by Jennie Webb
SO! Any way you look at it, the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival, it was (again) a ridiculous and fabulous success. But from my (and LA FPI’s) very particular perspective, it reached a whole new level of amazing. For the first time, just over 50% of the scripted shows were by written women!
Many thanks to Chris Farah for making this announcement for us at the Awards on closing night of Fringe before handing out FPI’s Most Wanted Awards. This year, they went to a record number of venues/producers who staged at least 50% of shows written by women: Actors Company, Fountain Theatre, Lounge Theatre, Macha Theatre/Film, Rogue Machine @ MET Theatre, Sacred Fools Theater, Stephanie Fuery Studio Theatre, The Hotel Cafe: Second Stage, The New Collective, Theatre Asylum & Underground Theatre.
And while we’re talking awards, I’m also proud to note that female artists were VERY strongly represented in the list of “winners.” Hooray that on the writing front, The Inkwell Theater‘s Playwright’s Promise Award went to Vanessa Espino for Odilia (4 out of 5 nominees were women!); beyond props to Broads’ Word Ensemble for instituting a Beyond Bechdel-Wallace Award, given to Disrupted by Mary Anna King; and I can’t help but give love back to sweet, sweet new LA FPI Instigators Theresa Stroll & Bobby McGlynn, whose My Big Fat Blonde Musical took home 3 big nods including “Best of Fringe.”
As we all know, it’s impossible to catch everything on the must-see list, so it was great to get the #FringeFemmes Check-Ins (thanks ladies!). And super to learn that over 50% of the scripted shows receiving Producers’ Encore Awards are by women playwrights… which means they’ll be back for performances throughout July. Whee! Click Here for Info.
Yes, in my book, the Fringe Femmes action is pretty spectacular every June: the work by women artists, the support of colleagues, the generosity and energy and connections that continue throughout the year. You’re all part of what keeps growing and getting better & better – huge congrats and thanks to everyone at the Fringe, onstage and off, in the audience and behind the bar. (Especially that last.)
WHO: Patti Smith & Sam Shepard
WHAT: Cowboy Mouth
WHERE: The New Collective
Only three shows left. This is a rare and difficult piece for performers to embody and for that alone it should be seen. Where do we fit in when the world seems to be swallowing us alive? How do we cope with lost dreams and who do we find comfort in – despite how we were brought together? The play will leave us with unanswered questions, as does life. Cait Mathis & Alton Ray are fearless in a work that requires deep commitment.Tweet
WHO: Andrea Schell
WHAT: Sexy Maus
WHERE: Sacred Fools Studio
Andrea is delicious and fearless. This one-woman show examines the self’s needs, wants and fears in a wonderfully direct manner; one finds themself laughing, understanding, and seeing Andrea a bit more clearer by the end of the play. It is not easy to be at an unplanned crossroad, yet we all know the feeling of needing to escape, searching for ourselves on a deeper level, finding ourselves then questioning it all again! Andrea gives us a fun, honest and vulnerable look at herself in a hot theatre, showing us that affordable community theatre can have just as much pizazz as a show in a big house. Go see this show, and then go have hot sex with a lover, stranger or flexible friend. Hey, we can’t all get to Europe but we can pretend!Tweet
by Chris Farah
WHO: Leah Artenian, Sophia Brackenridge, Savannah Gilmore
WHAT: Lolita, Daisy, Ophelia: A Love Story
WHERE: Ruby Theatre at The Complex
We know these characters only from the viewpoint of the lead male character in their stories but now we get to hear their dreams, wants, and desires from their own lips.Tweet
WHO: L. Nicol Cabe
WHAT: Infinite Expectation of the Dawn
WHERE: Actors Company
I’ve been evangelizing about this show since it opened over the weekend. (It’s been touring, so it got a late start here and I really, really want more people to see it.) Writer and actor L. Nicol Cabe plays two women in a post-second-civil-war America: a representative of the new Christian government and the adult daughter of a resistance leader. Both characters are well-drawn—the play is sympathetic to each without being uncritical—and when their stories finally intersect, there is serious emotional payoff. (Warning: you will feel feelings.) The world-building is one of the show’s biggest strengths, and I loved learning about the new America through the little details each woman mentions. Think smart, dystopian sci fi in the tradition of Margaret Atwood. Cabe’s performance is sharp, energetic, and seriously, she nails two character arcs in an hour, that is ridiculous.Tweet
WHO: Merri Biechler
WHERE: Asylum @ 6470
Because war is a universal issue, a disease that trickles down and affects us all. This Utopian play allows you to hear the voices of the women who are left to deal with the aftermath of war. It is a wonderful reminder that all you really need is an empty space along with good writing to tell a powerful story. (And if you love live music, Occupation has a wonderful musician who accompanies the players onstage.)Tweet
WHO: Theresa Stroll and Bobby Glynn
WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater (Black Box)
Terry is a young woman new to Hollywood and looking to become an actress. This story is old as time in this city and yet Theresa Stroll finds a way to put a brand new face on this adventure with the addition of one important caveat: she’s a fat actress and she’s not looking to change that, she’s looking to change Hollywood. We meet an array of supporting characters, some supportive and some far from it but each leading Terry closer to a conclusion that neither she nor the audience sees coming but will leave you all grinning with joy. This show reminds us that sometimes some out of the box thinking is what we need to make our dreams come true. That and some equally resolved and pissed off partners in crime.Tweet
WHO: Sarah Rosenberg
WHAT: Being Martin Shkreli
WHERE: Ruby Theatre at The Complex
You guys. Martin Shkreli is not just abhorrent. He’s also completely weird. After pulling a volunteer from the audience and handing them a list of questions to ask her, Sarah Rosenberg swaggers and smirks her way through half an hour of bravado, threats, and claims of artistic genius, straight from the mouth of the worst dude of our time. I laughed, I made disbelieving faces that I probably couldn’t recreate if I tried, and I had a great time. This show has all the pleasure of sharing a really nutty article, except that the article is happening right in front of you.
WHO: Elizabeth Irwin
WHAT: My Mañana Comes
In almost every moment of My Mañana Comes, the audience is watching labor happen. Set in a restaurant kitchen, the mostly-naturalistic play follows four busboys over a period of a months as they work, make chitchat, confide in each other, and do the math of how to keep getting by, over and over again. While the play is absolutely political—it’s pretty much impossible to watch people working almost nonstop for an hour and a half without feeling strongly that they should be paid fairly for their damn labor—strong writing, sharp direction, and four A+ performances keep it feeling theatrical rather than polemical. It’s a pleasure to watch for the craft involved and also a real punch in the heart.Tweet
by Chris Farah
WHO: Gabriela Ortega
WHAT: Las García
WHERE: Asylum @ Studio C (Mainstage) 6448 Santa Monica Blvd
WHY: A beautiful one-woman show combining spoken word, music, history, feminism and Dominican Republic culture, playwright and performer Ortega weaves the narratives of her grandmother and herself to portray the life and struggles of revolutionary women.