All posts by Jennie Webb

New on the LA FPI Podcast: “What She Said” – Alyson Mead with Inda Craig-Galván

Inda Craig-Galván

August, 2018

Alyson Mead interviews playwright Inda Craig-Galván about questionable mothers, Carrie as a role model, and a better Scott Baio. The Playwrights’ Arena premiere of  I Go Somewhere Else plays at the Atwater Village Theater through September 17th.

 

Listen In!



What conversations do you want to have? Send your suggestions for compelling female playwrights or theater artists working on LA stages to Alyson Mead at lafpi.podcast@gmail.com, then listen to “What She Said.”

Click Here for More LA FPI Podcasts

#HFF18 #FringeFemmes: Making It Count

by Jennie Webb

Well, this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival is over… although the energy is still palpable along Theatre Row, what with the great group of shows extended in Encore! performances through July.

And, yeah, there are SO many shows that I missed during #HFF18, which I swore I’d catch if they were extended but… Argh. July was supposed to be saner than June!

But enough of that. (Why are we always obsessed about what we don’t manage to do?)

This year during the Fringe, as in years past, the work and camaraderie of women artists was pretty damn impressive. Those amazing Fringe Femmes wasted no time kicking ass big time. So great seeing LA FPI badges and logos all over the place in June – thank you for all the love!

Also great to be able to give LA FPI’s “Most Wanted Awards” again at the HFF18 Awards Ceremony to venues who staged 50% or more works by women onstage during the Fringe. (Many thanks to fabulous presenters Fiona Lakeland and Katt Balsan, and Olivia Butaine and Lisa K. Wyatt who helped tally to find this year’s figures!)

Fiona Lakeland & Katt Balsan – Thx Matt Kamimura for this super shot!

And now, the numbers.

The “Most Wanted” Awards went to 12 venues this year: 2nd Stage, Actors Company, Art of Acting Studio, Assistance League Playhouse, Lounge Theatre, Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, Studio C, studio/stage, The Broadwater, The New Collective, Theatre of NOTE and Thymele Arts.

Also pretty pleased that 70% of the community-voted “Fringe Freak” Awards went to works created by women. And 53% of the Sponsored Awards were given to femme-penned projects, including “Fort Huachuca” by Ailema Sousa, receiving The Inkwell Playwright’s Promise Award.

And then there were the overall numbers. This year, 49% of the scripted Fringe shows were written by women.

So a big yay there, considering the year-round #LAThtr average is probably still around 20%.

But I was a bit bummed that we didn’t hit 50%, a bar we’ve reached for the last two years. Hmph. Sure, the percentage is up from 39%, when we started counting. And I don’t know if 49% vs. 50% is statistically significant; last year we did hit 52%. However, as far as I’m concerned, it’s an important reminder: We still have work to do, ladies… and allies!

Right. We, as theatermakers, must make a conscious effort to put more diversity onstage. And we, as artists, must take positive action so that untold stories are heard and celebrated, in all shapes and forms.

Because here’s another number: only 47% of the Producers’ Encore! Awards, with extensions, went shows by female playwrights. Grrr.

So who’s with me? We continue to spread the #FringeFemmes energy & support each other as a community throughout the year so that we get our voices out there, and our plays into the hands of decision-makers!

Aaron Saldana & Kelly Egan at Theatre of NOTE (proudly displaying a “Most Wanted” Award – love it!)

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: I Came to Make Noise

by Chris Farah

Quick peeks at #HFF18’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Carrie Mikuls

WHAT: I Came to Make Noise

WHERE: Lounge Theatre 1 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. LA, CA 90038

WHY: Hurry! Only 1 more performance left of this fringe diversity scholarship winning feminist show! Powerfully blending beautiful choreography, spoken word and a fierce yet supportive beatboxer, I Came to Make Noise speaks to the struggle, diversity and universality of the American woman. Get tickets now for Saturday, June 23, 6:00 PM and you can get 20% off with discount code: MAKENOISE

HOW: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4903

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: The Runaway Clone

by Chris Farah

Quick peeks at #HFF18’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Pam Eberhardt

WHAT: The Runaway Clone

WHERE: The Broadwater (Second stage) 6320 Santa Monica Blvd

WHY: In the textbook definition of an absurd, wickedly funny and original fringe musical, writer/actress Pam Eberhardt shines as mad supervillian CEO of “The Agency,” Laura, who matches people with clones. Then one day newish clone Margot, played by the vocally gifted Katharine Washington, starts to have memories of her original life and escapes. What ensues is mayhem, catchy counterpoint songs, and fabulously snappy dialogue, all in a fast-paced rollercoaster as each character’s wants and dreams collide. You don’t want to miss this show!

HOW: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5208

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#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Charlotte’s World

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF18’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO​: Fiona Lakeland 

WHAT: Charlotte’s World or The Lone Terrarium

WHERE: Theatre of NOTE

WHAT​: There is something special about walking into a tiny theatre knowing you are about to see a new work created in the DIY style. This is how theatre magic manifests, in simple sets, props created by the actor, a body willing to walk into the unknown… the non-predictable physical journey is thrilling. This is what Fiona gives to her work, gives to her audience: All of herself. All of her fears. All of her excitement.

Even the way her right hand shakes in a moment reveals an indescribable energy that travels and affects the heart in a subtle way. I swear your breath will find stillness as you witness a swing, swaying back and forth onstage.  Even without Fiona sitting upon the swing, it takes you back to the days of your childhood when you ran free with no worries, and fears never settled in the mind too long. You didn’t need to think about it,  it just was a way of living… because you believed anything was possible. You didn’t have to seek out confirmation or read daily affirmations that you would be all right. You just knew you could do anything once you put your mind to it! What a gorgeous reminder for the adult heart, mind and soul.

Go witness. Go live in Charlotte’s World! I even have the audacity to say this is the Spirit of Fringe 2018.

HOW: To purchase tickets and learn more about the play visit http://hff18.org/5006

 

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Play On!

by Chris Farah

Quick peeks at #HFF18’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Laura Jo Trexler

WHAT: Play On! A Musical Romp with Shakespeare’s Heroines

WHERE: The Hobgoblin Playhouse (Main Stage) 6520 Hollywood Blvd.

WHY: Laura Jo commands a stage with this nuanced and beautifully simple show full of original songs based on Shakespeare’s women. She bounces from the minds and desires of sweet Juliet (“I Shouldn’t Look at You”), to saucy Olivia (“Let’s Get a Room”), then delivers an unrelentingly devious and desperate Lady Macbeth Monologue in what feels like one long swimmer’s breath. With abundant ease and passionate soul, this master pianist/songwriter/vocalist/actress has created a fringe show NOT TO BE MISSED. I am a fan, you will be too and you’ll want her CD too. Get thee to Hobgoblin Playhouse for her last three performances!

HOW: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5402

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Fort Huachuca

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF18’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO​: Ailema De Sousa

WHAT​: Fort Huachuca

WHERE: The Complex Theatres, 6448 Santa Monica Blvd

WHY: This is a play that quietly sneaks up on you. The dialogue,  fresh and natural,  starts to feel as though you’re secretly binging on your favorite tv show, too late at night with popcorn. The cast of actors  – Nicole De Sousa, Natalia Elizabeth, Ashlee Olivia Jones, Resheda D. Terry, Ailema De Sousa, Darnell Williams, Charles Nkrumah Jr. and Benjamin Colbourne – throw themselves into this beautiful play and your heart feels it for a long time after. Fort Huachuca is a specific military history unknown to quite a few, which is what makes this play by Sousa so very special. Sousa’s play takes the viewer into the lives of five African-American women who served as nurses during World War II on an Arizona Army base.

There is something uplifting about seeing these wonderful actresses onstage who happen to all be Black women. As the songs are sung, the use of light sweeps you into their world immediately. A play that allows each actress to showcase herself while being a true ensemble piece is not easy, but director Amen Igbinosun manages to execute this. I was born and raised in Arizona and never once did I hear about these women’s contributions; that is why this story is necessary. It does not allow the stories of the women of Fort Huachuca to disappear and go untold. It shines a bright light on them and the actresses bask in the glory of this intimate history. As I walked out of the theatre back into the world I could not find words instead only a history of tears streamed down my face.

HOW: To purchase tickets and learn more about the play visit http://hff18.org/4897

 

The FPI Files: Femmes Working It Onstage and Off at Theatre of NOTE

 by Desireé York

A production composed of bad-ass broads on and off the stage?  We are there!  LA FPI caught up with playwright Gina Femia and asked her about her play For The Love Of (or the roller derby play)receiving its  West Coast Premiere of at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood, directed by Rhonda Kohl with an all-female cast and design team.  Come join the brawl!

LA FPI: Did you set out to write a play with an all-woman cast?

Gina Femia:  Yes, I absolutely did!  My one regret was not being able to fit in a tenth woman to make it an even number which is why it’s so thrilling that Rhonda had the brilliant idea to add Refs as characters to bring the total up to 14!  I always knew that I wanted to write a play about a female roller derby team and, as it was a sports play, knew that it should have a larger than average cast.  It was important for me to have a cast of women because representation matters and we need more plays that have large casts for women which contain fun, meaty, deep roles for them to inhabit.

LA FPI: With such a diverse cast of characters, was it your intention to give as many women from different walks of life a voice?

Playwright Gina Femia

Gina: Feminism needs to be intersectional and I wanted to include as many voices as possible.  I also wanted the team to be an accurate representation of people who live in Brooklyn, from age to race to interests and class. I think every play should be as diverse as this one so we can continue to give as many women as possible opportunities to have their voices represented in theatre.

LA FPI: Does all this bad ass roller derby action come from personal experience?

Gina: I have never played roller derby; I am actually one of the most least athletic women on the planet!  But I am a huge fan of roller derby.  Within the first second of seeing my first game, I fell in love with everything about it.  The sport is jam-packed and action-filled, but one of the most exciting things about it is seeing powerful women being powerful.

LA FPI: How did you come up with the brilliant idea to portray the roller derby sequences using dance?

Crystal Diaz, Cassandra Blair, Alina Phelan (& company) in FOR THE LOVE OF. Photo by Darrett Sanders

Gina: My intention was never for actors to be on roller skates; it’s just too dangerous and I think would be ultimately distracting from the play.  But it was always important to me for physicality to be represented in some way.  The sport is a physical sport and I needed that to be part of the play. I wanted the dance to move the action forward, just like how action moves a derby bout forward.  We don’t often get the chance to see women be physical on stage and I’m thrilled this play gives us a chance to witness that

LA FPI: What inspired this play?

Gina: Aside from roller derby, I really wanted to write a love story about a person coming into herself.  I think it’s important that we don’t define ourselves by the relationships we are in; we shouldn’t stay with a person because we’re used to them.  If they’re keeping us from growing, or if we are keeping them from doing the same, then we should let them go.

LA FPI: What would you like audiences to take away with them from this play?

Gina: Roller derby is a fun sport and there’s a lot of fun to be had during the course of this play (and Rhonda has definitely made it a FUN production!).  But I also hope audiences take away some personal inspiration; we are all always fighting for something.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember why we follow the passions we have, but if it’s something that makes you happy – I think that’s a reason we should fight for it.

Gina Femia with FOR THE LOVE OF cast and crew Opening Night at NOTE

For more information and tickets to FOR THE LOVE OF (or, the roller derby play) visit theatreofnote.com

Know a female or FPI-friendly theater, company or artist? Contact us at lafpi.updates@gmail.com & check out The FPI Files for more stories.

Want to hear from more women artists? Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to LA FPI!

Donate now!

Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of LA FPI must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.

#LAThtr Check-Ins: GLAM

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at the work of women onstage in LA, by fellow female theater artists.  Click Here for all Check-Ins.

WHO: Ripley Improv (Madi Goff, Laurie Jones, Kelly Lohman, Sara Mountjoy-Pepka, Aliza Pearl, Amanda Troop & Jessica Lynn Verdi)

WHAT: GLAM aka “The Gorgeous Ladies of Arm Matches”

WHEN: Saturdays at 10:30pm in March & April

WHERE: Impro Studios

WHY:  Upon entrance into Impro Studios there is a feeling of excitement that begins in your solar plexus and wiggles it way down to your toes, an antsy anticipation for what you know is going to be a thrilling ride. Ripley Improv does not disappoint with GLAM! Based off the hit Netflix series GLOW, GLAM is directed by Laurie Jones and features a talented group of actors – who happen to all be women – delivering on-the-spot storylines and characters that are funny, heartbreaking as well as audacious and brave. It comes as no surprise that you find yourself rooting for them all and forgetting this live show is NOT scripted ahead of time, while dancing in your seat to a wicked ‘80s soundtrack. We are living in most exciting times, where we get to see women not needing to water down who they are, creating stories with their own voices on their own terms! Go support the women of GLAM – you’ll walk out a bit taller.

HOW: ripleyimprov.com/shows/ 

The FPI Files: “Fiery Feminism” and Comedy Collaborate in DENIM DOVES

 by Desireé York

In our current political climate, we need theatre more than ever.  Theatre can reflect the challenges of our current reality or it can invite audiences to escape it.

Let’s hear from artists who seem to find a way to do both, like playwright Adrienne Dawes and director Rosie Glen-Lambert, in Denim Doves produced by Sacred Fools, just extended through February 23, 2018 at the Broadwater Mainstage.

LA FPI:  What inspired this piece?

Adrienne Dawes

Adrienne Dawes:  Denim Doves began as a devised piece with Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin, TX.  We started building the play around the summer of 2013, around the time of the Wendy Davis filibuster.  It was a gross sort of spectator sport to watch Democratic senators try for nearly 13 hours to block a bill that would have implemented some of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the country.  My friends and I felt so incredibly angry… We poured all those feelings, all that “fiery feminist rage,” into creating a new piece.

We knew we couldn’t just scream at an audience for 75 minutes, so very early in the process, we played within comedic structures.  How could we sneak very serious conversations into very silly premises?  Dick jokes became the sort of “Trojan Horse” into talking about intersectional feminism, fluid identities and an oppressive government that considers female bodies as a commodity.  We drew inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Suzette Haden Elgin’s novel “Native Tongue” (specifically for her use of the feminist language Laadan), YouTube videos of hand bell choirs, and finger tutting choreography.

LA FPI:  Rosie, what attracted you to directing this play?

Rosie Glen-Lambert

Rosie Glen-Lambert:  I am always on the hunt to direct work that gives a voice to women, queer folk, non-binary folk, people of color and anyone who feels like their “type” isn’t typically represented in casting ads.

But beyond providing a platform to diverse performers, I have a particular attraction to plays that allow anyone besides white men to be “the funny one.”  I believe wholeheartedly in the power of comedy.  I think it’s a great way to unpack an issue that is challenging or to permeate a hard, un-listening exterior.

LA FPI: How does music play a role in this piece?

Adrienne: Denim Doves is more of a “play with music” than musical.  There are specific musical moments that scratch the surface and reveal the darker, more sinister aspects of this world.  Cyndi Williams is an amazing performer, playwright and lyricist who was part of the original devising team (she originated the role of First Wife).  Cyndi’s writing is incredibly rich and unique.  She brings a very serious, Southern Gothic quality that gives us a nice contrast to the lighter, bawdy stuff I bring. Erik Secrest composed the original score (and originated the role of First Son) that was performed by the original cast with church hand bells, the electric guitar and a drum kit that was hidden in plain sight onstage.

For the LA production, Sacred Fools collaborated with composer Ellen Warkentine to develop new music.  It was wild to hear those old songs in a completely different way.  I hope to find more opportunities to collaborate with female composers in the future.

Meg Cashel, Janellen Steininger and Teri Gamble in “Denim Doves” – Jessica Sherman Photography

LA FPI: We love supporting femme-centric projects. What has this experience been like, working with a female majority including writer, director, cast and crew?

Rosie:  An unbelievable privilege. Here’s the thing: I believe wholeheartedly that gender is a construct.  I believe that men can be soft and compassionate and women can be strong and authoritative.  I believe that anyone, regardless of where they fall on the gender spectrum, has the ability to behave in any manner they choose; that how you identify or what you were assigned at birth is not the determining factor in your behavior.

With that being said, many women and femmes are socialized in such a way where they are often allowed to be softer and more empathetic, where men tend to be socialized to disconnect from emotion and consider those qualities as weak.  This means that a rehearsal room that is full of women and femmes is often a room that is full of people who are willing to tap into emotion and create a space that is safe and welcoming.  A room where someone can say “actually I don’t think my body is capable of doing what you are describing” and rather than a room of people rolling their eyes and a caff’d up male director yelling “just do it,” the team is able to slow down, consider this person’s perspective, and enthusiastically find a solution.

I think that we as humans are all capable of working in this manner, and I believe that by allowing women and femmes to lead by example men are changing their perspective on what a theatrical process should look like.

Adrienne:  I was absent for much of the  rehearsal process (I’m currently living in Tulsa, OK for a writing residency) but I can say that the rehearsal rooms and processes where I felt I made the most sense have always been led by women+ and people of color.  Those are the rooms where I feel like I belong, where I feel like all my differences (all the many ways I am different) are seen as strengths.  It’s a huge relief to feel safe and like my voice can be heard without having to yell over another person.  In most rooms, it feels like a fight for survival, a fight to belong or to prove yourself.  I prefer a room where I feel like my voice is needed and valued.

LA FPI: Amidst today’s politics, what would you like audiences to take away with them?

Rosie:  The art that has come out of this past year reflects our national desire to unpack and discuss this past election, and our political climate.  This desire is constant, and yet it is exhausting.  People who are protected by privilege are able to, at times, disconnect from the insanity and say “I feel overwhelmed, I don’t want to be sad anymore.”  And while that is a natural inclination, not everyone is able to make the choice to tap out.  Those whose bodies are inherently politicized are never allowed a day off; they are never able to just not be black, or trans, or latinx, or a woman for the day.  I believe that this play in particular – which begins farcically, raucously, and which, full disclosure, is just plain riddled with dick jokes – has the potential to trick someone who would never seek out something as serious as the “Handmaid’s Tale” and make them reflect on their privilege and invigorate them to recommitting themselves to a more active dedication to social change.  I want people to get in their cars, drive home, kick off their shoes, and wonder if what they are doing is enough.

Adrienne:  I hope we can make audiences laugh.  I hope to give audiences some relief, some escape from the trash fire that is our current political climate.  I also hope that even inside this extremely absurd world, audiences recognize how harmful misogyny and strict gender-based rules/expectations are for everyone.  Everyone is hurt, everyone is affected.  We imagine a future rebellion that mirrors past resistance movements, one that is led by people of color and trans/queer/non-binary people.

Tyler Bremer, Meg Cashel, Lana Rae Jarvis, Teri Gamble and Jennie Kwan in “Denim Doves” – Jessica Sherman Photography

For more information and tickets to Denim Doves, visit:  http://www.sacredfools.org/mainstage/18/denimdoves/

 

Know a female or FPI-friendly theater, company or artist? Contact us at lafpi.updates@gmail.com & check out The FPI Files for more stories.

Want to hear from more women artists? Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to LA FPI!

Donate now!

Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of LA FPI must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.