Category: Performance

New on the LA FPI Podcast: “What She Said” – Alyson Mead with Susan Rubin

 

Alyson Mead speaks with playwright Susan Rubin about life, love, mythology and the devil in her play Liana and Ben, currently playing at Circle X Theatre

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

The FPI Files: Playwright Leah Nanako Winkler & Director Deena Selenow

For the past few years, LA FPI has been very much into matchmaking: introducing female playwrights to female directors with an eye on future collaborations. So when East West Players (EWP) invited us to be their Community Partner for the West Coast Premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler’s Kentucky, directed by Deena Selenow, we immediately said, “Hell yes!” And took the opportunity to ask this exciting creative team a few questions.

LA FPI: What brought the two of you together, initially?

leah-nanako-winkler

Leah Nanako Winkler

Leah Nanako Winkler: Last summer, I was fortunate enough to work with Artists at Play (AAP), an amazing LA-based theatre company that did a developmental workshop of my play, Two Mile Hollow. They immediately suggested working with Deena because they were confident she’d nail the humor of the piece while maintaining the seriousness of the issues regarding race—and even more so, class—that lurks beneath the surface of the play. I didn’t think twice when they suggested her because: A) I trust everything AAP says since they’re some of the smartest people I’ve ever met; and B) I’ve only heard great things about Deena. I’ve admired her from afar as a fellow mixed-race theater artist.

Deena Selenow: I knew some of the AAP folks from around town, so when they invited me to direct the reading I—of course—said yes. Then I read the script and fell in love. Leah’s writing is so blunt and funny and nuanced and moving. She shifts tone like an acrobat, and it’s so clear that she has fun while she writes. Leah, Julia Cho (AAP producer), and I had a great collaboration leading up to Two Mile Hollow.

LA FPI: Were you familiar with East West Players before this production?

Leah: I’ve known about, admired, and wanted to work with EWP for quite some time. I’ve been immersed and singularly focused in the past decade doing plays in NYC, but it wasn’t until last year that my dream came true and Kentucky was fully produced Off-Broadway. I kind of thought—well, what now? What will happen to me when this is over? So imagine my surprise when EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai called me to tell me Kentucky was going to be included in East West Players’ 51st Anniversary season. I feel so empowered as a Japanese American artist working with a diverse creative team. I definitely feel like I’ve won the lottery.

dselenow_photo

Deena Selenow, photo by Vincent Richards.

Deena: Snehal Desai and I met through the TCG SPARK Leadership Program, which is a branch of Theatre Communications Group’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Institute. At that time, he was the Artistic Associate and Literary Manager at EWP (he’s made quite a climb in a short amount of time!). SPARK is a cohort of ten, so we all became close very quickly. Snehal and I are the only two based in LA, so we see each other quite a bit. I think I had seen one show at EWP when I was in grad school, and now I see pretty much everything they do. EWP is a vital American theater, and Snehal is an incredible leader. I’ve loved getting to know Snehal in this creative capacity. Tim Dang has left EWP in good hands.

LA FPI: Leah–what was it about Deena that gave you confidence in her? And Deena–what was it about Leah’s play that spoke to you?

Leah: Deena and I both want the same thing: for the play to be the best it can be. With her, I know that nothing is about ego but for the greater good of the piece. Even in our disagreements or points of confusion, we’re both straightforward and come to a conclusion without any passive aggressive weirdness, which is huge as playwright/director relationships can get complicated in that way fast.

Deena: Leah’s work in general is so very honest and the characters speak their minds. She writes realities in which people don’t self-censor and say what they mean. It’s hilarious and uncomfortable because it’s so familiar. Particular to Kentucky is remembering that moment in your life when you realized you can never go home again. That home moves, and the idea of home changes as you grow up and evolve. Family is complicated, and Leah doesn’t shy away from that.

LA FPI: When did it hit you that you two were a good fit, collaborating on Kentucky?

Leah: I think we had an initial phone call that was supposed to be an hour that turned into four. Our personalities definitely vibe, which is an important foundation. But we both worked actively together on a new nine-person adaptation [the NY production had a cast of 16] and figured out the doubling schemes together. I really felt connected in those moments.

Deena: I love working with Leah. I love how vulnerable she lets herself be in her writing and in the rehearsal room, and it encourages me to let my walls down as well. We worked really closely during pre-production. We took our time, imagined different scenarios, and listened to each other. Leah trusts me, and I can feel it, which gives me confidence. She gives me room to experiment but also doesn’t hesitate to speak up and tell me when I’m off the mark, which I also appreciate.

LA FPI: Kentucky’s director for its Off-Broadway Premiere, Morgan Gould, was a woman, as well. What are your thoughts about what a woman director brings to a female playwright’s work?

Leah: While I know of and work with male directors that bust their ass on a daily basis and deserve every career success that they get, I know that female directors have to work twice as hard to be respected. As “emerging” playwrights, we’re sometimes told to “level up” to a director who’s more famous, and that’s often an older white dude. I think while this tactic is meant to “protect” the young playwright in many ways, it really screws over young female directors that often develop the script for years only to be fired when the show gets picked up.

Kentucky is a huge undertaking with multiple characters, 17 locations, three songs, and complex relationships that need to be dug into with precision, sympathy, and understanding. It takes a BEAST to direct this play. And both Morgan and Deena are BEASTS. It’s incredible and inspiring to watch strong women take total command of a room. They get shit done with the strength of ten thousand men.

Deena: Any time you work with someone who is “like” you in some way or another, there are certain nuances that don’t need discussion and are just inherently there. I work with a lot of women playwrights, but with men as well (albeit not as frequently). Differences are just as important as similarities. There are inequities in every inch of our society, so I work with people who share my core values, and we lift each other up.

ewp-kentucky-1

(L-R) Jacqueline Misaye as Sophie and Jessica Jade Andres as Hiro in East West Players’ West Coast premiere of Kentucky by Leah Nanako Winkler. Photo by Michael Lamont.

LA FPI: As women artists, telling a woman’s story, how has your experience been with East West Players–a company that embraces diversity and is presenting a femme-centered season?

Leah: I think “white girl” and “diversity” are often conflated, and I love that EWP is championing women of color. In addition, nobody is the “only one” here, and it’s a gift to be working with not only a cast, creative team, and crew that are diverse, but also producers, board members, and staff as well. I’ve never had that happen to me.

EWP lets us do our work while acting like it’s the most normal thing in the world. By doing that, they universalize our experiences. And you know what? Good. Because our stories ARE universal. We’ve been told that white is normal for so long, and it’s just not true. I love EWP because they acknowledge this naturally in their mission, but it’s still fun and it’s a safe space.

Deena: I’m thrilled that EWP chose to program a women-centered season. They really put their money where their mouth is when it comes to equity and inclusion. We all need to be allies to one another. EWP has a platform for visibility, and they are using it.

LA FPI: As theater artists, how important to you is forming ongoing relationships vs. finding the right person/project?

Leah: I’m still learning about this. I directed my own work for six years and just started working with other directors in the last four. I like working with a lot of different people just to test the waters, and get to know as many people as possible. I love collaborating and finding long term relationships with various people on projects that work for each partnership. Which for Deena and I, ended up being Kentucky.

Dena: Relationships are everything. Theater is a collaborative sport and finding your teammates is key. I’m so glad that Leah and I have found each other. I’m excited for our relationship to grow and to continue. I’ve been really lucky in my collaborations. The dynamic changes with each group of people and each project, and that’s part of the fun.

LA FPI: In seven words or less, what’s your advice to women artists about getting the most out of the collaborative process?

Leah: Communicate. Be assertive. Don’t forget the joy. (Or LADIES, DON’T BRING SNACKS OUT OF OBLIGATION.)

Deena: Listen. Trust your gut. Make a mess.

Kentucky plays through December 11, 2016 at East West Players’ David Henry Hwang Theater.Click Here for information and to purchase tickets.

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.

Dramatists Guild National Conference: #writechange – Celebrating Stephen Schwartz

by Robin Byrd

If you weren’t there, you missed a PARTY!  You missed a SHOW!  Other than all us playwrights, here is who was there celebrating Stephen Schwartz in song and song and words and music and song, did I say song?  And not just any song but songs by Stephen Schwartz, oh and Stephen, himself, sat down at the piano and took us for a spin!  Can you tell I am still excited about it?  Michael Kerker was there moderating and if you have ever gone to the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshops held around the country, you know how much fun it is to have Michael and Stephen in the same room.  Brent Barrett and Susan Egan performed – you have not heard a musical till you’ve heard it done right, in character, full of life, exquisitely executed.  Songwriting/musical writing collaborators, Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner performed — stop playing!  Them some bad boys.  Their presentation should be a musical!   John Boswell served as musical director/accompanist; he did not miss a beat.  I just wanted to know how he knew all those songs – the repertoire was seamless.  Thank you ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and Dramatists Guild for letting us all enjoy this evening extraordinaire.

Stephen Schwartz, Michael Kerker, DG

Pictured L to R backstage after the concert: ASCAP’s Michael A. Kerker; Winnie Holzman (librettist, Wicked); Lisa Kron (TONY award winning lyricist and librettist of Fun Home); Stephen Schwartz; Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (composer/lyricist of Broadway’s First Date)

Picture from ASCAP page “Honoring Stephen Schwartz at the DG Conference” http://www.ascap.com/playback/2015/07/faces-and-place/musical-theatre/stephen-schwartz-dg.aspx

Stephen Schwartz is one of the most generous, down-to-earth persons, I have met.  He shares his talent on so many levels, all the time; Stephen Schwartz is a national treasure.  I have learned so much about the spark of creativity and how to mine for gold from just sitting in on his talks.  As a person and as an artist, he deserves every accolade and I am so happy that we can celebrate his musical genius and let him know how much we love him…

The coolest thing happening in East LA

by Madhuri Shekar

I had plans for another blog post this week, but I stumbled into something a lot of fun this weekend, and now I’m going to write about that instead. Because I want all my theatre friends in LA to know about this awesome community project going on in Boyle Heights.

Paper mache puppets of the Corn People from the legend of Popol Voh

Paper mache puppets of the Corn People from the legend of Popol Voh

I’ve lived in Boyle Heights for 5 years, and I absolutely love it. It’s a warm, friendly, welcoming neighborhood full of family-run businesses and amazing street art. For at least a year now, I’ve been aware of ‘The Shop’, a new community engagement program that the Center Theatre Group has been running in Boyle Heights, where through workshops, classes and events every weekend, local residents are invited to participate in art and theatre making. My friend Jesus Reyes, Creative Artistic Director of East LA Rep and CTG Program Manager, facilitates and leads the team managing this wonderful initiative. I’ve seen his pictures and updates on Facebook for months now, but due to travels and a crazy schedule, I never actually was able to go. Until now!

Workshop participants

Workshop participants

20150725_163632

The space at Self Help Graphics

Yesterday morning, I was taking a walk and happened to see that CTG had set up their ‘Shop’ at Self-Help Graphics on 1st street. Excited, I stopped in to say hi to Jesus, and found out that they were going to be making masks and puppets – MASKS AND PUPPETS – all day! The stars aligned. My afternoon was free. I stopped by with my roommate for the afternoon session and got to dive right in.

The initial character concepts as drawings

The initial character concepts as drawings

A clay mould ready for paper mache!

A clay mould ready for paper mache

Examples of the final product!

Examples of the final product!

So the program that’s happening right now is the ‘Community as Creators’ project. Over the course of several weekends this summer and fall, Boyle Heights residents gather to collectively create and shape a show that will be a retelling of the Mayan legend of Popul Vuh. The show will go up in October at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, and Grand Park in Downtown LA. These community workshop participants help create the characters, props, music, and may also eventually act in the show, depending on where their interests lie. When I stepped in this weekend, the process was already several weeks underway. So what I got to do was help paper-mache the giant masks that will be used on stage!

20150725_163719

Jesus Reyes surveys the cardboard models of the characters

Jesus with an eagle and a toucan

Jesus with an eagle and a toucan

I can’t tell you how much fun it was to lose myself completely in this crafts project after weeks and weeks of sitting at my desk writing. I got to know my neighbors in the best, most organic way, as I shared tables with people from all over East LA (I even got to know my roommate better!). The energy was fantastic, and lots of families showed up to spend the whole day in this fun artistic activity. I did the afternoon session of Saturday, and the morning session of Sunday, and managed to get all the way through paper-mache-ing a giant human mask!

At the end of Day 1 with our paper mache man!

Me, at the end of Day 1 with our paper mache man!

Major props to Teatro Campesino who are producing this project, and Beth Peterson, the puppet artist who guided all the workshop participants through the process of creating these beautiful, vivid masks.

20150725_163658

The workspace

LAFPI readers – I highly recommend checking this out next weekend in Boyle Heights. The paper mache process will still be underway (it will actually be the final weekend of the mask workshop). It’s a rewarding, relaxing, even therapeutic way to spend a day, collectively creating something that will be part of a beautiful theatrical presentation, truly representing the heart and spirit of Los Angeles.

Here’s the blurb with more info! Or tweet me at @madplays with any questions on the experience.

Center Theatre Group
Free Puppet and Mask Making Workshops!
Discover the artista in you! Come and help us create puppets and masks for the upcoming El Teatro Campesino production of the Popol Vuh: Heart of Heaven based on the Mayan creation myth. Master Puppet Maker la Beth Peterson brings her special talent to Boyle Heights and needs gente to help her build giant puppets, wood people and animal masks that will be part of the show. Come on, show off your talent, join us!

All workshops are free and will be held at Self-Help Graphics and Arts on Saturdays and Sundays. There are two opportunities each day to jump in:

10am–1pm: Mask work
2pm–5pm: Puppet work

Dates: 7/11, 7/12, 7/18, 7/19, 7/25, 7/26, 8/1, 8/2

Self-Help Graphics and Arts 1300 E. First St., LA 90033

• Bilingual in Spanish/English • Open to all levels of experience • Open to all ages • All materials will be provided • Snacks & beverages provided.

To reserve a spot or for more information please contact: Jesús Reyes, Community Partnerships Manager 213.972.8028 or jreyes@CenterTheatreGroup.org

 

 

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.

At the Fringe: The Count of Monte Cristo: the Musical

by Guest Blogger Sarah Dzida

I am a huge fan of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I remember being introduced to it by my father through the copy he had on his bookshelf. I’ve reread the epic book many times because it has … well, everything, and when I say everything, I mean it literally. There’s greed, revenge, love, hate, family issues, mistaken identities, embezzlement, history, politics and pirates! It’s over 1000+ pages of pure drama. So when I met Kelly d’Angelo at an early Fringe Workshop who said she had been working on her adaptation for a Count of Monte Cristo musical for 10 years, I was pretty impressed. And curious—just how was she going to pull that off?

On the way to the world premiere this past Friday, my dad and I played a game: What scene would get turned into a song?

“Can you imagine Edmond singing?,” I asked. “Like, ‘REVENGE!’ ”

“Maybe there will be a duet? Something … ‘You killed my father!’ ,” my dad said.

There really was no way to guess the right answer, but my father and I were delighted with what we saw. The cast and crew performed over 10 scenes full of music. It’s two days later, and I still find myself humming certain lyrics in songs. We were also pleased at how much humor Kelly, her crew and cast pulled out of the plot. Funny jokes. Funny moments, and even funny songs, like the duet between pretty Valentine de Villefort and her fiancé who she does not want to marry.

You put diamonds and stars in our eyes, Kelly! Congrats to the cast and crew. I hope you have a successful run through the 2015 Fringe!

To learn more about The Count of Monte Cristo: The Musical, by Kelly d’Angelo, playwright and Matt Dahan, composer, go here: http://hff15.org/2075.

Sarah Dzida is a Los Angeles playwright who also has a play in the Fringe Festival, please also go see 5 Sirens: Beware of Rocks!

“Where and what is my audience?” – playwright Laurel M. Wetzork is at the Fringe!

by Guest Blogger Laurel M. Wetzork 

First time fringer

Where and what is my audience?

Myself and four other female playwrights have a 55-minute show, 5 SIRENS: Beware of Rocks!  One show of five 10-minute plays, about miscommunication and the longing for connection. We all felt, when we met months ago and decided to work together, that this theme could apply to our different pieces.  Yet when I’ve turned to my usual group of friends and loyal ticket buyers, some people’s response to buying tickets has been withdrawn, almost muted or terse.  Is it the month of June?  That they’ll have to drive to Hollywood and brave the crazy parking nightmare that is the Fringe?  Is it that they aren’t sure they want to see something I’ve warned them is for those over the age of 18 (language, adult themes)?

I do feel that some of our shows will challenge some people. But the people who expect a Disney ending shouldn’t be surprised, as they supposedly know my work and the work of the other writers.  Maybe they’re tired of the dark themes I tend to explore.  Yet, should I write for a particular audience?  Make a happy ending to please someone else?  Stupid questions, I know.  Of course we shouldn’t write to please others, unless we’re hired to do so (or are writing for a specific audience — more on this later). 

As playwrights and writers, I feel that it is often our job to explore hidden, subconscious, and sometimes emotionally laden subjects. Whether the writing comes out as comedy, drama, or a dreamscape, is up to the writer.  People have said about my piece for the Fringe, “Well, that changes tone.”  But life, to me, does change tone, and isn’t one note.  Laughter often goes with tears, and without laughter, life would be unbearable.  Theater, to me, can change lives in a way that movies, films, and books don’t.  It is experienced right now, the plays themselves can make people think or argue or question preconceived ideas, and the emotions that come up can heal.

About writing for a specific audience, my play LEVELS was written for an audience consisting of abused women.  It wasn’t my intent as a writer to entertain or make happy endings.  I wanted to share my own healing at the hands (fists?) of abuse, and show that it was possible to find hope, healing, and love. After the performances of the play, women came up to me afterwards and repeated the same phrases: “I thought I was alone, that I was the only one who experienced this abuse.” “I’m not alone, or a freak, am I?”  “Thank you, I thought I was the only one who reacted this way.”  They were moved to contemplate the possibly of healing, of a shared experience, of a future that might be filled with hope, by a very uncomfortable theater piece. 

So if those particular friends respond again with terse replies, I know now what I’ll say.  Our job as playwrights is to write what we see and explore uncomfortable truths, and by bringing our writing to light in a performance, perhaps facilitate healing.  “Be brave,” I’ll say. “And be willing to explore what theater, and the hearts of so many playwrights, have to offer. You might be surprised, moved, and unexpectedly changed.”

So where is our audience? I do know, even if a theater is bare except for one person, that one person may experience a life-changing event when watching what we write.  They may see the possibility for hope.  And they may also just laugh.  So keep writing those plays, and sharing your vision.  You never know who it will touch. And heal.

For tickets to “5 Sirens: Beware of Rocks” go to http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/2125?tab=tickets 5 Siren playwrights: laurel m wetzork, sarah dzida, laura steinroeder, autumn mcalpin, kiera nowacki, caron tate. Laurel is the LA FPI Onstage Editor.

Women, Writing, and Mimosas – LA FPI #FringeFemmes Gathering

by Guest Blogger Samantha Emily Evans

In the backroom of the Samuel French Bookstore on Sunset Boulevard surrounded by brilliant manuscripts, a group of forty or so women came together to support each other in their Hollywood Fringe endeavors. It was inspiring. The place was buzzing with pre-Fringe excitement, as postcards and smiles were exchanged.

Jennie Webb introduced the meat of the meeting, the Micro-Reads, where the writers and actors are able to promote their work and receive encouragement and feedback. At the front of the room was a box where writers had dropped a page to be read. The writer, when picked, would introduce the piece and select actors to perform it. This was my first Micro-Reads, my first LA FPI meeting, and my first time in the Samuel French Bookstore. I was astounded and warmed by the respect and enthusiasm of the audience and the writers. People eagerly volunteered to act and the responses were energetic and encouraging.

2015-05-30 13.50.15

Micro-Reads in Samuel French Green Room

The pieces read were eclectic and promising, most were excerpts from the plays going up at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, a taster to get us to the theatre. From a mother addicted to smoothies and in love with her blender (Snack) to a woman in love with an elevator (a short story excerpt) to a woman falling from an elevator (Susan Tierney) – each preview was so very different, and yet I wanted to see them all. And, I could. I could see them all at the Hollywood Fringe!

Each performer was asked to introduce herself, what she was working on, what she needed, and what she could give. The concept of stating what one could give was beautiful and electrifying, concreting the firm support system of LA FPI – we need to work together in order to succeed. Most writers just wanted their play to be seen, their message to be heard; they wanted to support other women’s plays, and in return be supported. They offered comp swaps and PWYC. They offered to help run the box office and Front of House. Constance Strickland has even created a facebook group where women can ask for and offer support. I had a fantastic time at the LA FPI meeting, and was truly inspired.

Flyers

TY  Tara Donavan for the pic! #50ShadesofShrew

I left in a fuzzy, happy cloud of dreams, amazed at the encouragement, support, and commitment of the LA FPI, and wanting to get involved. The excitement for the upcoming month of June was palpable. The Hollywood Fringe is just around the corner with previews starting Thursday June 4th, and performances all throughout the month (and even into July and August for whoever wins the Fringe Awards!). I am excited to see what presents the #fringefemmes have prepared for Fringe 2015!

It’s Christmas time in Hollywood, the Fringe is finally here!

 

Samantha Emily Evans is the editor-in-chief of thetribeonline.com. Check out her writing and reviews at literarypixie.com.

On the Fallacy of Space

By Tiffany Antone

Don't Panic

Although I’m a playwright, I’ve been focusing a lot on producing this week in the hopes that what I’ve learned as a producer can be helpful to playwrights who are tired of sitting around waiting for someone to make the production magic happen for them. I’m going to continue on that thread today as I talk about the unfortunate brain melt that so often happens when we talk about space.

When I’m talking to a playwright about the hurdles of producing, unless they have an ‘in’ at a theatre company, the conversation inevitably begins to circle the panic-drain of “BUT I DON’T HAVE A SPACE!”, because when you consider the fact that most theaters/art galleries charge pretty hefty fees to rent their spaces, a lot of aspiring new producers get cut off at the knees before they’ve even started, and head back desk or day job, defeated.

But when the dollar signs start flashing red and you feel the panic rising, just remind yourself of this simple truth: you don’t need a theater space to make theatre happen!

I’m not sure exactly when it occurs, but somewhere along the route to professionalism, many of us begin to adopt this weird attitude that theatre needs to happen in a theatrically appointed space, and anything else is just… unprofessional, and… ewwwww!

When did we turn into such catty teenagers?

I agree, production-wise, a dedicated theater is a much easier place to work: the lights, the sound equipment, the dressing rooms and fixed seats… all of those things make life easier when you’re producing a show.  But they’re not the end all be all to making theatre happen.  I’ve seen vivid and exciting theatre happen in living rooms, in parks, at restaurants, in civic auditoriums, and in old abandoned warehouses – and each time it’s been a unique and awesome experience!

The trick is in knowing your space ahead of time, so that you can match your production goals to your resources and select a play (or collection of short plays) that will work in the space you’re using.  For instance: living room plays are great fun, but they only work if you select small cast pieces that can be put up around a coffee table, TV stand, book shelves, and whatever else homey obstacles your hosts may have present.  It’s also important that they can be performed comfortably for a handful of people sitting within inches of the actors – I saw a very sexually charged piece done this way once and I just couldn’t get over the fact that two strangers were dry humping six-inches away from my face!   And sure, you can’t do a piece with a million different locations/light cues because there’s no light board to play with and you can’t load in flats… but each of those Don’ts is an opportunity to seek out what can and will work.  So you pick something small, something intimate, something that is transportable, engaging, and good in the close-up, and you make it happen.

So what does this have to do with what we do over here at Little Black Dress INK?  Well, for those of you who don’t know, we rely completely on Partner Producers to present readings of our semi-finalists – I wish I could afford to put our female playwrights on tour, but I just can’t (my superstitious side is telling me to include the waiver “yet”).  So instead I rely on these awesome Partner Producers—who are actors, writers, and directors themselves— to bring our festival to their cities in the best way possible for them, which means that each reading is unique and personal to them.

This year our semi-finalist readings took place at an art gallery, a teaching studio, and a university, as well as a few very cool theatre spaces, and our final two readings will happen in “unconventional” locations as well; a public park and at Samuel French’s Los Angeles Bookshop.  I love these unique spaces – they add a flavor all their own to the readings and add to the conversational atmosphere after the readings are over.

And yes, when we get to production in Prescott, we’ll be putting the shows up in an actual theatre – but if we didn’t have one, I’d have still made the fest happen somehow.

The point I’m going for is this: Playwrights are traditionally rich in imagination, but poor in actual cash-money.  Unless you get a theatre to back your production (or find a patron of the arts to fund you), production expenses can add up fast.  Space doesn’t have to be the huge obstacle it so often is! You can make just about any space work if you put your creative juices to work making the most of the resources you have available to you.  And if all you have is the back room at your local bookstore and some gumption, then why not recruit some like-minded folks and create a reading series?  You never know where it could lead, or how good it will feel just to be making something happen.

Happy Support Women Artists Now Day!

Presented by Free Association Theatre with Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative, hosted by City Garage Theatre.

SWAN Day Action Fest 2015 It’s TODAY  —  SWAN Day Action Fest!

Come on out and celebrate with us!

Bring some pages and sign up for the micro-reads.

Calling all LA female playwrights
 (and screenwriters): Let’s read your work!
Bring 1 page for our Micro-Reads. 

Click Here for Guidelines.

View Action Fest Line Up Here.

WordPress Themes