Cast

cast_kendra Kendra Van Cleave (Director) has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, is an award-winning master historical costumer and a published historian of costume, has performed as an actor and dancer at a number of Renaissance and Dickens faires, and is near-fluent in French. She is a former President of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. Kendra has performed with Bella Donna since 2005. Role: Caterina da Venzone, “La Tempesta” (Venetian courtesan)/Colette (French tart)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jennifer Erlichman (Musical Director) has 20 years experience in the theater arts as both actor and musician, and has studied performance music since age five. She has done costuming and makeup for theater, and focuses her current business on historical costume design. Jennifer has performed with Bella Donna since 2005. Role: Lucrezia Vivaldi (Venetian courtesan)
cast_karen Karen Fox (Assistant Director) has been dancing since she was five years old.  She has studied modern, jazz, folkloric, and Middle Eastern dance, and is currently a principal dancer with Red Desert Dance company.  She has studied and performed theater since she was 11, including Commedia dell’Arte, and has a background in choral singing that was no doubt inherited from her great-grandmother, a professional opera singer and teacher. She has been involved in costuming, millinery, and jewelry design for Renaissance faires, dance companies, and community theater, and her current business Gracious & Pure. She has performed at Renaissance faires since 2003, primarily with the St. Maximilian Landsknecht Re-enactment Guild, for whom she was Costume Director. She loves improvisation, music, singing, flirtation, audience participation, beautiful historically immaculate costuming, humor, history, and intelligent entertainment! Karen has performed with Bella Donna since 2011. Role: Arianna Volpe (Venetian courtesan)/Aurélie (French tart)
cast_trystan Trystan L. Bass is a costumer, traveler, and professional writer with a literature degree and a passion for the 16th century. She performed at Renaissance faires for many years, is a former president of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, has won and judged many costume competitions, and currently organizes and teaches art and history classes for the local Society for Creative Anachronism chapter. Trystan and her husband have filmed many of their world travels, including Venetian carnevale, and her courtesan’s surname comes from the sestiere in Venice where they rented an apartment. Trystan has performed with Bella Donna since 2012. Role: Faustina da Castello (Venetian courtesan)/Vivienne (French tart)
cast_francis Francis Classe enjoys performing early modern and medieval music, song, and dance and plays several Renaissance instruments. He has been costuming for over fourteen years, and making shoes for over ten.  He has been intensely studying raised heels (chopines, zoccoli, stacked heels) as well as all manner of historical footwear from the medieval to the 18th century and has documented much of his work online. He is fluent in French. Francis has performed with Bella Donna since 2012. Role: Vyncent Woodgate (English courtier)/François (French impresario)
cast_liam Liam Fox has performed with Bella Donna since 2012. Role: Bastiano (Venetian ruffiano)
cast_sarah Sarah Lorraine Goodman trained as a singer from a very early age and performed professionally throughout her adolescence before “retiring” to concentrate on academic pursuits.  She returned to the world of performance with Bella Donna as the “new girl” courtesan Tullia Martini. Sarah holds a degree in Clothing and Textile Design from the University of California, Davis, and has primarily focused on historical costuming before coming around to the fact that she enjoys performing the role of a courtesan just as much as wearing the pretty clothes. She is active in the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and Renaissance Faires in and around Northern California, and is recognized as a Master Costumer in the International Costumers Guild. Sarah has performed with Bella Donna since 2012. Role: Tullia Martini (Venetian courtesan)/Minette (French tart)
Jessica Grist has performed as an actor and teacher of Victorian ballroom dance for eight years, primarily at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. In addition to ballroom, she has studied various forms of dance from all over the British Isles, including Irish ceili and English country. A versatile actor, she has performed roles ranging from Dickensian heroines (and anti-heroines!) to Queen Victoria herself. In addition, Jessica has spent several years in the world of historical costuming. Jessica has performed with Bella Donna since 2016. Role: Valeria Bonaventuri (Venetian courtesan)
cast_craig Craig Shira has performed with Bella Donna since 2012. Role: Hieronimo (Venetian bookkeeper)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Shawna Spiteri has a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from San Francisco State University, where she studied music formally as well. She has extensive dance training in classical ballet, tap, jazz, modern, folk and ballroom dance. Shawna has performed both classical and avant garde music with local groups such as Masterworks Chorale and The Enormous Ensemble, plus she has done professional voiceover work for David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Francis Coppola’s Dracula. In 1994, Shawna followed her interest in Celtic and early music into harp studies with well-known instructor and composer Diana Stork. Since then, Shawna has become a teacher of Celtic-style harp herself, helps direct the Bay Area Youth Harp Ensemble, and regularly performs (and has created a CD) with the harp trio Triskela. Shawna has performed with Bella Donna since 2004. Role: Rosetta Caravello (Venetian courtesan)/Delphine (French tart)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Linda Wenzelburger has a background in singing, ballroom dance and ballet. She was schooled in fashion design and works with several Bay Area theatre groups as Costume Designer. She is a former board member of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. Linda has performed with Bella Donna since 2005. Role: Chiara Vespucci (Venetian courtesan)/Virginie (French tart)