Category Archives: Hollywood Fringe

While Fringing…

Since this was only my second Fringe experience, I definitely learned quite a few things things this year. These are some things I wish I would have known before I started.

1. Make a plan. Read descriptions of different shows and read reviews, but most importantly TRY SOMETHING NEW. Fringe is about artists becoming vulnerable with their creative genius to see where it can lead. Without an audience and feedback, the shows have no where to go.  Making a schedule allows  you to plan ahead and find those one-time deals.

2. Find someone to go with. Unfortunately, walking outside, at night, in a big city, alone is not the best idea- things happen out of our control and it’s best to be safe. In all honesty, theatre is just better when you have someone to discuss with afterwards.

3. Leave enough time. Even though you have already made a schedule do not schedule shows within half and hour to and hour within each other. Many shows start late, go over, and may be longer than calculated. Since you want to see everything you just have to be wise about giving yourself enough time to get from venue to venue.

4. Stay after. Fringe is a collaborative effort of artists to connect and meet each other. Many times there are talkbacks and opportunities to talk with the creative geniuses behind the show you just watched. They want to hear from you, no matter what you thought of the show! And you never know who you might come in contact with to help you fulfill your creative dreams.

5. Write a review. Since most of these shows are premiers and are looking for helpful critiques. Artists basically fly blind until someone says something. SO SAY SOMETHING. Anything that you think might be helpful or encouraging. This will help them to proceed with putting their passions on the stage.

6. Make connections. There are many opportunities to meet people throughout the Fringe. This might even mean talking to the people that are sitting next to you and hanging out around the central station or the theatre bar.

Plan now with the Fringe Calendar. Happy Fringing!

Anna Hodgson is the 2012 Communication Intern. When not communicating, she is either managing the stage, dreaming up fabulous direction, organizing dusty props or making messes in her kitchen baking delicious goodies.

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A Crimson Death: The Lights are Off and Before the Red Trees Come

One of the greatest things about Fringe Festivals is their ability to bring together artists in order to become known or recognized by others in the field. I was fortunate enough to attend The Working Theater’s The Lights Are Off and Harrison Bergeron Productions & Geniuspills Entertainment’s Before the Red Trees Come. These shows were established by peers with similar interests aspiring for the same goal, to entertain and challenge. Both, broadcasting the color red as a symbol of death, dazzled my creative side and sparked my desire to submit a fringe show next year.

Being in university right now, this play was very relevant and pretty accurate according the characters that you might find in a college kid’s dorm. The audience wrestled with these two roommates, one of whom dealt drugs in order to pay off school loans, and the other a reformed Christian. The intensity and honesty of each actor was spot on. Each character found themselves in the room either for love, energy, drugs, redemption or peer recognition. These students, struggling to find their identity, find that their lives revolve completely around each other, thriving off of the dealers satisfaction with each of them. The message of this play was surreal and bold. Apart from rules, religious regulations, and peer pressure, in the end doing what is right will pay off in the end. I really enjoyed how the space was used. This intimate space made us feel like we were in the dorm-room with these students, complete with loud music and banging from the upstairs neighbors. Great dedication and a creative design team put this show together in a familiar and yet mysterious place. Unfortunately due to the content, this play could never be produced at APU, but it’s message is relevant in any sphere and the realism of each character challenges the audience to think about what they would have done or did in similar situations. Overall this piece was a great start for The Working Theater and I cannot wait to see more.

Before the Red Trees Come had a completely different feel-more quiet and peaceful. This silent show (accompanied by piano music) followed a young man from his first existence through his journey into becoming a man and the reality of death. I really appreciated the attention the detail in this show. Each actor look care in demonstrating the natural progression of life. The plot was not extreme in depth, but its simplicity helped focus the show and the patterns replicated the patterns of life. I loved each of the male actors’ interpretation of the three generations. As the main character grew up, the other two men progressed and filled in the gaps of the child and elder. Each had their own spin on the age in which they played which was enjoyable to watch. I particularly loved the female member who played a flower seller, who brought in parts of her commedia ‘dell arte experiences into the character. This type of physical comedy is something that I have come to love and have hoped to see more in the United States.  I was excited to see a piece that introduced it’s audience to something unique. This sweet story challenged the audience to see the impact of the smallest movement of each character. We were able to embrace the story without the use of spoken word.

These two plays, although quite different from each other, grappled with life and death in very relatable ways to the audiences. I applaud each of the artists for getting a show up and being vulnerable enough to put it on stage for critics and peers to review it. They used what they knew and found others with similar passions- that is what inspires me. These artists have established their talents thus far and I am sure they can only grow from here.

Anna Hodgson is the 2012 Communication Intern. When not communicating, she is either managing the stage, dreaming up fabulous direction, organizing dusty props or making messes in her kitchen baking delicious goodies.

“See, I’m Smiling”

On Friday, June 22nd, I saw Jason Robert Brown’s poignant masterpiece, The Last Five Years at the Complex Theatre, as apart of the 2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival. This production starred Aly French and Nate Aylworth as Cathy Hyatt and Jamie Wellerstein, the show’s struggling couple. This has to be one of my favorite pieces of musical theatre and I came into this show knowing every word to every song and memorized every comedic beat and dramatic moment off the CD. I thought I knew every thing there was to know about this story, but I was taken off guard by the originality of this production. The use of the space and the actors in between each other’s songs was a treat to watch. Nate Aylworth’s voice shined in JRB’s beautiful score, his infectious smile showed Jamie’s love of life but it was Aly French who really stole the show for me. Her focus in this character was beautiful and I couldn’t stop watching her to see what new hilarious thing she was going to do next. Her songs “Summer in Ohio” and “I Can Do Better Than That” were side splitting due to her precise comedic timing and her arsenal of faces. Her transformation from the “end” of the show as a shell of a woman in love “Still Hurting” to the “beginning” as a woman who’s heart is completely open and hopeful for a better life “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” was heartbreaking. Although the technical aspect was lacking and the full sound of the score was decreased to just a solo piano, this heart-aching and emotion-punching show still did it’s job!

Taylor Wesselman is the 2012 Production Intern. He enjoys writing musicals in the shower, long walks at Disneyland and his favorite vegetable is pizza. When not interning, he spends his time trying to find his shadow.

Comical Experiments: 30 Minute Musicals and Pacific Conference

This week I have had the wonderful opportunity of attending the Hollywood Fringe Festival! In connection with that, I will be posting my findings throughout the weekend, focusing on the unique aspects of each show that are inspiring to me.

30 Minute Musicals was such a delight! First came the hilarious parody of the classic Jurassic Park movies in which my favorite character, the T-Rex, sang about his misfortune as a carnivore. This spectacular show reminded me of the days when my cousins and I would put on shows for our grandparents in our lving room. It came complete with homemade dinosaur costumes, dramatic intervention, classic tossed in jokes and mayhem. My first thoughts after experiencing this dino-tastic musical was: “why has this not been written before”. The script and lyrics honed in on everything missing in the film from spontaneous missing limbs, to the terrible solutions offered to escape the dino-land and songs! Although this production was lacking in high technical elements it truly captured the youthful energy of the audience and pulled us into the fun on stage. I appreciated that every ensemble member was working towards the main goal of the story. I can only imagine the collaboration meetings that went on to make this great show possible.

Next came Showgirls and in all honesty I was not quite as enthralled with this piece in the same way, but I also did not realize that it was a parody of the 1995 film. This is the story of a country girl climbing her way into the Vegas limelight, so naturally I saw Coyote Ugly and Burlesque images in my head. After going home and researching this movie, I concluded that this show was indeed hilarious in its own fashion! Lindsay Ray, playing Nomi, captured the essence of this character’s many quirks while highlighting her own singing and dancing talents. I enjoyed the attention to detail that this show entailed including the awkward “sexy” dance moves of the 90’s and the wacky style. Again, the cast depended on each other and cohesively put on a great show.

The actors and musicians were having a blast during both of these shows, which reflected in the audience’s laughter and response. This ensemble worked well using their strengths to highlight each other and I was greatly entertained, so it is a win-win show.

Pacific Conference featured around a snobby aussie bloke signing a deal with a new american movie. It was funny to recognize the changes these american business men made when dealing with the Australian actor in order to make him feel more comfortable, like de-professionalizing their clothing and using terms such as “bloke”. These types of adjustments may seem highly stereotypical, but in many cases very true. Having lived there myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the use of the quirky down-under terms. Although the aussie accent is always a win in my opinion, the show relied on general stereotypes of international businessmen, from the sex crazed Indian to the bigoted American and the baffled Middle Eastern. I would have enjoyed a bit more realism from the characters or at least solid plot. It was a funny sketch about working in a mixed ethnicity environment, but overall lacked in the ingenuity I was looking for in a fringe show. Often times when a project is first starting out, many of these things become apparent when put in front of an audience. This particular show strives off of it’s Saturday Night Live sketch feel. In saying that, I respect the playwright and director Christofer Frey for putting up this show and seeing where it can take off!

Anna Hodgson is the 2012 Communication Intern. When not communicating, she is either managing the stage, dreaming up fabulous direction, organizing dusty props or making messes in her kitchen baking delicious goodies.

A Missionary Who Confesses She’s the Worst

A blonde, petite, spunky university student left her comfortable, privileged life and decided to explore to South Africa. Why? Because her Latino gay hairdresser was leading the trip and South Africa just screams  “interesting”. Unfortunately, Lina Alfinito did not get what she was expecting on her spontaneous charity adventure across the ocean. Confessions of the World’s Worst Missionary is the account of what actually happened in this foreign land and the many revelations obtained throughout her journey.

The team she joined was full of eager bright-eyed students from Azusa Pacific University hoping to change the faith of some impoverished people while loving on them and helping out where needed. Some of the participants knew what they were signing up for, but our first timer had yet to learn what she was getting into. The moment Lina boarded the plane she realized this is not the trip she was anticipating, but something else altogether.  While many people go one these types of trip to help change someone else’s life, they often come back transformed themselves. Being a tourist is one thing, but bring stripped of middle class luxury and seeing what life is like beyond our structuralized universe- that changes someone.

When asked why she wrote this piece, Lina responds, “It just had to be put down on paper”. One can only imagine the process it took for a young naïve American to embrace the Afrikaner culture, only then to force this newfound knowledge back into personal everyday life. The only way she knew how to express this experience was through pen and paper. Originally, this story began as a 10-minute newspaper sketch posed as an APU Fringe submission, but it quickly evolved into this 45-minute piece with the help of a solo performance workshop.

Confessions is a true account of a young snarky college student’s life while on a Christian missions trip to South Africa. It relates to anyone who has ever felt out of place, privileged, confused, alone, on a team, and those of us who have experienced inexpressible situations. Lina articulates her joy, pain, happiness, struggles and hope in this amazing personal account. This show leaves one asking: how are you living your life?

You have the opportunity to witness this retelling!

Purchase Tickets at http://hff12.org/710

Performances will be at Artworks (Studio A) located at 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles,90038

Festival Performances:
Friday June 15 @ 8:00pm
Saturday June 16 @ 6:00pm
Sunday June 17 @ 6:00pm
Monday June 18 @ 10pm

Follow Confessions on Twitter! @Confessions_WWM

 

Anna Hodgson is the 2012 Communication Intern. When not communicating, she is either managing the stage, dreaming up movement and images for direction, organizing dusty props or making messes in her kitchen baking delicious goodies.