Libby Skala

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Libby Skala
Libby Skala in 2008
Libby Skala in 2008
BornElizabeth Anne Skala
(1967-04-20)April 20, 1967
Englewood, New Jersey, US
Diedc. December 1, 2019(2019-12-01) (aged 52)[1]
OccupationActress, Playwright
Alma materOberlin College (BA)
Notable worksLilia!
Years active1993–2019
Steven May
(m. 2008)
RelativesLilia Skala (grandmother)
Official website

Elizabeth Anne "Libby" Skala (April 20, 1967 – December 1, 2019) was an American actress and writer best known for plays about her Austrian-American relatives.[2][3][4][5] She wrote four one-woman shows: Lilia!, A Time to Dance, Felicitas, and Irena Sendler: Rescuing the Rescuer, which she performed across North America and Europe.[citation needed]


Early life and education[edit]

Elizabeth Anne Skala was the eldest daughter of Mary and Martin Skala, a Canadian textile designer and Austrian-born financial writer for The Christian Science Monitor.[6] Her father's mother was Austrian-American actress Lilia Skala.[7] Libby Skala was born in Englewood, New Jersey, and moved to Darien, Connecticut, with her parents and her younger sister Emily[6] when she was nine.[8][7][9][10]

After graduating from Oberlin College (also her father's alma mater)[6] with a degree in English Literature/Theatre Emphasis, and attending cattle calls in New York, Skala moved to Seattle where she earned her union cards and studied with Gary Austin, founder of the improvisational theatre company The Groundlings.[11][12]


In 1995, months after her grandmother Lilia Skala's death, Gary Austin encouraged Skala to write a one-woman show about her Academy Award-nominated actress grandmother.[13] The show Lilia! was developed in Austin's workshop and went on to receive rave reviews internationally.[14][15][16][17][18][19] It ran successfully off-Broadway at the Arclight Theatre, produced by Mirror Repertory Company;[20] at The Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles (presented by Gary Austin);[21] at Pacific Theatre in Vancouver;[15] at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland;[22] in London, sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Forum;[23] in Tbilisi, Georgia; and in Berlin and Dresden, Germany.[24]

Skala's second play A Time to Dance won "Best Solo Performer Award" at the London Fringe Theatre Festival.[25] It portrays the story of Skala's great aunt Elizabeth "Lisl" Polk, a pioneer of dance therapy, and is based on a series of interviews recorded while Skala was researching Lilia!.[26] The play toured North America and Europe.[27][28][29]

Libby Skala collaborated with her husband, musician Steven May, to create her third show, Felicitas, which was premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2014. May created the mandolin music score which he performs live on stage to underscore Skala's story of her great-aunt, Felicitas Sofer, a highly trained professional baby nurse who migrated from Vienna to join her sisters Lilia and Lisl in the United States.[30] She was the nurse in attendance at Skala's home birth.[31]

Libby Skala's show, Irena Sendler: Rescuing the Rescuer, premiered at the London Festival Fringe in 2017.[32]

Personal life and death[edit]

Skala married musician Steven May in 2008.[33]

Libby Skala died on December 1, 2019, at the age of 52.[34][35][36]


In 2013, the Sunnyside Gardens Historical Alliance presented Lilia! in conjunction with the unveiling of a National Register of Historic Places Plaque on the former home of Skala's grandmother Lilia Skala, Stage and Screen Actor, for which Sidney Poitier wrote a tribute.[37] A month earlier, Skala performed A Time to Dance for Sunnyside Gardens Historical Alliance in honor of a National Register of Historical Places Plaque unveiling at the home of her great aunt, dance therapy pioneer Elizabeth "Lisl" Polk.[38]



  • 1999 Lilia!
  • 2009 A Time to Dance
  • 2014 Felicitas
  • 2017 Irena Sendler: Rescuing the Rescuer


Year Title Role
2000 Smile Cindy
2003 Unscrewed Mary's Friend
2004 Birth Bridesmaid


  1. ^ "Facebook comment". Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Playwright's focus on family". Calgary Herald. 22 September 2011. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Libby Skala encapsulates 100 years of life, love, dance". Downtown Express. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Libby Skala, actor, writer, "Lilia"". Actors Life. 6 October 2012. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  5. ^ "FELICITAS". NYTheatreNow. 14 August 2014. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Obituary: Martin Skala, longtime Darien resident," Darien Times (January 22, 2019).
  7. ^ a b "Theatrical tribute to a special grandmother". The Villager. 17 August 2005. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Libby Skala Biography". IMDb. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Skala returns to Lapham for 'Lilia!'". New Canaan Advertiser. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Skala to tell story of aunt in 'Felicitas'". Darien News. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Conversing with Grandmother Beloved by Critics". Oberlin Alumni Magazine. 97 (3). Winter 2001. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Libby Skala on The 48th St. Exercise". Austinhere. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Arts Incubator Series: Actress Libby Skala Inspires Students". Polk State College. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  14. ^ Bruce Weber (31 July 2003). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Enter One Actor, Cloaked in Magic". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Tribute to grandmother a lovely, warm memory". The Vancouver Sun. 26 September 2006. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Lilia – refugee from the Nazis, Oscar nominee, and grandmother comes to London (as a play)". Espiritualidadcafe. 31 October 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Ravishing Revivals". Gay City News. 1 September 2005. Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  18. ^ Bernie Whelan (October 2010). "Lilia!". Extra! Extra!. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  19. ^ "LILIA! Trailer - A one-woman show by Libby Skala". YouTube. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  20. ^ "The Mirror Repertory Company begins repertory season at the Arclight". New York Theatre Guide. 1 April 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  21. ^ Steven Leigh Morris (13 February 2009). "Stage Raw: Time Stands Still". LA Weekly. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  22. ^ "Lilia! by Libby Skala ****". The Scotsman. 3 July 2001. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  23. ^ "Theatre and dance Libby Skala: LiLiA!". Austrian Cultural Forum London. October 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  24. ^ "Interview with Libby Skala" (PDF). St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. May 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  25. ^ "A Time to Dance – Fringe Festival". Talk Entertainment. 16 August 2009. Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  26. ^ "'Time to Dance' looks at Polk's therapy". The Post and Courier. 31 May 2009. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  27. ^ Gia Kourlas (17 August 2009). "A Therapist Who Fled the Nazis, and Other Characters in Motion". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  28. ^ "A Time to Dance Comes to the NY Int'l Fringe Festival". Broadway World. 24 August 2009. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  29. ^ Rachel Ward (2009). "In A Time to Dance, Libby Skala glows in her poignant portrayal of a zany great aunt". Charleston City Paper. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  30. ^ Jon Sobel (17 August 2014). "Theater Review (NYC Fringe): 'Felicitas' by Libby Skala". BlogCritics. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  31. ^ "FringeNYC Review: Felicitas". Stage Buddy. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  32. ^ Joe Belanger (1 June 2017). "London Fringe: Irena Sendler: Rescuing the Rescuer". The London Free Press. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  33. ^ St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. "We were saddened to hear of the premature passing of LIBBY SCALA [sic] today," Facebook (Dec. 5, 2019).
  34. ^ "In Memorium," SAG-AFTRA magazine (Spring 2020).
  35. ^ London Fringe Festival Theatre. "We are heartbroken to hear of the death of Libby Skala yesterday..." Facebook (4 December 2019).
  36. ^ December 4, Polly Castor on; Photography, 2019 in (4 December 2019). "Honoring Libby".
  37. ^ Kevin Zimmerman (22 October 2013). "From zipper factory to Academy Awards". TQNS. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  38. ^ "2 National Register Plaques for 2 Historic Sisters". Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance. 27 October 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2014.

External links[edit]