All posts by Constance Strickland

Reminiscents

by Constance Strickland

Granny passed away Saturday, September 5th, 2020 in the evening surrounded by her kids, grandkids, and great-grandchildren. A Titan who only spoke truth and never bent on who she was. A powerful woman who worked hard her whole life, but I didn’t know her whole story. I listened and knew the basics and granny never spoke the whole past, it came in pieces and I never got her full story. I can only honor my granny by urging other women to tell their stories. Do not leave your story up for grabs nor to be washed away by time. As I continue to absorb my mother’s story; I find and tell my story and through those actions, I may just tell my granny’s story too. Tell your story even if it seems you have no story at all. Archive your life, leave it for the future, leave it for those who come after. Undisputedly.

I come from a stock of women who tell their own stories in code. 

Each never fully aware of their self-power. 

Nomads__

Who walk with their ideas of freedom stamped upon their foreheads.

So__

I paint my face to reveal the brutal scars of war.

The mirror no longer my enemy-

is now, my friend.

I recognize the contour features of my ancestors,

My reflection revealing how much I can bear.

Memories of tribal wars, broken stories, and abandon homes.

Yet, what still to lives in memory is

the deep crescendoing laughter of song, and dance filled with hope.

For now__

I fight to eat and the chance to dance. 

I begin to realize my reflection is her face.

I know the woman who appears before me.

Silent. She does not speak. 

Silent. I do not speak. 

This stranger so familiar

I can’t touch her. 

She is cold. I reach out to hold her 

 I can’t reach her…

this woman

who looks like me.

What lingers, a women’s fear of death and life?

No___ 

She still remembers:

There once was a time when she came through space like fire!

A bright, fierce, unstoppable Afro haired girl

covered in wildflowers-

wearing…

a tattered dress, listening to an old beat-up boombox.

Soooo freeeee

Addie Mae Brown

We Are Here

by Constance Strickland

I will not lie. As a Black Woman and Black Theatre Artist, I’ve born witness to institutional theatre hindering Black storytelling in Los Angeles for years. I find access to new spaces limited or financially unavailable for Black Theatre Artists to develop new work. I’ve come to discover I’m often in the crossfire of hidden prejudices. As Black Theatre Artists we’ve experienced words thrust upon us such as angry, aggressive, and loud to silence our voices. Due to this, over the past few weeks, my feelings have gone from disconcerting too perturbed. I’ve had PTSD symptoms surface I didn’t know I carried within my body. 

I will not lie. I see White Theatre Artists advocate for Black Lives while never once advocating for Black Theatre Artists. I see posts linked to where and how you can support Black Lives while not advocating for Black People you actually see. I am constantly flooded with content from peers simultaneously discovering and posting quotes from Black Intellectuals and Leaders while ignoring conversations Black friends have with them weekly if not daily. I receive forwarding articles on how to support Black Theatre Artists while being a Black Theatre Artist. I see feeds filled with stands of solidarity when I have personally experienced these same figures and organizations dishonor Black agency. 

We’re existing in times where it’s a detriment to the Theatre to have colleagues, who are unaware of how they’ve become co-conspirators in age-old racism. Is the sudden influx of support for Black Theatre Artists a trend that will simply fade away and be unable to sustain itself, or are White led theatre organizations actually seeking ways to finally hear the eclectic voices of Black Theatre Artists that are developing work in the midst of our theatre community and offer real support? It causes you to wonder if they actually care to support the multitude of Black Theatre Artists right in the community.  

This call to action is necessary. It is an overdue embarrassment. This moment in time reveals how disconnected our theatre community is from Black Theatre Artists. We exist within the Los Angeles Theatre Community. For a long time, we’ve been here. Reaching out. Doing the work by any means necessary without real support. 

I will not lie. We’ve given power to these theatre “guardians”. We’ve allowed this white patriarchal system to seep into the roots of our ancient form of storytelling and taint its sanctity. We’ve given these “guardians” the key to control who goes through the doors. They decide who receives particular resources and opportunities. Now the roots are rotten and the branches are no longer able to hold themselves up. There is no doubt that the work we are seeing is not the full-scale gage of the voices nor talent residing within our Los Angeles Theatre Community, a vibrant theatre hub where stories are being created in tiny nooks throughout the city. A city where artists do the work every day, each year without fail, and without support.

We need you to Support Black Theatre Artists right here in Los Angeles. We are out here developing new theatre. We are trying to fund new plays. We are local Theatre Artists who need support. We are independent Theatre Artists residing here in Los Angeles. We are not supported by an academic or arts institution, we are not under fiscal sponsorship, and we are not funded via a non-profit umbrella. WE self–produce new works on a high level. UPLIFT US. 

I will not lie. As a Black Theatre Artist, I have reached out to White and Black academic and art institutions alike. I believed I would receive equal opportunities to present my work. To build a community in my field and grow as an artist in safe spaces. 

Over the years I have reached out and applied for my work to be shown at numerous theatres, galleries, museums, and other artistic institutions in Los Angeles. In response, I was once told that space was only reserved for artists who were alumni of Cal-Arts. Another space responded by quoting me a price that was simply too high for an independent artist to afford. At other times, my applications are simply ignored, and my emails left unanswered. What I find even more concerning is that when my work is presented or shown at these institutions it’s through the association of white artists where my black body and talent were presented and credited under their name. Yet, when I apply I am not given the same opportunities. 

I will not lie. Black Theatre Artists are not given the opportunity to be varied. Black Theatre Artists must be allowed, encouraged, and supported in making every type of work. Not only work that assists a “guardians” concept of what a Black Theatre Artist is and can be. For there is no limit to what one can manifest when they are not shackled and being marginalized. Black Theatre Artists are not widely included in our theatre community. We often are left with no choice but to fight from not getting stuck under the gaze of these white “guardians” who block the entryway to a wider audience. If you Support local Black and Brown Theatre Artists it raises the bar for our city. It raises the bar of the Theatre. 

We need affordable, safe spaces to develop new work. Spaces that are not just catered to academic alumni or well-supported artists –  Where can we go? What will we do? How will theatre as an art form progress in Los Angeles? 

White people, it would behoove you to ask yourself, how many times have you reached out to a Black Theatre Artist to say, “Hey there’s an opportunity I know about, here’s a contact, here’s some help?!”

I will not lie. It is not only white men, there too sit white women in positions of power. They sit quietly. They take no action to lean in and they rarely push open the door for a Black Women in Theatre. There are White women producing theatre, running theatre spaces, while also playing into the tokenism card, in which repeated Black Theatre Artists have access to varied spaces and funding without giving opportunities to new Black Theatre Artists. If we continue to allow these “guardians” to hold the key to theatrical spaces then we are not allowing our art to move forward. This stalls the new American Theatre from truly emerging itself. 

The Black Theatre Artist is Experimental. 

The Black Theatre Artist is Avant-Garde.

The Black Theatre Artist is Tradtional Theatre.

The Black Theatre Artist has a New Voice. 

The Black Theatre Artist has Many Faces.

The Black Theatre Artist is an Academic Artist.

The Black Theatre Artist is the Institutional Artist.

The Black Theatre Artist is not a Supported Artist. 

Historic Artist Opportunities - Massachusetts Cultural Council

“Born of a race whose inheritance has been outrage and wrong, most of my life

has been spent battling these wrongs. But I did not feel as keenly as others

that I had these rights in common with other women, which are now demanded.”

~Frances Ellen Watkins Harper | 1866

*A Note to BIPOC Artists: We need to build together. We need to merge our skills together. We need to not be the only person in the room if we don’t have to be. We need to answer emails from one another. We need to continue to reach out to one another. If we don’t look out for each other then who will? 

Complicity or Co-Conspirator

by: Constance Strickland

Here we are. Existing in a new time. Living in a world that is no longer able to sustain itself on old pains.

I know I’ve been asking myself how am I making way for BIPOC Artists? What am I doing to be sure that I’m including, reaching out and making way so that a variety of stories for the American Theatre exist? I ask white artists to take time to see if you are truly hearing and how are you leaning in, pushing open doors, and connecting + including BIPOC into safe theatre spaces where they can develop and flourish.


I also challenge BIPOC to ask themselves, what am I doing to not be the only one in the room. Am I helping + contributing to new BIPOC voices being included in the American theatre canon? How are we preventing tokenism in the theatre?


I’m excited! We are in a new awakening. How will we all move into the future to build our Los Angeles theatre community into an interconnected haven?


Restore your energy & Self-Care for the future of American Theatre will need us all.

Theatre, The Hero

by Constance Strickland

“Theatre has a role, a noble role, in energizing and mobilizing humanity to lift itself from its descent into the abyss. It can uplift the stage, the performance space, into something sacred. In South Asia, the artist’s touch with reverence the floor of the stage before stepping onto it, an ancient tradition when the spiritual and the cultural were intertwined. It is time to regain that symbiotic relationship between the artist and the audience, the past and the future.”

~Shahid Nadeem in honor of Madeeha Gauhar

After weeks inside the house, the days started to blend together and I found myself replaying how I got to the work. Why do I do the work? What is the weight of the work while the world is on pause?  Although presenting to an audience is usually the goal, the work is still very much alive even with no clear date of when theatres and performance venues can reopen. I feel is the very reason the theatre lives even more now with a newfound worth. 

I imagine a new American Theatre with a wide vision that embraces new ways of merging the talent that lives within a city. How do we present work to an audience and who gets to be in the positions that uplift new voices? It seems there is no better time than now to answer these questions of how we can collectively merge the independent theatre artist, freelance theatre artists, and union and nonunion theatre artists. What barriers need to be pushed aside so that we can all come together to give voice to the times in which we exist? 

Michael, an old friend from High School times, asked me the other day how I was doing during this time of quarantine. The first real question, where I knew my answer mattered to the person, and so I took my time in thought before I responded to him, now it has become my mantra:

“I’m adjusting. I’m luckier than most and that feels bad inside – I cried a bit for so many communities and I just hope this was the best way.

The rest I feel is relief in a way – that residency feeling, that opportunity that many of us never get as artists to focus on the work, where one can do the work wholeheartedly, absorb stillness and manifest old and new ideas. Yet I know that comes from a place of privilege and that hurts and frees me.

Yet, I feel much will grow from this – nature and humans and so I’m positive + excited and a wee bit scared for what’s to come but I know doing the work has always been the guiding light.”

Shadid Nadeem’s World Theatre Day speech filled me energy for I knew what he said to be true. For I, too, honor the space in which I will perform, channeling those who walked the space before, my ancestors and to give thanks to all who enter it. Theatre is sacred. Theatre is a ritual. Theatre is healing. It is why we must continue to fight for an eclectic variety of voices leading the way to the Great White Way, for they exist in the smallest of theatre houses, community theatre houses or that hole in the wall theatre space that is constantly doing great work but has no large audiences; these theatres exist in cities all throughout the U.S. There is no better time than now to see how to widen the scope, expand the reach and not lose a generation of artists to a lack of support and opportunities. The future of American Theatre depends upon a new way of seeing.  As we know, not everyone will be taken into the future. There will be some artists who will be a part of the history of theatre and many others will be forgotten. What can we do in the present to ensure as many voices as possible are heard and remembered?

COVID-19 Relief Grants:

Foundation for Contemporary Arts

https://www.foundationforcontemporaryarts.org/grants/emergency-grants

Department of Cultural Affairs 

https://jotform.com/200828047780154

Africa. Sabratha Roman theater ruins, Lybia // Maurizio Camagna

LEVEL UP


Bet on yourself in 2020. The number one thing I will not allow to occur in 2020 is working with anyone who doesn’t or cannot LEVEL UP! I’m begging you to do the same.

I know more often than not, many of us just want to get the work started and that can make you to reach out to past creative partners, unreliable creators, or make excuses for why you cannot start the work alone instead of trusting yourself and betting on your talent, skills, and network.

The work will always be emotional, yet do not hold yourself back by settling for anything less than your best this decade. It’s vital that you continue to bet on your work. That means not settling on projects that do not capture your heart, for it will not be worth your long days or sleepless nights.

I know leveling up can seem impossible when grant funding is low or nonexistent, when sponsorship is not enough or when the vision of that dream theatre space seems financially unattainable. But keep believing in your work. Leveling up begins with one action that leads you to your next step.

Everyone is in a rush, which often causes a lack of truth and depth within the work. Instead, what manifests are pieces of the truth – a veil between the work and the audience… this new, hurried, smothered truth.

The work need not take years, by any means but allow it to gestate before pushing it out into the world.

Do not give up! Level up!
I’m not saying you need to post more via social media, nor am I saying you need to network at more events. I am saying believe in your ideas, stories, visions… all while moving forward and taking only those with you who can see the bigger picture. The next level.

As Ciara says, “Be your own boss, love yourself, get up and dance. Level up!”

By Constance Strickland

L.A Has a Theatre Problem

PART B
by Constance Strickland

L.A has a theatre problem. We live in a city where hundreds of theatre artists are cooped up in small spaces trying to find ways to create new work in a city where artists funding is almost nonexistent, and a city filled with Black and Brown artists who often enough you won’t see on stage.

We are lacking hub spaces, safe spaces, such as the Movement Research at Judson Church, BAM, Performance Space122, HERE and GIBNEY – all in New York – where one can develop new works. We need to continue to build houses that give artists room to take risks while naturally creating work that reflects the myriad of colors and people in our city.

In approaching the communal art space Hauser & Wirth to present work, I was told that their relationship focuses on residencies with CalArts students and alumni only. REDCAT’s quarterly studio program has a history of featuring new works only by CalArts alumni. But it is vital that local institutions, theatres, and galleries, usually led by white males or white females need to open their doors to independent artists not affiliated with academic institutions nor Actor’s Equity Association. The more academic and union qualifications get in the way of the arts, the more we lose the organic expansion along with finding the same artists are in rotation at the same spaces and become the only ones getting supported.

Now, there are programs that are funded by the Center Theatre Group (CTG) and the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), including the DCA COLA Fellowship program, providing support to individual artists who can show 15 years on their resume, or emerging artists, choreographers or dancers who went to post-secondary institutions and only need to show 8 years on their submission resume. Yet we still need to make room for independent theatre artists who are not affiliated with a theatre and have not received extensive education and need support to continue to develop new artistic works.

The DCA also has the Performing Arts Programs, where they currently manage four City-owned theatres: the Warner Grand Theatre (San Pedro), the Vision Theatre (Leimert Park), the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre (East Hollywood), and the Madrid Theatre (Canoga Park). I addition, they oversee two City-owned, operator-managed theatre: the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (West Adams, managed by Ebony Repertory Theatre) and the Los Angeles Theatre Center/The NEW LATC (Downtown Los Angeles, managed by the Latino Theater Company). Although these spaces are not perfect in structure and need revamping they are vital to Black and Brown communities and they deserve city funding. Yet, they too must ask themselves how much access are they creating for artists in their communities to afford to rent out space? How are they assisting independent theatre artists in developing new works?

The rising cost of renting space is the number one battle theatre + independent artists are facing. Many of us are hustling – using parks, our houses, gyms, or begging to use educational spaces. Yes, everyone has to pay the rent but what can the City do to make these City-managed theatres more affordably accessible to theatre artists building new work? The conversation in theatre for a long time has been, “How do we get people into the seats? How can our audience members reflect our city?” Yet, How is the leadership and artists’ onstage inside these theatre spaces reflecting the outside community? The questions now need to be: How can we support independent theatre artists, many of whom are artists of color and already underserved, and underrepresented in the arts? How can we create accessible spaces for new independent artists? Many of us have only been surviving by the constant support we receive from our communities, consistent patrons and family and friends supporting our ideas but how do theatre artists in Los Angeles who have no support and are not being nurtured via theatre houses have the chance to rise to the next level of our field? The citizens of the state of California deserve arts access, which includes increased City and State funding that understands not all theatre artists are part of a non-profit, have fiscal sponsorship, or can show an eight or fifteen-year producing resume.

Congratulations to A Noise Within for taking a risk on its community of storytellers with Noise Now. This is a pioneering move that is leading the way to break monopoly within our theatre community. Theatre companies throughout the State should be finding ways to create programming that makes way for new voices. Although A Noise Within has no Black staff, it has taken steps to present LGBTQ, Black, and Brown artistic voices on a wider spectrum. They can do better. It is not enough to just add “diverse” programming to your season with the same Black playwrights being continuously being recycled and reused. We need to widen the lens of what theatre is and can be. That includes Center Theatre Group and Pasadena Playhouse who can risk innovative seasons by using local talent. The times are changing and artists and audiences of all backgrounds are hungry to hear new voices that capture the human spirit. It’s no secret that we are losing a generation of artists due to theatre artists having no time, space, and financial resources to imagine, experiment, develop, then share with our communities who help build the work.

We are missing theatre artists Made in LA., local playwrights writing beautiful plays, avant-garde artists daring to create socially relevant, brave new works… who should be able to get sustainable financial support for creating that work. What are the programs that are out there, and how much actual funding do they give artists? It is vital to our City that politicians find a way to say Los Angeles theatre artists matter, too. Queens, New York offers the Artists for the Creation of Original Artistic Work Grant. From Minnesota to Seattle, we’re seeing artists given the opportunity to grow and contribute their voices on a variety of local stages. What will it take for L.A theatres’ to rise to the occasion to create access and build a theatre legacy that reflects our city?

I’m also requesting all L.A City politicians to step up funding for independent theatre artists and nonprofit theatres and collectives who do not usually get any funding at all so they can risk helping new artistic voices. I’m calling on Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Governor Newsom, Senators Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris to focus, invest and fight for the arts and artists living in Los Angeles.

I’ll say it again. We are losing a generation of artists to other professional fields, or who are moving to affordable states. Or they stay and struggle to create what they can with the little resources available and their own funds. With this becoming a regular occurrence, we are not able to gauge the times accurately – a multitude of artist’s voices are not being cultivated. There are state grants available but the scope is not wide enough and the requirements can often be limiting, leaving many artists out of the application pool.

We are living in an interesting and active time. Many of us have been fighting for a long time for equality and space in theatre for so long we’ve been unable to fully breathe within the work due to stipulations and limitations. Yet, independent artists continue to break barriers and create work within a broken system. For how long will we have to do so? There are days I find myself scared, terrified that the work will not get done. That my ideas will disappear with time and fade with memory if there is not a change in how we support and nurture theatre artists.

Diep Tran recently stated in American Theatre Magazine, “The price for total and complete artistic freedom is that almost nobody makes a living wage, let alone a living, doing it. If they do, they either have personal money or they have a partner who can support them and allow them to do the work.” This is true, and if this continues to be so, we will be left with a skewed perspective of our artistic truth during the 21st century. 

How Are You Surviving

PART A
by Constance Strickland

It’s no secret that L.A housing is skyrocketing while continuing to affect the most vulnerable of our communities. Single-parent homes, college students, our elderly along with low-income households, but without pause, I will shout ARTISTS are included in this category. We are losing a generation of artists due to theatre becoming more and more inaccessible to Artists. 

We often hear of Artists living in roommate situations, working two or three side jobs, needing government assistance or worst of all, must quit creating new work, no longer able to tell stories due to an ever-expanding culture that increasingly finds new ways to silent and deem unworthy the truth seekers of our society. Boldly telling the future being an ARTIST can only be sustainable if you fit into pop culture.

I know for myself I’ve applied to hundreds of part-time jobs that end in “no’s” or the good ole, “you’re overqualified” or that magic nothingness. I’ve had to clean houses, work day labor jobs or hope I received a phone call from the long list of staffing agencies signed up with.

Yes. We are living in provocative times. Yet the voices who are trying to find the truth within the noise are being considered not worthy enough.

How do we come together to find new ways our communities can thrive, grow and reach new levels while also creating sustainability for those who try to capture the heart of the times we are living in?

How Are You Surviving

What jobs or gigs are you doing that are solely allowing you to pay bills so that you can create work, eat oh and have a roof over your head?! How are you finding time to create new work & produce your work within a constant battle of survival?  


All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Aisha Kasmir

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre.

Selfie stars Aisha Kasmir, in a cabaret revue honoring the songs of seventies sensation Minnie Riperton. It’s been forty-five years since the hit song “Lovin You” climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list and forty years since Minnie passed on. This  is an ode to  Minnie and a celebration of Aisha finding her voice and  her way back to herself through the discovery of Minne Riperton’s music. #HFF19’s Selfie promises to take you on a musical ride through self-discovery, self-love, self-actualization and accepting your true identity.

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? What led you to Fringe?

Aisha: I started sketching out this cabaret in 2016 when my vocal coach suggested I create a tribute concert to better showcase my vocals. What started as a traditional cabaret – storytelling and singing – became something more avant garde. A friend and stage manager then pushed me to try to put my show up at the Fringe Festival. 90% of the music was done, I was in the middle of writing the talking points, so I said, “It’s now or never.”

Constance: The work is now out there. How does that feel?

Aisha: It feels liberating that I’m no longer the only one hearing the genius of Minnie Riperton and her eclectic music. If at least one person per show starts streaming and downloading her music and keeps her voice alive, I’m happy.

Constance: What are you enjoying most doing your show? What has been the most surprising discovery?

Aisha: I enjoy singing those whistle tones! I guess people really like them and it gives me a heady rush every time. The most surprising discovery is how different each audience is, but I have to remain true to my story and confident in my show. I can’t change tactics because there wasn’t as big a laugh in one show versus another. I like it, and I’m not going to apologize!

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of your development process?

Aisha: Getting the music done. Minnie Riperton didn’t leave behind a lot of sheet music or even tracks, so I had to transcribe (with the help of a transcriptionist) and recreate and reproduce all the tracks with my own twist and embellishments. That part took two years to complete.

Constance: What do you hope audience members take away from your show?

Aisha: That expectations and boxes are for test takers and rule makers, and as artists, we have to break free from those constraints, and as audiences, we have to allow people to give us something different.

For more information on SELFIE in HFF19, visit https://fringemeter.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5758

Aisha Kasmir

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Chi Le

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre.

Introducing the one and only Chi Le! If you happen to be a Toy Story fan, then you most likely know and love the story of Woody and Buzz, yet are unfamiliar with the story of Sid and Andy! No worries, Chi’s got you covered in her adaptation of the Toy Story Fanfic, Under The Table And Dreaming by Holly Combs.  She’s manifested her dreams and directed the #HFF19 production, giving ALL proceeds to the LA LGBTQ Center, an organization that is close to Chi’s heart.

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? What led you to Fringe and why now?

Chi: I’ve been working on this for a year now! I had been thinking of adapting Under the Table for a long, long time, but was worried about getting a cease and desist. Then I went to see the extended run of 19 Years Later, the Cursed Child remake! It really encouraged me to just go for it since this was a fanwork that was being showcased!

Constance: The work is now out there. How does that feel?

Chi: It feels really good! When you’ve been working on something for as long as I did, sometimes you feel stuck with it or you lose sight of why you began/fell in love with it in the first place. It’s nice to receive feedback from an audience or just rediscover things about it as the process goes on.

Constance: What has been the biggest discovery doing your show? What are you enjoying most?

Chi: I’m learning a lot about what people take from the story and how difficult but rewarding it is to translate something to stage! It’s also just been such a blast working with my very talented cast, seeing how they change little things every performance and how they just really embody their characters. It’s WILD seeing that happen

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of this production?

Chi: Money. Hahahahahahahhaa.

Constance: What do you hope audience members take away from your show?

Chi: I hope that the straight audience members can see a queer story unfold that isn’t tragic or about coming out or even about being queer, necessarily — that we have rich, full lives and that our stories are just regular love stories. And for other queer folk, I hope they get some comfort in the thought of a real, true love and get to see a reflection of themselves in these works.

For more information on UNDER THE TABLE AND DREAMING in HFF19, visit https://fringemeter.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5904

Chi Le

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Odunayo Majekodunmi

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. It is with great excitement and joy, I introduce Odunayo Majekodunmi, the GIRL FROM SCHENECTADY! Odunayo’s #HFF19 show received an Honorable Mention from the Fringe. Odunayo takes us on a personal journey from her Nigerian roots to finding love in her hometown of Schnetady, NY… in the most unexpected of places. Does losing your virginity need to include true love? 

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? What led you to Fringe?

Odunayo: I started writing my show about 8 years ago. I was advised by my director, Danielle Mone’ Truitt,  to open the show at the Fringe. I started attending Fringe one-person shows in 2017 and 2018, which gave me confidence to move forward.

Constance: The work is now out there; you’ve given it away. How does that feel?

Odunayo: It feels amazing! I’m so excited to keep up my show and to continue performing it for audiences. I’m happy with the feedback that I’ve been getting; most of it is from women stating the story is very relatable and they have experienced similar situations. Audience members have also mentioned the story is funny, entertaining and heartfelt.

Constance: What are you enjoying most doing your show? What has been the biggest  discovery?

Odunayo: I am enjoying performing my show and perfecting it each time I get on stage, believing each performance  will be better than the last one. I was nervous about how men would react to the story because I didn’t want them to think it was male bashing of any kind. Luckily, I haven’t received that response from the male audiences.

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of the Fringe?

Odunayo:  Producing and marketing the show myself. Writing the script, rehearsing, finding the right director was one thing. However, deciding to produce it and pay for everything was challenging – but I’m so proud of myself that I accomplished it!

Constance: What do you hope audience members take away from your show?

Odunayo: I hope audience members are inspired, encouraged and empowered in their lives, especially in believing in true love – women in particular who have experienced any kind of pain in relationships, or just haven’t had the best luck in finding Mr. Right.

For more information on THE GIRL FROM SCHENECTADY in HFF19, visit  https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5754

Odunayo Majekodunmi