WHY: In the textbook definition of an absurd, wickedly funny and original fringe musical, writer/actress Pam Eberhardt shines as mad supervillian CEO of “The Agency,” Laura, who matches people with clones. Then one day newish clone Margot, played by the vocally gifted Katharine Washington, starts to have memories of her original life and escapes. What ensues is mayhem, catchy counterpoint songs, and fabulously snappy dialogue, all in a fast-paced rollercoaster as each character’s wants and dreams collide. You don’t want to miss this show!
WHAT: There is something special about walking into a tiny theatre knowing you are about to see a new work created in the DIY style. This is how theatre magic manifests, in simple sets, props created by the actor, a body willing to walk into the unknown… the non-predictable physical journey is thrilling. This is what Fiona gives to her work, gives to her audience: All of herself. All of her fears. All of her excitement.
Even the way her right hand shakes in a moment reveals an indescribable energy that travels and affects the heart in a subtle way. I swear your breath will find stillness as you witness a swing, swaying back and forth onstage. Even without Fiona sitting upon the swing, it takes you back to the days of your childhood when you ran free with no worries, and fears never settled in the mind too long. You didn’t need to think about it, it just was a way of living… because you believed anything was possible. You didn’t have to seek out confirmation or read daily affirmations that you would be all right. You just knew you could do anything once you put your mind to it! What a gorgeous reminder for the adult heart, mind and soul.
Go witness. Go live in Charlotte’s World! I even have the audacity to say this is the Spirit of Fringe 2018.
WHY: Laura Jo commands a stage with this nuanced and beautifully simple show full of original songs based on Shakespeare’s women. She bounces from the minds and desires of sweet Juliet (“I Shouldn’t Look at You”), to saucy Olivia (“Let’s Get a Room”), then delivers an unrelentingly devious and desperate Lady Macbeth Monologue in what feels like one long swimmer’s breath. With abundant ease and passionate soul, this master pianist/songwriter/vocalist/actress has created a fringe show NOT TO BE MISSED. I am a fan, you will be too and you’ll want her CD too. Get thee to Hobgoblin Playhouse for her last three performances!
WHERE:The Complex Theatres, 6448 Santa Monica Blvd
WHY: This is a play that quietly sneaks up on you. The dialogue, fresh and natural, starts to feel as though you’re secretly binging on your favorite tv show, too late at night with popcorn. The cast of actors – Nicole De Sousa, Natalia Elizabeth, Ashlee Olivia Jones, Resheda D. Terry, Ailema De Sousa, Darnell Williams, Charles Nkrumah Jr. and Benjamin Colbourne – throw themselves into this beautiful play and your heart feels it for a long time after. Fort Huachuca is a specific military history unknown to quite a few, which is what makes this play by Sousa so very special. Sousa’s play takes the viewer into the lives of five African-American women who served as nurses during World War II on an Arizona Army base.
There is something uplifting about seeing these wonderful actresses onstage who happen to all be Black women. As the songs are sung, the use of light sweeps you into their world immediately. A play that allows each actress to showcase herself while being a true ensemble piece is not easy, but director Amen Igbinosun manages to execute this. I was born and raised in Arizona and never once did I hear about these women’s contributions; that is why this story is necessary. It does not allow the stories of the women of Fort Huachuca to disappear and go untold. It shines a bright light on them and the actresses bask in the glory of this intimate history. As I walked out of the theatre back into the world I could not find words instead only a history of tears streamed down my face.
This Fringe season welcomes a thrilling group of women from varied backgrounds and experiences, making this an exciting and by far one of the most diverse Hollywood Fringe Festivals ever! I wanted to take this week to share the voices of these women who will be sharing pieces of themselves this June at a variety of local theatres along Theatre Row. Today I welcome the powerful and poetically gifted Camille Jenkins to the blog, where she reveals how her show manifested.
Conjuring up “The Goddesses Guide: Adura for the Women of African Diaspora”
The Goddesses Guide first appeared in my consciousness like a dream that lingered in my mind the next day. It’s whispers echoed around my head, buzzed through my thoughts. What is it that you want Camille? What art do you want to see in the world? How can I create it? Am I able to manifest this dream?
The answers to those questions were discovered upon reflection of my own identity. My identity as a black person in a predominately white society, as a woman finding her voice, as a human in a beautiful mad world. A human who is searching for their own palace of peace and empathy like anyone else. A human who realizes that art is one of the biggest, if not the biggest vehicle for understanding in this world.
Ahh there it is. That buzz, that whisper. Identity, black women, a search, a journey. Then out of those themes came: Africa, Yoruba, Orishas, Goddesses. And still more: empowerment, divinity, consciousness, peace.
I believe that theatre is a continuum of ancient rituals. In this play, summoning the past to converse with the present brings new perspectives on the experience of black women in America. This play is a love letter to black women and all people who support our search for individuality, mindfulness, empathy, and freedom.
I invite you into the world of The Goddesses. It may surprise you with the ways in which their world reflects your own.
“The Goddesses Guide” opens June 22nd at The New Collective. Tickets and more information: http://hff18.org/4934
This Fringe season welcomes a thrilling group of women from varied backgrounds and experiences, making this an exciting and by far one of the most diverse Hollywood Fringe Festivals ever! I wanted to take this week to share the voices of these women who will be sharing pieces of themselves this June on a myriad of local theatre stages. I introduce you to a playwright whose writing style is delicate, distinctive and unique… Ayesha Siddiqui!
Coming Full Circle with #FringeFemmes for “Baba, Jee (Father, Yes)”
As I sat in the Green Room at Samuel French this past Saturday for the annual Fringe Femmes Gathering, I was struck that just a year ago, I was in this room for the very same event. I remember walking in and noting that the space was filled almost entirely with women, all of whom appeared to have shows in the Fringe. As I walked to the stage to drop my Micro-Read off, I was awed that an entire table was covered in show postcards exclusively by female playwrights. I shyly introduced myself and the work I had brought, picked up as many postcards as I could hold, and left the event feeling hopeful. “So much work by women,” I kept thinking, “Maybe next year that could even be me.”
The week after the Fringe Femmes Gathering, I felt inspired to write a one-act play called Baba, Jee (Father, Yes in Urdu.) The show is based on the true story of the time my dad came to visit from Pakistan and stayed with my boyfriend and me in our tiny New York City apartment. Then Hurricane Sandy struck, and we were all trapped inside for days. The setting felt perfect to explore themes of culture, belonging, and the experience of being a bi-racial, white passing woman in America. Yet when I first decided to do the Fringe earlier this year, I wondered who I was to even be taking this on. It felt daunting.
But as I walked into the Fringe Femmes Gathering on Saturday, I felt so much more confident dropping my Micro-Read off. A year ago, I would have never imagined myself capable of writing, producing, and acting in my own work. This is due, in part, to the LA FPI community and the willing help and expertise I have found within. So many Fringe veterans were ready to read my script, provide advice on producing, and answer questions. It is not always easy – your inner critic and self-doubt are loud. I often wonder if my work is too female, too much, too rooted to my own life and experience. And yet, as I sat in the Green Room looking to the stage, I heard unique, female voices writing to share, connect, expose, push, and to take our rightful space. The Fringe Femmes event was and is a reminder of why we do this. After all, a year ago I left so inspired that I wrote a little play.
“Baba, Jee (Father, Yes)”is a Hollywood Fringe Scholarship Winner, opening June 4th @ 7pm at Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre. Tickets and more information: http://hff18.org/4943
WHY: One of the ten Fringe Scholarship winners (awarded to shows that expand and diversify the Fringe community), charismatic comic Sofie Khan grew up with a Mexican Catholic mother and a Pakistani Muslim father in a predominantly Black and Puerto Rican Chicago neighborhood. Such a multi-culti stew makes for a deliciously funny and poignant solo show.
Sofie’s warm, relaxed, upbeat stage presence immediately invites the audience into her world. I love her positive motto: “If you judge a book by its cover, you miss out on the story.” And Sofie tells her story very well, relating the many instances where her “cover” has indeed been judged—by cashiers, TSA agents, White House staff (to name a few). Her story is both unique yet highly relatable as our country becomes even more of a melting pot and we’re all “mixed” in some way (mine is a strict Catholic mom and Atheist dad, which was difficult in its own way.)
Sofie reads our minds by answering such questions as: Does she identify more with her ‘Mexi’ side or her ‘Stani’ side? Has she been a victim of a hate crime? What holidays does she celebrate? All these questions and many more are answered along with her imparting sincere wisdom about all of us being part of the World Community, and wanting to create a “safe space and understanding for all…especially for LGBTQ and Muslim individuals”. (To that end, Sofie has partnered with the Naz & Matt Foundation which tackles “homophobia triggered by religion to help parents accept their children”. Brava.)
Though Sofie is “charismatic AF” (to quote the kids today), a compelling performance and a well-told tale is often not enough to make a solo show riveting. It must be theatrical as well. Otherwise, I could just listen to “The Moth” on the radio. I love seeing solo shows at the Fringe and how they run the gamut from basic stand-up to the use of multi-media, props, and other elements to amp up the show. Tightly directed by solo show dynamo Jessica Lynne Johnson, MexiStani! makes use of projections, audience participation, impersonations, and Sofie even performs a rap song. All of the elements add up to a theatrical and highly entertaining show. So entertaining that the serious themes slipped right by my brain and straight into my heart and had me thinking about them days later.
One final note: Sofie is offering a free 90- minute Fringe workshop with the right-to- the-point title: “Getting to Your Authentic Happy Self When You Feel Like Shit”. It’s at the Asylum Underground Theater, June 10 at am. Maybe I’ll see you there!
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.
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.
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!