Creative Team

Welcome to The Zeitgeist Chronicles 'Creative Team' page. Here you can meet the great minds behind The Zeitgeist Chronicles and ​their background with the arts. 

The Zeitgeist Chronicles is a multimedia theatre production premiering in New Orleans that will be showcasing professional talent. After the premiere in New Orleans, The Zeitgeist Chronicles will move to New York City making NOLA "Broadway South" for real!

Meet our creative team

Stephen Montagne : Playwright / Producer

Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey where he started formal dance training, Mr Montagne moved to St. Louis and trained with the St. Louis Ballet Company and studied traditional and improvisation acting and sketch comedy writing with The Muny Student Theater Project. 

Mr Montagne continued training in improvisational acting at the Second City in Chicago and then went on to graduate from the performing arts high school the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, CA where he studied acting, modern dance and playwriting.  He received a B.A from Principia College in southern Illinois where he studied acting under the tutelage of Richard Morse and Natalijia Nogulich, screenwriting with Frederick Hunter, served as a choreographer on modern dance pieces, and collaborated on an award winning documentary about post-apartheid South Africa in the role of writer, segment producer and voice-over narrator.

In New York City, he carried on his formal training for the stage with the improvisational theater company Chicago City Limits as well as classes and workshops with a variety of teachers from The American Musical & Dramatic Academy, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Playwright’s Horizons, The Actor’s Studio, Neighborhood Playhouse and HB Studios.

In San Francisco, he pursued a career as an actor, screenwriter and playwright.  He graduated from The American Conservatory’s Studio Program where he studied acting and playwriting and served as artistic director and head writer for a fledgling multi-media, multi-disciplinary, experimental theater collective: The New Renaissance Alliance.  In the Bay Area, Mr Montagne performed on stage in a variety of productions – most notably in the Northern California premiere of Eric Bogosian’s subUrbia in the role of “Buff” at The Actor’s Theater of San Francisco (Bay Area Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble Cast) – and as an actor on short and low budget films.

In Los Angeles, he continued to hone his skills as a screen and television writer through workshops at Writers Boot Camp and was actively involved in the intern program at The Actor’s Gang Theater (artistic director: Tim Robbins).

Mr Montagne currently resides in the French Quarter of New Orleans where he studies improvisational acting with The New Movement Theater and writes plays, independent screenplays and original ideas for television; he and his writing / producing partner (actor Nick Gomez) are currently shopping an original hour-long historic drama slated for pay cable networks (working title: Exile City ) in addition to other half-hour and hour-long scripted material.  The Zeitgeist Chronicles is Mr Montagne's first full-length professional production for the stage as a playwright and producer.

Ed Bishop : Director / Executive Producer (American Theater Project of New Orleans)

 A native of Birmingham, AL, Mr. Bishop studied theater at Brown University through an exchange program with Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS where he received his B.A. degree. He has served as the artistic associate at The American Century Theatre in Washington, DC where he directed a highly acclaimed production of The Emperor Jones by Eugene O’Neill; Porgy by Dubois and Dorothy Heyward and co-directed a major production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin adapted from the play by George L. Aiken. His professional theatrical experience includes work at New Lafayette Theatre in New York City; The Dashiki Theater and Free Southern Theater in New Orleans; Black Fire Company and Town and Gown Theatre in Birmingham, AL prior to moving to Washington, DC.  In Birmingham, Mr Bishop directed major productions of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is EnufThe Blacks: A Clown Show and A Son Come Home (which won him directorial recognition at the Southeastern Theatre Conference Theater competition).

As Founding Producing Artistic Director of American Theatre Project in Washington, DC, Mr. Bishop produced and directed notable works including; Jonin'; The Contract; Virgins; Don't Come If You Can't Be Uncomfortable; Out of the Whirlwind and A Night With Jackie ‘MOMS’ Mabley. The latter two plays won the League of Washington Theaters’ Helen Hayes Award nominations. He and ATP have co-produced with Arena Stage; Source Theatre Company; The Georgetown Theatre Company; The Serenity Players of Washington and The African Continuum Theatre Coalition. 

As a freelance professional, Mr. Bishop has worked in key roles with nearly a dozen theatre groups, off-off Broadway, and as tour manager for touring productions.   He also has directed a youth musical production It Won’t Happen To Me produced by Sasha Bruce Youth Works, (Washington, DC) which is currently touring. He serves as an advisory board member and resident director for Jah Kente, International's Sankofa Project where he adapted and directed Redemption Ritual: Inviting the Ancestors to Be Present, based on an anthology of poems from the Harlem Renaissance, which is also currently a touring production. Mr. Bishop currently serves as an advisor for Teaching Artist for Kid smArt, Inc. in New Orleans, LA which serves several of the city’s public and charter schools. 

He has produced and directed for Alabama Public Television, manages his own production company (American Theatre Project, Inc.) and also works as a producer / director for International Exchange Network, Inc; and Net Worth, Inc., both in Seat Pleasant, MD.

Mr. Bishop is an Associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a member of Screen Actors' Guild. He has served on the Board of Directors of the African Continuum Theatre Coalition (ACT-Co) in Washington, DC, on the Executive Board of the League of Washington Theatres, and on the Board of Silver Spring Stage, Silver Spring, Maryland. Currently, Mr Bishop serves on the Board of the New Orleans Fringe Festival.

 Sarah Zoghbi : Assistant Director

Sarah Zoghbi  is a theatre scholar turned professional party girl. Before enjoying her days planning and designing special occasions and custom cocktail bars as Account Executive for PHS Events, she garnered a decade of nation wide professional theatre experience as an AEA stage manager, director, prop master, and occasional designer of sets, masks and puppets. A native Louisiana girl, she returned from CA to LA in 2005 and worked as Company Manager for Swine Palace Productions before making home at Southern Rep Theatre from 2007-2012 where she occasionally got to direct and design when she wasn't busy being the resident Production Stage Manager, Prop Master, Arts Education Director, Marketing and Box Office Manager, designing lobbies or planning fundraisers! Her work has travelled her internationally to France, honoring her with representing U.S. production stage managers as a guest speaker to industry leaders of the future on stage production technology. She thinks politics are as silly as they are serious and loves her close friends and family more than gold. Sarah is excited to hear your awesome ideas if you have any upcoming special event needs from planning to design to beverage catering: www.PHSevents.com.

 Cortheal Clark : Technical Director / Lighting Design

Cortheal Clark, MFA (Associate Professor of Theatre) is Chair of the Humanities Department, Program Coordinator and Technical Director for the Dillard University Theatre Program. Cortheal grew up in Southern Texas where he received his BA degree in Theatre from Prairie View A&M University and went on to earn an MFA in Technical Direction from Prestigious California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). For the past 22 years, Cortheal has worked on more than 200 productions in theatre and film in many capacities from actor, carpenter, technical director, production/tour manager, scenic designer, sound and lighting designer, theatre consultant. He spent the spring of 2010 working in the La Courneuve area of Paris France with Troy Populos mounting and touring a production of Aint’ Misbehavin’. Cortheal teaches Stage Craft and Management and other Design courses. In addition to his academic experience, he has maintained an active professional life within the entertainment industry. Some professional highlights include: traveling throughout the United States installing large-scale corporate scenery for Scenery West; acting as production manager for Six Flags Theme Parks; serving as an audio/ lighting engineer for events such as BET, MTV Universal Studios Hollywood and many more; acting as a steward and stagehand for numerous live events under the jurisdiction of I.A.T.S.E. such as Garth Brooks, Tina Turner, R.E.M. and Theatrical Tours.

LYNX PRODUCTIONS : Set Design

The set is provided by LYNX PRODUCTIONS, a theatre service providing sets and scenic painting services for non-profit and professional theatres. Lynx Productions was created by David Raphel in 1990 to provide technical services for theatre companies in the United States. Since its inception Lynx Productions has worked with such theatre companies as The Irish Repertory, Circle in the Square, and T.O.M.I. in New York, Fells Point and Spotlighters Theatres in Baltimore and the Virginia Opera in Norfolk Virginia. We welcome another chance to be on the creative side of another great production in the Big Easy.  In 2012, David was a Storer Boone Awards Lifetime Achievement Recipient.

Veronica Russell : Costumes

Ms. Russell holds a BFA in theatre from Stephen F. Austin State University and has been an active member of the New Orleans theatre community since 1997. She has appeared on stages all across the city as an actor and variety performer and has worked behind the scenes as a costume designer as well. Veronica has received multiple Big Easy Entertainment Awards, most recently for her costume design work for The Boys In the Band at the Shadowbox Theater, and Camelot at Rivertown Rep. In addition, she is artistic director for Louisiana History Alive, a professional company of historic re-enactors and entertainers.

Mandisa Reed : Production Stage Manager

Ms Reed studied theatre in Las Vegas, NV before coming south to New Orleans to study what has become her passion - Theatre Technology - at Dillard University, where she will be a junior this Fall.  As the resident stage manager at Dillard University, she has worked on Fences; The Piano Lesson; For Colored Girls as well as outside productions that include the 2012 Play / Write showcase, a stage reading of The Amen Corner and Rumours of War.  Fast on her way to becoming an Equity Stage Manager, Mandisa is grateful for the opportunity to be Production Stage Managing The Zeitgeist Chronicles. 

Jennifer Schemke : Associate Producer

Ms Schemke, a Bay-Area native, holds a BA and MFA in Acting from San Francisco State and DePaul University in Chicago, and is a graduate of B.A.D.A.; Shakespeare Midsummer in Oxford program; The Second City Sketch Comedy Writing Program and The Groundlings Comedy School.  Since moving to New Orleans from Los Angeles, Ms Schemke has taught acting and theatre at UL Lafayette and Southern Repertory in addition to her private practice.  An avid improviser, she has conducted corporate improv-based team-building training for both local and national companies such as Blue Bag; The Crescent Fund; Idea Village; Tranzon and Tulane University.  

On the New Orleans stage, Ms Schemke has performed in many productions including: Wine Lovers, the Musical (Le Petit Theatre); The Velveteen Rabbit (Southern Rep.) 2010 Honorable Mention, Best Actress 48 Hour Film Project (Crazy Stairs) The short film she wrote and directed Pimp My Rascal was an official selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Festival, and was featured as part of the Rascal Scooter Company's campaign.  Her second comedy short film (writer / director)  Abs Like Jesus was an official selection at the Short Toronto Indie Film Festival.  Jennifer is a co-founder of creativetao.com, a start-up devoted to helping creative arts teachers and students connect on the web, officially launching in the Fall. Ms Schemke is also honored to produce Tom Todoroff's Acting Intensive, NOLA. 

Mark Shays : Managing Producer 

A former professional athlete, Mr. Shays built what became the first professional world tour for action sports.  Having produced over 120 events in more than 25 countries, his tour aired on CBS, Spike TV, FSN, Versus, ESPN, and ESPN2 in the US and was distributed globally.  Mr. Shays oversaw television production on each of the shows while also filming segments as live, on-air talent.  For ten summers and four winters Mr. Shays was also an on-air host for the X Games. 

Following the successful sale of his company, Mr. Shays brought his talents to the film and television industry, developing both scripted and non-scripted reality shows, and independent films until being brought in to help develop World Extreme Fighting (WEF), the second longest running promotion in MMA (mixed martial arts) behind the UFC. 

A member of the Karma Foundation, Mr. Shays is passionate about charities.  A founding board member of Journey Forward, a 501(c)3 dedicated to bettering the lives of those with spinal cord injuries, Mr. Shays brings passion and experience to raising money and garnering support for causes that make a positive difference on individuals and in communities.  Since relocating his family to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated his town on the Gulf Coast, he has joined forces with Mr. Montagne in a production partnership to help the city become a center for theater, film and television, raise national awareness for our artists and facilities, and continue New Orleans recovery in the community through the powerful and timely Zeitgeist Chronicles project.  

Ophira Eisenberg : Additional Stand-Up Material

Ms. Eisenberg is the current host of a brand new trivia, puzzle, and game show "Ask Me Another" currently airing on NPR.  She  is one of New York's premiere stand-up talents who tours extensively throughout the US and Canada. Originally from Calgary, Ms. Eisenberg was recently selected as one of New York Magazine’s Top 10 Comics that “Funny People Find Funny”.  She's appeared on Comedy Central, VH-1, Fox, E! Channel, CNN, Oxygen Network, and the Discovery Channel.  In Canada, Ms. Eisenberg has appeared in her own comedy special for CTV’s Comedy Now, and some of her current material is running on CBC, taped live at the Halifax Comedy Festival.

Ms Eisenberg is currently writing her debut memoir "Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy" which will be available in Spring 2013. Her writing has been featured in five other anthologies including, "I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics" alongside that of Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Dennis Miller and Joan Rivers, "Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped, and Canceled" and Heeb Magazine’s "Sex, Drugs, and Gelfite Fish".