Tag Archives: Constance Strickland

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Sunita: Back To Me

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: Sunita Param

WHAT: Sunita: Back To Me

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

WHY: As soon as Sunita walked onstage, I was taken in by her beauty and elegance, yet it was hearing her voice even before seeing her that immediately connected me to the woman and the story she would so generously share with us. I felt as though I was at Café Carlyle in New York City as I was seated on the stage. Sunita and her pianist, Derek Purdy, treat us to an evening of classic cabaret, serenading us with a collection of songs from musicals, including one of my favorites, “Popular” from Wicked. Yet Sunita is not just singing musical soundtracks; she has delicately chosen songs that connect us to her own story of losses, gains and hard lessons learned. She gives us a rare theatrical opportunity where we, as an audience, can witness a retrospective of this fearless artist’s life.

Luckily, we have the privilege of meeting a woman who has rediscovered herself. A woman who, despite facing disappointment and heartbreak, persevered. Sunita’s tale of resilience serves as a powerful reminder of why music is an integral part of the human spirit. Her magnificent voice and the way she narrates her story will keep you enthralled throughout her performance.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10819

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Who in the World is Valerie Lacy?

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: Valerie Lacy

WHAT: Who in the World is Valerie Lacy?

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

WHY: Valerie takes us on an emotional journey that will have you gasping in shock and shake you to your core. We root for and follow this curious, beautiful young girl as she develops a crush, falls in love, gets pregnant and marries her childhood sweetheart. One minute, we’re laughing out loud with her and listening to her beautiful voice, which makes you feel she is catching a distant memory or reconstructing her future. It feels good to celebrate this young couple in love who are raising a child together. It’s not until Valerie’s voice becomes distorted and her body morphs that we realize the relationship has morphed into an abusive and dire situation. Yet Valerie’s will, unbreakable spirit and determination are contagious throughout her performance. We want her to get everything she imagines and deserves. Go see this show. Go support Black women telling stories. Go support a woman who is reclaiming her voice and refuses to let anyone control her story. Go support theatre that is creating a space where we can come together as a community and heal pieces of ourselves.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10707

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

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Body Count

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: Joy Regullano

WHAT: Body Count

WHERE: The Broadwater (Studio) 1078 Lillian Way

WHY: It was 11pm and I was not sure what to expect as I walked into the theatre and saw a condom under my seat. As I sat down I knew this was going to be a wild ride and ooowee that it was. Joy is HILARIOUS! The way she takes up space despite her size and can hold a room in the palm of her hand with a pause in her voice… or the way she grins when even she knows what’s she’s said is over the top but true. Yes. She is hilarious. Yet that freedom, that deep ability to rouse laughter, is not an accident. Joy makes us laugh because she can pinpoint her pain, dissect it, sit with it and then see in between the moments. We’ve all thought we could fuck the pain away and Body Count reminds us we’re only running from ourselves. So let’s talk about it – Joy offers us this gift in a communal space and together we come to understand that loving someone unconditionally is healing and the best of times are  right around the corner.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/10932

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: 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!”

Where Do You Stand? What Do You Stand For? 

by Constance Strickland

I received a message last week from a friend who resides between Chicago and New York. She is a playwright, poet, performer, a brilliant witty woman who tells layered stories. You can imagine how it broke my heart to read her words: 

“I’m tired. The limit does in fact exist and I feel like I’m at mine. It just feels too hard and like it’s impossible to change anything. There’s just no money and I don’t know how to sustain any of this.” 

It has been over three years since the pandemic, We See You White American Theater and the righteous fight for justice in the Arts. Yet, the sentiment among Independent Black Artists remains loud and clear: justice has not been served.

Many Black theatre artists are still battling for spaces to manifest our work, we are chasing for a place in the theatre where our voices can be heard authentically, and we are still without funding to complete or create new theatre works. We battle, we cling to a hope that often remains unseen—a quiet spark deep within our souls. We are seeking work beyond a classroom. We do not want an opportunity to be hired in leadership roles at white-led institutions. We are not seeking power. We are not tokens. And we do not want to be one or two of the only Black bodies in the room curated by white institutions. Nor do we want to be invited into spaces where Black curators, who are hired by white institutions, must choose between their Black contemporaries like an open auction. We want ateliers, and our own studio spaces, where we can dream, manifest, and build our collective and individual legacies.

Now, more than ever, there’s a pressing need to advocate for funding for Black artists across various fields and mediums of theatre. Too often, initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion in white-founded institutions merely result in superficial changes, with a handful of Black individuals elevated to prominent positions without any systemic transformation. The occurrence where very few and often the same Black people are placed within the hierarchy of these institutions and nothing radical ever changes. 

It’s no secret that the major funding and monies still lie with these white-led institutions, therefore causing a low amount of resources to a wide variety of Black artists, creating a small pool where we all have to apply to the same resources, where the same advisors, grant readers, and voting teams come from a small group of the same theatre or academic institutions, networks, with a lack of imagination on how to support multi-faceted Black Artists who are creating new works.

In Los Angeles, Ebony Repertory Theatre is the only African-American professional Actor’s Equity (AEA) theatre company… joined by only a handful of smaller companies. To me, this is a grave tragedy and reveals the great amount of work there still is to do for Black theatre in Los Angeles, most certainly for Black women in theatre.  As Black women continue to grapple with the financial fallout of the pandemic and confront escalating rates of racism, the urgency of our mission grows. I have been physically sitting with how Theatre Roscius, my small independent non-profit theatre company, can begin to morph further from developing my physical plays into further uplifting local Black female artists over the next two years and that gives me hope, fuel, and fear. Although I have received numerous grants over the past couple of years (that took over eight years of grant writing) the reality is more funding is required. A further reach of serving is needed. I think of Jackie Taylor, founder of Black Ensemble Theater, Barbara Ann Teer, founder of the National Black Theatre, and Ellen Stewart, founder of LaMama Experimental Theatre Club, who against all odds found ways to survive and thrive.

I ask myself:

How can Theatre Roscius be further of use to women in my community whose stories I tell using my body as the catalyst? How can I uplift Black female artists with resources; financially and artistically? How do I create room for a new canon of experimental/avant-garde Black Theatre that does not have to go through a particular mainstream or commercial route? 

I ask you: 

How can we continue to reshape the American theatre? How do we expand the canon of voices that exist in American theatre? Can we delve deeper? What stories of our community are we not telling? I look forward to asking more questions, and to not being satisfied, while doing the work required to discover and implement these found answers. 

As time moves and the world continues to find ways to breathe together, what Theatre Roscius has always offered and will elevate is a new way. To give female artists time to imagine, investigate, explore, sit with their ideas, and then execute those found connections in real-time. 

My wish is that Black Artists not be afraid of having no money. That we band together even when colonialism tries to separate us. That we refuse to engage in hierarchies and archetypes. Can we disrupt and reconstruct not for personal clout but for the collective and those coming up after and with us? 

May we remember why we do the work, why we have always done the work and it was never to uplift the business of theatre. I hope that we continue to honor our artistic lineages and remember that we have always been the blueprint.  

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: The Allure of Thug Life

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF23’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Mélia Mills

WHAT: The Allure of Thug Life

WHERE: 905 Cole Theatre, 905 Cole Avenue

WHY: As much as this one woman show was filled with humor, it was filled with heart and old truths. The topics explored elevated the humor in ways the heart did not expect. The issues of colorism, racial stereotypes, broken homes, verbal abuse, and the fighting that occurs within a race… Mélia refused to shy away from them and used Tupac and music as thread that connected the joy and the pain. Her smile reminded me throughout the piece that we can manifest our own realities; that the past does not have to hijack the future and the present is an opportunity to dig deep and make amends. The layers that live within this Hip Hopsical will require you to check what you’re laughing at, demand that you examine yourself, and also remind us that what we often seek is not what is best for us and may very well kill us. Catch this show – you’ll walk away with a smile and catch yourself thinking about the piece days later.

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/9618

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

The Allure of Thug Life

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Ode to La Pachuca

by Constance Strickland

Quick peeks at #HFF23’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Laurie Munoz & Contemporary Arte in Movement

WHAT: Ode to La Pachuca

WHERE: 905 Cole Theatre, 905 Cole Avenue

WHY: This show blew me away and filled my entire soul. I love a show about women. I love a show that features women of multi-colors, cultures, and ages. I love a show that honors and remembers history. This play uplifts and educates with love and will not let you down. It brings to life the memory of the women of color who joined the war effort while men were away from home during the war – we know them as “Rosie the Riveters.” The play also teaches us through riveting movement, powerful poetry, era-evoking music, and essential oral history how these women, the pachucas, refused to return to the old ways after experiencing the advantages of changing social roles, being the financial providers while the men were away, and upon their return, found it was too high a cost to lose that newfound freedom and independence. This play keeps alive women’s stories. In gentle but intentional ways, “Ode to La Pachuca” reveals to us the pain and joy that come with pursuing and living a life that is authentic to one’s spirit. May we never forget those who died nor those who survived unfair and violent treatment. May the resilience of all Zootsuits linger in our bones; may their actions continue to guide the present into the future.

A Note from the Playwright: “In June 1943, Mexican-American youth were racially
targeted and brutally attacked by white U.S. servicemen and police officers during what is
infamously known as the Zoot Suit Riots. 80 years later, in June 2023, the City of Los Angeles officially condemns and apologizes for the crimes committed against our community and declares June 3 – June 9 as Zoot Suit Heritage Week. We are incredibly grateful to witness THIS moment in history and humbled by the opportunity to present an excerpt of our latest work to honor the Mujeres of the 1940s movement: las pachucas”

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/9976

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