WHERE: Assistance League Theatre 1367 N. St. Andrews Place
As soon as you walk in the theatreyou feel a contagious energy – you are bearing witness to a special performance where actors and non-actors share the stage to honor the promotoras who’ve fought for their community, the safety of their bodies, better working conditions and have built a union connecting janitors across the state of California. Written and directed by Jeanette Godoy, this play is powerful and full of urgency as it gives insight into the battles endured by immigrant janitors who fought to protect women working late night janitorial shifts. This fight for women, led by women, redefined how immigrant women were seen in the workplace. It is a testament to the power of coming together and sacrificing by any means necessary. Go see this show – by the end of the show you’ll be shouting YA BASTA, Sí Se Puede!
A great gift is to be reminded of the power of stillness. The show opens with a live cellist, violinist and pianist while Anabella stands looking at the audience. This brave moment seems to last an eternity; you begin to feel uncomfortable and immediately know that this show will not spare your heart. Through her use of ballet en pointe, song, multiple characters (all performed by Anabella) and modern dance, Anabella captures the heart of the audience with her penetrating eyes and daring ability to share painful truths with intense intimacy. She has a keen sense of humor, and takes us on a journey of youthful innocence, trauma and survival. Tackling issues that many don’t come back from, Anabella shows us that art is a constant saviour; it will always give us new breath, a new life on our own terms. Go see this show and hope you can get in!
WHERE: Studio/Stage 120 N. Western Av, Los Angeles 90004
We are living in times when – now, more than ever – it is vital that we share experiences that can save lives. For too long, mental health has carried a negative stigma and a stamp of shame, discussed behind closed doors. Jessie refuses to live this kind of life and brings the audience into her personal experience of living with bipolar and schizophrenia hallucinations. Her fearless humor and directness draws the audience in, not through pity but hope. The original songs brought to life with Jessie’s beautiful voice, and her dancing, are gifts to the audience as she reveals how she’s been able to thrive and live her best life! GO! This is a celebration of the mind, body and heart. A yummy example of how much you can bear even when you think you can’t keep going. Keep going!
WHY: This lovely one woman show explores in an articulate, humorous and entertaining performance the inner workings of Stacy Dymalksi’s mind and heart when it comes to self identity and relationships. Although definitely female focused there were men in attendance laughing and acknowledging that finding ones true self in a relationship is hard – but satisfying.
And, yeah, there are SO many shows that I missed during #HFF18, which I swore I’d catch if they were extended but… Argh. July was supposed to be saner than June!
But enough of that. (Why are we always obsessed about what we don’t manage to do?)
This year during the Fringe, as in years past, the work and camaraderie of women artists was pretty damn impressive. Those amazing Fringe Femmes wasted no time kicking ass big time. So great seeing LA FPI badges and logos all over the place in June – thank you for all the love!
Also great to be able to give LA FPI’s “Most Wanted Awards” again at the HFF18 Awards Ceremony to venues who staged 50% or more works by women onstage during the Fringe. (Many thanks to fabulous presenters Fiona Lakeland and Katt Balsan, and Olivia Butaine and Lisa K. Wyatt who helped tally to find this year’s figures!)
And now, the numbers.
The “Most Wanted” Awards went to 12 venues this year: 2nd Stage, Actors Company, Art of Acting Studio, Assistance League Playhouse, Lounge Theatre, Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, Studio C, studio/stage, The Broadwater, The New Collective, Theatre of NOTE and Thymele Arts.
Also pretty pleased that 70% of the community-voted “Fringe Freak” Awards went to works created by women. And 53% of the Sponsored Awards were given to femme-penned projects, including “Fort Huachuca” by Ailema Sousa, receiving The Inkwell Playwright’s Promise Award.
And then there were the overall numbers. This year, 49% of the scripted Fringe shows were written by women.
So a big yay there, considering the year-round #LAThtr average is probably still around 20%.
But I was a bit bummed that we didn’t hit 50%, a bar we’ve reached for the last two years. Hmph. Sure, the percentage is up from 39%, when we started counting. And I don’t know if 49% vs. 50% is statistically significant; last year we did hit 52%. However, as far as I’m concerned, it’s an important reminder: We still have work to do, ladies… and allies!
Right. We, as theatermakers, must make a conscious effort to put more diversity onstage. And we, as artists, must take positive action so that untold stories are heard and celebrated, in all shapes and forms.
Because here’s another number: only 47% of the Producers’ Encore! Awards, with extensions, went shows by female playwrights. Grrr.
So who’s with me? We continue to spread the #FringeFemmes energy & support each other as a community throughout the year so that we get our voices out there, and our plays into the hands of decision-makers!
WHY: Hurry! Only 1 more performance left of this fringe diversity scholarship winning feminist show! Powerfully blending beautiful choreography, spoken word and a fierce yet supportive beatboxer, I Came to Make Noise speaks to the struggle, diversity and universality of the American woman. Get tickets now for Saturday, June 23, 6:00 PM and you can get 20% off with discount code: MAKENOISE
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.