Wills’ and ‘Peacocks and Hens’ at the Athenauem ‘Drake’ for the Drake 400 celebrations in conjunction with The Theatre Royal Plymouth ‘A Battle of Wits’ and ‘Marilyn’ at the Barbican Theatre. Chris is the Founder of ‘Playsonthenet’ (POTN) which was created to produce downloadable new plays for the Internet which he later sold. He produced over 50 hours of original drama for One word Radio and received 3 Sony nominations. He collaborated with The Old Vic on their ’24 Hour Plays’ project, recording a series of productions for broadcast on Channel 4’s One word radio. Chris is a Producer of ‘BritFest,’ a live celebration of British music, comedy, plays and culture held in New York City.

Sheila Lewis

Sheila Lewis is a writer, editor, and educational innovator who is passionate about personal transformation through meditation, creativity, and play.

Sheila is the recent co-creator with Andrea Adler of Spanda Cards for the Entrepreneurial Spirit. The 52 card deck and customized workshops aim to help people maximize their creativity and achieve success. She co-authored My Calm Place: Yoga, Mindfulness & Meditation Strategies for Children, a 50-card deck with exercises to de-stress, recharge and focus. She is the author of many publications for children, educators, and parents, including Stress-Proofing Your Child (Bantam Books), Read to Lead and All in Good Faith for Girl Scouts USA where she worked in program development and diversity, and served as the representative on the steering committees for President Clinton’s America Reads and Partnership for Family Involvement in Learning initiatives (1995-2004).

In 2013, Sheila wrote “Brain Gain,” a national, summer learning curriculum with over 300 activities, for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She continues to write for the Children’s Aid Society, the National Center for Community Schools, and other organizations. As lead educational consultant for The Knowledge Project since 1998, she wrote grants and developed programs for NYC public schools in career education, writing, media arts, environmental literacy, and more, reaching thousands of students and teachers.

A longtime meditation practitioner, Sheila teaches meditation classes and related workshops at JCC Manhattan’s Makom Center (since 2005), and the new Harlem Center. She created and leads children’s and family book clubs for the JCC’s innovative after school, the Jewish Journey Project, and started its first online book club in 2017. She has taught in congregational Hebrew schools since 2006.

Committed to nurturing creativity in writers at all levels, Sheila leads a monthly Meditation and Writing group for women. She works with clients from spark to finish on their creative projects. One such project is the updating of the “Autobiography of Joseph Feingold,” a Holocaust survivor, and the “Joe” of the 2016 Oscar-nominated documentary film, “Joe’s Violin.” As a longtime Board member of WNBA (Women’s National Book Association), Sheila has written blogs, articles, and coordinated literary panels, including the (May, 2017) annual Open Mic night for writers.

Sheila graduated Boston University School of Fine Arts and received her MA from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College in Educational Media. She lives with her family in the New York area.

Angelo Verga

Mr. Verga has been published in more than 100 poetry venues, both here and abroad, and has been widely anthologized and translated. His seventh book is a new and selected volume, Long & Short, including The Street in Your Head (2016). He was an owner of The Cornelia Street Café, where his programs (1997-2015) created a home for poets and audiences from near and far, young and old, established and emerging.

Rachel Muse Pincus

Rachel Muse Pincus is a writer based in New York, NY. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University and has written for numerous publications, including Salon, PSFK, CityLab, and the Awl.