All posts by Constance Strickland

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Jil Chrissie

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. With deep pleasure and enthusiasm I introduce comedian Jil Chrissie! Jil’s one-woman show  at #HFF19, COMEDY HOE, is a one of kind public announcement, an unwavering in-depth look at womanhood, using fictional storytelling, comedic spoken word and stand-up comedy. Without fear she addresses the hyper-sexulization and adversity women face in America on a daily basis.

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

Jil: I’ve been working on Comedy Hoe for about 2 years on and off. The script includes fictional storytelling, spoken word and standup comedy. All art forms I’ve performed separately at different times of my life. I was attracted to The Hollywood Fringe festival because as a comic, I’ve produced several shows for my friends around Los Angeles. Producing with the Fringe festival this year felt like a natural progression.

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

Jil: I performed Comedy Hoe for the first time October 2018. Since then I’ve taken it to New York and back to LA in January of this year, and now the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It feels unfamiliar to be able to perform my original work so unapologetically. It’s awesome to have put together an hour I can showcase anywhere, anytime and in any era.

Constance:  What has been the biggest surprise doing your show?

Jil: Having to consistently level up in our marketing has been challenging but rewarding. My team and I are having the most fun thinking of creative ways to promote the show. We have several adds, postcards, stickers, clothing and I even made a playlist! Although we’ve been selling tickets, I am never not surprised that people in LA like paying for shows 15 mins before it starts.    

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

Jil: I’ve had to learn how to wear several hats in a small amount of time. Developing Comedy Hoe‘s brand has created budget issues and it’s been nearly impossible to find press for a show with the word “Hoe” in the title. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

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

Jil: I hope when people see my show, they leave thinking it was delightfully unexpected. The show is called Comedy Hoe, sure, but I touch on subjects like substance abuse, mental illness, stereotypes and cultural vulgarity. Although most of the show is rooted in punchlines, I want to make sure my audience leaves with something to think about.

For more information on COMEDY HOE in HFF19, visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5605

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Joy Regullano

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. With excitement I introduce Joy Regullano, a first time Fringer and fringe scholarship recipient in the house! Joy’s #HFF19 musical, SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS, is a hilarious example of following your dreams even if it breaks the dream our parents imagined for you.  

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

Joy: I had this idea kicking around in my brain for a while, but finally got down to writing it when I took a UCB class in January 2018. I had been wanting to put it in Fringe since then, but I didn’t get around to rehearsing it and getting the music written until Fringe had already passed. So I applied for the Fringe scholarship as soon as I was able to and got it! Then I was like, well, now I have to do it at the Fringe haha. It kicked my butt into gear.

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

Joy: It feels really cathartic to have written this, since it deals with a lot of family stuff I’ve been working through. It also feels really great that so many people seem to be resonating with it. Even though this is a deeply personal story, pretty much everyone has parents, and most people can understand wanting your parents to love you for who you are.

Constance:  What has been the biggest discovery or surprise doing your show?

Joy: It’s fun finding new bits every time we perform it. I’m so fortunate to have an incredibly talented cast that’s gifted in improv, so we keep it loose and fun while still keeping it tight. (Oxymoron, I know.) And it’s surprising that this piece resonates with so many people. I filled it with all my life’s specifics (I’m got tired of changing my family’s names – I’ve written so much about them), and yet people still find a lot in it that they can relate to. The standing o’s have been really surprising, and I’m so grateful!

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

Joy: It’s always hard to coordinate 7 people’s schedules, especially if the 7 people in question are actors in LA. It’s also been hard to get butts in seats–I get it, LA folks are busy. 

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

Joy: I hope that if they are parents, they learn to see and love their children for who they are instead of trying to mold them into a perfect idea of what they think their child should be. And if they’re not parents, I hope they can learn to radically accept their own parents (and really everyone in their life) for who they are. We’re all doing the best we can. We’re all only human. We’re imperfect and flawed, and that’s okay. And if they’re Broadway producers… 

For more information on SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS in HFF19, visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5601

Joy Regullano

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Shanara Sanders

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 my honor to introduce Shanara Sanders, a writer, singing femcee and creator of new content. A first-time Fringer in #HFF19 with her new show ASK A BLACK WOMAN, she is a Chicago Native who stormed into the L.A. scene  in Disney’s ALADDIN.

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

Shanara: I ran the series and podcast, “Ask a Black Woman,” since 2017, but wasn’t sure how to develop it into something more impactful. I’ve been sitting on writing the actual script ever since I saw the phenomenal “Unapologetically Black” solo show by Misty Monroe premier at HFF18.  I just had to do it! The concept of having people of all backgrounds engaging a Black Woman in real dialogue is timely in this racially charged climate we live in. HFF is perfect to express provocative and progressive content without boundaries.

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

Shanara: If I die today, I feel accomplished by producing work that I persevered to create (in so many ways!), and will leave a mark on this world.

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

Shanara: The response is the biggest discovery.  I had some doubts in the early writing stages because I knew there was no way to sugarcoat the topics. People of various backgrounds have been very receptive so far. It’s like, I’m only responsible for creating truthful art, not how others feel.

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

Shanara: The balancing act of technical/administrative/marketing vs the creative/acting side.  When you’re indie, there are limited funds, so I had to do so much myself. It was like bootcamp!  For example, just working on files for QLab and creating cue sheets my first time ever was a monster!  It took up so much time (I have over 80 audio/visual cues!).

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

Shanara: The mission of this solo show is to ponder the assumptions and actions people make toward Black Women. You are to leave with intention to implement one corrective action that affirms Black Women. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them.

For more information on ASK A BLACK WOMAN in HFF19, visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5539

Shanara Sanders

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Megh Gwinn

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 my great pleasure to introduce Megh Gwinn, writer of CATHARSIS in #HFF19. A first-time Fringer!! Her solo show was developed to process, self reflect, and digest as she states, “the (de)stabilizing effects of adoption.”   

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

Megh: I’ve been building Catharsis since February when I began devising it as a part of my final thesis at Scripps College, but most of its text comes from an essay reflection I wrote for a class two years ago. Also, this is my first time doing the Fringe! My professor and producer, Jessie Mills, suggested the festival as a way for me to engage art and theatre outside of an academic setting as a recent graduate! The ability to do art outside of my usual context gives me renewed energy and excitement to engage the world around me. Thus, the Fringe is a space for me to deepen my understanding of self and explore what types of communities I’d like to be a part of post-grad.

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

Megh: Scary! Imposter syndrome is real and I know that I’m my own worst critic. But people have been nothing but supportive and I’ve been receiving great feedback. So, this experience has also been relieving. I think the Fringe has been useful for helping me realize that I do know what I’m doing and that I am an artist.

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

Megh: I am enjoying the intimacy of the space in which I’m performing Catharsis. It makes me feel like I’m a child performing in my bedroom again! Each time I perform I have the opportunity to reflect on my words and feelings. Throughout this process, my biggest discovery is realizing that I’m not as angry at my birth mother as I was when I was younger.

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

Megh: Having just come from college, I was accustomed to sharing my world with a certain community. But, the Fringe blew that social circle wide open and it’s been a process learning to lean into vulnerability in a new social setting.

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

Megh: I hope audience members come away with reflections on their relationship to the idea of “mother” and what they’ve allowed to define them throughout their lives. And perhaps, more simply, an appreciation of the quiet ways parent-figures show love.

For more information on CATHARSIS in HFF19, visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6235

Megh Gwinn

WHO ARE YOU

WHO ARE YOU
We exist in times where we produce new work, and immediately start to network and post on social media in order to find ways for our work to be seen, expand, and grow. We become saleswomen trying to beat time, yet how often do we sit with ourselves in complete silence? Are we fully listening to ourselves?

WHO ARE YOU
There is the idea of self. For we create work that comes from within, that reflects ones fears, accomplishments, resilience against obstacles – we seek to speak about the times in which we are living. Yet is the self fully centered, capable, ready to delve deep enough to reveal actual truths of the times, not just ideas or theories? Are we being bold enough, risking enough, are we brave enough to widen and challenge conversations beyond a comfortable norm?

WHO ARE YOU
What are you truly wanting to say with your work? What’s the work worth to you in time? How does your work live long after the curtain goes down? Or does the work only matter in form now? Will the self / can the self transcend in order for the work to reach its highest level of truth?

WHO ARE YOU

4th grade Constance
Hopi Elementary School

By: Constance Strickland

Hard Lessons on Interpersonal Skills:

The act of telling stories, creating work with strangers, friends or repeated colleagues in the theatre is the greatest gift and seems at times a hard action.

The merging of ideas. The coming together to birth then share a common vision requires an artist to shed old fears, break repetitive habits and go beyond their own abilities to fuse a groups talents into a collaborative manifestation all can stand by.

Active listening, being aware of how my verbal / non verbal communication affects the group, knowing when to be assertive, as well as being able to negotiate are social skills that I continually am practicing.

I do not need to always win nor am I conforming with a loss. Instead, I’ve come to see that I am expanding/growing as a storyteller. Giving the work a chance to be great and since the work cannot be fully done alone; I’m learning to bend with the wind in all aspects of my life. That way the work stays fluid. Making sure that I do not allow fears to get in the way. Trusting the team, relying on practiced social skills and believing in what you’ve created are the first ingredients of theatre magic.


Continuing the Work when the odds seem low:

Perseverance. Patience. Old virtues we’ve heard time and time again but are hard to live by in a theatre culture of produce, produce, produce. Yet it has been in going back, consistently to these virtues over the past year, that have allowed me to not get lost in the culture nor time. Instead, they have made me stay present,  focused, and open to the work existing in increments, and honoring that sometimes a good ideas take time to reveal themselves, and to fully manifest quality work you must proceed with care.

I have been working on my new play Medea: A Soliloquy or The Death of Medea for the past five years and developing the idea from the ground up for over a year now, and at times I feel there is no way this will come into fruition. Can I develop and take my work to its next level? Does the story have the ability to engage?  Is the body the best way to tell this story? How am I going to afford rehearsal space? It is within the doubts and fears that I hear an old collaborator state, “Remember the Universe hears you, speak carefully.” So I close my eyes and see the work lives. I begin to speak aloud all that I know is possible with the body, the script and I rely on the talents of my team. I push through and move only forward with the work. Let go of what does not work. Walk away from bad advice as one need not listen to negative feedback. Stay active in your mission to complete your vision, and do only what feels right to you. Hold on to that play but don’t let it linger on a table to gather dust or sit in your files folder on your computer. I was excited for 2018 because I knew there was no giving up. I am ecstatic to be existing in 2019, for the possibilities of how the work can live are endless. Let your work be seen and heard. Be your biggest fan, bet on yourself and let the work…your work, risk failing.


Part 4: Surrender

It came to be that what was necessary was for her to jump blindly into an idea so that the words could manifest off the page, be absorbed into the body.

For she  insisted on seeking a higher understanding of what it meant to live – to exist.

Yet what came with that was hauling the weight of the memories, the moments that so delicately dissipate before our eyes.

Slowly she began to let go of control. She gave the work away. She did not let outside voices nor noise keep her work, her goals, from coming into fruition.

She shall. She will. She is.

Constance Strickland

Part 3: Doing the Work

When she finally rose from the ground, her body lifted, she stood tall –

She found herself walking, laughing in a room filled with friends. Some new, then there were those who had always been.

She found a way to live without the fear and suffocation of failure.

She now allowed herself to enter that space of calm. Gave permission for her ideas to simmer, executed them with time.

She’s come to understand what it means to live by ritual.

She knows how much she can bear.

Constance Strickland

Part 2: Finding Your Tribe

As the sun shined through the kitchen window she could see her reflection flickering against the wall.

The light now a bit closer to reach… to touch.

Pieces of broken glass stuck to her hair. Dried blood stained her fingers.

Night had become day.

After hours had gone by she lifted her head –

she could now breathe.

Her hands raw –

she crawled down the stairs,

she crawled across the rough carpet,

she crawled outside onto the cold cement –


 

 

 

 

 

 

She crawled not knowing where she was going.

She crawled until she was able to carry her own weight.

She crawled until she realized she was not alone.

 

 

 

 

Constance Strickland