All posts by LAFPI

Women (Back) on the Fringe: #HFF21 #FringeFemmes Kudos & Numbers

After a year off, the Hollywood Fringe Festival was back this year, big in energy if a bit smaller in size and a different sort of shape, being a hybrid of live and virtual performances.

But one thing that was not scaled back in 2021 was the Fringe Femmes presence and energy. Nope, the Women on the Fringe rocked it, creating amazing work and a phenomenal community.

This year, instead of giving out awards to venues supporting female playwrights as part of the closing night ceremony, Constance Strickland presented the 2021 numbers (representation of women+ writers and artists of color in scripted HFF Shows) as well as a “Most Wanted List” of venues that staged 50% or more works by women+ playwrights. (Many thanks to honorary Fringe Femme Lois Neville & the fab Fringe Staff!)

We first started tallying 10 years ago, and found that the number was 39%. While that was almost twice as the year-round numbers in LA theater, that wasn’t good enough. But within five years, we hit 50%… and have kept that average ever since.

Big huzzahs that during the month of August, 52% of the scripted Fringe shows were written by women+.

Four venues were on 2021 FPI’s Most Wanted List: Actors Company, Hudson Theatres, The Broadwater and Zephyr Theatre; in addition, over 50% of the scripted shows livestreamed only were femme created.

But the numbers representing artists of color aren’t nearly as celebratory. In 2021, only 36% of the scripted Fringe shows were by writers of color. This is up from 21% overall last year (the first year we tallied race numbers). Interesting to note that of female playwrights, 43% were of color; male playwrights, only 28%.

It was also encouraging to look at the HFF Awards Winners. 50% of the Community “Freak” Awards went to women+, including Makena Hammond’s BLACK WOMAN IN DEEP WATER which took Top of the Fringe. And 100% of the Sponsored Awards and 89% of the Best of Broadwater Awards were awarded to female playwrightswell over 50% of both these Awards went to writers of color.

In spite of the fact that only 37% of the Producer’s Encore Awards were given to female playwrights, and only 37% to playwrights of color

You still have time to catch many of the Women on the Fringe in Encore performances starting this weekend! Click Here for Info

So congrats all.

But let’s just say that numbers count. And we can do better.

  • We, as theatermakers, must make a conscious effort to take note and put more diversity onstage.
  • We, as artists, must demand that the untold stories are heard and celebrated, in all shapes and forms.

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Sugar and Shit

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Lenny Langley and Lori Hoeft

WHAT: Sugar and Shit

WHERE: Hudson Theatre 6539 Santa Monica Blvd + Livestream

WHY: This show left us feeling full, inspired, and not afraid to have a deeper conversation with ourselves. There was a beauty and boldness that revealed itself immediately when we watched –  a softness that comes from hard experiences that did not swallow these women whole. A delicate intimacy filled the space in the midst of dark material; there was room for laughter, a place for joy to still live. 

Ah, there is this powerful energy between Lori and Lenny and you feel lucky to witness this friendship – this love between two women whom the universe knew far before their spirits would merge. SUGAR AND SHIT is a show that has a sense of itself, that understands the need to find healing and freedom, alone or in community. It’s a lovely gem within the 2021 Hollywood Fringe catalogue.

HOW: Keep track of Lenny and Lori @ https://www.instagram.com/theshowsugarandshit

Click Here to Find “Women on the Fringe” HFF21 Encores

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Mask and Man

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Maria Hansson

WHAT: Mask and Man

WHERE: Virtual Performances as part of Hollywood Fringe and Gutenberg Fringe Festival

WHY: This was a beautiful, magical, fantastical show. Although Dance and Physical Theatre is my favorite category during Hollywood Fringe, this piece was a late discovery and, my goodness, I thank the theatre gods that I did not miss this exquisite show. It’s the kinda piece that elevates the entire category and changes everything.

As a performer, Maria is absolutely breathtaking. You’re instantly absorbed, taken on a visual journey but also immersed in an unexpected but much-needed sound experience. Maria uses sound as a revelation; it took me quite some time to realize where and how the sound was entering into the space, like a whole-body treatment for the spirit. She occupies the entire space and treats stillness as a rite; what we receive across the ethers is an astonishing, hypnotic, physical gift. I felt as though I was included in a sacred passage of human exploration.

HOW: Catch Performances September 10 & 12 https://billetto.se/e/mask-and-man-gothenburg-fringe-2021-biljetter-554711

Click Here to Find Hollywood Fringe Encores

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Vice

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Simone Tetrault

WHAT: Vice

WHERE: Livestreamed from Zephyr Theatre 7456 Melrose Av  

WHY: Look! I was not ready for the vision of what Simone manifested upon the stage with her wonderful cast of actors. This play is a BIG idea piece that asks its audience to think BIG on a multitude of levels which gave the work a thrilling and relevant edge.

VICE asks you to ask questions about the society you are living and actively participating in. How will you exist and can you exist as a whole person within its current structure? I was fully absorbed and allowed myself to be taken into this utopian sci-fi live theatre film that felt like a new form of theatre. VICE felt familiar in that over the past couple of years as a country we have known devastation, yet we also know hope and we remember that human rights are worth fighting for. This play blows up all one’s expectations in the most special and subtle of ways.

HOW: Catch an Encore Performance Online September 10! https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7100

Click Here to Find More Hollywood Fringe Encores

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Caught in the Mix

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Kira Powell

WHAT: Caught in the Mix

WHERE: The Broadwater Black Box 6322 Santa Monica Blvd 

WHY: I cannot lie: my heart broke in tiny pieces as I slowly realized the shame and confusion Kira had carried for years believing she was white. I was hit hard in the gut in a new way that was not familiar because Kira had unleashed an often quiet elephant in the room, the idea of white skin being superior – this gift of whiteness existing on high levels in our country and around the world, simmering still.

This hurtful reality of how Black people are seen by other people of color – and in some instances by other Black people – becomes clearer when we see Kira transform into her Ecuadorian mother, and lean into the audience as her Black father whispers “spooks” to a young Kira. A subtle stillness occurs in some audience members, while an uncomfortable laugh comes from others as the word hits the space. You know that this girl, right in front of you, right now, will not allow her past to hijack her future. Yet just as Kira gently breaks your heart she picks up the pieces in a contagious fervor and we see HER: a beautiful Afro-Latina young woman living her best life, no longer afraid to own her identity. We witness Kira loving herself, a splendid joy that arises deep down in the solar plexus, and when Kira starts to sing “I’m Growing Out my Afro” in all her glory, you start to believe that letting go of societal lies, shedding dead weight, and facing old pains will free your entire being.

This year there was a powerful thread occurring throughout the Hollywood Fringe: No more will we carry falsities of white superiority and propaganda by a white patriarchal system!

HOW: Catch an Encore Performance September 4! https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7054

Click Here to Find More Hollywood Fringe Encores

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: TransSetter

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Veronica Carey Matthews

WHAT: TransSetter

WHERE: studio/stage (Main Space) 520 N. Western Ave

WHY: There are many moments in the theatre that knock us outside of ourselves, but I dare say it is a rare moment to be reminded of what it means to be human. This is exactly what Veronica does, and in such a naturally commanding way that it takes your breath away.

As Veronica takes us on her journey of transitioning from Carey (not some other person, really) to Veronica (her full self), we share her experiences from couch surfing to having to sleep in her car (with her favorite vices and snacks and a dying phone used as a tv) and we immediately understand the grit it takes to survive in Los Angeles. There is a moment when Veronica decides to go make-up shopping for some damn foundation! (I mean what woman hasn’t felt foreign with the stress of having to “find” your color!) This was hilarious, yet did not steal away from the urgency in which Veronica is fighting for her life. We walk away seeing a woman who was determined to honor herself – a truly powerful moment on stage, as it reinforced that humor makes way for healing. I left this seamless show believing it will save lives. I have no doubt Veronica will continue to be a beacon of light for so many of us in her community and beyond. This beautiful journey she is on as an artist will make the American Theatre richer.

Thank you, Veronica, for your truth.

HOW: Catch a Fringe Encore Performance Friday, September 3! https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7094

Click Here to Find More Hollywood Fringe Encores

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: I Heart Maroc

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Azo Safo

WHAT: I Heart Maroc

WHERE: The Broadwater Black Box 6322 Santa Monica Blvd (+ Live-Stream)

WHY: Because Azo Safo was a magical sight to behold onstage. Because each time Azo moved her body through space we were swept away to Morocco. Because each time Azo turns in the air like a magician I literally begin to see Khajida’s face, the way she tips her head when she speaks. Because I heard her mother’s voice and found deep laughter (as I know a few Armenian mothers in Glendale!).

Because I, too, fell in love with Mohammed, the villagers (even Sidi), I found I was not quite ready to yet leave these characters, either. Because onstage I saw a whole woman who had connected the dots of her life and was able to find delight and satisfaction, understand the pain, and reckon with the future. Because I Heart Maroc was a beautiful gift to – or perhaps for – the spirit. Because when Azo swallows a tear, no words are needed. We the audience completely understand and honor the story, her story she shared with us.

HOW: Catch a “Best of the Brodwater” Encore Performance September 5! https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7091

Click Here to Find More Hollywood Fringe Encores

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: EGG

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Erin Fowler

WHAT: EGG

WHERE: Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre (SFS Theatre mainstage) 5636 Melrose Ave (+ Live-Stream)

WHY: EGG was a wild, ridiculous, unexpected ride! Erin investigates the age-old question that women in their thirties battle with, if we have not made a clear decision on motherhood: should I, will I, must I, can I give birth?! Erin undertakes this heavy topic with music, dancing, and absurdity that reveals a tendernerness in approaching a truly sensitive subject that differs and is personal for every woman. Erin’s boldness and bravery made me imagine I was having a real, grown ass conversation with a girlfriend who knows you, really knows you. This solo show really shines when Erin is in her element, moving with no sound. For it’s all there, and through her body we understand all that she could not say with words.

Learn more about Erin at https://www.erinfowlermovement.com

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7185

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe”

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Happily Ever After

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Diana Elizabeth Jordan

WHAT: Happily Ever After

WHERE: Live Streamed from Los Angeles LGBT Center (The Renberg Theatre) 6322 Santa Monica Blvd

WHY: I may not have enough words in my vocabulary or a creative palette expansive enough to express what a great joy and honor it was to watch Diana sit upon the stage and fill it with her whole being and spirit. She’s a natural actress, but I knew was also watching a talented technician at work as I witnessed her cleverness and her comedic timing, along with her ease of performing like a true theatre veteran. As I learned more about Diana and her personal journey, her quest for love revealed a common thread: that most little girls dream about a prince charming as we dress up as princesses and play “house.” Diana’s show is a huge gift and just the start – or shall I say continuation? – of a long theatrical legacy.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6896

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe”

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Estrawberry Fields Forever

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF21’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Verenice Zuniga

WHAT: Estrawberry Fields Forever

WHERE: The Broadwater Black Box 6322 Santa Monica Blvd (+ Live-Stream)

WHY: As soon as Verenice appears upon the stage you know you are in the presence of a truly special artist. Verenice has the rare ability to spin language into poetry, and the way she attacks the stage with her body steals your heart from start to finish of her beautiful solo show. I caught myself holding my breath as Verenice confessed personal truths of family obligations, and stories of facing generational traditions while chasing dreams filled my soul with gentle familiarity. The vulnerability of this young artist makes you feel as if you’re witnessing a sacred rite of passage. After the show, as I got in the car, I sat and sobbed and the only way I could express that overwhelming feeling in my gut was to ask myself, “Have you ever seen a Brown girl fly?” I have no doubt the sensation this show leaves in the body is the spirit of the Fringe. This is what the future looks like in the theatre when artists are uplifted and supported. Go see this beautiful Brown girl manifest her future on her own terms!

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7092

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe”