Category: Fringe Festival

#FringeFemmes & #HFF16 Huzzahs

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!

Chris Farah at 2016 HFF Awards

Thanks to A Little New Music for this great shot of Chris Farah at the #HFF16 Awards!

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.)

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#FringeFemmes Check-In: Cowboy Mouth

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes


WHO: Patti Smith & Sam Shepard

WHAT: Cowboy Mouth

WHERE: The New Collective

WHY:

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.

HOW: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/3779

Cowboy Mouth

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Sexy Maus

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes


WHO: Andrea Schell

WHAT: Sexy Maus

WHERE: Sacred Fools Studio

WHY:

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!

HOW: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/3612

SEXY MAUS HFF AD.001

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Lolita, Daisy, Ophelia: A Love Story

by Chris Farah

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes

 

 

 

WHO: Leah Artenian, Sophia Brackenridge, Savannah Gilmore

WHAT: Lolita, Daisy, Ophelia: A Love Story

WHERE: Ruby Theatre at The Complex

WHY:

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.

HOW: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/3362

Lolita Daisy Ophelia A Love Story

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Infinite Expectation of the Dawn

by Kate Motzenbacker

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes

 

WHO: L. Nicol Cabe

WHAT: Infinite Expectation of the Dawn

WHERE: Actors Company

WHY:

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.

HOW: http://hff16.org/3245

Infinite Expectation of the Dawn

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Occupation

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes


WHO: Merri Biechler

WHAT: Occupation

WHERE: Asylum @ 6470

WHY:

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.)

HOW: http://hff16.org/3709

Ocupation online ad

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: My Big Fat Blonde Musical

by  Dana Leigh Lyman

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes


WHO: Theresa Stroll and Bobby Glynn

WHAT: My Big Fat Blonde Musical

WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater (Black Box)

WHY:

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.

HOW: http://hff16.org/3674

BigFatMusical

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Being Martin Shkreli

by Kate Motzenbacker

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes


WHO: Sarah Rosenberg

WHAT: Being Martin Shkreli

WHERE: Ruby Theatre at The Complex

WHY:

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.

HOW: http://hff16.org/3840

Being Shkreli

 

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: My Mañana Comes

by Kate Motzenbacker

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF16 female playwrights, “Women on the Fringe,” by Fringe Femmes who’re behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins.

Fringe Femmes

 

WHO: Elizabeth Irwin

WHAT: My Mañana Comes

WHERE: @FountainTheatre

WHY:

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. 

HOW: http://hff16.org/3657

MY MANANA ad 2 copy

5 Things Learned from the Other Side of the Footlights

by Kitty Felde

I started out as an actor. For ten years, I’d drive the freeways of Los Angeles for auditions for commercials and sitcoms, spending my evenings onstage in tiny theatres all over town. When I hit my 30’s, the jobs for women started drying up and I put my heart into the writing.

Now, decades later, I’m back on stage – again, driving all over town to perform on small stages, this time in Washington, DC instead of Los Angeles. It’s great fun. But I’m finding I’m learning more about the writing from the other side of the footlights.

As playwrights, nothing helps like hearing our words out loud – whether it’s a group of friends, happy with many bottles of wine and beer, who read a new draft in the living room; or onstage, standing behind music stands, before a small audience for a staged reading. Hearing those words spoken out loud is a completely different experience than staring at them on a laptop screen.

But now that I’m memorizing someone else’s lines, standing on stage, exposing my inner actor to the world, I’m finding new lessons in playwriting. I’m in a new play by a fine writer, D.W. Gregory called “Salvation Road” – the tale of a college kid trying to rescue his sister from a cult. I play the hip Catholic nun Sister Jean – part mentor, part nudge, battling her bishop and “that vow of obedience thing.”

Here’s what I’m learning about playwriting from the experience:

1 – Specific lines that are hard to memorize are usually because the actor can’t find a connection between what happens directly before the line and what happens after.

I watch this happen in rehearsal over and over again. There’s always one line that every actor stumbles over every time. Why? The logic of the lines is clear to the writer, but not to the actor.

Note to my playwright self: watch for these lines, rewrite to make the connections clear. Actors aren’t sitting with you at the computer, following your logic.

2 – Watch out for repetition.

My Skype playwriting pal Ellen Struve always says we writers say things three times – just in case the audience isn’t listening. True.

In rehearsal, there are certain words or phrases that are used repeatedly – toxic and hypocrite come to mind. They are perfectly fine words for a playwright to use – strong and clear words. But an actor’s brain scrambles them and the lines are often transposed from one scene to the next.

Note to my playwright self: look at repetition, but don’t let lazy actors be the reason you change them if that’s the word you need.

And yes, an audience sometimes does need to hear something three times.

3 – Actors hate stage directions. And punctuation. Especially punctuation.

I know as a writer, I want my lines to be performed the way that I hear them in my head. How do you communicate that to an actor? Sentence structure and punctuation can help.

As an actor, this is driving me crazy! My phrasing of a thought doesn’t want to come to a halt at the period in a particular sentence. I want to let this character speak the way she wants to speak! But I’m an actor, not a writer and it’s my job to bring the script to life the way the writer wants it. Sigh.

Note to my playwriting self: Trust your actors to bring meaning to your words.

4 – Acting is more difficult than writing.

I don’t really believe this. Writing, staring at that blank screen, battling all the demons that scream at you inside your head that you have no talent, nothing to say, and your play will never get produced anyway – that’s hard. Coming up with believable characters and scenes and a satisfying ending? That’s even harder.

But acting is hard work, too. I forgot how difficult memorization can be! And standing up in front of an audience is nerve wracking! I had my first Equity audition in decades and went up on my lines! I hadn’t been that nervous in forever. And there’s that baring one’s soul business. It’s easier to do it while typing than saying it out loud.

Note to playwriting self: when the writing is tough, remind yourself that nobody’s watching you fail in real time. It’s just you and the machine. The audience – and the critics – are a million miles away.

5 – It’s still all about that time in the rehearsal room.

It’s always been my favorite part of theatre. Yes, I love the opening night applause, overhearing the chatter at intermission, getting flowers when my husband remembers to get them. But the real joy in theatre – both as an actor AND as a playwright – is the work in that rehearsal room. “An effemeral art” as Cash Peters described it – here today and gone at the end of the evening. But what magic happens in that room! That’s the joy of the theatre.

Note to playwriting self: find more opportunities to BE in that rehearsal room. Get back in the regular habit of sending out plays. Self-produce. Find other writers who need a reading. Volunteer to read for them.

Note to acting self: see above.

“Salvation Road” opens Saturday, July 11 at the Capitol Fringe Festival in Washington, DC.

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