Propelled Power: Duchess Elizabeth, Eva Braun, Mamie Till – The One and Only Earwax of HFF2019….

By Ernest Kearney — Readers of my Fringe reviews on TVO are undoubtedly familiar with the rating system I apply to the shows I see.   There are five grades:






That wasn’t always the case. My first year of reviewing there were only three, modeled on the classic Olympian divisions. It was during my second years attending the Fringe as TVO’s theatre critic that I added the uppermost and the lowermost classes.

The reason I added a PLATINUM rank is because of the number of shows I found worthy of GOLD. Now, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I am not a “soft” critic.

I give my opinion. I do not blow smoke, I do not brown my nose and I do not sugar coat. Years ago, I was privileged to have Eleanor Perry take me under her wing, and if you don’t know who she is, well that’s your loss.

She instilled in me a commitment to art and artists, and for the nobility of the creative act, which has never waned.

Truth,” she taught us, “is the highest form of respect for your fellow artists. Art is the product of one’s accumulated awareness. We learn nothing from deception and dishonesty.”

If you don’t speak your mind, Mister Kearney,” she once bellowed at me, “whose mind will you?”

Giving my “honest opinion” has cost me opportunities, gigs and friends. But I take the upmost pride in telling myself, “Eleanor would be pleased.”

As creative individuals we must hear the truth and speak the truth. We don’t have to accept everything said to us, but we must be willing to listen to every opinion unhindered from the static of our egos. Often as artists, what hurts us to hear is precisely what helps us to grow.

I don’t want to criticize.

It is not inexperience, or lack of craft or maladroit artistry that sets me sharpening my tongue and wielding my pen like some arrogant erudite berserker; it is fraudulence and disrespect for the craft and the audience.

Then, I take no prisoners. (1)

And now we come to Propelled Power: Duchess Elizabeth, Eva Braun, Mamie Till presented at the Art of Acting Studio Professional Conservatory during HFF19.  Now over the years I have seen perhaps a half dozen Fringe offerings at the Conservatory and the swing of the pendulum could be very extreme.   Sometimes there have been solid production values – set, costume, thematic unity.

Other times, no, bare bones all the way.

But with Propelled Power: Duchess Elizabeth, Eva Braun, Mamie Till the pendulum has swung right outta the room.

No programs.

Never a good sign.

Three young actresses as historical figures, all playing ridiculously out of type and age; one giving a good performance in a poor narrative without the least element of theatricality; one in a strong performance framed in an interesting concept that seemed a counterpoint to her historical personage; and one… the less said the better.

Leaving, I requested a program, and a young lady behind the desk asked me, “For what?”

In my office, seeking to find the names of the two actresses I did like, I go to the Conservatory’s website. There is no mention of the show that I can find. I can’t even find a mention of their participation in the Fringe.

I go to their Fringe site. Surely, I’ll learn the names of the actresses, the director, you know… stuff critics tend to like to include in their reviews.

There is one name listed under Production Team: Johnathon Yoder.

Johnathon’s bio is 221 very impressive words –   B.A. in Theatre & Arts Management, University of Wisconsin – Marketing Associate for one of the busiest touring houses in the country, Harold Clurman Lab Theater, Manhattan Repertory, Stella Adler Studio NYC, bada-bing, bada-boom.

Not one word about what his involvement with or contribution to Propelled Powers was. Nada.

So judging from what I saw that evening, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Johnathon was the production’s veterinarian. That he took care of all the ponies and bunnies that were on stage.

Oh wait, there were no ponies of bunnies on stage.

Okay, I give up, I have no more idea what Johnathon’s duties were in that show than I do about why he spells his name that way.

“Impressive bio” aside, from what I saw at the Conservatory Johnathon Yoder knows no more about theatre than I know about the formulation of cosmic strings during the breaking phase of the primal transition of our universe. (2)

Johnathon doesn’t even know enough to list his actresses.

In dissecting the name of the producing body, I question the words “Art,” “Acting” and “Conservatory”: if they mean it in the sense of schoolhouse; if they are using it in the meaning of “greenhouse,” well maybe.

But the word I disagree with upmost is “Professional.”

Do they think it benefits their students or enhances their reputation in presenting evenings that reek of amateurism?

It is this type of disrespect for the theatre and for theatre going audiences that earns my wrath. It also earns for Propelled Power: Duchess Elizabeth, Eva Braun, Mamie Till, The Art of Acting Studio Professional Conservatory and Johnathon Yoder this Fringe’s one and only –Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017-TVolution Ear Wax Award


(My apologies to the Duchess and Mrs. Till.)

(1) Want to see me in bloodlust? Check out my review of Matthew Lopez’s deceitful half baked excuse for a play The Whipping Man. which reveals how many literary managers know zip about theatre and far less about either American History or Judaism


(2) Which is nothing. I don’t even know what I wrote.

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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. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

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