Tag Archives: Hollywood Fringe Festival

#FringeFemmes 2022! Meet Judy Nazemetz

By Constance Strickland

Fringe Femmes 2022 are a bold cohort of women who are presenting new plays, original works and solo shows that have raised the bar on what it means to be an artist, tell one’s story and continue the work by any means necessary. Each year I am reminded that no matter the obstacles or the times in which we live, you cannot stop theatre as an art form from expanding, thriving and being a vessel to reveal, heal and nurture. LAFPI has the special ability to connect women from a wide variety of cultures and experiences together in their shared love of theatre.

This year continues to expand on that legacy and I could not be more thrilled to introduce you to renaissance woman Judy Nazemetz. According to Judy her solo show NAZZ-MA-TAZZ was born out of: “My everyday life as a Hojo girl, Pathmark cashier, Santa Claus trainer, polka lover, kielbasy hunter, LA PTA President, 3-pt. shooter in a basketball league for moms 5’3” and under.”

Constance Strickland: What’s been your biggest battle in terms of your development/process?

Judy Nazemetz: Figuring out the best way to showcase what it is that I do!

Constance: After the lights and the audience disappear, what do you hope one remembers after seeing your show?

Judy: I hope the audience remembers the laughs and the fun we had together.

Constance: What joy did you discover when creating your show?

Judy: Realizing I came up with the perfect blend of song, comedy, and stories.

Constance: What has been the most delicious discovery as you created your original work?

Judy: The perfect venue (Hudson Guild Theatre) for a truly theatrical experience.

Constance: How does it feel to have an opportunity to share your work with an in-person audience? COVID expanded in many ways how the work can be seen and done, what personally changed if anything for you in how you approached creating your show?

Judy: For me, in-person audience is the only way to go because I can hear the audience’s reactions.

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

Judy: When I was an improv-comedy performer, I’d make up songs on the spot from audience suggestions but, when the scene ended, the song was gone. I decided to write songs and performed these and sketches I wrote in my one-woman show with a cast of 5, ALL THAT NAZ, and in various sketch and comedy shows such as SANTA-THON and Fred Willard’s comedy shows. I realized I should record the songs and, with MEAT BIRD IN BEIGEVILLE released in January 2022, I have 4 CDs being played worldwide. Then Fringe 2022 came along and I figured a one-hour solo show that showed everything I can do, all at once, would be perfect. And, NAZZ-MA-TAZZ was born.

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: I Wanna Fall in Love

by Veronica Carey Matthews

Quick peeks at #HFF22’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Shelley Cooper

WHAT: I Wanna Fall In Love

WHERE: Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre 5636 Melrose Ave

WHY: Shelley returns to Fringe this year with the same level of talent she’s showcased before, but this time on a more intimate, personal level. With last year’s “La Divina”, she amazed us with her portrayal of Maria Callas, while this year we get to see her portray herself…and I’m so glad she did! She maintains the same composure as a performer while dissecting her voyage through searching for love. As someone in a similar age bracket who still hasn’t found “the one”, this show totally resonated with me. But I believe it will resonate with everyone, especially since she once again shares the amazing, angelic gift that is her singing voice. She also deftly uses pre-written songs to craft her narrative, something I had no clue about until talking to her afterward. I could watch Shelley perform just about anything (and will) and I suggest you do too! 

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7517

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Emergence: First Flight

by Heather Dowling

Quick peeks at #HFF22’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Jenna Wadsworth McCarty 

WHAT:  Emergence: First Flight

WHERE: The Complex Theatre and Studios (Flight Theatre) 6476 Santa Monica Blvd

WHY: The search for purpose and self-expression is a frequent theme for Fringe shows. But Jenna Wadsworth McCarty invites the audience on a most intimate ride into her own exploration of purpose using all she is as an artist – poetry, song and even painting. With every note, and every brush stroke Jenna allows herself to be exposed and connected to everyone in the audience with passion and… well, purpose. It’s a beautiful journey honoring art and artistry as a way to express and connect.

HOW: www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7437

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Schmaltzy & Princie

by Heather Dowling

Quick peeks at #HFF22’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: MaryLee Herrman

WHAT:  “Schmaltzy & Princie: Diary of a Not-So-Great Daddy’s Girl” 

WHERE: Zephyr Theatre 7456 Melrose Avenue

WHY: Writing a show about writing is a very meta experience for any creative, but MaryLee Herrman has turned this “meta verse” into verse that tells a beautiful story of creative struggle, personal loss, and forgiveness. In the end, MaryLee, the writer, discovers forgiveness for herself and permission to bring her immense talent and creativity to life on stage. This is such an entertaining and heartfelt journey. 

HOW: www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7317

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!

#FringeFemmes Check-Ins: Asexuality! The Solo Musical

by Veronica Carey Matthews

Quick peeks at #HFF22’s “Women on the Fringe” by Fringe Femmes who are behind the scenes this year. Click Here for all Check-Ins

Fringe Femmes

WHO: Rebecca McGlynn

WHAT: Asexuality! The Solo Musical

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

WHY: Becca takes an unheralded topic in asexuality and dissects her journey in an amazingly fun and poignant manner. Growing up in a world where men are supposed to be sexual beasts or considered inferior, she guides us through the story of her previous identity Robert, discovering how he fits in to such a limited social paradigm. WIth twists and turns galore, she navigates her tale in an incredibly humorous fashion with songs that showcase her immense songwriting talents (no surprise coming from the co-writer/composer of 2016 Top of the Fringe Winner “My Big Fat Blonde Musical”). When she reaches her point of no return, the raw vulnerability and ultimate perseverance is truly inspirational. This show is one of the most entertaining as well as important shows I’ve ever seen. Do yourself a favor and go see this show while you still can!!!!

HOW: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7486

Click Here to Find More “Women on the Fringe!

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

A Good, Long, Grotesque, Ugly-Cry Is the Emotion We All Need Right Now #FringeFemmes

by Rasika Mathur

Disconnection is a horrendous plight that can leave us literally disfigured and old.

Connection is not a straight line.

A lot gets in the way.

Emotions are messy.

Change is hard. 

Transitions are hard. 

This has been a hard year for all. A busy year for me. So busy, I only had time to catch one show during the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Festival. My interest in all things Japanese led me to Ren Gyo Soh’s “Ikigai – A Purpose for Living.” [The hybrid show of film and live performances is a Winner of a Producer’s Encore Award.]

Now, I went in thinking it would be a seminar built into a show on how to figure out my life purpose at the intersection of What Am I Good At + What Can I Get Paid For + What Do I Love To Do + What Does The World Need.

Instead, I was treated to the rollercoaster of emotion that takes place in a human connection, as told by two fabulous physical performance art masters, Annie McCoy and Zak Ma, creator/director Saki Kawamura, sound designer Marlfaux, and stage managed by Veronica Ostroski. 

And the intersection was actually Butoh + Poetry + Zoom. 

In a quick wiki search, “common features of the [Butoh] art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments… traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion.”

The facial contortions performed must have been so much fun to rehearse. Nobody’s getting a double chin in this cast! When joy radiates out of the mouth, eyes and chest, we can see it! Even in non-Butoh life! And pain? I concluded that pain mostly lives in the betrayed chest and throat, unexpressed, primed to take over the heart.

And writers will appreciate how “Ikigai” creatively limited its dialogue to truncated versions of a Wordsworth quote. 

What this production managed to pull off with the Zoom platform was also extremely notable and is definitely worth seeing for that reason alone. I’ve been using Zoom for a year and a half and I didn’t know it could do that! 

Annie McCoy and Zak Ma

I cried at the end. I went on the journey with them. And the imagery indeed stayed with me after… in the DREAM I HAD LATER THAT NIGHT …… 

I’ve had a very difficult relationship with my mother my entire life. Now that her body is on the brink of her last years (Is she though? Still resilient enough to have Level 9 meltdowns, so….quite the fighter), getting her a proper diagnosis is the priority. I’ve ratcheted up the “how can I help’s” and done away with the “how can you be so insensitive to me’s.”

But in the dream I had, the night I watched this performance, several of my family members were holding up my mother. I believe my nephew was even holding up her head. Somebody delivered the news to her that a landlady had been sick, or injured, I’m not sure what quite happened. My mother took on such a grotesque, long face, contorting into such pain, just like what I’d witnessed, as she drew out the words… ”Ohhhh, is the Landlady going to be OK?” As she trumpeted out a long wail, it all became too heavy for those holding her up, and my nephew actually could no longer hold up her head. It flopped forward. And she died! 

Upon waking, I was really left with the notion that her last words described her life to a tee. Always so concerned about everybody else. Maybe to her own detriment. It was grotesque, but unforgettable. 

Thank you to the company players of Ren Gyo Soh and “Ikigai” for giving me new understanding of all of our emotions. Sometimes, they just need to work themselves… out.

Ikigai – A Purpose for Living” has an Encore virtual performance Saturday, September 25 at 6:30pm PT – Visit https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7158

#FringeFemmes 2021! Meet Pamela Paek

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.

Pamela Paek’s two person show 1.5 Korean (co-written with Arthur Stanley Chong) was not only a winner of a Hollywood Fringe Diversity Scholarship it is now the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Two-Person Show winner. A series of comedic sketches that center around being Korean and Korean/Black-American and the ways one code switches, tamps down or amps up their Koreanness and who they are. What does it mean to not be Korean enough or not Black/Korean enough? Pamela and Arthur tackled it all while still honoring their identity’s heritage. 

Although the show has come to a close the show now lives forever in space and time and we look forward to seeing how the piece will continue and eagerly await for all the work Pamela will continue to manifest with humor, honesty and ferocity.

Constance: Why Fringe?  Why this year?

Pamela: I’ve been thinking about doing Fringe since September 2018 after I did a month-long training in Pochinko Clown. I wanted to explore the non-writer part of me and see what I might produce if I relied on my 16 years of dance training as well as my few years doing physical comedy. I wanted to see what would open up if I was more somatically focused. Then in late 2019, I wanted to talk more openly about being Korean in my creative work. Even though I do stand up comedy, I don’t talk about race or about intersectionality, or the many ways I struggle through each day with the many different aspects of my identity. So, I came up with this title, “1.5 Korean” and thought it would be great to ask a friend who’s half-Korean to explore what it really means to be Korean enough. And in this work, I was able to merge the physical aspects of myself with this newfound voice to share.

 I’ve been purposefully choosing not to be a comic who talks only about singular identities, which I believe tokenize the complexities of who we are – it’s been a lifetime of being quiet and reflecting on when, how, where, why, and what to share. Like it or not, I live and breathe this work every day, interrogating how I show up as well as how I’m seen and heard. And now, here’s my foray into writing and performing with this lens as the focus.

Constance: What did you enjoy most as you created your show?

Pamela: What I enjoyed most were the epiphanies that continued to arise in my exploration of the impacts of intersectionality. Those gems go beyond anything I can create – I’m transformed at a core level that informs and metabolizes the world around me. And, anytime I can make myself laugh really really hard – those are rare moments that need to be documented with dates and time stamps. Like a passport book!!

Constance: What was the most surprising discovery?

Pamela: How often I can shine a light into, onto, and through some of the most painful and hurtful points in my life – and find a way to reshape that into something (hopefully magical) to share with others.

Constance: What was your biggest challenge in terms of your development/creation process?

Pamela: The biggest challenge was knowing what to keep and what to let go of – it’s true of any and all writing for me. I know I need to create a clear through line for an audience to follow, and sometimes, that isn’t how I want to tell the story. I want it to be nonlinear and spastic and nonsensical, because often, that’s what life is for me. So, to create structures that are guideposts for folks to follow, I try to be mindful of how to create and develop those, while honoring my want to have none of those road maps.

Constance: And what do you hope audience members took away after experiencing your show?

Pamela: I hope that anyone who’s ever been gaslit, sidelined, marginalized, oppressed, beaten down – in short, made to feel lesser than the magic and beauty they are – all find a way to own and love who they are and all they bring to every space they enter. I hope they realize the power of speaking truth into space. I hope we can be part of a revolution in fully showing up and being seen. I’ll meet y’all there and relish in that kind of depth and connection.

Constance: The work has been given away – how does that feel?

Pamela: I have a sense of relief that the work has been shared with the world. It’s there to be witnessed by anyone who wants to watch. I hate admitting there’s some trepidation, like a little kid peeking out between their fingers while covering their eyes – I want to know if this show lands on people in good ways. And, when it doesn’t, standing strong and hearing the feedback while not shrinking. Because I am tired of playing small. I’m tired of so many of us who’ve played small. I am entitled to take up and own the space I belong in. So many of us deserve more and better!!

Constance: Extra! Extra! Anything Extra Please Share!

Pamela: I always struggle when an ask or question is wide open. So, if I were to share anything, I’ll say this: I fear that anything I share will not be considered interesting. As a result, I often say nothing. It’s easier. Yet, I’ll spill the all-of-me into anything I create – that’s where you’ll find me fully expressed. Thank you to LAPFI for all you do! You do what’s in my heart: shining the light on those who have historically not been centered or seen as they should. And making it so. YES!

Pamela Paek & Arthur Stanley Chong

#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