Category Archives: LA Theatre

Workshop of THE BULLY PROBLEM

I had such a positive experience rehearsing for and performing in the premiere workshop production of The Bully Problem, a brand new musical written by Michael Gordon Shapiro. I was so thrilled to work in a group of such strong performers– everyone was so talented, focused, hardworking, and had so much respect for one another. We’ve all been in creative collaborations where some people are not giving 100% to the project and know how easily that affects the group, and so it makes it all the more sumptuous when you are working with real pros.

I’m very attracted to working on new projects and helping with development (and do so frequently), yet I still can’t find the right words to describe the weird/awesome energy of working on something that feels so FULL– so close to being a real thing. Our director Joshua Finkel mentioned that we “birthed” a new musical, and yes, after a VERY short and intense gestation period, we did birth this show baby together.

Much like the “nerd” kids in the show, I think we musical theatre kids don’t get nearly enough credit. Yes, we can be really loud, and yes, our knowledge of the MT oeuvre is borderline obsessive, but we are soooooooo frickin’ hardworking. When you really think about needing to be able to act and sing and dance and follow blocking and smile and hold for laughs and remember where the mics are and read your script without putting it in front of your face ALL at the same time… EVERYONE who was involved in putting this performance up was a total rock star, and I’m so thankful that I was a part of it.

The audience reception was great, and I think that the afternoon was very entertaining and enjoyable for everyone. I look forward to seeing how to show continues to take shape!

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LA THEATRE TOWN HALL

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(Photo from the DCA’s FB Event)

 

On Monday night at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, LA Stage Alliance (was anyone from LASA actually there??), and Arts for LA organized a “town hall” for the LA theatre community alongside and a panel of LA theatre peeps to make use of a visit from the National Endowment for the Arts Director of Theatre and Musical Theatre (and previous LA resident and theatre-maker!), Greg Reiner.

If you are paying attention to the news at all, you know that along with a lot of other really important programs and organizations, the NEA is on the chopping block in our new “administration.” “Administration” implies that there’s some sort of order and organization going on, so we’ll just leave those quotation marks there. Anyway, the chopping block is a very familiar place for us theatre folks. We live there. We know what it looks, feels, and smells like. For some of us (cough cough, people in their 20’s and early 30’s), thanks to the economy crash, it’s all we’ve ever known. It’s like growing up in an abusive home where abuse is what you believe to be normal, and yeah, it sucks, and you have a feeling that if lots of things were different you could be in a much better, happier, healthier situation, but at least in a gross way that abuse is familiar and what you’re used to. As we cradle our love for theatre and the arts, constantly kicking away the haters, we are honest with ourselves that we are always last on the list to get money and first on the list to get eliminated.

The program included quite an impressive list of people, but what I was not at all impressed with, despite the nice turnout (Greg Reiner claimed during his up at bat that this was the largest turnout he’d seen for any town hall he’d done in the country!), I was very frustrated with the people who I didn’t see. The only way that I or anyone I knew at the meeting even found out about its existence was through a random Facebook event that we weren’t invited to but just happened to see floating around on Facebook a day or two before the actual event. I’m sure there were reasons for the lack of organization in inviting people from the community and that this was possibly put together last minute, but the huge absence of main players from the 99 seat theatre scene made me wonder who this meeting was meant to be for, as they clearly weren’t interested in inviting and involving people who are really making consistent work in the trenches and fighting the good fight.

Even though I haven’t heard anything from the Theatre Producers League in a while (guys, what’s up??), it was terribly disheartening to hear people bring up needs in the community that TPLLA is totally already working on. There is SUCH a huge disconnect between these various arts entities and that is something we really need to resolve. I was so frustrated that I literally almost jumped out of my chair to run on the stage and be like, “YOU GUYS– we already got this!” A bunch of different groups working separately on solutions for the same issues at the same time is a waste of time and energy. We need one group/org to represent us and lead the others, and we have to come to an agreement about who that’s going to be. Is it LASA? Is it TPLLA? Is it the DCA? Arts for LA? Is LA Theatre Network even still a group?

In terms of the content of the meeting, it was mainly all the reps at these different organizations telling us how much they care about theatre, which, ok cool, but some interesting and topical conversations did come out of the questions to the panel.

Some cool things that came up:

  • Talking about defining LA theatre for outsiders. You guys all totally know what that means. Others usually have their own made-up assumption of what LA theatre is or isn’t, and damned if they aren’t SO READY to share that opinion with you at a party: “There is NO good theatre in Los Angeles.” “If you really want to do theatre, you have to go to New York.” “All the theatre in LA is just actors who wanna get famous in film waiting around for their big break.” Etc, etc, etc… What IS very special about LA theatre and makes us awesome is the cross-pollination of various mediums coming together, everyone being excellent in what they bring to the table. Our abundance of sub-sub-groups is a big positive and makes for delicious niche theatre. Nancy Keystone, who I have a HUGE art-crush on and definitely theatre-stalked for a while, said that LA is “endlessly discoverable.” Is that not the best
  • Supporting FRINGE is supporting the entire LA theatre scene because that is where we are growing and evolving amazing work! Panel, suits, and theatre folks working in education or in offices— if you say that you are “involved in/a member of/representing the LA theatre community,” and you have never been to see a show at Fringe, you need to check yourself.
  • Leslie Ishii (zot zot UCI!!!) talked about how she has been researching sustainability in relation to the arts for a while now, and how we can look at the recently passed homelessness measure to set better models for how we look after our artist population. We are, when it comes down to it, a vulnerable population. (btw, Mental health IS TOTALLY A SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE!!!!!! If we want to continue to make art, we need to be able to sustain ourselves emotionally and psychologically!!!! Cue Maureen taking care of your heart and feelings via Artists Unbound, coming to a multi-use room near you)
  • Nancy Keystone brought up the unfortunately pertinent issue that we (theatre/theatre-makers) are not considered important in the bigger sphere/country. This is something my super rad friend and Arts Administrator/Future Policy-Maker and Superhero Lia Kozatch and I talk about a lot, and unfortunately it’s absolutely true. We are not taken seriously and we are not valued. And I don’t think that’s just me being a martyr. As a society and an economy, the US does not value performing arts (again, we live on the chopping block.) The fix for this is so huge and will take so many years and layers of value-shifting, I don’t know if I’ll see if happen in my lifetime.

I don’t know why they called this gathering a “town hall.” For me, that phrase conjures up the image of a Parks & Recreation/Leslie Knope-style meeting where the people in the community get to have their voices heard by the people who are supposed to represent them. Unfortunately there was neither time nor opportunity for anyone in the audience to speak after the presentation was over. A few questions were asked after Greg Reiner spoke, but we didn’t have time to really dig into anything important. To me it was a meeting for the suits to say, “We know what you guys are doing is meaningful and you deserve support and especially funding……… but there is no support and there is no funding and we’re super super sorrryyyyyyyy….”

In a time when so many of us are negatively affected by the government and are freaking out about what the future holds, we need action, not words. We don’t want the “town hall” version of “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter. We want a plan. We want things we can DO. BECAUSE WE ARE DOERS AND MAKERS.

One of my other lovely theatre cohorts at the meeting, the illustrious Greg Crafts, asked Greg Reiner and the other desk peeps what we, as a theatre community who care very much about taking action, can DO to help these organizations survive and show that there are citizens who will fight for them. Reiner responded that we should talk to people at LASA and Arts for LA and ask them. If there was indeed anyone there from LASA or Arts for LA (again, neither of which seem to have taken the reins of the community that I really think someone needs to friction’ take!!!), they didn’t share anything with us about what that support would look like.

TLDR: Our usual money/support people love us but are stuck and they also don’t know who the LA theatre community actually is.

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#LAThtr in Full Fringe-Mode!

I can feel the very palpable buzz around the community that the Fringe gears are shifting! It makes me so happy that every year the HFF organization itself is getting more organized, offering more opportunities for education and conversation to production teams, and staying on top of managing the growth that comes with each new year.

At Rogue Machine, of which I am a company member, we are producing and hosting a whole bunch of shows for Fringe. Now that we are in our second year in a more Fringe-friendly neighborhood, we’re really trying to take advantage of this season. While all my theatre buds are jumping on board with various shows, I, alas, have a very busy summer away from Los Angeles ahead of me wherein I will be a bridesmaid in two (YEP, two!) weddings over the Fringe performance schedule. Since I can’t be in any shows this year, I’m helping out with pre-production needs in any way I can.

Right now I’m assisting with auditions and callbacks for a GREAT new show that RMT will be doing at Fringe: In the Valley of the Shadow, by Katherine Cortez. The play explores the LGBTQ community in Orlando and a terrible tragedy echoing the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. It’s so timely and impactful, and I just know that it is going to be a hit at Fringe. I’m excited to be able to help out with such an important play even though I won’t be around for all the shows!

Come visit me at callbacks tomorrow!

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Monthly Inspirations, September 2014

Nice Things

I already talked about it last month, but now it is actually open (as of last night!) and if you are in Los Angeles, you should treat yo self to this incredible drama. I worked on the AD team and marketing team for this show and love supporting Mr. Vince Melocchi and new works in general. As I mentioned last month, working on this has been so incredible because everyone who worked on this show gives a shit SO MUCH about making good theatre, and that makes me want to explode with love. Our official blurb is: “As the economy falls apart, military recruiters are offering paychecks and school tuition with the promise of a better life. But at what cost? Nice Things explores the changing and diminishing options now available for young men and women in small town America.”

BUY TICKETS HERE!

 

 

Since my month was very busy getting this amazing play off the ground, it was my big, month-long inspiration. But, I will leave you with this, which is inspiring in it’s own way:

44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle It Right Now

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The Suit and Peter Brook

I can’t remember when I first learned of director Peter Brook and his work. Maybe it was reading The Empty Space in college, maybe it was before then, but after coming back from my year abroad in London (where is name was certainly thrown around frequently), I dug into his history of work, reading Conference of the Birds, scouring the internet for images and details of his past productions, all because I had become obsessed with ways to combine multiculturalism and theatre. To this day, I have a hard time finding a way to combine the two in a new way, but that’s another story. I always thought it would be sooooooo incredible to work with Peter Brook on these daring productions and admired him for being so incredibly prolific. As you can imagine, I was thrilled by the opportunity to see The Suit while it was here visiting UCLA on it’s world tour, directed by Peter Brook himself.

The Suit, From the Afridiziak Theatre News website

The Suit, From the Afridiziak Theatre News website

As was expected, the story was beautifully put together. Scenes weaved in and out very organically, the use of the fourth wall was very appropriate to the type of show/story, and the performances were extremely focused and strategically nuanced. The three actors, Jordan Barbour, Ivanno Jeremiah, and Nonhlanhla Kheswa, gave masterful and captivating performances. The music was a absolutely a fourth character, playing almost constantly. The musicians (a guitarist, a trumpeter, and a guy switching between an accordion and a piano) deserve just as much praise as the actors.

I would go on and on about what made it so fantastic, but I’m not trying to write a review, AND they’ve moved on to a different city and I don’t want to tease you. What I wanted to explain about the impact of this show is that as I move more fully into the film/tv realm (never letting go of theatre, though!), The Suit was a great reminder of powerful it can be to experience a show that’s best and only possible incarnation is live performance. To film this piece would strip it of all that makes it so lovely– the amazing flow of energy in and out of scenes, the feeling that you get hearing these instruments played live as if just for you, the palpable connection between audience and storytellers, the way that subtle emotions make you lean in to read the feelings on an actor’s face… It just felt special. And that, my friends, is what I love about theatre. No matter what caliber of venue, company, or production you are partaking in, a well-executed piece of theatre will feel like you have experienced something unique and personal– like that performance was made solely to feed the souls of the folks who came that particular evening.

Thank you, Mr. Brook, for reminding me of this, for directing another show at 89 years old, and for creating such a wonderful celebration of my favorite art form.

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When to Say No to Auditions

I was invited to an audition last month for a what I thought was a new theatre company. I figured I would give it a shot and at least see what they were up too.

When I got to the audition site, it ended up being a completely different company, one with a very negative reputation in the LA theatre community. I was shocked. What a bold-faced lie to tell the actors auditioning! Did they expect us not to notice when we got to the audition and it was someone else entirely?

The person leading the auditions went on to tell us that instead of just believing what we may have read about the company online, supposedly written by “bitter actors who can’t get any acting work,” we should just see for ourselves (of course, after we are cast in a show with him). The fact that he even felt the need to say that to us was very telling.

There are SOOOO many people out here whose business goals are to prey on the unknowing, hopeful, naive, I’ll-do-anything-for-my-career actors who come out to LA. There is a lot of money to be made off of actors in this town, partly because there are so many of us, and partly because we can be so desperate to get exposure, credits, meet people, etc.

I left the audition post-“why we aren’t so bad” speech and pre-“instead of a monologue or reading from sides, your audition is to walk around the stage in the dark and act like vampires.” I knew from lots of friends and from resources at The Actors Network that these people were super sketchy and so I took off. However, it was a tough decision in the moment when I was already there at the theatre and had spent money on gas and had given them a headshot and resume. Plus, I know I generally shouldn’t say no to opportunities since they are so hard to come by.

Where should the line be between saying yes or no to an acting opportunity?

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My Fatty Fringe Festival Review

  • Four Clowns Presents That Beautiful Laugh. Jeremy Aluma, the artistic director of Four Clowns, spoke during the Bitter Lemons Fringe panel about the benefit of packing the house during the first weekend of shows, and I can absolutely see why. It definitely helps the vibe of the show to have a full audience reacting, and this was definitely the case when I saw That Beautiful Laugh. It was delightfully funny, surprisingly touching, had very unique props/set, and made me interested in seeing other stuff by them. I do feel like I’ve been spoiled by the excellent clowning I saw while at UCI, but I found this production successful nonetheless. I find this type of work to be very important– to bring a childlike sense of wonder and joy into the lives of adults– so props to them for facilitating that.
  • 25 Plays. This was definitely the way to get the most bang for your buck. Pacing was good, and the experience was fun overall. A great mix of different vibes/styles. Even if I didn’t love 100% of the pieces, it didn’t matter because they were so short. It also didn’t matter because Greg Crafts, managing director of Theatre Unleashed, is such a great dude.
  • D is for Dog. Regardless of the small amount of their work I’ve seen, I’ve always been a fan of the Rogue Artists. I had the opportunity to see some workshoppy things they did back in Orange County when I was still at UCI (several of the Rogues are UCI grads as well– zot zot), and they blew me away with their beautifully impressive commitment to their own aesthetic. Their shows are magical because of the effort and thought that goes into their work. Keeping up with my expectation, the sets and music were really beautiful and very well crafted, and I loved the commitment to detail throughout the entire show. As far as absorbing me into their world, they did an excellent job. The script, although, had it’s imperfections, and I didn’t understand how the puppets were talking to father character from the air vents. I felt like I needed a little bit more information. The puppets were extremely creepy. Taylor Coffman, who played Jane, did an excellent job of creating an interesting role while not turning it into a caricature. Overall this was much more visually stimulating than most of the other Fringe shows I saw, so definitely want to give props for that. They’ll be on my calendar in the future.
  • Is He Dead? Excellent. I don’t even know if it’s fair to put this in the same category as the rest of the Fringe because it was so fully realized and so professionally executed (the performance was in their home space and I don’t know if there were other companies working in there). Excellent acting and stellar directing. I definitely left with the feeling of “this is a company I’m putting on my radar.” I talked with the illustrious Gedaly afterwards about Coeurage’s Pay-What-You-Will method and I’d really love to hear from any other companies who are doing that. Anyway, very entertaining play and a quality production from top to bottom.
  • Milk from Stone– Live Theatre Blog. O.M.G. So great. This was my favorite show of the Fringe, and was the only show where I walked out of the theatre saying “HELL. YES.” For those who didn’t see it, Coeurage‘s main company writer (Eric Czuleger) is currently in the Peace Corps in Albania and writes back to the company about his experiences and impressions from abroad. One of their actors back in LA (Deven Simonson) with the help of one of their directors (Sara Perry) performs Eric’s words as a monologue. Sure, it’s just a man and a microphone, but the writing and acting were so excellent, and it was so beautiful to see stripped-down storytelling like that. I may have a bit of a personal bias to this type of work because of my experiences abroad, several years of working with international students, and my obsession with finding ways to combine cultural exchange with theatre, but I find the observations in Live Theatre Blog to be so insightful, educational, provocative, and IMPORTANT, not to mention entertaining and engaging. Well done, guys. I highly recommend everyone to see whatever future incarnations this project will take.
  • LOLpera. I STILL don’t know how I feel about this show, and I think that may be to the credit of the creators, Andrew Pedroza and my fellow UCI alumni Ellen Warkentine. On the one hand it comes off as one long-ass inside joke that you may or may not be in on, and on the other a celebration and dedication to silliness. When I realized that the entire show would be comprised solely of text from the LOLcats memes, I was pretty concerned. However, the show kept my interest, even if that interest was coated with a feeling of “what the hell is going on,” and I definitely appreciated it’s uniqueness. It’s also well worth mentioning that the score and the band were excellent. Downsides were that it was very long for the things it needed to communicate, and I do think they should make a few casting changes before they head off to the NY Fringe.
  • The Relationship Play. Oy. I knew from the first few lines of dialogue that this was going to be a horrible show. I had a very hard time sitting through the whole thing, and wish I had left. I didn’t believe any of the actors at any point in the show and the script was awful. (The only person who should not be included in this comment is Tessa Flores, who was actually pretty good as the role of Jean.) There were tons of obvious beginner mistakes like strong vocal projection in an indoor scene in a very small theatre, the actors being too young for the characters, and awkward accent decisions. I mean, this is a play set in the UK that talks about getting green cards in the US, moving internationally, and cross-country relationships, yet only two characters have an English accent and the rest have American accents that we’re supposed to forgive…? Not to mention the childish viewpoint that people should air their dirty laundry in front of each other. Maybe that decision was part of the point of the show, but it left me feeling frustrated with the immaturity of it all. I know the Fringe is supposed to be a place for people to try things out, but this show was not ready to be done in front of people.
  • Richard Parker. I enjoyed the Royksopp for the house music. Reminded me of my time in the UK. I liked the first act and found the obsession with coincidence and fate to be very poignant. The second act was a bit strange, and kind of stagnated. Great acting though. I miss the UK.
  • All Atheists Are Muslim. It’s performances like this that make me sad that there’s such a bad reputation for one-person shows at the Fringe festival. Zahra was fantastic– very funny, great characters who were all super likeable. Only downside for me was that I really wanted to hear more, and to me it was like the first half of a play– I wanted to know what happened after Duncan moved in. I would pay to see a longer version, Zahra.
  • pool (no water). Although the long stretches of nudity made me super uncomfortable (Catholic roots, anyone?), this was a really interesting show. I enjoyed the controversial and subjective ideas and statements about art, fame, and friendship. I’d heard a lot about this piece when it and I were both in London in 2006 and I was doing physical theatre work, and the physical theatre elements in this show were well incorporated and helped enhance and carry the story. It makes me have more faith in the ability of ensemble-based theatre, in general, to create a cohesive production.
  • The Black Glass. I couldn’t get into it. Maybe it was the fact that I was overwhelmed by having to race down the street with my slight asthma to get to the show on time, or maybe it was that it was more of an essay or a dramatic poem to me than a play. The actors seemed very talented even though the script wasn’t helping them. I could see something in the way Brad Culver handled himself onstage that makes me think he’s probably a really great actor. In a non-lesbionic way, I was also very distracted by what a perfect body Elizabeth Greer had. Holy crap. Good for her. Ms. Greer, if you are reading this, please tell me what you did to look like that.
  • Confessions of the World’s Worst Missionary. Oh wait, I didn’t see this because the dumb people in the ArtWorks office told me to go to the wrong space! Sorry Miss Alfinito. I really wanted to see it. Instead I saw…
  • The God Particle Complex. All the science-y talk immediately put me into I’m-in-zero-period-high-school-physics-class-mind-block mode, so unfortunately my brain wouldn’t really let me pay attention. I’m sure would have been a lot cooler to someone more science-savvy. Plus my focus was still on the frustration about being told to go to the wrong place. Seriously, what the hell. I did like the parts with the alien guy, Karl Ramsey, coming in and out. He was excellent, and all three of the characters in the alien from the future exchanges had great comedic timing.
  • Before the Red Trees Come. I enjoyed this and my non-drama-nerd boyfriend did not, which I found very interesting. I thought that it was a very beautifully crafted, very well directed piece using influences of Commedia and clowning as well as a silent film vibe and that Kristopher Lee Bicknell handled each moment of the performance with so much care. The boyfriend, who doesn’t do any theatre and hasn’t sat through copious theatre history classes as I have, told me he found it inauthentic and self-conscious, like it was an exercise in a particular style instead of about a story. Obviously something so committed to a specific, less modern style was something I appreciated and he did not, and it makes me wonder if things like this get lost on people who don’t have a frame of reference for it. Would love to hear thoughts on that.
  • INTERNment. I appreciate theatre that is relevant, and the subject of this show is certainly relevant to LA and to the type of people seeing Fringe shows. However, the show was kind of a downer for that type of people, as it was so focused on how ruthless and screwy the entertainment industry is, especially when it comes to the treatment of actors. Perhaps this was Joe Mahon’s intention as the writer and performer of this piece, but it certainly made me feel suicidal upon leaving the theatre. Regardless, Joe’s acting was excellent. The three characters he created were so different, I had to keep reminding myself that they were the same actor. Although, none of the characters were particularly likeable. I kind of wanted someone to relate to, but, again, maybe that wasn’t the point– maybe giving the feeling of alienation in this business was part of the plan. Maybe my feelings of complete dejection following the show are a sign of its success. Also I want to give an irrelevant shout-out to my amazing actor friend Michael Hanson, whose headshot was featured in this production.
  • ASAP Fables. I did not enjoy paying for parking. I did enjoy being ushered around to different parts of the Hollywood Methodist Church to see each scene. The fables themselves were okay. I wish there were more kids than there were adults in the audience– I think that would have made it more fun. The rules that the company set up for the stories (each team had an animal, a moral, and a quotation they had to fit in, as well as a time limit to create their fable) seemed very arbitrary to me. Sure, they had to make it quickly because it’s called “ASAP Fables,” and I understand that ASAP is a play on Aesop, but I didn’t understand what the relevance of that was dramatically. All of that aside, I would be interested to see this developed a bit, because I do love the tradition of fables and think this could be a really great kid-friendly show with a little tweaking.
  • Bitter Lemons Talk. This maybe deserves it’s own article since a lot of worthwhile subjects were talked about. The concentration of the talk was how the companies on the panel stay successful as producers considering the challenges we’re faced with in LA. Several people talked about the wealth of talent in LA being a big draw for creating theatre here. Jeremy Aluma mentioned the fact that because of the wealth of activities combined with the geographic challenges, when people go out in LA, they really want to GO OUT and make it an event for themselves and we need to find ways to cater to that. The panel seemed to agree that we need to work together to cultivate a community of theatre-goers in LA, and that the biggest challenge seems to be how to win (or, earn?) the respect of the rest of out city and our country as a high-quality theatre creators. Simon Levy of the Fountain Theatre said something that made me melt inside: “If you produce with your heart, everything else will take care of itself.” 🙂
  • Voices in My Head: A Life. Very special performance. Bill Ratner opened his heart completely to the audience, relaying the most intimate and difficult moments of his life. Such an intense and immediate connection is something we hope to, but don’t always, get in the theatre. He had a great command over the audience and really drew us in. I do have to say, I was hoping to enjoy more character voice samples as the marketing was so geared towards his clout as a voiceover artist. The lack of that left me a little unsatisfied. Overall, the experience made you want to go up and give Bill a hug at the end of the performance.
  • Nostalgium. Tracy Dillon was fantastic and Luke Scroggins was not great. Tracy seemed so comfortable in her character and so confident on stage, which unfortunately highlighted Luke’s “I’m being an actor”-ness. The writing overall is not spectacular– the first three quarters of the play are like sitting in a room with two high people when you’re not high. The dialogue kind of meanders, highlighted by random lighting changes that don’t seem to signify anything in particular. The last section of the play is a deus ex machina-infused sci-fi trip that was handled very well by director Alex Scott. I did really like the set pieces and admire that Alex refuses to limit himself by the “15 minutes in and 15 minutes out” Fringe set-up rule. The total ambiance of the dark lighting, junk-filled set, and slow pace, was very strong for this production and definitely sucked you into the world of the play, whether you wanted it to or not.
  • Mission to Mate. Missed the first ten minutes because I went to the wrong theatre. Oops. In this show I was most distracted by Alla Poberesky and how immediately envious I was about her entire person. How hot and talented is she? So unfair. Very excellent casting and very excellent performances throughout– Michael Sanchez, too, was so comfortable and so authentic (holla Santa Cruz!).
  • Kaleidoscope: A Sketch Comedy Project. I hate to admit that I walked out of this (with Ian Federgreen as my accomplice). It was clear from the beginning that the writing and the acting of this show were going to be juvenile, and I was tired, and I felt like I’d be happier spending my time getting a chai and a bagel. The first two scenes we saw showcased poor acting, poor writing, and were not funny at all. The one positive thing I have to say about Kaleidoscope is that they gave us awesome free glow bracelets.
  • The Nina Variations. This was a breath of fresh air. I began my experience at this show very nervous, as this was the same theatre, same-ish subject matter, and same age of actors as the unfortunate Relationship Play. So scarring, it was. Fortunately I made better memories with this well-executed take on Steven Dietz’s great play. I think it’s safe to say that these guys know what’s up. They picked a great script, which was much more emotionally and mentally rich and mature than many other Fringe shows. The acting and directing was respectable and intelligent, and it makes me so happy to see clearly educated and experienced performers, guided skillfully by Scott Marden‘s on point direction. Because I was impressed with the performances, I wish I could have seen more info about everyone’s background in the program. I am SUPER on board with their mission statement, and Will Play for Food can expect some stalk-age from me.
  • I Am Google. This was a great way to close out my Fringe-viewing experience. Probably too many puns for my taste, but I enjoyed the tribute to the familiar pop culture of our generation and that this was big inside joke we could all be a part of. Talking about technology in a group setting is so bizarre because we’re so used to experiencing it alone. Although a bit cliché, I did appreciate the ending where Craig talked about the importance of connecting with people in real life rather than on the internet, of which I am also a firm supporter. And Craig, I support the continuation of the “mail time” song. Many great artists of the past– Blue’s Clues, Mr. Rogers, Strongbad– all have a song about getting their mail, so why shouldn’t you?
  • IN CLOSING… I do want to also take a moment to talk about a few pros and cons of the Fringe this year. Two big things that continue to frustrate me every year are the parking situation and the timing of the shows. Of course parking is always an issue in LA, but this is something that’s going to deter people from coming out to the festival in the first place. Not to mention the fact that as a young female, I don’t prefer walking around at night by myself many blocks on dark streets in Hollywood at night to find my car, and I don’t feel that I should have to pay $10 or whatever to park in a lot to counteract that. Also, I didn’t like the fact that so many of the shows overlapped or were immediately back-to-back, taking travel time into consideration. This made it difficult for me to maximize the number of shows that I saw and difficult to plan as I was never sure how long I’d need in between. It was super stressful running back and forth between shows and affected my overall experience. Despite all that, I need to spend a few sentences talking about how completely rad Fringe Central was this year. I think this is something everyone can agree on. Having such a large indoor AND outdoor space with restrooms, lots of space to sit down, and a food truck on retainer was so perfect. It was a much more comfortable place to hang out and encouraged communing and conversation, which is so integral to this type of gathering. At the Bitter Lemons panel we talked about the need for a year-round Fringe Central. I really hope we can keep that conversation going and figure out a way to make it happen.

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