Category: Fringe Festival

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: In the Valley of the Shadow

by Terry Holzman

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF17 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:  Katherine Cortez

WHAT:  In the Valley of the Shadow

WHERE:  Rogue Machine at the MET

WHY:  Not all of Fringe can be fun-and-games. Audiences (like me!) adore fun but we also want theater that helps us to understand what’s going on IRL (in real life).  This thought-provoking world premier ensemble drama was inspired by the 2016 shootings at the LGBT Pulse nightclub in Orlando on “Latin Night” in which 49 (mostly Latino) people were murdered by a single gunman.  The play explores how “fundamental belief systems can give a perverse inspiration to the execution of hate in the name of ‘love’.”

The play opens in chaos—projections of people dancing are quickly replaced by screams and panic.  Something horrific has happened and I was on the edge of my seat as the layers of what happened slowly unfold.  The focus is on Rafi (short for Raphael), a handsome, young man in a blood-spattered t-shirt who grimly stares into the distance.  He’s in shock, trying to understand and piece together the events of the evening.  Carmen, another survivor, shuffles in, missing a shoe.  A gentle detective arrives to comfort them, along with a uniformed cop (who is more judgmental than comforting).  Eventually Rafi’s fundamentalist Christian mother comes to take Rafi home and though she’s ecstatic her son is alive, she cannot contain the multitudes of bias she holds within.

Rafi also takes us into his recent past.  Questioning his sexuality and how he came to be at the Pulse nightclub that night and meeting a man there who is not who he seems.  In Rafi’s memory, we meet his eclectic club friends; foremost is Enrique (a hot, Latin charmer Rafi encounters at an AA meeting).  All good drama contains a mystery and this play has many.  The obvious question is: “Where’s Enrique?”  Rafi will not leave until he finds his lover and I was holding my breath, waiting…

The title comes from Psalm 23:4  “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me…” and refers to a Higher Power’s presence during death; but Katherine Cortez gives it another meaning—finding strength in love, all love. “Love is Love is Love” one of the characters says.   Cortez’s writing is entertaining, and thought-provoking. A good thing as I was afraid a play based on such a tragedy could be depressing.  And yes, it stirs up “the feels”, posits many questions, and  calls out for more understanding—from the characters and the audience.  And while the story made me sad, angry, and challenged, I was never depressed.  I felt the “thin edge of the wedge” of hope, hope that things can change with love.

There is much humor to balance the horror, especially among the supporting characters, including a laughing-through-her-tears compassionate trans woman.  Five actors played dual roles—each one wildly different from the other. (Especially impressive was Tania Verafield who plays the quiet Carmen but who quickly flips her hair to expose a shaved temple.  She adds a long feathered earring and fully embodies butch bartender Hawk.)  Special kudos to the Femme production members Heather Tyler (producer), Elina De Santos (director), Stephanie Kerley (set—her clever use of the standing set for Rogue Machine’s current production is outstanding).

One final note:  There will be a special performance and reception on the one-year marker of the Pulse nightclub tragedy on Sunday, June 11, 7:30 pm.  Proceeds will benefit the LGBT Center.  Parking at the MET is difficult, give yourself time to get there.  Your patience will be rewarded.

 HOW:  http://hff17.org/4749

 

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Tough Brown Leather

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF17 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: Tonya Jones

WHAT: Tough Brown Leather

WHERE: Lounge Theatre

WHY: In a time when women are refusing to have their voices silenced and refuse to have their stories told for them, Tough Brown Leather is a testament to the powerful mantra: my time, my way. This solo show poetically takes us through the journey of a carefree little girl in love with
football to a woman who must learn to face her past while accepting her sexual self. Tonya uses her body, football and comedy to reflect upon a pain that often quietly eats away pieces of oneself. Tonya thrives and overcomes – using her voice to heal not only herself but, without knowing, other women who’ve also faced sexual assault. An inspirational theatre ride that Tonya owns with bravura. GO!

HOW: http://hff17.com4588

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Herpes: A Love Story

by Terry Holzman

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF17 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: Cherise Pascual

WHAT: Herpes: A Love Story

WHERE: studio/stage

WHY: When I was handed a pink poncho and a condom—branded with the show’s name—along with the program (featuring a picture of the star dressed as a fluffy herpes lesion), I immediately thought “ahhhh, I’m at the Fringe.”

I use the word “branded” intentionally, because that’s how Cherise Pascual (aka “Cherry Cola”) the high-octane star and writer of this inventive solo show felt after being diagnosed with herpes. Sexual secrets are hard to reveal and even though it seems that “everyone has herpes now,” Cherise kept her herpes under wraps for a long time. As she says “herpes isn’t fatal, but it nearly killed me.” Her secret lead to substance abuse, fear of relationships, long-term celibacy, poor self-esteem and self-deprecation. Finally, to forgive herself, to survive, to live a life free of guilt, Cherise HAD to tell her story and she tells it with incredible humor, theatricality, and most importantly, a brave heart.

Directed by the “solo-show whisperer” Jessica Lynn Johnson, the charismatic “Cherry Cola” uses musical parody, projected images, hilarious props; she impersonates boyfriends, doctors, and her mother; and breaks the fourth wall to talk with the audience, all on her journey from self-hate to self-love. I was glad to be along for the ride. (PS: I won’t tell you what the poncho is for….you’ll have to go see for yourself.)

HOW: hff17.org/4504

 

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Why We Become Witches

by Terry Holzman

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF17 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:  Kate Motzenbacker and Sal Nicolazzo

WHAT:  Why We Become Witches

WHERE:  Sacred Fools Studio

WHY:  This one-woman show was adapted from the novel “Lolly Willowes; or the Loving Huntsman” by Sylvia Townsend Warner and was a sensation when it was first published in 1926. Its feminist message is just as relevant 91 years later.

Lisa Wyatt plays Laura “Aunt Lolly” Willowes, an aging English spinster who struggles to break free of her controlling family.   Lisa is fascinating to watch as she slowly draws us into Lolly’s life: an endless round of taking care of others.  There’s a clever dimension of the supernatural as Lolly “tunes in” to her family’s comments, demands and criticisms through a radio.  It’s a little harder however, to “tune them out” as they constantly tell Lolly what she “should” be doing, where and how she should be living. I liked that the recorded voices emanated through an old “cathedral-style” radio (my grandmother had one just like it) which gives the voices a dose of spiritual gravitas.

And all Lolly wants is to be left alone!  She wants to leave London and move to the small village of Great Mop (population 227), where she can have a small house “and a donkey!” She eventually moves to countryside but soon after, her nephew visits and decides to stay.  While out walking, she meets Satan and strikes a pact.  I loved Lolly’s observation that “all women are witches….and even if they never do anything with their witchcraft, they know it’s there.”

Lolly Willowes appealed for a “life of one’s own” three years before Virginia Woolf called for her own room.  Kudos to Kate and Sal for finding this gem of a story and adapting into a poetic theater piece.

HOW:  http://hff17.org/4700

 

 

 

 

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Hey Hollywood, My Hustle Has ADHD

by Chris Farah

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF17 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: Rasika Mathur

WHAT: HEY HOLLYWOOD, MY HUSTLE HAS ADHD

WHERE: Lounge Theatre

WHY:
In this diversity scholarship winning show, Indian-American actress, improviser, and rapper Rasika (pronounced “Ross-ika”) takes us on her artist’s journey in Hollywood as she struggles with ADHD as well as finding relief in her diagnosis. This is a powerhouse one lady show where Rasika explodes with energy and commitment (until she gets distracted) but then dropping back in for sheer moments of brilliance. Anyone dealing with feelings of ineptitude in a town where everyone is working for their big break will find this show resounding. Also, for any fringers wanting to support females of color, YOU CANNOT MISS THIS SHOW.

HOW: http://hff17.com/4536

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Missmatch

by Jennifer Ashe

Quick peeks at the work of #HFF17 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: Amanda Conlon

WHAT: Missmatch

WHERE: The Actors Company

WHY:

Amanda Conlon takes us on a hilarious musical journey into the hell known as online dating. She is surrounded by supportive women, a judgmental mother, a loving gay roommate and the worst of humanity that only the internet could put together. The music is familiar but the lyrics are all hers. You know where she’s going as the first bar begins but that makes it all the funnier. Today, meeting a potential partner through natural interaction seems a thing of the past as she sings literally about not touching another human being. I laughed out loud as did the woman next to me till she cried “This is my life right now!”

HOW: http://hff17.com/4339

Finding Your Fringe

By Anna Nicholas

In late January, I traveled to Portland, Oregon to see a short play of mine debut at Fertile Ground (http://fertilegroundpdx.org), what Portlandia calls its theatrical fringe festival. Fringe festivals exist in most major cities these days and provide writers, directors and performers of all types, a way to get their work seen. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a pipeline to production, it’s time to consider being on the fringe.

I am a bi-city kind of woman these days, with work in Los Angeles and in Portland, and thus I qualify to submit (Fertile Ground, unlike some fringe festivals, only accepts submissions from those with local ties). Since many Angelenos have ties elsewhere, you too may find yourself with the ability to submit work to fringe festivals outside of LA as well.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (https://www.edfringe.com ) is the great mother of theatre festivals. Her origins are humble and date to the 1940s when three London based theatre companies ventured north to Scotland to put on works “on the fringe” of the official Edinburgh International Festival. The “fringe” at the time referred to both geography and subject matter. Since then, Edinburgh has steadily grown to become what a recent edition of The Dramatist magazine intimated was such a huge festival, with so many offerings that it had become overwhelming for both participant and audience member. One woman interviewed said it would be impossible without a cocktail.

Edinburgh’s success has also spawned similar festivals around the world, which are, thankfully, of more manageable size, including Fertile Ground, which began in 2009, and the Hollywood Fringe, (http://www.hollywoodfringe.org) which debuted in 2010 with 130 shows. In 2016, that number swelled to 296, while this year’s Portland fringe was just behind that with 295 works presented.  Both festivals are unjuried; meaning  if your show meets the specs (not too hard) and you pay your fees, you’re in!

Unlike Fertile Ground, anyone anywhere can submit to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, though it still attracts a predominantly SoCal contingent of artists (there is a deep pack of talent here, after all).  But if you want to try your luck elsewhere, similar fests happen annually in San Diego, Tucson, DC, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta,  Chicago, Providence, NYC, Cincinnati, and the list continues to grow.  I’m an advocate of not waiting around for someone to discover your work, put a team together for a fringe festival. And by the way, submissions for Hollywood Fringe 2017 are now open.

 

 

Anna Nicholas is a published novelist (The Muffia Series, Homegrown: The Terror Within), produced playwright (Buddha Belly, Petting Zoo Story, Villa Thrilla, Theatre in the Dark, Incunabula) and actress. More info at: annanicholas.com

 

#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.)

2016-06-30 16.57.03

 

#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

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