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Festival Fringe Time in Hollywood 2018, Part I

By Ernest Kearney  —  It’s that time once again L.A.! —

June!

The six month of the year, one of four boasting 30 days, the official flowers of which are the honeysuckle representing “generosity” and “devotion,” and the rose representing…I dunno, “red things with pointy prickly parts?”

Named for Juno; Roman goddess of marriage. (Not the 2007 Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman cloying coming-of-age flick.)

It was June back in 1903 that Henry Ford took a few days offs from his busy schedule of “Jew-baiting” to found the Ford Motor Company,

It’s National Accordion Awareness Month (But is one month really enough?)

It’s also National Adopt a Cat Month.

In Poland it’s the month of Czerwiec.

It was the month the Great Auk went extinct in 1844 and saw the opening of the first American roller coaster at Coney Island in 1884.

In 1890, it was the month Stan Laurel was born.

And June 29 marks the 405th anniversary of the original Globe Theatre burning down.

But here in Los Angeles we won’t be sniffing honeysuckle, admiring accordions, mourning flightless birds, baking a cake for Stan, trying to figure out how to pronounce Czerwiec, or adopting a cat –

(Wait, on second thought, everybody go out right now and adopt a cat.  Trust me, a little purring chaos in your life keeps you humble.)

But forget the rest, because it is time for the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival!

(INSERT TRUMPET FANFARE HERE!)

Venues on Santa Monica Boulevard from Vine to Highland and localities near at hand will host a creative cacophony from 368 shows from local, national and international artists playing day and night throughout the whole month of June.   

For a full roster of Fringe related events and all the shows check out the Hollywood Fringe website, but here and now, to wet your cultural whistle, let me serve you up a sampler of what this month will be offering.

We’ll kick off with some familiar faces –

Last year the Burglars of Hamm easily skipped away the HFF17 Best Comedy Award for Easy Targets; a quartet of spot-on spoofs offering pitch perfect parodies of the solo-shows from hell.  In and of themselves, these satires — beautifully conceived and performed by their troupe — would have made for a raucous good time, but arming all

Scott Golden

Scott Golden, A Burglars of Hamm member (Winners of HFF Best Comedy Award/Multiple Years)

 

those in attendance with a score of rolled up sock balls, to engage the audience in a little “pitching” participation? Genius.

This year the Burglars, Jon Beauregard, Selina Merrill, Eric Curtis Johnson, Matt Almos, Tracey Leigh, Hugo Armstrong, Jaime Robledo are returning to tickle our funny bones (and allow us to show off how good our aim is) with EASY TARGETS: ARTISTS AND HEROES and four new offerings: “All About Me,” “An Evening with Abraham Lincoln,” “Word Magic” and “Space Man (or How I Found Myself in Low Earth Orbit).”

(BRACE FOR THE RONCO MOMENT!)

For Show Info:  http://hff18.org/5087

But wait – there’s more!

The Burglars of Hamm Company Members, Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

The Burglars of Hamm will also be presenting their acclaimed production of Lars Mattsun’s (1849 -1912 — Swedish playwright/provocateur) recently discovered lost masterpiece RESA FANTASTISKT MYSTISK; a surreal exploration of artistic madness, sexual artistry, mysterious children and some guy name Philip.

Find More Show Information Here:  http://hff18.org/5086

For my money the stagecraft displayed in The School of Night’s past Fringe productions of Punch and Judy (Live Action!) and The Faggot King or the Troublesome Reign of Edward II straight up sucker-slapped anything that shows up at the Pantages from New York. Company director Christopher Johnson and his partner in crime Jen Albert once more in the selection of their undertaking manifest a hubris bordering on the heroic – Seneca’s HERCULES INSANE!

Jason Britt (“Hercules Insane”)

Johnson guarantees,

“A Senecan spectacle of poetic bombast, gut-wrenching tragedy, gladiatorial combat, supernatural horror, rousing adventure, live human sacrifice, toxic masculinity, feminine fury and murderous madness.”

Does that sound like a recipe for a kicking good time or am I spitting seeds?

Find More Show Information Here:  http://hff18.org/5303

Ah, and welcome back those heartthrobs of the Fringe The Cherry Poppins. This year, those Muses of musical Burlesque are dishing up a sexy restyling of a 1996 horror cult classic in THE CRAFTLESQUE.   Bringing the bump and grind to the witches of St. Benedict’s Academy are writer/producers Alli Miller and Sarah Haworth.

The creative team of Benjamin Schwartz and Matt Ritchey whose Angel’s Flight took the 2016 Best Cabaret & Variety Award return this year with AMERICAN CONSPIRACY, which promises to revisit John Hinckley Jr.’s attempted assassination of then President Ronald Reagan. * *  Additional Show Information: http://hff18.org/4891.

Matt Ritchey (“American Conspiracy”)

Benjamin Schwartz (“American Conspiracy”)

Awareness of the Hollywood Fringe continues to spread among the world’s theatre communities as is attested to by both the growing number of international artists in our ranks as well as the diverse nations they represent.

To highlight a few —

 

The “Land Down Under” had a strong presence last year with the crowd pleasers Sparrow and The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign.  This year out of Australia comes THE BIG PICTURE.

 

Creator/Performer of “The Big Picture,” Jolly Goodfellow

Cirque du Soleil’s veteran Jolly Goodfellow assures us it is a “visual and aural extravaganza” that will feature “experimental cosmic trickster stuff with prop comedy, freestyle improvised foolery, playing with toys, juggling, fiddling with gadgets, musical nonsense, surprises and spring shoes etc.”

I tremble to imagine what “etc.” might encompass.

Additional Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5421

Image from the Künstler Collective Konglomerat’s “Men of Blood”

From Germany the Künstler Collective Konglomerat brings three short pieces by contemporary German writers merged as MEN OF BLOOD.  These works will seek to deconstruct the human proclivity to overstep borders.  A fascinating topic, especially to those of us who believe it’s “art” only when you color outside the lines.

Additional Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5321

Image from “Earth and Fire Walking”

EARTH & FIRE WALKING arrives from Argentina, with one of that nation’s cultural treasures in tow; Tomas Galvan and Gimena Herrerra will delve into the depths of passion that can exist between a man and woman in love, and they will do so through the tango.  If you’ve never experienced authentic tango, it’s like witnessing a choreographed lava flow.

Additional Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5378

 

 

From Wales comes LAST CHRISTMAS, playwright Matthew Bulgo’s recounting of a doomed soul plummeting down into the black bowels of that foul vortex known as “heading homes for the holidays.” Evan McNamara performs.  Behind this staging you have HFF stalwarts Michael Blaha and Matthew Quinn producing, with John Coppola taking director’s duty.  A triumvirate of talent comparable to – oh, let’s say that 2011 tsunami that bumped into Japan. Could be worth a looksee.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5205

Conor McPherson's Shining City

From Ireland arrives SHINING CITY by playwright Conor McPherson, in which a desperate man seeks out a Dublin therapist for help in escaping the ghost of his dead wife.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5411

UK playwright Henry Naylor took top honors at the Edinburgh, Adelaide and Prague Fringes with ECHOES, which chronicles two young British schoolgirls, separated by 175 years, on the path towards the inevitable fate they share in common.

This was the year “#metoo” became a call to arms.  The year of Weinstein’s outing, Cosby’s conviction, and the Oval Office’s occupation by an individual who lacks the ethics of a deflated masturbation doll left in a West Covina trailer park dumpster. So this Fringe should shimmer thick with reflections of the traumas women have suffered and triumphs they have earned.

It is fitting to begin with YELLOW WALLPAPER, an adaptation of one of feminist literature’s seminal works.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 indictment of the male dominated medical field was based on her own experience with the “rest cure” that sought to protect women from the dangers of “mental stimulation.”  Refitted to the 1950’s, a time the American Dream was black and white, but the “wallpaper” remained blindingly yellow.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4920

Peerada Meemalayath in “Trafficked 2.0”

In a multilingual tale that incorporates elements of movement and dance, TRAFFICKED 2.0 tells the harrowing story of a 13-year-old girl kidnapped into the underground network of sex trafficking and the relationship that develops between her and a young woman who has endured the horrors she faces.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4906

Cindy D’Andrea in “It’s Easier to Love a Cat”

Coming out of a series of abusive and unfulfilling relationships, Cindy D’andrea recounts a ten-year retreat into the emotional sanctuary she found in a progression of four legged purring panic rooms.  Directed by Iona Morris. Entitled: IT’S EASIER TO LOVE A CAT.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5275

“Most Massive Woman Wins” Producer, Director, Performer Yridia Ayvar

Set in a liposuction clinic’s waiting room, four women struggle to obtain perspective on their perceptions of themselves. MOST MASSIVE WOMAN WINS

offers monologues on shapes, sizes, and the power we permit or deny ourselves when body image becomes a prison or a pedestal.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5222

Creator/Producer Carrie Mikuls (“I Came to Make Noise”)

I CAME TO MAKE NOISE blends dance with hip hop confessionals, as three women confront those fears that keep us from living large in this beatbox feminist manifesto.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4903

“Vixen Deville Revealed”

Cat LaCohie promises a three ring circus of magic, comedy and self discovery in VIXEN DEVILLE REVEALED, a celebration of our freedom to always become the person we want to be.  To quote Nietzsche, “When you stare into the burlesque, the burlesque stares into you.”

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5071

“Left Turns” stars Laura Grimaldi

Laura Grimaldi finds the path on her life’s journey by ignoring the GPS in LEFT TURNS.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4928

Katt Balsan’s in “Balls’On”

Katt Balsan warns off offensive language, cultural shocks and the gleeful sound of busting stereotypes from the 25 assorted characters in her one-woman show BALLS’ON.  Directed by Groundlings founder Gary Austin.

More Show Information:   http://hff18.org/5283

 

“Baba, Jee (Father Yes)” Director, Matthew Martin

Producer, Playwright, Performer Ayesha Siddiqui

In New York, a young Pakistani woman picks up her estranged father at JFK airport.  No sooner do they arrive at the apartment she shares with her live-in boyfriend than Hurricane Sandy hits trapping all three in a storm within a storm.  Matthew Martin, who directs, describes BABA, JEE (FATHER, YES) as a “warm and explosive play.”

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4943

I confess there are two solo performances that have intrigued and intimidated me in equal parts.  They are both true tales that speak of the unspeakable and place before us that which, instinctively, we turn from.  One is by the child of a murdered parent, the other by the parent of a murdered child….

Nesha Wonderland (“Healing: After the Tragedy”)

HEALING: AFTER THE TRAGEDY calls on multimedia theatrics as Nesha Wonderland uses her own recovery in the aftermath of her father’s murder to reveal the hardships unique to the nearly half million children in America who have lost a parent to violence.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5218

Danna Schaeffer stars in “You in Midair”

YOU IN MIDAIR reverses the tragedy.  On the eighteenth of July 1989, actress Rebecca Schaeffer was shot to death in the doorway of her L.A. apartment by an obsessed fan who had stalked her for years. Danna Schaeffer, her mother, shares the triumph of her memories over the pain of her loss.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5036

 

Then, for those of a metaphysical bent –

THE FIRST AND THE LAST. As Armageddon nears, God dickers with Satan in a Job like rematch.  If Satan will release the legions of the damn, God will permit him to retain a single soul in hell for himself.  Brutus, Benedict Arnold, even “poor ol’ Judas” are summoned together to decide who will remain; “The Survivor” with the stench of brimstone.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5224

Erik Blair plays the title role in “God: The Apologies Tour”

GOD: THE APOLOGIES TOUR is touted as a “Divine Immersive Encounter.”  What’s to apologize for?  According to Erik Blair, aka God, free will to start.  (Can childhood cancer and Trump be far behind, I ask?) From the folks behind last year’s “Nothing Bad: A Werewolf Rock Musical.”

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4810

 

“Psychodelicate” Writer, Co-Director, Producer, Alayha Aquarian

Psychodelicate has opted out of burning bushes, angelic voices in caves, or the ramblings resulting from sucking up underground fumes – she’s spreading her Gospel of the Multiverse from a Fringe stage.  Who needs apostles when you have juggling, Ontology, Hermeticism, Mindfulness and hula hoops!  Alayha Aquarian is our “interdimensional traveler/Psychonaut/Mystic/Clown” in PSYCHODELICATE’S MAGICAL MYSTERY COMEDY SHOW

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4958

There is an enthralling variety to be found among productions focusing on the arts of the musician and dancer such as –

Misspend your youth in discos?  Well then, THE BITCH IS BACK: AN ELTON JOHN CABARET.  A quartet of songbirds string together the pearls of Elton Johns’ career from twenty years of hits into a high stepping musical tribute.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5113

Belly Dancing Transformed in “Fantasm – 1001 Nights”

In 2009 choreographer Jillina Carlano sought to redefine and reinvigorate the belly dancing traditions of the Middle East, by merging them with elements from the world of folk dance and affixing a strong narrative line as is found in most western ballets.  FANTASM – 1001 NIGHTS will show the results as the twenty dancers of Bellydance Evolution, along with an original score by Paul Dinletir, will treat audiences to a re-fitting of Scheherazade’s timeless tales.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5319

 

I find Butoh inexplicable, but utterly captivating.  Emerging from post war Japan, Butoh—a visceral reaction to what was viewed as the cultural subjugation of their heritage by Western forms of modern dance and ballet— looked back to the grotesque imagery of the Shun-ga woodcut prints of the 17th century Edo Period.  Performer Yokko and Sean Michael Welch, have applied the Butoh hallmarks of foreboding and unnaturalness, to the most tragic of the Greek tragedies, Medea.  Their adaptation, BUTOH MEDEA, directed by Brian Rhinehart, may yield fresh insights, to Euripides’ classic, or disturbing ones.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5296

 

Elena Egusquiza “Rayn” (© 2018 D.W. Kim Photography and Design)

Elena Egusquiza offers up a “one-woman psychedelic electro-opera about a muse trapped in the “real” world who becomes a stripper/escort to support herself” in RAYN: AN ELECTRONIC BURLESQUE EXPERIENCE.  

Audience members are told to come prepared to dance “and maybe even be danced on!”  All proceeds benefit Sex Workers Outreach Project Los Angeles.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5405

 

Artistic Director Matthew Marcum and Producer Shannon J. Spencer, co-founders of The Unconventional Empire, have traveled the Fringe circuit picking up awards at both the St. Louis and the Asheville Fringes.

In MATTHEW MARCUM – POLLOCK: A FREQUENCY PARABLE, described as “an avant-operatic sound performance piece that explores elements of abstract expressionism through nonlinear narrative and extended vocal techniques,” they seem to be undertaking an audio embossment of the expressionistic art of Jackson Pollock.  Translating the intensity of Jackson’s trammeled impoundment from the canvas to a sepulchral sonant of “energy, motion, scale, and improvisation,” is Marcum’s stated intention.  He’s caught my interest.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5118

 

Steve Block (“My Calico Soul”)

Songwriter/singer Steve Block, in his own words and songs, will tell the personal odyssey of a bisexual man, to overcome a difficult childhood and the labels life throws at you, in MY CALICO SOUL.

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4915

I’ve argued it all began with the clown and puppet….  Before the stages at Athens the caves of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, at our very beginning you’ll find a pack of bipeds gathered about a fire watching one of their tribe make funny faces at a stick he wiggles about….

The influence of Japanese puppetry can be seen in the work of Julie Taymor and others.  SHILO KLOKO, drawing on animation and Butoh traditions challenges the “relationship between puppet and puppeteer” and will leave you questioning: In life, which one are you?

More Show Information:

 

LES BANCS promises “topical issues,” “feelings of joy” and “enlightenment” from a “group of educated clowns from California State University Long Beach.”

More Show Information:

Jean Minuchin commences with the beloved children’s saga of “The Three Little Pigs” then adds puppetry, masks and video. From that starting point, STILL LIFE OF AN ORANGE AND OTHER PUPPET PARABLES will proceed to guide audiences to a place where they may observe “our planet from the vantage point of the cosmos” and ponder “our place in it.”  You gotta admit, that sounds a lot more interesting than going “wee-wee-wee all the way home.”

More Show Information:

Producer/Performer Matthew Godfrey (“The Universe 101)

From the UK’s Cavort Theatre comes THE UNIVERSE (101).  Okay, what do you get when you lock an L.A. audience in a room with a Quantum Clown and a Psychic Comedian as they battle to save the universe?  Well, according to Norbut Yetso (Matthew Godfrey) and Evanion the Great (Ian Harvey Stone) “mayhem, mirth, audience interaction and grand feats of mental mystery”

Producer/Performer Ian Harvey Stone (“The Universe 101”)

Caution: Attendance may lead to audience members winking out of existence.

More Show Information:

Puppeteers For Fears promises us H.P. Lovecraft’s “monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.”  In an all puppet songfest of the “Elders Ones!”   That’s right, CTHULHU: THE MUSICAL!  (I am soooooooo there!)

More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5104


 Find Part II of Mr. Kearney’s Fringe Coverage Here:  Hollywood Festival Fringe Time 2018—Part II


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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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  • Hello Mr. Kearney. We would love to invite you to our show- Pollock:A Frequency Parable. Feel free to email me and I will supply you with a code for a comp ticket. Thank you for the support and I hope to meet you.
    http://www.theunconventionalempire.com

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