All posts by Constance Strickland

#FringeFemmes 2021! Meet Pamela Paek

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

Pamela Paek’s two person show 1.5 Korean (co-written with Arthur Stanley Chong) was not only a winner of a Hollywood Fringe Diversity Scholarship it is now the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Two-Person Show winner. A series of comedic sketches that center around being Korean and Korean/Black-American and the ways one code switches, tamps down or amps up their Koreanness and who they are. What does it mean to not be Korean enough or not Black/Korean enough? Pamela and Arthur tackled it all while still honoring their identity’s heritage. 

Although the show has come to a close the show now lives forever in space and time and we look forward to seeing how the piece will continue and eagerly await for all the work Pamela will continue to manifest with humor, honesty and ferocity.

Constance: Why Fringe?  Why this year?

Pamela: I’ve been thinking about doing Fringe since September 2018 after I did a month-long training in Pochinko Clown. I wanted to explore the non-writer part of me and see what I might produce if I relied on my 16 years of dance training as well as my few years doing physical comedy. I wanted to see what would open up if I was more somatically focused. Then in late 2019, I wanted to talk more openly about being Korean in my creative work. Even though I do stand up comedy, I don’t talk about race or about intersectionality, or the many ways I struggle through each day with the many different aspects of my identity. So, I came up with this title, “1.5 Korean” and thought it would be great to ask a friend who’s half-Korean to explore what it really means to be Korean enough. And in this work, I was able to merge the physical aspects of myself with this newfound voice to share.

 I’ve been purposefully choosing not to be a comic who talks only about singular identities, which I believe tokenize the complexities of who we are – it’s been a lifetime of being quiet and reflecting on when, how, where, why, and what to share. Like it or not, I live and breathe this work every day, interrogating how I show up as well as how I’m seen and heard. And now, here’s my foray into writing and performing with this lens as the focus.

Constance: What did you enjoy most as you created your show?

Pamela: What I enjoyed most were the epiphanies that continued to arise in my exploration of the impacts of intersectionality. Those gems go beyond anything I can create – I’m transformed at a core level that informs and metabolizes the world around me. And, anytime I can make myself laugh really really hard – those are rare moments that need to be documented with dates and time stamps. Like a passport book!!

Constance: What was the most surprising discovery?

Pamela: How often I can shine a light into, onto, and through some of the most painful and hurtful points in my life – and find a way to reshape that into something (hopefully magical) to share with others.

Constance: What was your biggest challenge in terms of your development/creation process?

Pamela: The biggest challenge was knowing what to keep and what to let go of – it’s true of any and all writing for me. I know I need to create a clear through line for an audience to follow, and sometimes, that isn’t how I want to tell the story. I want it to be nonlinear and spastic and nonsensical, because often, that’s what life is for me. So, to create structures that are guideposts for folks to follow, I try to be mindful of how to create and develop those, while honoring my want to have none of those road maps.

Constance: And what do you hope audience members took away after experiencing your show?

Pamela: I hope that anyone who’s ever been gaslit, sidelined, marginalized, oppressed, beaten down – in short, made to feel lesser than the magic and beauty they are – all find a way to own and love who they are and all they bring to every space they enter. I hope they realize the power of speaking truth into space. I hope we can be part of a revolution in fully showing up and being seen. I’ll meet y’all there and relish in that kind of depth and connection.

Constance: The work has been given away – how does that feel?

Pamela: I have a sense of relief that the work has been shared with the world. It’s there to be witnessed by anyone who wants to watch. I hate admitting there’s some trepidation, like a little kid peeking out between their fingers while covering their eyes – I want to know if this show lands on people in good ways. And, when it doesn’t, standing strong and hearing the feedback while not shrinking. Because I am tired of playing small. I’m tired of so many of us who’ve played small. I am entitled to take up and own the space I belong in. So many of us deserve more and better!!

Constance: Extra! Extra! Anything Extra Please Share!

Pamela: I always struggle when an ask or question is wide open. So, if I were to share anything, I’ll say this: I fear that anything I share will not be considered interesting. As a result, I often say nothing. It’s easier. Yet, I’ll spill the all-of-me into anything I create – that’s where you’ll find me fully expressed. Thank you to LAPFI for all you do! You do what’s in my heart: shining the light on those who have historically not been centered or seen as they should. And making it so. YES!

Pamela Paek & Arthur Stanley Chong

#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Simone Tetrault

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

Vice is a two act sci-fi live theatre film hybrid that explores the devastation and hope that can arise within imagined futures. The piece ultimately asks: How can you fight to survive when you have been programmed out of existence? How can you reach someone whose vice is a reality where you do not exist?

I’m always overwhelmed with emotion when I discover the many minds of women who exist in our community. That there is space and room for us all to exist and the more space we make the more original pieces that begin to sprout. What I love about Simone is that she is willing to risk and take a unique approach to theatre making and telling stories. In her own words, “The words we say, the things we do, and the stories we tell have immeasurable power to change our world.” Simone approaches her work with great intention and the process is deeply rooted in care for the weight of the work, those who contribute to making it, and those who receive it whether the form be poetry, dance, music, sound or performance.

(And Vice is also playing at at the Zephyr, in a great part of Melrose where cocktails and food go hand and hand –  you’re sure to catch a show that is original and innovative!)

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

Simone: Vice is a piece that asks more questions than it answers: Who will be the new gatekeepers of the worlds imagined? Who will be left out? In the worlds and realities of the future, who will be fighting to be seen and heard and believed? As we continue building fantastic worlds through digital spaces that augment and alter our realities, I hope audiences consider their role in shaping individual and collective relationships to emerging technologies and to our governing systems. I hope they consider how the many choices they make, large and small, affect what is to come. I want folks to sit with the gravity of that responsibility.

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

Simone: Time has certainly been a challenge. I didn’t have a script when we pitched the idea for Vice this spring, but it was a story concept that had been percolating for a while. I wanted to take on the challenge of writing and developing the first iteration of this play for the Hollywood Fringe while the festival was choosing to use a hybrid format. The writing and rehearsal process moved very quickly, but it was important to me that we stage this production at this moment. I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work of our wonderful cast and crew in realizing this piece so quickly.

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

Simone: It was such a joy to write this script and share it with the artists who have been part of the creative process. I am really enjoying making a piece of live theatre again. The actors have been excited to dive in and play, and world building with the design team has been a dream. It’s been a real team effort, and I am very grateful for the wonderful people who have made this show possible.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Simone: It feels incredibly exciting to be sharing Vice with the world.

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

Simone: About a year into the pandemic my partner, Rich Johnson, and I decided we really wanted to develop a piece of theatre that was designed for the hybrid film-theatre medium that had been emerging . We talked a lot about what kind of story we could tell that would be enhanced by being a true hybrid  rather than a live-stream of a play done out of pure necessity. Rich and I spent a lot of time working on a shared vision for how a live film could be immersive and push the boundaries of what live theatre could look like in a virtual stream, even on a low budget. For us, it was incredibly exciting to envision a dual production – the live theatre performance and live film – that could be equally engaging for audiences in the physical space and online.

When the Hollywood Fringe Festival put out the call for scholarship pitches for this year’s hybrid festival, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try our hand at this. We pitched an idea for a play I’d had a while back about a not too distant future where rapidly advancing technologies threatened to erase entire classes of people. It seemed like the right time for this kind of narrative – one that deals with marginalization and invisibility, things I’ve been weighing heavily this year as an Asian-American woman. After Centrifuge Arts received news about our scholarship win, I went full steam ahead with the writing process, and Vice became our first true film-theatre hybrid production. It has been a thrilling creative challenge to carry out, and I hope audiences are as excited by it as we are.

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

Simone: We want as many folks as possible to come see Vice! Folks can visit vice.eventbrite.com and use these promo codes: VICE10 ($10 off in-person shows). VICE5 ($5 off live-stream tickets).

For more information on VICE in #HFF21, visit http://hff21.co/7100

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Verenice Zuniga

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

ESTRAWBERY FIELDS FOREVER gets me hyped up and excited for the future of theatre. In this solo show by Verenice Zuniga, a 2021 Hollywood Fringe Diversity Scholarship Winner, we will follow the journey of La Graduada, a young Latina grappling with the difficult truths of a post-graduate life as a brown educated woman. Through her we see the American Dream unravel as she moves back home to financially support her family while also figuring out her own path forward. Via poetry, this piece explores immigrant family dynamics, the financial impact of higher education on first-generation students, and the psychological toll of the American Dream, an issue not often addressed directly. I have a gut feeling this will be a richly poignant and moving show that will highlight the voices of tomorrow. What a gift this will be to us.

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

Verenice: I had this idea about five years ago and would always put it off until I felt “ready.” During the pandemic I found myself feeling really stuck creatively and doubting my journey as an artist. This piece allowed me to rediscover my passion for devising theater. After being stuck inside for a year I just wanted to dive into something fun and new.  Like many, in this past year, I realized life is too short to doubt yourself. I’m very glad I took this leap!

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

Verenice: The biggest challenge of this has been finding movement in the show. The show’s language is very poetic and we wanted to find a way to let the language shine but also create a visual language to elevate that poeticism. 

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

Verenice: I’m enjoying the discovery of my own writing.  As I act through the show and work with Kathy Arevalo, my director, I’m finding new meaning to lines and characters. I think this has also been a huge growth journey for me as an actor and writer.  There have been many moments where I’m stuck asking myself  “What the heck did I even mean by this? How do I play this?” It really has allowed me to be on both sides of this play and appreciate how the writing evolves as we workshop it on its feet.

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

Verenice: I hope audience members leave questioning their version of reality and the different levels of privileges that influence their present and future. I also hope they feel seen and hopefully in these 30 minutes we won’t feel so alone in our first-generation struggles.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Verenice: It’s nerve-racking but relieving at the same time. I’m definitely ready to share it with everyone and set the work free!

For more information on ESTRAWBERY FIELDS FOREVER in #HFF21, visit http://hff21.co/7092

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Syn Fontes

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

To know Synida (Syn) Fontes is to love the wild and free being that is SYN! Her writing is a reflection of her bold and daring nature. If the title of her show DATING DETOX/ROMANCE REHAB/PUSSY POWER & POWER OUTAGES doesn’t give you insight into magical Woman there is no doubt her show will. I look forward to an originally delicious show experience, for we get to see a Woman of Color’s hysterically/awkwardly/painfully personal narrative as a devout spinster/accidental cougar/badass (mis)adventuress, irreverently tackling women’s issues such as reproductive health (from first gyno exam to hysterectomy), and New World Dating! Let’s Go. I’m Ready!

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

Syn: Connection – They found others/stories they could relate to when they thought they were “strange”.

Validation/support – Their unconventional lifestyle/life choices have been misunderstood/harshly criticized, but in this piece, they are accepted and even celebrated.

Empowerment – Sisters take control and do their thing their way without asking permission and without apology.

Also, just a good, fun time! If people laugh throughout my show, I’ll be VERY happy.

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

Syn: Making the protagonist more accessible/likable without losing her edge and rawness and crazy. The humor is ballsy and irreverent and could cause offense or cause laughter. It’s not for the hyper-sensitive. I tried my best to be respectful and get input from people in the various groups that are referenced. In the end, comedy is always a risk and I have to brace myself and jump into the fray. (Just don’t give anyone my address, please! LOL)

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

Syn: The fabulous support and encouragement from groups like this, a sacred sister circle.

Constance: What has been the most surprising discovery?

Syn: Every time I’ve done a table reading (or otherwise shared my script), people have told me they can relate to these stories! I thought my stories were off-beat, a little crazy, a little weird, and that people would get a laugh, but they wouldn’t identify with me. Instead, everybody has said they share my journey! The details may be different, even the circumstances, but the feelings and human experiences are the same.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Syn: Like I’m planning and creating a big surprise gift for someone I adore and want so badly to be adored by, but am not sure how they feel about me. Maybe they won’t want my gift, after I put my everything into it. Maybe they’ll fall in love with me! 

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

Syn: 2017, fall. Fringe is open to ALL/non-juried; it’s an experimental playground/training camp open to new ideas, mistakes, and learning as you go. The pandemic, with all its social distancing, has normalized virtual shows. So, now I can afford it! (No venue rental plus full theater crew, insurance, playbills, box office, etc.)

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

Syn: My theme for the Fringe: SOS – Support Our Sisters. My theme for my show: BYOB/LYOJ – Bring your own booze; leave yo’ judgment. (Booze is good for that. )

For more information on DATING DETOX/ROMANCE REHAB/PUSSY POWER & POWER OUTAGES in #HFF21, visit http://hff21.co/4996

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Tanya Thomas

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

Naturally Tan is told through the bold perspective of a vivacious drag queen named Tanvi; through her we follow writer/performer Tanya Thomas’ desperation to fit in as a minority in Singapore and her search for acceptance in America. Will Tanya continue to hide behind her insecurities forever or will she have the ability to embody her full self… and find her self-worth as a woman & artist?

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

Tanya: I hope audience members not only find themselves thrilled by the entertaining nature of the show, but recognize the dichotomous reality that our differences can be both a source of pain and strength. To grow simply means amplifying what you stand for and evolving into who you were meant to be!

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

Tanya: I spent the longest time ashamed of my story and never thought it was worthy to be told. I initially wrote the show to showcase my writing and acting abilities, hoping to find theatrical and voiceover representation that believed in my work. Once I gained the courage to conduct a reading, I realized this show is bigger than me. I am telling my story to give voice to anyone who has hidden themselves as a kindness to the world and inspire those who might not see themselves anywhere else.

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

Tanya: I’m enjoying the collaborative process of creating a solo show. While it sounds singular in nature, the show is truly an amalgamation of kindred souls working their magic! I’m forever thankful to my director Jessica Lynn Johnson and her Soaring Solo community and Natalie Alcala of Fashion Mamas for connecting me to my creative team (illustrations by Dirty Eraser, graphic design by Serina Morris, copywriting by Eileen Rosete and photography by Cameron Jordan).

The most surprising discovery has been hearing from my livestream audience at a post-show Zoom talkback that they recognized some part of their lives reflected in my work on stage. What I thought was so specific to my experience proved to be universal in some form.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Tanya: Exhilarating and nerve-racking at the same time! This will be the first time I perform Naturally Tan in front of a live, in-person audience. My first performance was live-streamed without an audience at Solofest. I’ve waited so long for this moment so I am determined to ground myself in knowing the best things in life are on the other side of fear! I’m thrilled to share my truth and experience the collaborative magic of live theatre. It’ll be great to have that energy released worldwide as the show will be livestreamed too!

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

Tanya: Naturally Tan was many years in the making. An acting coach had encouraged me to write about my cross cultural experiences 10 years ago. I wrote a page but couldn’t bear to write more. A series of healing experiences later, I’m boldly declaring my worth through my 35 characters in the show. I am proud that the show adds a distinct voice to the full range and diversity of Asian American stories. I believe the world is ready to listen deeply and move conversations forward around topics of representation, beauty standards and identity so we can heal our generational scars.

Constance: Anything else? Please share with us!

Tanya: It was important for me to tell a story of my growth as a woman of color, mother, and artist through grace and movement. My drag queen narrator, Tanvi, embodies her highest form throughout the show while restoring that balance between femininity and masculinity. I also depict feminine love in all its graceful forms through Mohiniyattam, a traditional Indian dance style from Kerala, India. It took a serendipitous encounter and a few months of dance training through zoom with world renowned Indian classical dancer, Vijayalakshmi, to get ready for a powerful scene in my show.

 For more information on NATURALLY TAN in #HFF21, visit http://hff21.co/5740

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Diana Elizabeth Jordan

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

Diana Elizabeth Jordan is one of the busiest actresses working in L.A theatre, and one of the most beloved and talented comediennes doing work that’s outside the box. Her new show, Happily Ever Afteris a prime example of her righteous spirit as she takes us on a glorious, hilarious and heartbreaking emotional rollercoaster to find her “prince charming.” Diana is like a real life princess – chosen by the people, not anointed or given the title through marriage – and hers is a solo show I don’t want to miss! 

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

Diana: I have been working on Happily Ever After for several years. It started as a short storytelling project when I took a Story Coaching Workshop with Tanya Taylor Rubenstein. It has grown from a ten-minute story into what it is now.  When it comes to producing at the Fringe, my “Why” is” Why Not?” It just felt like the right time. If I have learned anything in the past year and a half, it is that life is so unpredictable.  I was honored with a Diversity Scholarship and the Fringe Staff could not be more welcoming and supportive. I have also surrounded myself with an amazing support system and team including Women of Color Unite founded by Cheryl L. Bedford, my director Paul Kampf, my sound designer Alexander Tovar, my costume designer (aka my mom) and many others. This really is taking a village and I could never do this without them.

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

Diana: I am really enjoying everything, even the most challenging things like finding time to sleep. (LOL) Seriously, though, I think I have been enjoying some of the non-acting things like picking out my props,  and some of the production side of things like creating visual images. It has been fun. For example, I talk about two childhood friends in my show (whose names I changed) and chose not to use their actual pictures, yet I found visual images that kind of remind me of them.

Constance: What has been the most surprising discovery?

Diana: Honestly the most surprising discovery has been learning about the business decisions I have had to make in terms of ticket sales, along with the best use of my limited funds. It really is wearing two hats with completely different goals.  I have also learned a lot about delegation of responsibilities.  I have often served as a Disability Accessibility & Inclusion Coordinator on projects but for my show I’ve handed those responsibilities over to members of my team.

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

Diana: My biggest challenge with anything I do continues to be to trust myself.  Like a lot of people, I can be my worst critic. My critic, “Mrs. H.”  (named after a mean music teacher I had as a kid), can be incredibly loud sometimes. I also think it is a challenge to tell my truth in a way that is entertaining. I have been to storytelling events where people just share stories and there is value in that.  But sharing diverse stories is a bridge builder and connector. I am intentionally creating a piece of entertainment. So, the challenge then becomes how do I both share my heart and my truth in a way that is entertaining.   

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

Diana: I am a Black woman who has a disability (cerebral palsy which mildly affects my speech and gait); I am proud of the intersection of my identities. That is not what I focus on, though.  My show is about my journey of finding true love, without the assistance of a fairy godmother or talking mirror like a lot of the princesses had in the fairytales I used to read as a girl.  So I hope audiences members see themselves in the stories I share.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Diana: I have felt every emotion from sheer terror to giddy girl excitement and that has been within this past hour. I was watching a video of my 14-year-old nephew the other day, marveling at how fast these 14 years have flown by and realizing he is going to be a man before I know it. I will just blink, and he’ll be a man. This show feels the same way. The preview and performances still seem so far away yet I know it will be here before I know it – like this week (my first preview). It is a lot to take in so I am just saying my prayers, trusting my faith and taking it moment to moment right now and enjoying the ride.

Constance: Anything Extra? Please Share!

Diana: One of my favorite mantras is “Don’t Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Expand It.” It is one of the mantras I live by. It may not always be easy, but the journey of continuing to expand my comfort zone is worth it.

Diana Elizabeth Jordan (www.dianaelizabethjordan.com) is an actor, solo artist, theater & filmmaker, artist educator and disability influencer. For more information on “Happily After (One Woman’s Journey To Find A True Love)” in #HFF21, visit http://hff21.co/6896 

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Lorinda Hawkins

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

Justice? Or… Just Me?: The Bite is a the first part of a trilogy that examines what justice looks like from the perspective of a Black woman in a violent marriage to a white man. Lorinda takes on a journey that navigates what happens when a woman of color dares to fight back. Yet, we get deeper into the truth of a broken system when the Black woman asks for help. Will the help she receives be what she deserves? Through multi-storytelling techniques, the show leaves us asking and needing to decide if justice is for all… or just some? Lorinda’s character must ask the question, “Is this what justice looks like for everybody? Or just me?”

Constance: Why Fringe?  Why this year? And how long have you been sitting with this work?

Lorinda: For 13 years. I’ve been wanting to have my own show in Fringe since I first experienced Fringe through a friend of mine’s solo show in 2010. After that I was blessed to be in a Fringe show – shout out to Rochester, 1996 –  that won the Golden Key Award in 2018. When I was doing that show, I was actually realizing another dream of performing a 10 minute piece of Justice? Or…Just Me? at REDCAT. I was able to do both the REDCAT Spring Studio and the Rochester performances of Rochester, 1996. But all the while, I was taking notes for when I would be able to do my full length show in the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I tried last year for a scholarship and wasn’t able to get one. This year I was!!!

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

Lorinda: What I enjoy most is that good or bad, I’ll know that it truly is my dream/vision. 

Constance: What has been the most surprising discovery?

Lorinda: That there are people out there who are happy to help without needing a ton of money.

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

Lorinda: Finding uninterrupted time and finances.

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

Lorinda: I hope audience members take away a different perspective on domestic violence. I hope my show triggers an even more in depth conversation about it and real solutions and legislation.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Lorinda: Exhilarating and terrifying.

Extra! Extra! If you have the ability to support an independent artist Lorinda is raising funds via Fractured Atlas and has a new book out on Amazon that is as powerful as her solo show.

 Click Here to Donate

Click Here to Order Justice? Or…Just Me?: The Bite 

For more information on Justice? Or… Just Me?: The Bite in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/6617

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet M.J. Kang

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

M.J. Kang s a five time Moth story slam queen who has built a career on turning her personal stories into performative works that remind us all what it means to be human. M.J. has had her work seen on PBS and Risk! Podcast. Her new solo show, THE WINNER,  is revealing, telling and reminds us all that facing our emotions will heal generations.

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

M.J.: I hope audiences come away with having felt a variety of emotions throughout the piece, have been fully engaged, entertained, laughed a great deal and,perhaps, even cried while watching this show. I am sharing who I am with the audiences and I hope they come away with understanding the experiences I’ve lived and can relate to them, identity with them, even if they look nothing like me. I hope they see the humanity of the experiences I’ve had that comes with always holding on to hope and seeing the positive in some tough situations when I don’t have the answers and I’m just trying my best.

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

M.J.:  My biggest challenge has been trusting myself that the process can be easy. The piece itself has been guided by structure and instinct – how the pieces fit together to create a show that is entertaining, funny, and deeply felt.

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

M.J. Kang: How different people are affected by my words. I’ve been performing short pieces of my show in various story slams throughout the pandemic virtually, across the US, Canada and London, England. People are still having emotional responses to my words, which has been gratifying. I have enjoyed watching the Zoom boxes of people’s faces as they react and then vote for me to win and I have won quite a few slams:  5 Moth story slams, a Story Collider slam, National Storytellers Network slam and countless others this year. The whole year-long process of creating this piece has been rewarding in many ways – especially to see people’s reactions during a time when we weren’t able to have in-person performances.

Constance: And what has been the most surprising discovery?

M.J. Kang: The most surprising discovery is how easy it’s been to enlist my daughter to play the live music for The Winner. I truly appreciate her willingness to be part of the show and process. Her involvement adds so many wonderful elements to the production and live music creates an emotional ambiance that is irreplaceable.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

M.J. Kang: I feel excited to be sharing my full piece to the Fringe audiences. Because I’ve been performing up to 40 minute versions of this piece in different iterations, I am very excited to see the response from a theater going audience. I am excited to be performing on an actual stage and not just in my bedroom against a wall. 

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

M.J Kang: This piece is inspired by my life so I’ve been sitting with this work for my entire being. This piece is a huge reflection of the world I live in and my experiences, including what has happened to me this year. If I hadn’t lived this year, I would not be able to write this piece or perform it. It has immediacy and relevance through a lens of warm positivity. I find I need that in life – to remain positive and hopeful.

For more information on THE WINNER in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/7052

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Kira Powell

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

In CAUGHT IN THE MIX, Kira Powell shares with us an intimate and vulnerable solo piece. As a mixed Black & Latina woman who grows up believing she is white, Kira will take us on a journey through her life as she struggles to find and accept her true identity. Kira’s vulnerability and truth carries us through the hard and painful topics surrounding anti-Blackness; we not only witness her growth towards self love, we go through our own.

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

Kira: I hope the audience leaves with a piece of my soul and a connection to me and to the rest of their fellow audience members as they each watch and relate to different parts of my story. I hope it brings healing to those who need it.

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

Kira: To know when to stop writing and to trust that the script is enough!

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

Kira: I am enjoying looking through all of my childhood photos and videos! I am surprised by the amount I keep learning about myself through this process.

 Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Kira Powell: I’m feeling very vulnerable, but also ready to share my story.

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

Kira PowellI started writing my story during quarantine in 2020 in the forms of essays and a memoir. But in 2021, I evolved it into a one-woman show when I received an email about a scholarship opportunity for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I took it as a sign that it was time for me to get my show together. I ended up winning the scholarship, and that’s when I knew there was no looking back!

Constance: Anything extra? Please share!

Kira Powell: This was such a challenging but very rewarding process! I can’t believe I put a show together in the amount of time that I had. On top of that, I am healing and sharing my story. I’m so grateful for the opportunity!

For more information on CAUGHT IN THE MIX in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/7054

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Makena Hammond

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. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

It was a delicious discovery to the spirit to have scrolled upon Makena’s show Black Woman In Deep Water. This solo show is inspired by the incredible true story of  Margaret Garner, a runaway slave, who escaped with her husband, in-laws, and four small children while pregnant with a fifth, only to be recaptured. Faced with a harrowing decision, she takes the life of one of her children rather than allow the child to return to the ills of slavery.

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

Makena: It’s a project that I was assigned last year as a student of Stella Adler’s Art of Acting studio.  We were to write a 15 minute solo show about a real person.  After performing it, and things not going quite to plan, I decided I hadn’t done the story justice and began to expand on it knowing I had to tell the story again if given the chance.  A colleague of mine who saw my show at the studio said she loved it and thought I should enter it in the Fringe so I looked into it and…here we are! 

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

Makena: This is my first time producing, writing, and acting in something all in the same go.  It’s also my first Fringe.  Additionally, I’m pretty new to LA.  So let’s just say it hasn’t been a cakewalk. But I’ve enjoyed realizing that contrary to my initial feeling of being somewhat alone in this city, I do have a community of actors/artists that have stepped up to the plate, many without solicitation, to support me and to help me bring forth my vision. I’m generally a person who takes on everything and says “I got it”. But I had to let that nasty habit go because it became overwhelming trying to juggle everything. So I’ve reached out for help and the outpouring of love and support has been tremendous. One day I just sat and cried with gratitude for all the love and support I’ve received with this project.  It’s been really good for my heart.

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

Makena: I wanted to leave audiences with a sense of hope and empowerment.  But with such a tragic story, I found that very difficult to do.  I wanted to be authentic and honest in the telling of her story, not watering anything down.  So it was like,  how do I tell such a tragic story and still pass on a message of healing and hope, which is what I believe Margaret would want?

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

Makena: I wanted to share a piece of widely unknown history, which I thought, beyond its brutal tragedy, was a powerful story about love.  This play is inspired by the true story of Margaret Garner which, like many slave stories, is often examined from a standpoint of tragedy and victimization.  And while those elements exist,  I wanted to go further than that story to show that she was a woman with cares and worries and deep love and passion. She was a woman trying to reclaim her autonomy as a woman and as a mother.  I think to humanize her beyond her tragedy is to make her relatable to every human.  I think when we see how much more alike we are than different, we realize we can understand each other more and possibly heal the deep hurt of the past.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

Makena: There is a certain level of anxiety that comes along with giving it away.  It is a passion project which I’ve been developing for over a year now. It’s my baby!  I’m excited to tell Margaret’s story because I think it’s powerful. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a certain level of trepidation.    But more than anything else, joy, excitement, and gratitude to have the medium to share something so deeply personal with the world.

 Constance: Anything else? PLEASE Share with us!

Makena: This project is deeply personal to me.  Not only because I wrote it, but because I’ve added elements of West African culture and heritage that have been passed on to me from my Ghanaian family.  I want to share that heritage which I’m extremely proud of and show how it is connected to the American story.  The human story. At first I felt intimidated by the tragedy of her story and wanted to forget about the project altogether.  But as I began to research her,  there were coincidences that kept poking out at me which made me feel almost as if I was meant to tell this story.  For example, Margaret and her husband’s names are the same names of my own parents. When they were arrested they ended up being thrown into Hammond Street jail which is my last name.   They even had a daughter that was born on the exact same day as my sister!  While they may seem benign coincidences to some, I took them as a signal from the universe to be brave; to explore the possible connections between her story and my own.  And I’m glad that I did.

For more information on BLACK WOMAN IN DEEP WATER in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/7193 

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