Category Archives: playwriting

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Daddy Issues

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: Victoria Kelleher 

WHAT: Daddy Issues

WHERE: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue

WHY: In this hilarious and touching autobiographical comedy, Vikki reveals that she and her sister were, in fact, the first latch-key kids of Gen X. This led to a life of parentified, defiant adventure for Vikki as she raised herself in Minnesota. She went on to build an accomplished career as an actor in film and television in Los Angeles, but then in 2019, a 23 and Me test turned her past upside down, and her future right side up. “How many dads does it take to raise an unapologetically self-reliant woman?” It’s a question wonderfully answered in this surprisingly emotional comedy.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10691

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Dear Auntie B

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:  Becca Lustgarten

WHAT: Dear Auntie B

WHERE: Actors Company (The Little Theater) 916 N. Formosa Av

WHY: In this solo, sometimes musical dramedy, Becca Lustgarten plays Auntie B., an Upper West Side advice columnist whose outward expression is elegant, highly refined, almost anachronistic. As a self-proclaimed dating guru, her advice is sharp, hilarious and highly relevant. Over the course of the play, Auntie B. paints a picture of her perfect marriage to the perfect man, but it becomes apparent there’s something she is hiding from us, and herself. The fun begins to unravel as reality interrupts her opining on other’s lives. We find that we, the audience, are in the fact in the midst of her loss and unique expression of grief. Content warning: conversations about suicide.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10714

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Where Y’all From?

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: Yelba Zoe McCourt

WHAT: Where Y’all From?

WHERE: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue

WHY: This beautifully acted and cleverly written solo play by Yelba Zoe McCourt is a smart and grounded discussion on the topic of identity and the immigrant experience in America. The main story follows the life journey of “Zoe” who starts out as a passionate supporter of Walter Mondale, turned actress turned nurse – constantly facing scrutiny and questions about her race and the all too familiar question “where are you REALLY from”.  

When Zoe realizes she doesn’t know much about her background she unravels a family past that she has tried to bury in the past. There are moments of laughter as the fun and funny characters bring lighthearted energy at the beginning of the play, but a serious turn midpoint of the play and the reveal of her generational trauma pulls at your heart strings and brings not only tears but a deeper understanding toward the humans that suffer under our immigration policies.  This show is powerful and thoroughly engaging. 

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10865

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Amen

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:  Marisa Ray

WHAT: Amen

WHERE: Actors Company (Other Space Theater) 916 N. Formosa Av

WHY: Marisa Ray’s Amen is a wonderful one-act play. It is a play that is fearless in asking big questions and doesn’t feel the need to answer them for the audience. It requires us to ponder, to sit with our beliefs… and what we think we know and how we know it. The ensemble is lovely and each actor onstage is a fully realized character. I loved the shadow work embodied by the actors and the use of talking to God. And God, themselves, talking throughout the play was clever and familiar, for we all have had our own experiences with God.

Yet religion is not the focus of the play but a catalyst for expansive thinking on a wide range of ideas, issues and beliefs. There is nothing like an ensemble of young actors onstage doing new work. They were magnificent together; unique because the entire cast reflected the real world. An excellent, non-forced representation of what diversity can look like onstage. I was mesmerized by the writing on huge topics and in awe of the direction, costume and set design. A truly original piece.

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Intrusive Thoughts

by Samantha Shada

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:  Brenda “BK” Wong

WHAT: Intrusive Thoughts

WHERE:  Asylum @ Stephanie Fuery Studio Theatre (Mainstage), 5636 Melrose Av

WHY: Brenda “BK” Wong shares personal experience with intrusive and destructive thinking, leading the audience to realize that those thoughts just aren’t helpful! Through her story, BK leaves us with a choice: give in to the intrusive thoughts or choose positivity. I can’t wait to see this new writer develop a team of support. Yes, one day, she may have more actors and more set pieces, though they don’t need to look any better or be any better than what is at heart a raw and personal portrayal. BK’s debut as the unlikely hero of her own story resonates with personal vulnerability, humor and a whole lot of positivity. Honored to see this first performance from a writer who I look forward to seeing back at fringe again soon. Keep writing BK, your stories matter!

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10884

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

#FringeFemmes 2024: Meet Sunita Param

By Constance Strickland

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

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

Introducing Sunita Param and her show, “Sunita: Back To Me.”

Sunita Param

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

Sunita: My hope is that the audience walks away from my show inspired and having experienced a true emotional journey. Laughter, tears, joy and ultimately spiritually uplifted.

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

Sunita: Initially, when I chose the stories from my life that I wanted to tell, it was important for me to create a real beginning, middle and end.  In addition, I had to choose songs that spoke to me but that also illuminated or supported the stories I was telling.

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

Sunita: At this point, I’ve done the show quite a bit over the last few years, but in this incarnation, I’m actually on a stage without being married to a standing microphone.  I absolutely love the freedom, in all capacities, that it has provided me as an actor.

Constance: What has been the most surprising discovery?

Sunita: Not necessarily a surprise, but more of a gratified awareness, that I am capable of performing a 75-minute show – singing 14 songs and holding an audience’s attention.

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

Sunita: It’s incredibly empowering to have written my personal story.  I will have shared myself completely and allowed myself to be vulnerable.  That is powerful. 

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

Sunita: I have been wanting to do a show like this for over 15 years.  And finally in early 2020, I began writing the show and making song choices.  I’ve performed it several times all over CA and on the East Coast in the last 4 years – most recently in February at the Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest. So when I heard about the Fringe this year, I thought, “Why not?” Especially since I had just performed it.  It was fresh. I also was attracted to the fact that it wouldn’t be a one-off performance.  Having 3 performances over the span of 2 weeks gives me the opportunity to tweak, adjust, or just plain make it better than the last performance.

For info and tickets visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10819

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: B+ MOM

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:  Melissa Greenspan

WHAT: B+ Mom: An Enthusiastic Guide to Imperfect Parenting

WHERE: The Broadwater Studio, 1078 Lillian Way

WHY: Being a parent is not for sissies.

Lots of love for sure, but there’s also the madness that comes with parenting. Melissa Greenspan’s show captures it all: highs, lows, pivots, love, tenderness, anxiety, perfect plans in an imperfect world. Her engaging and candid look at motherhood made me go home and text my daughter. This is the perfect show for anyone who has a mom, is a mom, or is considering having children. Rich with paradigm-shifting moments and laughter, it’s a must-see. Take your mom—she’ll love it!

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10379

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: tHis Is Very IMPORTANT

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:  Rahvaunia Johnson

WHAT: tHis Is Very IMPORTANT

WHERE: Actors Company (Let Live Theater) 916 N. Formosa Av

WHY: Because there are not enough plays that focus on the health of women. Because Rahvaunia is exquisite as she brings to life four women and a host of characters who help us understand why discussing HIV is still an urgent and important conversation we need to be having as a community. Because often shame causes us to keep silence on issues that matter and this show breaks all those fears and taboos. Because this show hits you right in your gut in all the necessary ways that only theatre can do. Because Black women have been disproportionately affected by HIV in the United States, accounting for 54% of new HIV infections in women despite making up less than 15% of the female population. Because Black women are also 15.3 times likely to die from HIV infection as White Women. Because every 35 minutes a woman is diagnosed with HIV.

Because this solo show was a source of entertainment but also a tool for educating that will live outside the theatre and transform lives in ways still unseen. Because I lost a dear friend to HIV and still have not healed from the fact that he could/would still be alive if silence and shame had not won. Because this show calls for us to have love, grace and respect for anyone battling or living with HIV. Because 20% of Americans are living with HIV and don’t even know they have it. Because I walked into Rahvaunia’s show one way and left a completely different person. Because this one woman show deserves to be uplifted and supported and I hope to see it on PBS!

This is a powerful and very important show not to be missed. Please, catch this wonderful one-woman show and watch Rahvaunia give a voice to health issue we often turn away from and she is doing it with dignity and love.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10434

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: I Hope You Heal

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:  Christina V. Anthony

WHAT: I Hope You Heal

WHERE: The Broadwater Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Bl

WHY: To see this beautiful brown-skinned girl walk onstage and break cultural expectations is a gift of the times. Christina has this magical way with words; an ability to reach right out into the audience and relate to us in a way that is familiar and friendly. We know her. I Hope You Heal is a funny, personal, intimate and painful exploration of betrayal that is both thrilling and devastating. Through a series of chapters we are taken on a beautiful ride as we witness Christina come to discover her own worth, finding self-love by realizing that who she is and where she comes from is what makes her unique. To see her inhabit her own authentic story within those truths is a lesson to us all. Ultimately, this show is an invitation to the audience to heal any parts of ourselves that are in pain, denial, and blocking us from becoming our truest selves. It is an offering to take any heartbreaks and turn them into beautiful visions of a life you can walk through proudly. Don’t this miss this fabulous show and catch this beautiful artist who you will soon see writing some of your favorite television shows.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10480

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: The Fairy Who Cried Gems

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: Lily Abha Cratsley

WHAT: The Fairy Who Cried Gems

WHERE: The Madnani Theater Main Space, 6760 Lexington Av

WHY: The Fairy Who Cried Gems filled my spirit and took me away in ways that I didn’t see coming. Lily is a magical storyteller who seamlessly weaves heartbreak and doubt into a triumphant collection of folktales which are inspired by the real experiences of Indian women who grew up in the United States. She boldly and bravely blends her mixed heritage, the oral history of Desi-American girlhood and female stereotypes into new realities with the hope that her younger sisters will have the opportunity to exist in a world where they can become or do anything they imagine, and never doubt that their voices matter.

The Fairy Who Cried Gems questions how women are seen or erased when stories are passed down from one generation to the next. What stories are being told and whose stories are being left out of the canon? How does one see their own story and is it a true reflection of who they are or how someone else sees them? Lily is not afraid to ask these questions of us or herself. With beautiful direction by Simran Fulton, Lily transitions seamlessly from one story to the next captured in a beautiful light where I even start to believe she is a fairy. Lily’s vulnerability and presence onstage are contagious. You can’t help but fall in love with her when she ends up wrapped in a traditional Saree/Sari and places a Bindi on her forehead – it took my breath away.

You have four more chances to catch this delicious show. Don’t miss it!

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10449

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