All posts by LAFPI

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Mikvah Girls

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Emmy Weismann

WHAT: Mikvah Girls

WHERE: The Broadwater Mainstage,  1078 Lillian Way

WHY: I was immediately drawn into the vivid and delicious writing from Emmy Weismann and invested in the changing lives of Aviva and Chava onstage. We as the audience are given a beautiful opportunity to witness the inner thoughts and workings of a friendship on the brink of morphing, and given an insight into the orthodox Jewish world of a Mikvah, which is usually private.

The play is not only witty and hilarious, it is disturbing and eloquent. Emmy tackles sexual deprivation, domestic violence, the love that exists in female friendships and one’s devotion to culture and heritage while also wanting to honor identity and heart. These are not easy subjects to handle, yet Emma does it with sensitivity, humor and most importantly, love. I also loved hearing the girls speak Hebrew during the play. What makes a great play is its ability to capture the heart in ways that remind us we are connected as humans. I need not know what they were saying, for my body understood. The beautiful ensemble showed us the many shades and variations of what it means to live as an orthodox Jewish girl. Maya Knell, Rachel Wender and Sofia Joanna don’t hold anything back.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6394

photo by Annie Lesser

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Revolution With Ramón

by Heather Dowling

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Ruby Marez

WHAT: Revolution With Ramón

WHERE: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Av

WHY: As you walk into the Zephyr Theatre, you realize immediately that you are in for a very playful ride. You are now on the set of The Ramon Show, hosted by queer, Puerto Rican Drag King Ramón for a live taping of a socially conscious Late Night Comedy Show. There are bubbles, there are dragons, there are prizes… but then, there are powerful – but still playful – conversations with important social impact, right now, for all of us. In the “taping” I attended, there was a revelation about renter’s rights that was a MAJOR contribution for so many in the audience. If social and civics lesson were always this engaging, we’d all be better off.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10982

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!”

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: The Anti “Yogi”

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Mayuri Bhandari

WHAT: The Anti “Yogi”

WHERE: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Av

WHY: Because Mayuri onstage is a force to be reckoned with. Because she not only gives us a history of yoga but also the very importance of its existence in a context never discussed. Because her relationship with her musician Neel onstage transcends the show on levels my body is still digesting. Because she addresses the audience without fear of retribution. Because she names the white cultural appropriation and colonization of yoga in such a direct manner that you undeniably understand the effects it can have, not only on a culture but also on one’s identity. Because she gives form to numerous characters and deities in a physical manner that is a pleasure to witness. 

I loved being in the audience – Mayuri’s energy and commitment to her work are contagious. The performance she gives is personal, a revelation of self, and as she embodies her parents you are given a generous glimpse into the dynamics of an Indian family, something we need more of in the theatre. This magnetic offering rewrites the falsities of yoga and takes back the power of an ancient practice that starts with the self and goes way beyond the practice of physical postures.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10384 (Stay updated at inktr.ee/theantiyogi)

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: The Princess Strikes Back

by Azo Safo

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Victoria Montalbano

WHAT: The Princess Strikes Back: One Woman’s Search for the Space Cowboy of her Dreams 

WHERE: Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, 5636 Melrose Av

WHY: Chicago-based Writer/Actor Victoria Montalbano opens the show dressed in a sexy Princess Leia outfit, making it clear that this show will have Star Wars references and that the heroine will be badass!  She cleverly incorporates Star Wars references into a very interesting and relatable life story filled with messy relationships, life lessons and ultimately a transformation that is so very satisfying to witness.  Montalbano does not shy away from the details, including her experiences with online dating – she once dated a C-3PO.  A majority of the audience members this particular evening happened to be women and we were smitten with her. Montalbano knows how to tell a good story. As one audience member accurately said after her show, she is charming! The show is funny and the writing  is crisp, detailed and exciting – EVEN if you have never watched Star Wars.  She’s a relatable performer who entertained and made us cheer for her the whole evening.  This show has one more performance and deserves a good, boisterous audience! 

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10624

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!”

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Late Sunday Afternoon, Early Sunday Evening

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Jean Lennox Toddie

WHAT: Late Sunday Afternoon, Early Sunday Evening

WHERE: The Hobgoblin Playhouse, 6440 Santa Monica Bl

WHY: I thought of my grandmother Addie Mae Brown as I watched this ever-changing but full-of-love relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter [producer/performer Vee Kumari and Sanchita Malik]. This play is a mighty and much-needed gem that is beautifully written by Jean Lennox Toddie. It features a rarely explored cross-generational relationship and validates the importance of us needing to see a wide range of relationships and ages onstage, where women have the opportunity to explore their inner emotional lives and have the space and projects to express them. This is the type of play that is vital to the American Theatre canon and deserves and needs to be uplifted and supported. You can call it a feminist play but ultimately it is a play exploring what it means to be human. How do we live our best and fullest lives in the face of aging and how can we spend the time we have left?  It was a great delight to see the South Indian textiles; to have cultural references only elevated this necessary piece of theatre. It was a wonderful treat to see Vee onstage whose craft as well as her accumulated years on the stage were priceless lessons.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10684

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Mermaid

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Italome Ohikhuare

WHAT: Mermaid

WHERE: The Broadwater Studio,  1078 Lillian Way

WHY: I was immediately taken in by Italome’s onstage presence. As she entered, dancing, she addressed us directly and thanked us for being in the space with her… then all of a sudden she excused herself, grabbed a bottle of pills and began to swallow them down with a glass of water. It’s striking, startling and disrupts every expectation you had when walking into the theatre. It is a priceless lesson on the power of writing and how acting serves as a powerful tool in telling stories. What I loved about this show was that I could enter into African mythology via the Nigerian American lens – a lens that as an African-American woman, I do not often have a chance to experience. As I closed my eyes, I could see, hear and longed for Africa and my arrival at the Lagos airport she so deliciously described.

Mermaid is a story rooted in culture, memory, magic and heartbreak. The hopes and dreams a mother has moving her family to America ultimately will split the ties that bind her in ways that will crush your soul. Yet do not despair, for Italome’s dynamic and gentle performance brings you into the world of her family. Witnessing Italome embody her cousin and her auntie, your heart remembers that family relationships not only shape us, but also create the possibility to free us to live our most authentic lives.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6394

#FringeFemmes 2024: A Chat With Bonnie He

By Eloise Coopersmith

Bonnie He is an Asian American actor, improviser,  writer, award-winning physical comedian and clown and Hello Kitty super fan.  At #HHF24 she added producer to that list [co-producing “Recolonizers” – LAFPI nods to the show’s femme writers Megan Sass & Keisha Zollar]. I caught up with her before she headed out in her European tour for her solo show, “A Terrible Show for Terrible People.” 

Bonnie He – photo by Nicol Biesek

Eloise: When did you first start performing and what have been a few of your favorite fringe stops/experiences?

Bonnie: My very first Fringe experience was at Hollywood Fringe in 2022 with my clown show, “A Terrible Show for Terrible People.” I originally debuted it back in 2018, and I began studying clowning in 2014, so it took me 8 years to begin my Fringe journey. Hollywood Fringe holds a special place in my heart; I received the Diversity Scholarship, won Best Comedy, and met lifelong friends which has made HFF incredibly memorable. Another cherished experience was at Orlando Fringe Winter-Mini Fest, which was exceptionally welcoming and well-organized. Say what you will about Florida, but Orlando is truly magic.

Eloise: You have been very successful at the Fringe with audiences and awards. What does success mean to you?  Is it a packed house, income, creative satisfaction…?

Bonnie: Not gonna lie, for me a successful show has to start with a packed audience. That’s the risk of doing an interactive clown show – you don’t have a show if you don’t have an audience. At one of my first festivals, before I understood how to market my show, I had like only 2 people in the audience and I had no choice but to use them both twice. It was not really a pleasant experience for everyone involved haha. When the audience is full, there’s a synergy that just sparks, and I love feeling the joy of the audience – a lot of them discovering clowning for the first time.

Eloise: You have served as Fringe mentor and producer – what drew you to be more than “just a performer?”

Bonnie: At the Fringe, you wear many hats – you’re not just a performer but also a producer. I believe in being a self-starter; if you don’t produce your own work, who will? I really enjoyed producing my own show and felt that I could help other people get their show on their feet. There’s a joy in helping bring something to life. I feel very grateful I was asked to produce “Recolonizers” for the Hollywood Fringe this year, to help them bring their exciting ideas to life.

Eloise: What makes the Fringe experience different for you?

Bonnie: The Fringe experience is uniquely inspiring. It’s a gathering of dreamers and creators, all striving to realize their artistic visions. The energy and excitement are palpable, making it a truly special environment to be in.

Eloise: Last, one world of advice for Fringers and/or for those out there thinking of coming to see shows? 

Bonnie: For Fringers and those attending shows alike, my advice is simple: immerse yourself in the diverse offerings the Fringe has to offer. Take chances on new and unconventional performances—you never know what hidden gem you might discover. And of course, don’t miss “Recolonizers,” a wild ride of a show that promises to entertain and provoke thought. Catch us on Thursday, 6/27 at 8pm and Saturday, 6/29 at 2:30pm.

For info and tickets visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10841

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: This Show is Surrounded By True Events

by Azo Safo

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Pamela Eberhardt

WHAT: This Show Is Surrounded By True Events

WHERE: The Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Bl

WHY: “This Show is Surrounded By True Events” is a two person play, written by Pamela Eberhardt. Penny, played by Eberhardt, is a guilt ridden jury foreman whose actions put Shiloh, played by Tyler Stilwill, on death row. Seventeen years after the trial, Penny questions the circumstantial evidence that put him behind bars and attempts to atone for her past mistakes by visiting Shiloh in jail. A majority of the play revolves around tense and emotional interactions between these two characters.  But the overarching question is how many innocent lives have been ruined by a flawed justice system?  And what are we going to do about it?  Eberhardt is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the subject.  She has been a life-long advocate of criminal justice reform and this play has a thoughtful and engaging way of creating dialogue around this hot button issue.  And there’s also the pop culture references that provide much needed levity for such a dark subject matter.  The mix of humor and drama with a call to action makes this a play that stay with you long after you’ve left the theater! 

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10772

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!”

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: A Bella Incarceration

by Eloise Coopersmith

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO:  Ann Noble

WHAT: A Bella Incarceration

WHERE: The Broadwater Studio,  1078 Lillian Way

WHY: Anne Noble is clearly a master at her craft. Her solo performance immerses us in a torrent of language about incarceration, drawing from historic writers. Her character’s initial portrayal is articulate, intelligent and delivered with rapid-fire precision, skimming the surface of her character’s inner life. As the narrative unfolds, Anne’s character receives the keys to freedom, elevating her soul beyond the confines of prison bars to reveal deep emotional scars. It’s a deeply evocative and expressive journey.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10534

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!”

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Astrologically Screwed

by Azo Safo

Quick peeks at #HFF24’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Pam Levin

WHAT: Astrologically Screwed

WHERE: Hudson Theatres (Hudson Backstage), 6539 Santa Monica Bl

WHY: Pam meets a world renowned astrologer who predicts several pivotal moments in her life, one of which is a negative event that will take place when she turns forty.  The negative event remains a mystery until her life falls apart on the same day as her fortieth birthday. The build-up to that moment includes several astrological predictions coming true – including in love and career. Pam is ultimately guided by the universe and her guardian angels to triumph.  There is a vividly heartbreaking scene involving a teddy bear. The show explores topics of faith and spirituality, love of family, guardian angels and the power of intuition in steering us toward the answers we seek.  Pam’s spirited and energetic performance is filled with hope and humor. Be sure to bring Kleenex! 

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10974

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!”