All Hail Fringe Femmes! Meet Ayesha Siddiqui

By Constance Strickland

This Fringe season welcomes a thrilling group of women from varied backgrounds and experiences, making this an exciting and by far one of the most diverse Hollywood Fringe Festivals ever! I wanted to take this week to share the voices of these women who will be sharing pieces of themselves this June on a myriad of local theatre stages.  I introduce you to a playwright whose writing style is delicate, distinctive and unique… Ayesha Siddiqui!

Coming Full Circle with #FringeFemmes for “Baba, Jee (Father, Yes)”

As I sat in the Green Room at Samuel French this past Saturday for the annual Fringe Femmes Gathering, I was struck that just a year ago, I was in this room for the very same event. I remember walking in and noting that the space was filled almost entirely with women, all of whom appeared to have shows in the Fringe. As I walked to the stage to drop my Micro-Read off, I was awed that an entire table was covered in show postcards exclusively by female playwrights. I shyly introduced myself and the work I had brought, picked up as many postcards as I could hold, and left the event feeling hopeful. “So much work by women,” I kept thinking, “Maybe next year that could even be me.”

The week after the Fringe Femmes Gathering, I felt inspired to write a one-act play called Baba, Jee (Father, Yes in Urdu.) The show is based on the true story of the time my dad came to visit from Pakistan and stayed with my boyfriend and me in our tiny New York City apartment. Then Hurricane Sandy struck, and we were all trapped inside for days. The setting felt perfect to explore themes of culture, belonging, and the experience of being a bi-racial, white passing woman in America. Yet when I first decided to do the Fringe earlier this year, I wondered who I was to even be taking this on. It felt daunting.

But as I walked into the Fringe Femmes Gathering on Saturday, I felt so much more confident dropping my Micro-Read off. A year ago, I would have never imagined myself capable of writing, producing, and acting in my own work. This is due, in part, to the LA FPI community and the willing help and expertise I have found within. So many Fringe veterans were ready to read my script, provide advice on producing, and answer questions. It is not always easy – your inner critic and self-doubt are loud. I often wonder if my work is too female, too much, too rooted to my own life and experience. And yet, as I sat in the Green Room looking to the stage, I heard unique, female voices writing to share, connect, expose, push, and to take our rightful space. The Fringe Femmes event was and is a reminder of why we do this. After all, a year ago I left so inspired that I wrote a little play.

“Baba, Jee (Father, Yes)” is a Hollywood Fringe Scholarship Winner, opening June 4th @ 7pm at Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre. Tickets and more information: http://hff18.org/4943 

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