Play, Panel to Address Homelessness

10-siskind, ledaTheatre Palisades and the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness will present two benefit performances of the one-act play The Liar’s Punishment on the weekend of May 21-22 at Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Rd.

Following each performance (8 p.m. on Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday), a three-person panel will discuss how their organizations are working to help homeless people in and near the Palisades.

A reception catered by local restaurants will follow in the green room downstairs at the theatre. Tax-deductible $50 tickets are on sale at the Theatre Palisades box office, (310) 454-1970, and online at

Written and directed by Leda Siskind, The Liar’s Punishment shows us the day Elbee, a homeless woman living fierce and alone under an L.A. freeway, goes toe to toe with Gwen, a determined social worker. Can these women summon the courage to crack open the lies that have left them alone? Can they move forward, together, with the truth?

Elbee will be played by Nancy Youngblut, seen on Broadway (Anna in Burn This) and on television. Trekkies know her as the Klingon captain Kolana on Deep Space Nine and the Nyrian, Talen, on Voyager.

Gwen will be played by Jennifer Laks, a member of the Group Rep Theater and the Road Theatre. She also serves on the Artistic Committee at Theatre 40, where she has performed in various productions.

Both actresses thank Leda Siskind for her powerful story and Theatre Palisades for providing a home for this important benefit.

Playwright Siskind, who studied with the late, great Stella Adler, is an accomplished stage actress in Los Angeles and has appeared on Broadway with Derek Jacobi in The Suicide and Off-Broadway in such varied productions as Hamlet, Under Milk Wood and the one-woman show of Why I Live at the P.O. Her full-length play, All My Distances Are Far, based on the lives of troubled teens, will debut at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills next spring.

The panel discussion following Saturday’s performance will feature Melinda Soderbergh, Individual Relationships Officer at OPCC (Ocean Park Community Center); Alison Hurst, executive director and founder of Safe Place for Youth (SPY) in Venice; and Mark Loranger, president and CEO of Chrysalis (Changing Lives Through Jobs).

Sunday’s panel will feature John Maceri, executive director of OPCC; Juliana Hudson, Operations and Volunteer Manager at Safe Place for Youth; and Michael Graff-Weisner, VP, programs and government relations at Chrysalis.

All the panelists will provide updates on their work in Pacific Palisades and the Westside and will answer questions from the audience.

Net proceeds from this fundraiser will go to OPCC to help fund the work of their two-person outreach team in Pacific Palisades in 2017. Since January, these experienced social workers have been engaging with homeless people in the Palisades and have brought at least eight people into shelter.

Producer Nina Kidd, a member of the Task Force on Homelessness, developed the idea for this weekend program after reading Leda Siskind’s script.

“By now most of us know the ‘what’—homeless people exposed on the streets and the hillsides of the Palisades,” Kidd said. “The Liar’s Punishment asks us the tough question: ‘Why?’ Almost every family I know has struggled over a member becoming disconnected. I hope with more people joining the conversation we can continue to help those who are out there, and prevent the pain of isolation.”

Kidd, a longtime Palisadian, is grateful for the support of Theatre Palisades, Task Force members and members of Palisades Presbyterian Church youth leadership group, who will act as hosts and ushers, and adult members (who are organizing the reception).

For more information, contact Kidd by e-mail at or cell, (310) 739-8985.


Playwright and director Leda Siskind

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