Category Archives: Fringe Festival

#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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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Carla Delaney

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.

Worth It! is Carla’s fourth fringe show! A hilarious comedienne who shares her wild talent in this fast paced, award winning musical extravaganza, Carla morphs into over forty characters as she questions her net-worth + self-worth. A show where hope takes the lead is a show we truly need during these disrupted times. 

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

Carla: I hope the audience walks away with a better appreciation of their own value in our world, and the power they have to change their energy by changing old thought patterns. Oh, and I hope they walk out humming the catchy songs! LOL

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

Carla: Sometimes I go into “premature polishing mode” when an idea is still hatching. During the writing process, I had to gently remind myself to give my creative ideas room to fully develop on the page before I started editing.

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

Carla: I’m enjoying making myself laugh during rehearsals. Even if I’ve said a line 20 times, sometimes I will hear it in a new way and think, “Son of a gun Carla, that’s funny!”  As far as surprising myself, I’m always surprised by the messages my soul wants to give me. Those messages seem to come out on the page!

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

Carla: With every show, it feels vulnerable to share. But this time it feels particularly joyful to share because live audiences are finally going to be with us, and not just through a screen.

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

CARLA: It took me two years to write this show. I think I was hesitant and even a little resistant because “Worth It” talks about money and my family’s relationship with money. For some reason, money seems like a touchy topic. The show also talks about the relationship between our self worth and how that can affect the abundance we let into our lives. The show is fast paced comedy with music videos, but still, these are pretty big themes! Why Fringe? Why not?! Fringe is a fun, creative, supportive wild ride! And Worth It takes place during the pandemic, so it’s incredibly timely right now.

For more information on WORTH IT! in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/7193

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#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet Alma Collins

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.

I am thrilled to have discovered Alma’s solo show online and hope that you all have a chance to experience Strong like Honey, which stars Alma Collins. This show is a love letter. A daughter recounts her generational relationship with her mother and grandmother and how ultimately becoming caregiver to her mother both challenged and healed their role reversal relationship.

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

Alma: Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you feel you ought to be loved, it does not mean they don’t love you.  I want people to walk away understanding the power of forgiveness.  Healing and insight does not come from anger or revenge, but sometimes through simply doing what is right, no matter how one feels about a situation.  I hope some of the memories I share about growing up in Venice will bring a smile to those who grew up there.

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

Alma: The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is the feeling of “Who wants to hear my story?”

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

Alma: That I have so many stories and characters inside me.  Maybe I can do as August Wilson did . . . he kept writing his stories, and through them all there was always a common thread.  I discovered precious memories I’d not thought about in years.

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

Alma: I’m ready and not ready at the same time.  I’m an actress.  I’ve never tried to write anything before.  It feels daunting at times.  “Strong Like Honey” is my baby and I hope people find my baby beautiful.

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

Alma: I began writing “Strong Like Honey” in February 2018.  My friend and mentor, Adilah Barnes, has been trying to get me to write a solo show for years.  I started taking Jessica Lynn Johnson’s free workshops a couple of years ago to learn about solo performances instead of just observing. 

Constance: Why Fringe?

Alma: Why not? Plus it would be amazing to be invited to do my show in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Maybe I’ll meet my Jamie Frasier out there. 

Constance: Why this year?

Alma: I’d planned on doing Fringe last year, but it was cancelled due to Covid. I’m not glad it was cancelled, but I think I’m better prepared this year.

Constance: Please! Anything extra to share?

Alma: Two years ago I did a 15 minute excerpt for Adilah’s “Hot Off The Press.”  I didn’t even have a complete script at the time, just an idea.  A couple of months later, at Jessica’s free Saturday workshop, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I saw what you did a few months ago and it changed my life.”  Her statement caught me off guard and also reminded me that when we have a gift, we are accountable for what we do with it.  If anything I do or say  encourages someone to forgive, to love, to go on their own journey towards healing, then I’ve done my job.

For more information on STRONG LIKE HONEY in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/6765

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Comedy Hoe

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF19’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Jil Chrissie

WHAT: Comedy Hoe

WHERE: Hudson Theatres (Hudson Guild) 6539 Santa Monica Bl

WHY: Because black women producing changes the game – it raises the bar! Jil Chrissie creates a new genre, while giving fellow comedians of color a platform to share their material and have a louder voice.

Comedy Hoe is stand-up comedy meeting high art. You will not find many who would say these are a good match but after seeing Comedy Hoe I saw the possibility, the magic of combining spoken word, fictional storytelling and stand-up into a compelling and powerful piece of new theater. This is a fantastic, innovative show which also features comic Angelica Mackey, who is hilarious – a true comedian with a simmering presence on stage. And Jil can bring a room from uncontrolled laughter to stillness, where reflection takes hold. As an audience member you sense you are witnessing something special, that you are a part of the future. Comedy Hoe belongs in galleries and clubs from the U.S to Europe.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5605

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe” in Encore Performances

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: The Living Room

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF19’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Amrita Dhaliwal + Gemma Soldati

WHAT: The Living Room

WHERE: Theatre of NOTE, 1517 North Cahuenga Bl

WHY: A woman in a black dress with her face hidden from the audience marks lines on a chalkboard. Silent. We see only the bounce her body makes as she writes on a small board. There’s something about this action that becomes unsettling but, but your fears are set aside as an abrupt entrance brings  the room to immediate laughter. This Dynamic Duo’s energy, chemistry and timing are a theatrical treat that will take you outside yourself and on an unexpected emotional journey with a room full of strangers. The Living Room is a place where many families gather together in joy and sorrow. A room of memories.

This show is a wonderful examination and celebration of life and death. By the end of the show you won’t quite understand how, but you’ll find yourself speaking aloud.

HOW: https://www.dhalidati.com/thelivingroom (The HFF19 show has closed but The Living Room will be performing as part of the Edinburgh Fringe)

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe” in Encore Performances

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Aisha Kasmir

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. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre.

Selfie stars Aisha Kasmir, in a cabaret revue honoring the songs of seventies sensation Minnie Riperton. It’s been forty-five years since the hit song “Lovin You” climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list and forty years since Minnie passed on. This  is an ode to  Minnie and a celebration of Aisha finding her voice and  her way back to herself through the discovery of Minne Riperton’s music. #HFF19’s Selfie promises to take you on a musical ride through self-discovery, self-love, self-actualization and accepting your true identity.

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? What led you to Fringe?

Aisha: I started sketching out this cabaret in 2016 when my vocal coach suggested I create a tribute concert to better showcase my vocals. What started as a traditional cabaret – storytelling and singing – became something more avant garde. A friend and stage manager then pushed me to try to put my show up at the Fringe Festival. 90% of the music was done, I was in the middle of writing the talking points, so I said, “It’s now or never.”

Constance: The work is now out there. How does that feel?

Aisha: It feels liberating that I’m no longer the only one hearing the genius of Minnie Riperton and her eclectic music. If at least one person per show starts streaming and downloading her music and keeps her voice alive, I’m happy.

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

Aisha: I enjoy singing those whistle tones! I guess people really like them and it gives me a heady rush every time. The most surprising discovery is how different each audience is, but I have to remain true to my story and confident in my show. I can’t change tactics because there wasn’t as big a laugh in one show versus another. I like it, and I’m not going to apologize!

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

Aisha: Getting the music done. Minnie Riperton didn’t leave behind a lot of sheet music or even tracks, so I had to transcribe (with the help of a transcriptionist) and recreate and reproduce all the tracks with my own twist and embellishments. That part took two years to complete.

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

Aisha: That expectations and boxes are for test takers and rule makers, and as artists, we have to break free from those constraints, and as audiences, we have to allow people to give us something different.

For more information on SELFIE in HFF19, visit https://fringemeter.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5758

Aisha Kasmir

All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Chi Le

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. It is vital that we make space, open doors wider for women from all cultures to have a chance to have their voices included in the future of theatre.

Introducing the one and only Chi Le! If you happen to be a Toy Story fan, then you most likely know and love the story of Woody and Buzz, yet are unfamiliar with the story of Sid and Andy! No worries, Chi’s got you covered in her adaptation of the Toy Story Fanfic, Under The Table And Dreaming by Holly Combs.  She’s manifested her dreams and directed the #HFF19 production, giving ALL proceeds to the LA LGBTQ Center, an organization that is close to Chi’s heart.

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? What led you to Fringe and why now?

Chi: I’ve been working on this for a year now! I had been thinking of adapting Under the Table for a long, long time, but was worried about getting a cease and desist. Then I went to see the extended run of 19 Years Later, the Cursed Child remake! It really encouraged me to just go for it since this was a fanwork that was being showcased!

Constance: The work is now out there. How does that feel?

Chi: It feels really good! When you’ve been working on something for as long as I did, sometimes you feel stuck with it or you lose sight of why you began/fell in love with it in the first place. It’s nice to receive feedback from an audience or just rediscover things about it as the process goes on.

Constance: What has been the biggest discovery doing your show? What are you enjoying most?

Chi: I’m learning a lot about what people take from the story and how difficult but rewarding it is to translate something to stage! It’s also just been such a blast working with my very talented cast, seeing how they change little things every performance and how they just really embody their characters. It’s WILD seeing that happen

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of this production?

Chi: Money. Hahahahahahahhaa.

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

Chi: I hope that the straight audience members can see a queer story unfold that isn’t tragic or about coming out or even about being queer, necessarily — that we have rich, full lives and that our stories are just regular love stories. And for other queer folk, I hope they get some comfort in the thought of a real, true love and get to see a reflection of themselves in these works.

For more information on UNDER THE TABLE AND DREAMING in HFF19, visit https://fringemeter.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5904

Chi Le