Tag Archives: #fringefemmes

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Aisha Kasmir

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre.

Selfie stars Aisha Kasmir, in a cabaret revue honoring the songs of seventies sensation Minnie Riperton. It’s been forty-five years since the hit song “Lovin You” climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list and forty years since Minnie passed on. This  is an ode to  Minnie and a celebration of Aisha finding her voice and  her way back to herself through the discovery of Minne Riperton’s music. #HFF19’s Selfie promises to take you on a musical ride through self-discovery, self-love, self-actualization and accepting your true identity.

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

Aisha: I started sketching out this cabaret in 2016 when my vocal coach suggested I create a tribute concert to better showcase my vocals. What started as a traditional cabaret – storytelling and singing – became something more avant garde. A friend and stage manager then pushed me to try to put my show up at the Fringe Festival. 90% of the music was done, I was in the middle of writing the talking points, so I said, “It’s now or never.”

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

Aisha: It feels liberating that I’m no longer the only one hearing the genius of Minnie Riperton and her eclectic music. If at least one person per show starts streaming and downloading her music and keeps her voice alive, I’m happy.

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

Aisha: I enjoy singing those whistle tones! I guess people really like them and it gives me a heady rush every time. The most surprising discovery is how different each audience is, but I have to remain true to my story and confident in my show. I can’t change tactics because there wasn’t as big a laugh in one show versus another. I like it, and I’m not going to apologize!

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of your development process?

Aisha: Getting the music done. Minnie Riperton didn’t leave behind a lot of sheet music or even tracks, so I had to transcribe (with the help of a transcriptionist) and recreate and reproduce all the tracks with my own twist and embellishments. That part took two years to complete.

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

Aisha: That expectations and boxes are for test takers and rule makers, and as artists, we have to break free from those constraints, and as audiences, we have to allow people to give us something different.

For more information on SELFIE in HFF19, visit https://fringemeter.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5758

Aisha Kasmir

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Chi Le

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre.

Introducing the one and only Chi Le! If you happen to be a Toy Story fan, then you most likely know and love the story of Woody and Buzz, yet are unfamiliar with the story of Sid and Andy! No worries, Chi’s got you covered in her adaptation of the Toy Story Fanfic, Under The Table And Dreaming by Holly Combs.  She’s manifested her dreams and directed the #HFF19 production, giving ALL proceeds to the LA LGBTQ Center, an organization that is close to Chi’s heart.

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

Chi: I’ve been working on this for a year now! I had been thinking of adapting Under the Table for a long, long time, but was worried about getting a cease and desist. Then I went to see the extended run of 19 Years Later, the Cursed Child remake! It really encouraged me to just go for it since this was a fanwork that was being showcased!

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

Chi: It feels really good! When you’ve been working on something for as long as I did, sometimes you feel stuck with it or you lose sight of why you began/fell in love with it in the first place. It’s nice to receive feedback from an audience or just rediscover things about it as the process goes on.

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

Chi: I’m learning a lot about what people take from the story and how difficult but rewarding it is to translate something to stage! It’s also just been such a blast working with my very talented cast, seeing how they change little things every performance and how they just really embody their characters. It’s WILD seeing that happen

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of this production?

Chi: Money. Hahahahahahahhaa.

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

Chi: I hope that the straight audience members can see a queer story unfold that isn’t tragic or about coming out or even about being queer, necessarily — that we have rich, full lives and that our stories are just regular love stories. And for other queer folk, I hope they get some comfort in the thought of a real, true love and get to see a reflection of themselves in these works.

For more information on UNDER THE TABLE AND DREAMING in HFF19, visit https://fringemeter.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5904

Chi Le

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Odunayo Majekodunmi

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. It is with great excitement and joy, I introduce Odunayo Majekodunmi, the GIRL FROM SCHENECTADY! Odunayo’s #HFF19 show received an Honorable Mention from the Fringe. Odunayo takes us on a personal journey from her Nigerian roots to finding love in her hometown of Schnetady, NY… in the most unexpected of places. Does losing your virginity need to include true love? 

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

Odunayo: I started writing my show about 8 years ago. I was advised by my director, Danielle Mone’ Truitt,  to open the show at the Fringe. I started attending Fringe one-person shows in 2017 and 2018, which gave me confidence to move forward.

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

Odunayo: It feels amazing! I’m so excited to keep up my show and to continue performing it for audiences. I’m happy with the feedback that I’ve been getting; most of it is from women stating the story is very relatable and they have experienced similar situations. Audience members have also mentioned the story is funny, entertaining and heartfelt.

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

Odunayo: I am enjoying performing my show and perfecting it each time I get on stage, believing each performance  will be better than the last one. I was nervous about how men would react to the story because I didn’t want them to think it was male bashing of any kind. Luckily, I haven’t received that response from the male audiences.

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

Odunayo:  Producing and marketing the show myself. Writing the script, rehearsing, finding the right director was one thing. However, deciding to produce it and pay for everything was challenging – but I’m so proud of myself that I accomplished it!

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

Odunayo: I hope audience members are inspired, encouraged and empowered in their lives, especially in believing in true love – women in particular who have experienced any kind of pain in relationships, or just haven’t had the best luck in finding Mr. Right.

For more information on THE GIRL FROM SCHENECTADY in HFF19, visit  https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5754

Odunayo Majekodunmi

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Amrita Dhaliwal

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre. I am humbled, inspired and overall ecstatic to introduce Amrita Dhaliwal! Amrita debuted Lady Love in the 2013 Fringe, and now returns for #HFF19 with Gemma Soldati in THE LIVING ROOM, a physical comedy about death that is a modern day reflection on how grief affects one’s soul and body. 

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

Amrita: It’s hard to say how long I’ve been sitting with this work really – perhaps my whole life, death has been there. But I think I can cleanly say that after my mom’s death in November of 2017, I was flattened in a way that I had never experienced. My pain and immense grief felt so universal, and yet in our American world, I felt so alone. I started to see how much we hide death in our culture and communities. Slowly that started to include writing and reading about loss in other cultures and their practices around death. And then very slowly I started having conversations with fellow devising artists about their experiences. And that’s where The Living Room was birthed. My creative partner, Gemma Soldati, also a doula, and I shared a deep curiosity and desire to express this through our work as clowns. Gemma had lost her boyfriend, as well very suddenly, so we shared a deep understanding of each other’s journeys. We started with “work-in-progress” shows in October 2018 in which we asked for feedback from the audience. And through that process  we had a final product by March of 2019. We are taking the show to Melbourne Fringe and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so the Hollywood Fringe run is really for us to prepare for those festivals.

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

Amrita: It’s strange because to me it doesn’t feel like we give it away, it feels like the audience gives us something every time, too. Because there’s no fourth wall in our work and everything is direct address, it feels as if in every show we – the audience included –  create something together. And we leave it in that space when it ends, but we are changed because of that shared experience. I would love to ask audiences this same question!

Constance: What are you enjoying most doing your show?

Amrita: The play and the growing love, trust and commitment with Gemma. The show requires so much for us to be in sync and really be in alignment and it’s been so deeply rewarding to continue to grow with Gemma, which in turn makes the show so much more powerful, vulnerable and a gift for everyone to unwrap and enjoy.

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of this production?

Amrita: As a woman of color doing comedy and self-producing theatre, it is a challenge to exist in these arenas. We do not receive the same systemic support, credibility, respect and access to resources as cis white men. These challenges – again, because they are systemic in nature – exist within the Fringe and will within the ecosystems ahead of us. That is, unfortunately, the nature of our world. However, we have been particularly fortunate to have the support from our community of clowns, Idiots, and artists as we’ve developed the show. What has also really helped us meet these challenges the most have been other women and organizations like LAFPI supporting us and shining a light on our work.

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

Amrita: Due to the nature of this work, it’s really up to them what they take or leave with us. We don’t have designs on what they need to feel. If I had to say one thing I hope for, I suppose it’s simply that they go into the world just a little bit more curious about death. And then maybe we as a collective society can have more difficult conversations about our loved ones and our own end. After all, it’s where we’re all going.

For more information on THE LIVING ROOM in HFF19, visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6206

 

Amrita Dhaliwal

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Shari Walker

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre. It is my delight to introduce the yummy yummy Shari Walker! Shari continues to defy stereotypes and expectations. A #HFF19 Scholarship recipient, Shari states, “SUGARFREE FOSTER CARE combines the difficult journey of foster youth through my perspective as both a social worker and foster child, using poetry, personal narrative, humor, and real-life experiences.”

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

Shari: The work has been consistently a part of my journey since exiting foster care, and I was inspired to put the work in my heart and mind on paper this past six months because of the high epidemic of homeless foster youth and the lack of housing resources available. As a social worker student interning for United Friends of The Children, working with youth emancipating out of the system, I see that the same obstacles I met are even more difficult for the youth transitioning into adulthood today. I was led to the Fringe by my mentor Kathy Rubin who met me after I had transitioned out of foster care; she shared that my story was powerful and could help bring awareness and create social change. Fringe is such a beautiful place for storytelling, shows, inclusion, and diversity and I just knew SugarFree: Foster Care Cognitive Dissonance would have a place at the Fringe.

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

Shari: It feels absolutely amazing. I have learned that I am not alone and that many have stories similar to my own; others who do not are open to volunteering with nonprofits and getting involved. I am so grateful. Though each show is difficult because it is my journey, it is also beautiful because it opens the door to others sharing their truth, inspiring the community to take action and support children and youth to push through obstacles and barriers.

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

Shari: I enjoy being able to see the progress I have made. I am on an emotional rollercoaster with the audience as I share the various impacts on my life before, during and after foster care, and I enjoy the ending. The biggest surprise from the show is that I still have much to learn. Even as a social work student and foster youth advocate, I have in no way arrived. I am am happy to discover that that’s okay as long as I continue to learn, grow and consistently advocate for change.

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of your development process?

Shari: Reflecting back on the trauma and going back to some of the most frightening moments in my childhood. I think acting and writing is one thing, but to have my real-life journey and experiences both on the stage and page brings so much up, internally, and requires me to emotionally, mentally and spiritually stay grounded before, during and after each show. I am grateful to have a great support system in my heart parents, Stephanie and Neil, and my amazing husband Matthew.

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

Shari: I hope that audience members can hear my journey and take action to volunteer, mentor, donate and outreach to transition age foster youth within Los Angeles County. I also hope that if audience members have experienced or are currently experiencing – or witnessing – abuse, neglect and violence that they will reach out to gather help. At the end of the show, I give out resource booklets from an amazing agency that is located in LA county that can refer emergency services and support that may be needed.

For more information on COMEDY HOE in HFF19, visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5839

Shari Walker

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Crystal Bush

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. It is with great esteem I present Crystal Bush! In her #HFF19 show CHRISSY METH we discover a woman who has come out of the dark into the light. A woman who found her way to herself and shares her story to remind us all that we can rise above our deepest battles and thrive. Crystal, you’re a powerful example of never giving up on oneself.

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? 

Crystal: I went into recovery in July of 2003.  So I wanna say somewhere around 2001, when I was right in the thick of my addition, I was trying to capture it.  But I found it very difficult to talk about or regurgitate what was happening as it was happening. And besides, I was in it… so I just couldn’t.  I remember I was living in Oakland, and I did a short stand-up about losing so much weight at the time – I went from a size 14 all the way to a size 0.  But even then it was still very difficult to  tell the story;  I was so in my addiction, that I really could not think clearly.

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

Crystal: Oh, wow. After leaving in a clean and sober house for three years, group therapy, individual counseling, years and years of yoga and prayer, my healing has been profound.  Sitting down and writing my story, acknowledging it and letting it go has lifted a weight that is indescribable. I feel so free, I feel love, I feel peace.  I feel like there is so much more to come: a book, a film, a series. This has definitely been a wonderful surprise.

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

Crystal: It’s been so  freaking amazing!!  My last show, twenty-six people were in the house;  twenty of those people stood in line to wait to embrace me afterwards. It was so deep; I was stunned at how impactful my story has been for others.  It’s so difficult to know how other people are going to think and feel,  so I was really nervous about putting my story out there.

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

Crystal: Gurrrrl…THAT’S MONEY!  You know, I remember at times when I would always say, “Oh, I can’t do that, I don’t have the money, wow, that’s too expensive, I ain’t got no money,” etc. Not receiving one of the Hollywood Fringe scholarships was definitely devastating. But I knew this story had to be told.  So, despite my own fears, my worry, self sabotage, procrastination… I just put one foot in front of the other, I asked the Universe to please guide me, and some really beautiful angels showed up and helped me financially.  This has never happened to me ever in my life so, needless to say, I am in awe of the entire situation.  It has been a magical journey. But to be clear it was ALL challenging:  Writing, directing, and self producing ain’t no joke, but I did it, and I feel so blessed.

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

Crystal: My whole life people have made assumptions about who I am,  and where I come from.  I’ve had some very humble beginnings in my life.  I talk about this in my show – I was abandoned by my mother as an infant, raised by my father’s parents, my father was a heroin addict.  And so I was set on my path in this life and world and I did the best I could do with what I had.  You never know what people have been through, so it is so important to not judge people.  And you never know, you could help save somebody’s life if you just open your heart, and have love and compassion for the other person. I want my audience to walk away with love and compassion, and the will and courage to make an impact and change this world in their own way. 

For more information on CHRISSY METH: A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL AND THE JOURNEY BACK in HFF19, visit  https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5629

Crystal Bush

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Makha Mthembu

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. I feel so lucky to introduce you the wonderful Makha Mthembu! Makha grew up during Apartheid and her #HFF19 show, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, centers on the changes South Africa was going through in 1992 as Nelson Mandela was being released from prison.

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

Makha: I wrote this piece in Grad School; it was my Graduate thesis. Despite a lot of positive feedback, I put it away. Yet, even though my piece takes place very specifically in 1992 Apartheid South Africa, its relevance to America now and even the world at large is why I decided to re-stage it. When I first moved here in 2007, the answer to the question, “Is the US a lot like South Africa?” was no! Now, not so much. The US and SA are way more similar than they used to be, and it’s not because South Africa has caught up with America. America is just a little bit more like my Post Apartheid South Africa, isn’t that sad?!

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

Makha: I feel so relieved! Getting this thing moving was tough. I wrote it, I’m in it, I had to find my space, pay for my space, find a costume, get my props, cultivate an audience. This was exhausting. It is beyond delightful to just get to perform it. Yes it’s just me, but it’s only about twenty minutes and then I get to have great conversations with people. And then, which is even better, I get to go and see someone else’s awesome Fringe Show!

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

Makha: My director this go around is an amazing director and friend of mine based out of Chicago named Michelle Altman. She challenged me to actually find the fun of performing it. And who knew I could actually enjoy performing a comedy about Apartheid? Meeting other Fringers has also been beyond a delight! I feel like I’ve made more friends in the past two months than I did living here for two years. I’ve learnt that LA actually has a very vibrant clowning scene. There are a bunch of theatre artists here. And everyone is as terrified and exhausted as I am; doing the Fringe definitely helped me find more of my people.

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

Makha: Doing everything myself, that was stupid. I’ve learnt that next time I take on a project like this, I should have another collaborator in the same city as me.

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

Makha: Well first it’s FREE, so I hope people just see my show! I feel as though we are in a time where people are not able to listen. We don’t listen to each other, or people who don’t agree with us. And I think listening is the crux of conversation, you can’t just be thinking about what you’re going to say next or your rebuttal. I just hope people listen, and feel how they want to feel. I don’t think anyone one person is to blame for everything, but we are all present all of the time and that makes us responsible. So let’s just listen and take it from there.

For more information on NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND in HFF19, visit  https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6252

Makha Mthembu

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Jil Chrissie

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. With deep pleasure and enthusiasm I introduce comedian Jil Chrissie! Jil’s one-woman show  at #HFF19, COMEDY HOE, is a one of kind public announcement, an unwavering in-depth look at womanhood, using fictional storytelling, comedic spoken word and stand-up comedy. Without fear she addresses the hyper-sexulization and adversity women face in America on a daily basis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Joy Regullano

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. With excitement I introduce Joy Regullano, a first time Fringer and fringe scholarship recipient in the house! Joy’s #HFF19 musical, SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS, is a hilarious example of following your dreams even if it breaks the dream our parents imagined for you.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joy Regullano

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Shanara Sanders

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. It is my honor to introduce Shanara Sanders, a writer, singing femcee and creator of new content. A first-time Fringer in #HFF19 with her new show ASK A BLACK WOMAN, she is a Chicago Native who stormed into the L.A. scene  in Disney’s ALADDIN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shanara Sanders