Lucas Caleb Rooney (Artistic Director) is an actor and teacher from New York City. He teaches clowning at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Juilliard Schools and other programs. As an actor, Lucas has been on Broadway in Bartlett Sher’s GOLDEN BOY opposite Tony Shaloub, Mike Nicols’ production of THE COUNTRY GIRL with Frances McDormand and Morgan Freeman, and Jack O’Brien’s Tony winning revival of HENRY IV. Last year, he appeared in the world premiere of Caryl Churchill’s LOVE AND INFORMATION and as Barnadine in MEASURE FOR MEASURE with the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park and starred opposite Jeffery Demunn in DEATH OF A SALESMAN at The Old Globe Theatre. Lucas won a Drama Desk Award for his work in Michael Wilson’s production of Horton Foote’s ORPHANS HOME CYCLE. His clown show CREATION had a critically acclaimed run Off-Broadway. He most recently played Robin in Classic Stage Company’s production of DOCTOR FAUTUS with Chris Noth. In addition to his many theatre credits, Lucas has appeared in numerous television and film roles, including BOARDWALK EMPIRE, THE KNICK, THE FOLLOWING, THE GOOD WIFE, and of course the obligatory LAW AND ORDER. He recently finished shooting a role in THE DROP with Tom Hardy and the late, great James Gandofini. He can also be seen in Rob Reiner’s MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE with Morgan Freeman and starred opposite Amy Pohler and Will Arnett in ON BROADWAY.
Bryce Pinkham (Executive Director) is an American stage and television actor. He most recently starred with Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as Peter Patrone, for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award as well as the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. In 2014 he was seen as Monty Navarro, the title role, in the Broadway production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical as well as a Grammy Award. He also appeared in Ghost the Musical as Carl Bruner and in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as Black Fox (his Broadway debut) as well as in Shakespeare in the Park’s Love’s Labor’s Lost. He also has a number of other Off Broadway and regional theater credits. His television credits include appearances on The Good Wife, Person of Interest, and the PBS mini series “God in America.” In 2012-13 Bryce was awarded the prestigious Annenberg Fellowship given to “a limited number of exceptionally talented young dancers, musicians, actors and visual artists as they complete their training and begin their professional life.” Pinkham is a graduate of Yale Drama School and spent time as a part-time faculty member of NYU’s Meisner Studio. Pinkham met Rooney in the company of a nine-hour cycle of plays by Horton Foote called The Orphans’ Home Cycle for which the entire ensemble earned a Lucille Lortel Award in 2010. Since that time, he and Lucas have shared duties teaching Clown and Physical Comedy at NYU’s Meisner Studio and The Studio New York.
Justin Cimino (Education Director and Operations Manager) received his BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He is an actor in NYC and has been teaching theatre to children for 10 years. He has been with Zara Aina from the very beginning, organizing clown jams, making videos, over-seeing education, and serving as Operations Manager. He has been on all three trips to Madagascar and most recently he was part of a two-person team hired by UNICEF to use Zara Aina’s work to educate Malagasy communities about the polio crisis. Justin has taught Zara Aina’s clown-based work to children in rural Alabama, Central New Jersey, upstate New York, the South Bronx and Brooklyn. He is a proud volunteer with NYC’s the 52nd Street Project, and is the new Assistant Director of the drama program he was once a member of at his NJ high school.
Seth Dranginis (Business Manager) is a New York-based non-profit arts administrator and producer. Seth has worked with arts organizations in the US and UK, including The Actors Center, the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, and the British American Drama Academy; he is thrilled to now be a part of team Zara Aina! As a producer, he has presented shows at the 78th Street Theater Lab and HERE! Arts Center and produced two short films. He has also worked Off-Broadway on ELLE starring Alan Cumming and Stephen Spinella. Seth has an B.A. in History from Columbia University in the City of New York.
Sarah E.R. Grosman (Director of Community Engagement and Strategy), since 2009, has worked in many capacities to promote and deliver equitable access to the arts in New York City, Seattle, San Diego, and internationally in Malta and Madagascar. Collaborating with arts organizations of many mediums (dance, music, sketch comedy, contemporary art, theater) and social programs (community centers, prison re-entry programs, homeless shelters, labor unions, children’s welfare organizations, international NGOs, and other social service organizations), her work pursues a merging of cultural diplomacy, humanitarianism, civic engagement, and community development for and through the arts. Currently, she serves as the lead officer for Community Programs at Turtle Bay Music School (NYC) and as the Director of Community Engagement and Strategy for Zara Aina (NYC/ Madagascar). Prior to this, Sarah was a founding staff member and community organizer for Public Works, the groundbreaking participatory theater program at The Public Theater (NYC/ Shakespeare in the Park), which invites New Yorkers of every possible background and age to join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater. In 2016, Sarahwas the United States delegate in Malta for the European Union’s inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Program in the framework of the Cultural Diplomacy Platform. As a theater director, she has worked at Shakespeare in the Park, LaMama, The Foundry, Intiman, The Old Globe, 5th Ave. Theater, and New York University. Sarah is a graduate of Cornish College, for whom she is currently a National Advisory Council Member, and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.
Daniel Henintsoa (Operations/Company Manager) is a project manager, teacher and interpreter in Antananarivo, Madagascar. He’s been highly active in the fields of education and disability advocacy for the past six years. Daniel began his work with Zara Aina in August 2015. Daniel was a Special Needs Learning Assistant in an American International School in Antananarivo. He founded Hay Kanto, a non-profit that provides art therapy courses and academic support to street children and children at-risk. At present, his organization helps 1,300 children and continues to expand. Daniel has a Bachelors Degree in Literature, a Masters in Managerial Studies, and a second Masters in Development Economics.
Louis Zo Rabearison (Dance Instructor/Facilitator) is a dancer and choreographer. He leads a dance troupe called Compagnie Tsiry, which fuses classic dance with traditional Malagasy dance, African dance and Hip Hop. Zo also coaches young Malagasy swimmers. As a sociologist, he is interested in sharing experiences, learning new approaches to apprehending social facts, the effects of technology and the impacts of traditions on people’s lives.
Rasolofomanana Alfred Leonard (Artistic Director) is the son of singers and artists. He started his career in the performing arts as a dancer at the age of 15. He continued his career as a musician for a local celebrity, BODO, and as a songwriter for his parents’ band. In 2000, he made his first steps into theater with the “Landy Volafotsy” and participated in various international festivals in the Indian Ocean Islands and in Europe. In 2005, he created his own theater group “Gas’Pira”. Since 2010, he collaborates with various artists from different backgrounds both as a musician, actor and theater teacher.
Maevanirina Sandaniaina (Social Worker) is an experienced social worker in Madagascar. An avid reader, she did well in school. From childhood, she was known for her love for taking care of her family and friends. Sanda first studied law and translation in college before deciding to pursue advanced studies in the social work field. She studied for 4 years. Subsequently, she has worked with several social NGOs and many aid centers for vulnerable families, children with disabilities, and community education for the sanitation of dwellings. Being a social worker was a childhood dream.
Larissa Nomenjanahary (Social Worker) began working with Zara Aina in 2014. She graduated from CNTEMAD where she studied Management, and from the English Teaching Program at Antsahavola. She was a volunteer with AJAC Association for 5 years before coming to Zara Aina. Larissa believes education is important because it is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.
Rita Randrianiaina (Cook/Governess) has been working with Zara Aina for 2 years. She loves cooking and taking care of children. Rita recently completed Zara Aina’s theater teacher training program. She has studied computers. Rita completed her BACC in 2016.