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Hollywood Fringe Diary

Week One of 2016

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Well, the ninth of June, the official kick off for Hollywood Fringe 2016, is quickly approaching. Like some huge lumbering forest troll who will stride right over me and not even notice that glob of mashed playwright between its toes.

I can best describe the sensation of having an impending show open to finding yourself in a dark, secluded place with a ravishing blond knock out who seems totally into you and the only hindrance to unleashing your lustful urges is this silly little nagging suspicion that she may just possibly be Freddy Kruger in drag.

When people ask what drives me to do theatre in Los Angeles, I generally tell them its karmic payback for a really bad prior life.

Fringe-2016.jpgBut it’s not rocket science.

If anything it’s more like auto mechanics.

Putting up a show is basically like doing a full tune up and oil change on your basic Detroit model. It requires you understand engines and

what makes them go, where to pour the oil, how to check the battery.

Well, there are a couple of differences.

You have to do the tune up and oil change while you are running alongside the car as it is hurling up the 405.

And you have to do it blindfolded.

Now the Fringe itself.

The Hollywood Fringe, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is a gathering of L.A.’s artistic tribes. It is when a couple thousand actors, dancers, musicians, performance artists, story tellers, magicians, writers, strippers, directors, and other diverse lunatics of a creative bent collectively descend on a stretch of Santa Monica Blvd running roughly between Vine and Highland and refuse to leave for the entire month of June.
On an average day you would typically have the opportunity of selecting from among thirty to forty different shows representing a variety of entertainment fare ranging from the pretentious and puerile to the sublime and profound and touching just about every base in between.

I’m all ready down to see two score, and those reviews you’ll find here on The TVolution.

But I encourage you to forget about me and plunge into the Hollywood Fringe web yourself and check out what’s being offered.

I guarantee you’ll find shows which will intrigue, excite, and amuse you.

And chances are you may come across a couple that will sort of terrify you…. I know I did.

Let me just run through a few shows. I haven’t seen these, all I know is what I’ve read, but they certainly caught my interest and they’ll give you a glimpse of just what you can expect at the Hollywood Fringe. And there are quite a number of shows in this year’s lineup that if nothing else certainly do fit the bill as “fringe.”

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THE TRUTH

Written by Anna Mavromati and directed by Marlee Delia you won’t be sitting in a theatre for this one. It’s advised the audience wear “comfortable shoes” because the stage for this hour show will be Hollywood itself and the strange back street people you encounter on this journey may or may not be part of the ensemble. Delia and Mavromati promise to “blur the lines between theatre and reality” and in Hollywood it’s a good bet they will.

Learn more about it HERE.

 


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PUNCH AND JUDY

 

That’s right, Mr. Punch, that lovable drunken wife murdering hand puppet whose brutal antics are so beloved in France. Except this production is no puppet show. Director Christopher Johnson will present the story of Punch, his doomed wife Judy, Scaramouch and the rest of the rambunctious troupe in the traditional fashion except they won’t have arms shoved up their asses. Johnson’s cast will not consist of empty paper mache heads but will be real live actors! And that should cut the proportion of “empty paper mache heads” at least in half. Johnson has adapted the puppet show to a live action comedy, and with the assistance of fight choreographer Jen Albert, will bring to the Fringe all of the beatings, slaughtering, cop killing and carefree brutalization that has brought smiles to the faces of little French children for centuries. (But please don’t bring the kids!)

Learn more about it HERE.

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THE CREEPS

 

From New Zealand, this interactive-psycho\drama-solo-clown show by Catherine Waller promises “comedy with a dangerous element.” The audience will be confronted by four characters that will bring them into a world of addiction, obsession, dissatisfaction and self medication whether they want to go there or not. Apparently the only fourth wall in Creeps is the one that the audience will have their backs pressed up against. Sounds like fun to me.

Learn more about it HERE.

 

 

 


 

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LOVE THE BODY POSITIVE

 

The following appears in the description of Producer Brian Knudson’s comedy:

“Bring a clothing bag, a beach towel…please shower before arriving. NO photography allowed. All cell phones MUST be turned off before entering and stored in your clothing bag in the adjacent Disrobing Room…. Security will be present.”

Is an image beginning to form in your imagination? As to what exactly the conceit of the hour long “cell-free and clothes-free” show featuring Knudson, Cat Cela, Amy Arrow and Marty Ross will involve is not revealed. (Get it?) But performers and actors will both be costumed in their birthday suits. I have been asked to review this show but haven’t decided if I will. I just get so tired of women fainting and men reduced to sobbing envy.

Learn more about it HERE or HERE.
Musicals are always a big part of the Fringe, but this year seems to offer more than usual. It is interesting to note, that while they cover a wide spectrum of subjects, overly they seem to have taken their cues from obsessions of a distinctly American sort.


 

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BUMPERSTICKER: THE MUSICAL
Some of you may recall Bukowsical, a toe tapping song fest about Charles Bukowski, L.A. postal worker and America’s ugliest poet. That show came from the creative team of Spencer Green and Gary (“Yes, I sang the very first song on Cop Rock”) Stockdale. When word got out they were doing that show, they received a “cease and desist” letter from the lawyers representing Bukowski’s estate that threatened legal action if they opened the production. In a move that endeared them to gadflies and rabble-rousers across this city, they turned that letter into the opening number of the show. Bumpersticker is set during a traffic jam and takes its inspiration from that American form of Haiku — the bumper sticker.
Learn more about it HERE or HERE.


 

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JONBENÉT RAMSEY: THE MUSICAL
How playwrights Hannah Rowston and Austen Fletcher will approach the subject of America’s most notorious cold case, the murder of then six-year-old JonBenét Patricia Ramsey, who was found in the basement of the family home in 1996, I have no idea. But what with inept police, the twisted world of children’s beauty pageants, a rabid media prowling the streets of Denver like brain hungry zombies, and a monstrous murder that remains unsolved, chances are you shouldn’t go expecting The Sound of Music.

Learn more about it HERE or HERE.

 

 


 

 

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RHYTHM AND THE METHOD – WOODSTOCK 1969 REVISITED

 

In 1969 the largest peaceful gathering ever to take place on the North American continent occurred on farm land in Upstate New York that served an entire generation as both their defining event and their El Dorado. Spoken word mixed with commentary mixed with live musical performances will attempt to convey the confluxes of love, hope and really bitchin’ drugs that came together for three days that brought over 400,000 people together, and changed America forever.

 

Learn more about it HERE or HERE.

 


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WINTER IS COMING: A MUSICAL PARODY

Jared Pixler, David Evan Stolworthy and Laura Wiley are offering up the all singing, all dancing and probably all slaughtering as usual Starks, Targaryens and Lannisters in this lampooning of the HBO mega hit fantasy series Game of Thrones.

Learn more about it HERE or HERE.


 

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PORN ROCK: AN UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY

The Ichabod’s Cranium Players (Gotta love that name!) may have found a pitch perfect incident to base a musical on: the 1985 Senate hearing that sought to force the music world to “clean up their act” under the threat of imposing a rating system on artists and their albums. Think records with cigarette warning stickers. It was a battle over the rights and limits of the 1st Amendment with Tipper Gore and Frank Zappa going at it center ring.

Learn more about it HERE or HERE.

 


 

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PENISARIA: THE STORY OF JOHN AND LORENA BOBBITT

A story as American as apple pie. Sliced apple pie. A fact based love story of boy meets girl, boy slaps girl around, girl cuts off boy’s “Irish-tickle hammer” and throws it out the car window, boy gets reattached to the “happy harpoon,” boy makes porn movies, boy and girl have a tense encounter on Oprah. Dictionary gets the word “bobbittize.” And a musical no less. You think a tenor gets to sing soprano?

Learn more about it HERE.

 


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THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL

 

Janet Miller directs this stage version of the 1984 classic B movie from Troma. A superhero, horror comedy, what else could you want?
Learn more about it HERE or HERE.


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MADLIB! THE MUSICAL

I use to love the party game “Mad-Libs,” and here it’s the audience that chooses the score. Last year these folks put on one of the best shows of Fringe 2015 with their Thénardier’s Inn – A Les Misérables Cabaret. I’ve already got my tickets for this one!

Learn more about it HERE or HERE.
Of course there are non-musical plays, some by familiar names and some not so familiar names.

Click thru to Part II to read more Fringe 2016!

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The close of Preview Week brings us to the inaugural opening of The Hollywood Fringe which includes eats, drinks and “the grand reveal of Fringe Central” and, of course, the Plays!!

What: FRINGE OPENING PARTY 2016

Date: Wednesday, June 8

Time: 7pm (doors open)

Where: 6510 Santa Monica Blvd

Admittance is your Fringe Button, very reasonably priced at five dollars at the door (3 dollars for participants, primary contacts have gratis status). Please note, if you purchase online now, you can avoid a ticket que on the night.

The Fringe reports that: “The infamous Bryan’s Bar is back! Home to cheap drinks for those wearing a Fringe button and full of good times for all. To soak up the booze, get your grub on at a partnering food truck pulled right up to the patio.”

Yay! What’s not to love? Welcome to June indeed!

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, Among the Vipers was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest's stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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