#FringeFemmes 2024: Meet Rahvaunia Johnson

By Constance Strickland

June is here and “Women on the Fringe” are again onstage!

There is nothing quite like the buzz that’s created during the Hollywood Fringe. It is a time filled with risk-taking, courage, hope and independent artists creating new work by any means necessary. Each year, I ask women writers a new series of questions influenced by the Proust Questionnaire and Bernard Pivot’s French series, “Bouillon de Culture.” The goal is to understand the artist’s work and their full nature while allowing them a space to reveal their authentic self. It is a great gift and a true honor to introduce women who will be presenting work in myriad genres, exploring a wide range of topics that allow us to examine who we are as individuals and as a society.

Introducing Rahvaunia Johnson and her show, “tHis Is Very IMPORTANT

Rahvaunia Johnson

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

Rahvaunia: My show’s message is layered, much like life itself. I hope that the audience members leave with the understanding that we are all navigating this world, doing the best we can. We don’t always get it right, but if we lead with love, kindness, empathy and non-judgment, we may realize that we are more alike than different. It would truly make my soul smile if women, in particular, embraced self-work, the importance of sisterhood,and emotional work, which would allow them to recognize their immense importance to the world and the human experience. It is also important for all genders to understand how special the woman truly is. We are all here because of a woman.

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

Rahvaunia: Outside of never writing anything other than a couple of short films and a few synopsis… The biggest challenge in my development and creation process has been managing my grand dreams and high expectations. I envision everything on such a grand scale and my perfectionist tendencies, combined with a touch of OCD, make it even more demanding. I aimed to create something so impactful that the HIV storyline connecting 3 of the 15 characters becomes unavoidable and deeply relatable. Often, we shy away from topics we think won’t resonate with us, but that’s precisely why I created this show… to challenge those assumptions. This journey has been incredibly challenging requiring me to dig deep and find my inner voice, reminding myself to let go and simply create. I had to learn to step out of my own way.

Constance: What are you enjoying most as you create your show?

Rahvaunia: I most enjoyed the discovery of small nuances that make each character relatable to a diverse audience. It’s incredibly fulfilling to layer the lives of these women beyond their diagnosis, exploring their journeys before, during and after. Creating characters with fragments of all of us, regardless of race or gender, allows me to connect with the audience on a profound level. This process of crafting multifaceted, relatable women was both challenging and deeply rewarding.

Constance: What has been the most surprising discovery?

Rahvaunia: That’s been my ability to create something that is both entertaining and, at times, humorous, while addressing a topic that many consider heavy or taboo. Even the most touching and emotional moments are crafted to take the audience on a journey that ultimately ends in hope and a smile, both on their faces and in their hearts.

Constance: The work will be given away soon. How does that feel?

Rahvaunia: I’ve been blessed to share this work before, and each time I put it out there and leave everything on the stage it’s an incredible feeling. Knowing that my contribution is raising awareness and serving the community is immensely fulfilling. As a BIOPIC woman, my work directly impacts my community, but it also resonates with the broader global community. This sense of connection and service is what makes this experience truly amazing.

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

Rahvaunia: For 16 years or so before finally bringing it to life. Life has a way of keeping you busy and pulling you in many directions, but I never let it discourage me. I knew that when the time was right, it would happen. And it did, at the perfect moment, just as the number of diagnoses among Black cisgender women was on a constant rise.

Constance: Why Fringe? Why this year?

Rahvaunia: Why not? I’ve been a Fringe audience member for some time, and it’s one of the few times in Hollywood when small theatrical productions get the support they truly deserve. LA might not be known as a “theatre” town, but for 30 glorious days, Fringe transforms it into one. The energy and passion during this festival are unparalleled. I originally wanted to participate in the Hollywood Fringe in 2020, but we all know what happened that year. I decided to step back for a while, observing how theatre adapted to streaming shows to keep the art alive during such trying times. But I had a desire to connect with live audiences and that was a priority for my “important” show. And here I am. Hello, Hollywood Fringe 2024. Thank you for making space for me!

Constance: Anything else that must be said – please add!

Rahvaunia: “tHis Is Very IMPORTANT” is my first written piece for the stage. Stepping into unknown territory this project has not only taught me invaluable lessons but also ignited a yearning to create more theatre work. It is my hope to be able to bring those ideas to a stage near you. In the meantime, I am manifesting that TIVI (short for tHis Is Very IMPORTANT) will be performed on stages worldwide. It’s a human experience that deserves to be seen by all. Beyond its stage life, it will evolve into a mini-series. Many people have expressed a desire to know what happens next for my characters, and I hope they won’t have to wait too long to find out.

For info and tickets visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10434

One thought on “#FringeFemmes 2024: Meet Rahvaunia Johnson

Leave a Reply