My 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival Picks

I’ve enjoyed attending the Hollywood Fringe Festival since it started, and always searched for more ways to let audiences in on the fun. Now living in a new city, I understand even more how it’s hard to just jump into a Fringe Festival, even if you’re really into it.

These are the shows that I would put on my #HFF16 Dance Card during this first week of previews and through opening, if I were in town. Click the title to find the show on the Fringe website.

Enjoy!

Cindy Marie Jenkins, Founder & Consultant of See It or Skip It LA

From Reputation

Neva  “People are dying of hunger in the streets and you want to put on a play?” I saw this NEVAplay (different production) at CalArts REDCAT in 2011 and was thrilled to see Diana Wyenn directing it now.

Patriot Act is written and performed by Michael Schlitt, whose show Jesus Ride I adored a few years ago at Fringe. He is incredibly sharp, funny and theatrical. I would not miss this if I were in town.

Thug Tunnel by Robot Teammate and the Accidental Party. They had a great show last year and this one doesn’t look like it will disappoint: In the not-so-distant-future, greed, pollution, and The Ancient Fire of Death and Despair have made Earth’s surface uninhabitable, forcing the human race to survive underground in a criminal society known as THUG TUNNEL.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) with an all female cast who are incredibly funny.

Simon Coronel: Alien of Extraordinary Ability. That’s how he’s designated by the U.S. Department of Immigration. An Australian Illusionist who often frequents the Hollywood Fringe, Simon always entertains. Sometimes, he throws his knowledge of Mandarin in there, too.

All the Best Killers are Librarians. I mean, the title. Then I learn it is from Serial Killers, the late night serial competition at Sacred Fools, and I’m hooked.

Bull and Smoke are both by Rogue Machine, who never seem to disappoint with new plays.

 

Just Because I Dig This Kind of Thing

Troy Before I knew it was a Fountain Theatre production (looks like part of a development series), this is a rare instance of the play description gripping me. (It should be noted that I am a Greek geek to the extreme.)

Photojournalist and war correspondent, Arthur Hess, has made his living taking photos of some of the world’s most violent places. But when his eldest daughter is publicly murdered, it is the photo he takes of her corpse that threatens to destroy both his family and his name. Inspired by The Oresteia, TROY is a play about the perplexity of grief in a war that is happening both far away and in our living rooms.  

Fairy Tales Against Humanity Like children’s theatre gone horribly wrong, “Fairy Tales Against Humanity” is a new half-scripted/half-improvised show. This is one of those big Fringe #ChanceIt shows. It could be horrendous but it could be hilarious. I’d probably #DrinkBeforeIt.

Here There Be Dragons: A Journey from Fear to Freedom with Ukrainian Dog and Shredded Cheesedid you read that title? Taking chances on shows like this are why Fringe Festivals exist, in my opinion.

50 Shades of Shakespeare – Twelfth Night with four actors. It’s been done, but you, the audience, picks who plays who. I’d easily give this show 45 minutes of my life. Learn More at www.lanewcourttheatre.com

Keep up w/ See It or Skip It LA Correspondents’ Picks here

[New] Artist Statement

I applied for a grant recently. I didn’t get it, but was forced to detail how I went from a theatrical director to digital media consultant and now straddle writing with my consultant freelancing and being the primary caretaker of my son (Lil’ Pirate Dude).

It’s a little long, which I’ll fix for the next round of grant applications, but I thought it might be of interest to tie together all of my interests.

I am Cindy Marie Jenkins, CMJ to many. I am a Storyteller, Outreach Nerd, Parenting Nerd, Mama to Lil’ Pirate Dude, Theme Park Wife, Former Theatre Director, Fairy Folk Myth Nerd, and Recent Transplant to Orlando (remember the Theme Park Wife part)?

For a decade, I’ve been obsessed with building new audiences for theatre. This began when I realized I was sick of doing all that work just for my family and friends to see. Sure, we can enrich one another, but art within the echo chamber is not enough for me.

        Through a six year project Voices From Chornobyl, I found success in reaching peopleVFC through a theme, a topic rather than people showing up to “support theatre” just for the sake of it, or because our friends are in it, or because we all work in it. At the same time, I was in charge of marketing for a small classical theater who had a stellar reputation but still struggled for audience and funding. It became clear to me that the ways that marketing had worked for decades were not nearly as effective with the age of the internet, and artists were falling behind the times faster than newspapers. Keep in mind, this was way back in 2009 when you still had to convince a theater company to go onto Facebook; the mere suggestion that you had to think beyond a press release was a battle, uphill both ways. I heard many artistic leaders take the simple route of blaming smartphones instead of exploring them, and condemning audiences rather than investigating their strategies, or even talking to them.

           I reconciled my dreams with the fact that the typical theatrical career path is not for me. I always knew that art could serve a real purpose in changing how people think. Through and beyond empathy, showing how others live and think can go a long way towards opening minds.  I didn’t want to direct whatever came my way just to grow my career. I enjoy entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but I want to create art that holds great value beyond the production. I want to use stories as a bridge towards greater empathy in the world. Every time I chose a project based on the greater good it could do for society, I worked at my best and was happiest. Every time I took a gig for any other reason than great passion, I felt limited by the story’s (lack of) need to exist, my lack of connection as to why, and didn’t do my best work.

Then in 2009, through an outreach project called Imagine East Hollywood, I worked closely with the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and identified that local government faces the main two issues as most theaters had: (1) they only reach the same people and (2) if you don’t know they exist, then you can’t show up, never mind get involved. Beyond that lie at least ten hassle factors to stop someone from attending either. Most people didn’t even know they lived in East Hollywood. I used a film project, interactive visual art display, outreach tables at LA wide events and an immersive theatre experience to help people understand the agenda and workings of a neighborhood council, plus learn how their ideas could help their neighborhood and turn them from passive residents into active stakeholders.

These experiences led me to train myself (with guidance from Enci Box and Tamara

Day7social3
I will train people anytime, anywhere – here I am with Directors Lab West participants on the steps of the Pasadena Playhouse.

Krinsky) in social media, new communications models, and generally critique most vague, short term attempts to develop audience. I became an Outreach Nerd and trained individuals, then groups of self producers, and quickly added nonprofits, the City of LA and small business owners to my clients.

This quest for the audience led me to Manchester England, where I gave a keynote speech to Chernobyl charities on using my play, adapted from a book of interviews, to raise awareness and funds for their work. A 9-minute demo film was used to entice new donors. By 2006, the 25th Anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, two groups in the UK did perform the piece, and my own ensemble led a series of readings throughout LA and San Diego. We also produced a workshop of Voices From Chornobyl Jr at local libraries and the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

This desire led me to brand myself a Storyteller AND Outreach Nerd, to align the idea of writing and stories into audience building, tying my name to “outreach” rather than “marketing” in an effort to change the direction of people’s thinking about their audience development.

This obsession led me to 24th STreet Theatre, where I could focus on acting as concierge for families to find quality art they enjoy together, while finding the correct medium to share stories that happen every day in this converted carriage house in South LA.

This adventure led me to experimenting with arts coverage during every Hollywood Fringe Festival, from interviews over Twitter to Google+ Hangouts, then from a full-fledged arts review show to podcasts and instagram reviews.

This need to find and engage arts-adjacent folks while feeling increasingly frustrated with theatre as an industry also led me to the longest crisis of faith I’ve ever experienced. Just as I was seeking a new direction, theaters called on my “marketing” (cringe) skills more and more. The more I was expected to just do the short term work that I knew didn’t last and that I so despise, the more I understood that my current path was not working for me. I don’t just want to be the one training artists to change their mindset on audiences; I don’t just want to be the ambassador to new audiences anymore. I also need to create the art that draws new audiences in the door simply by being good and meeting audiences where they live. In many cases, that requires me to move my creative writing as far away from a theater as possible.

Currently I freelance as a Consultant and Writer while raising my beautiful son.

 

Artists Watch List: Jaeger Christian

I saw this phrase a lot: “Part of what I love about Fringe…..” and one of the parts is watching how artists develop over the years. I like to follow different creators in between Fringe as well, but many only produce for Fringe.

Jaeger Christian is the biggest winner in this category. I was so excited by the idea of his 2014 piece (a new musical about PTSD) that seeing it was very disappointing. He needed a co-writer, a dramaturg, a director…..but something about his heart, his sincerity in the pre-show speech made me pause. It went beyond someone who believes in his work. It didn’t, however, save the show.

So this year I noticed he has two solo shows, The Board and The Backpack. I only saw that The Board existed because it happened to fit into my schedule one night. He went from a new musical to two monologues, still related to the service. I felt that he got the right feedback last year or instinctively knew to return to basics, especially for a Fringe Festival. Focus on the story. He clearly has a lot to say (without being didactic) on the military and I appreciate how he chose to express it this year.

With The Board, he says if you’re into TV shows like “Law & Order,” “Homeland” and “The Shield,” then you’ll like this play. I only know the first one, but he seems right on the money. Sarah Hollis tells the audience her story, who act as her jury. Clearly she’s in trouble for something, but all the whys and wherefores and intricacies aren’t untangled until near the end. Even then, her fate isn’t revealed.

I personally would have preferred it without the marriage story, but it did play into the plot. Overall, the story was completely compelling and I listened to every single word she said on that stage.

The main point here is that if I hadn’t seen the artist at his pre-show speech for last year’s musical, felt something tug at me through his personality and choice of material, then seen that his latest offering fit into my schedule, I wouldn’t have given him another chance. And all those things couldn’t have happened in another space except a Fringe Festival.

Jaeger Christian is now on my Artists Watch List.

I gave this show a #SeeItLA rating. Find more shows on SeeItorSkipItLA.com .

#SeeItorSkipItLA at Hollywood Fringe

See It or Skip It LA is a way to introduce you to the Hollywood Fringe Festival (and other cool art around LA).

Want suggestions for shows to see? Check lists below and listen to podcasts for details.

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#ChanceItLA – our Picks for Hollywood Fringe Festival 2015

#SeeItorSkipItLA
Coverage of 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival
Hosted by Cindy Marie Jenkins ( @cindymariej ) as part of @SeeItorSkipItLA

More info at http://www.seeitorskiptitla.com &
http://cindymariejenkins.com/see-it-or-skip-it-la/

Correspondent Guests:
Sara Fenton (@Fentonova)
Lemuel H. Thornton III (@Lemwerks)
Madeline Rosenstein (@mfrosens)

Shows to #ChanceItLA (click on title for websites):

ALL AGREE:

Four Clowns Presents The Halfwits’ Last Hurrah

LEM

*Jason and Medea

*Getting to Know You

*Hamlet Mobile

 

SARA

*Tiananmen Annie

*The Three Musketeerers: Clowns with Swords

*Skanky Me from Kankakee

MADELINE

*The Blacks a Clown Show (Cindy note: in their Fringe profile page, they claim to be “remounting America’s longest running off-Broadway play”. I think they mean “revive,” not “remount,” as the original off-Broadway production opened in 1961 and this company didn’t produce it. This may have no bearing on their ability to produce a fine piece of art, but a mistake like that does make me hesitate and I personally won’t be prioritizing it. I saw this on their page after we recorded the podcast.)

*5 Sirens Beware of Rocks

*The Devil You Say

*HollywoodFringe.org/free

 

Cindy

*The Voyage of Odysseus

*The Snail

*Romeo & Juliet: An ASL Love Story

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Why Water Falls

50 Shades of Shrew

Marry me a Little (Cindy note – Probably only interesting for Sondheim lovers)

It’s the Prom 

Two Girls, One Bard 

8:03 

Wombat Man

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

Timeheart by Robot Teammate & Accidental Party

Alien vs Musical

Catherine: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in Today’s LA 


Other Correspondents:
Kat Michels (@fictionoftruth)
Courtney Ann Buchan (@CourtneyABuchan)

Sponsored by Theatre Asylum (@TheatreAsylum)

Shakespeare Adaptations – a Pirate Podcast

I noticed quite a few new Shakespeare adaptations that went far beyond the typical change of setting. After

Their pose is way more refined than their conversation.
Their pose is way more refined than their conversation.

seeing even more pop up in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, I invited some artists to discuss the hows, whys and challenges of adapting The Bard.

 

Shakespeare Adaptations on Stage & Screen

Hosted by Cindy Marie Jenkins

A Pirate Podcast (down and dirty) as part of @SeeItorSkipItLA

 

Guests:

“The Hamlet Project’ by Loose Canon Collective LA

Randolph Thompson & Paul Culuo

 

“Titus and Dronicus” by Better Than Shakespeare

Megan Kelly & Madhuri Shekar

 

“Two Girls, One Bard” by The Illyrian Players

Carly Weckstein

 

Sponsored by Theatre Asylum

Produced by Lemuel H. Thornton III

 

Call for HS/College Interns on New Web Show – The Lemon Lounge

Set to debut during The Hollywood Fringe Festival in June, The Lemon Lounge is a webcast program featuring local artists, variety BillyLemonHeadFringe-100x100segments, interviews and curated selections by “Outreach Nerd” Cindy Marie Jenkins and guests every week. It aims to provide audiences who typically don’t attend Fringe with a jumping off point of what to check out and who to see, with an eye towards extending the show to all of Los Angeles post-Fringe. The Lemon Lounge will be streamed on YouTube and archived on the Bitter-Lemons website.

WHAT WE NEED?
We are looking for people to assist with pre-production, production and social media. E-mail lemonlounge@bitter-lemons.com with a short cover letter and resume telling us why you want to be on our team.

Specifically (You can combine any of these):

  • SOCIAL MEDIA: 1 hour each week that you can touch base and start training (starting whenever you’re available) . Training by me, Cindy.
  • PRODUCTION: We will need it most on Sundays 9:30am-1pm.
  • PRE-PRODUCTION & PRODUCING assistance is needed as well.
  • CORRESPONDENT: If you want to see shows for free and make short videos about which ones you suggest, we will arrange those tickets for you.

Training provided as needed.

WANT TO JOIN US?
We’re looking for interns in a range of skills to help us make this production come to life. As an intern we want you to have ownership of your end of the project. We are excited to work with you and have you learn more about what it takes to work in web production and theatre worlds. This is a new and flexible process with an opportunity for creative input with the right team. We’re looking for Interns and staff to join us for college and/or production credit (depending on your institution’s guidelines) beginning in May.

www.TheLemonLounge.com
Read more about ‪why I created The Lemon Lounge.

Please send questions to LemonLounge@bitter-lemons.com

 

#LemonLoungeLA on 

 

My Renewed Promise to New Audiences – and Myself

Not surprisingly, the last few months caused a big change in my priorities, specifically regarding work*. I could not be happier with with being part of 24th Street Theatre Communications & Audience Development, plus coming full circle back to being a Teaching Artist , now of Online Content at Center Theatre Group’s Student Ambassador Program. I also love teaching workshops in outreach/audience development techniques.

Photo by Henry Ong

I decided in 2010 to create a job intended to bridge the gaps between art I love and potential audiences the artists aren’t reaching. It was a unique path at the time to use this “new” thing called social media, now it is just one of my many tools. To gain credibility and make a living, I took some work that didn’t directly aligned with my goals. That’s over now.

Now, if any opportunity does not involve finding and nurturing lasting new audiences for the art in which I believe, then it is not an opportunity for me. Since 24th Street already fulfills that goal directly for a high quality family theater, my own creative pursuits aim to find new paths to success. I will challenge all assumptions about audiences and find collaborators willing to take great risk for potentially great return. And we will learn. And we will share our findings on this site.

You’ll hear shortly about The Lemon Lounge, an audience development project centered around the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival (produced with Bitter Lemons, not with the Fringe Festival itself.). All our decisions are based on one question: Does this

June 2014

help new audiences in actually getting to see a show, taking a risk on a new artist or art form? If the answer is yes, then we develop the idea. If no, we drop it. The producing team is extraordinary and kept the ball rolling while I focused on having my first child. They are Peppur Chambers, Sara Fenton and Lemuel Thornton III. Colin, Enci and Phil from Bitter Lemons have given their blessing and will certainly become key advisers  and partners as we experiment with and nurture this idea: a live arts show combined with pre-recorded segments to curate experiences for new audiences by speaking directly with them.

More on that next week. And a much larger project is also in the works, but I won’t have details for a few more months there.

In the meantime, I look forward to this clearer focus.

——

*I became a Mom on March 22nd! If you’re interested in a little TMI about my journey as a new mother and workaholic, follow @parentingnerd on twitter or tumblr.

 

Hollywood Fringe Festival Announces Dates for 2014

The Hollywood Fringe is a great chance to try out or showcase some new work. I usually lead self-producing and marketing workshops leading up to the festival that include best practices to really take advantage of the Fringe atmosphere. Follow this blog for more

Here is all the information so far for Hollywood Fringe Festival 2014! From their press release:

Greetings Fringers–

We hope you had an excellent holiday weekend (or just an excellent normal weekend for our friends outside the states). As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about our endeavors for 2014. We are gearing up for our fifth (!!!) festival next year and we’re already talking about a lot of new ideas and changes to improve the Hollywood Fringe.

The fifth annual Hollywood Fringe Festival will take place June 12th-29th, 2014, after a week of previews taking place June 5th-10th. The first big date that you should keep in mind is the opening of registration on February 1st. Check out the other dates down below.

After the feedback we received at the Post-Fringe Town Hall this year, we’ll be hosting a meeting this Saturday, December 7th at 5PM at Theatre Asylum focused on improving our venue efforts in 2014. We are specifically looking to recruit new venues within the official boundaries (including found spaces), so if you have any interest in running a space or bringing your own, make sure to stop by. There’s some more information down below.

Questions? Contact the festival at support@hollywoodfringe.org.

Fringe On!

Ben Hill, Festival Director

Venue Meeting This Saturday

Please join us this Saturday, December 7th at 5 PM in the Asylum Lab (at Theatre Asylum), 1078 Lillian Way. We’ll be focusing on these venue initiatives for 2014:

  • A venue packet to help recruit new venues and to help existing venues make the most of their Fringe experience
  • How venues can work together
  • How to bring a found/DIY venue to the Fringe
  • Matching potential venue managers or resident companies with venues who need help during the Fringe season
  • Making partnerships with local businesses
  • Dates for future venue meetings and workshops
  • And more!

Hope to see you there!

2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival Dates

Key Dates for 2014:

February 1st- Registration Open
April 1st- Registration Deadline for Guide Inclusion
June 5th-10th- Fringe Previews
June 11th- Fringe Opening Night Gala
June 12th-29th- 5th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival
June 29th- Fringe Award Ceremony & Closing Night Party
The organization needs volunteers and interns throughout the year. Any interested persons may learn more here: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/learn/index/132

Fringe Thoughts 1: Referral Ripples

GnR Opening CMJ (4)
Keena Ferguson, Peppur Chambers, Keaton Talmadge & Jeanette at opening reception for Gracie & Rose.

For four years, the Hollywood Fringe Festival has served as a  microcosm of the local arts to come, and sets my brain a-whirling. Since the community is the inspiration for these random and often lasting Fringe Thoughts, I want to share and continue the conversation.

Fringe Thoughts 1: Referral Ripples

The  feeling of community has always been one my favorite parts of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It feels markedly increased this year. Rather than a few companies doing the cross-promo/community thing well, while others learn from them, this year it pervades the entire Festival.

That is a wonderful evolution in its fourth year. Just some improvements I’ve noticed:

  • People were on top of participant discounts well before June. This encourages your built-in audience to attend, which increases word-of-mouth and could ensure a steady stream throughout your run.
  • Most of the shows refer their audience to other Fringe shows in their programs.
  • Others take extra steps to also suggest verbally the other Fringe shows their audience should see and call out the Fringers in the audience. Last night Rati Gupta did this with her signature great flair.
  • The hashtag #HFF13 was off the hook since late April/May.
  • Projecting the twitter & instagram hashtag onto walls in Fringe Central Station encourages more interactivity.
  • A group of shows banded the “First Fringe Club” together for publicity.
  • Three storytellers also combined resources: Bill Ratner, Michael Kass and John Grady.

The veteran Fringers know these ropes, but I’ve hardly seen it in such force so early. You can tell who attended the Town Halls and/or has experience. These Referral Ripples help audience members know where to start when looking at the website or brochure. It’s intimidating to try to choose between all the available shows.

Every time an audience member hears directly about one more show, their interest may become more piqued and they could talk about it with their friends. Every time that fellow artists help each other, you’re actually helping your audience, plus encouraging them to see more live theatre. The more they see, the more they’ll talk and these are the Referral Ripples we need to increase live theatre as a vital and valued part of our community’s lives.

Last night we had lots of Fringers at Gracie and Rose‘s opening, and I knew about half of them before the Fringe and the other half (pictured above) only once it started, eleven days ago.

So Huzzah to you all and Carry On. If we can capture these concentrated efforts for theatre all year round, audience development stands a chance.

Read or Watch my full coverage of the Hollywood Fringe on Bitter Lemons.

Here are the Gracie and Rose Fringeships:GracieAndRoseFlyerFR

Ceremony by Michael Kass

Take me to the Poorhouse by Liz Femi

The Ruby Besler Cabaret by Anastasia Barnes

Love Actually Isn’t by Dan Johnson

The Real Housekeepers of Studio City by Heidi Powers, Tom Moore & Joe Greene

Daddy by Olivia Peterson

And also playing at our venue, the Art of Acting Studio: IAMA Fest 2013

Inside Rehearsal for Gracie and Rose

Gracie and Rose love off the grid and live off the land in 1950’s Wyoming — where wild horses run free and appearances are deceiving. Gracie lives as George so she and Rose can be together.

Is true love in the body worth the cost of living a lie in the world?
Gracie and Rose premieres at the Hollywood Fringe Festival June 16-29th. Written and Performed by Anastasia Coon. Directed by Che’Rae Adams.

Support untold stories of love – Indiegogo Campaign

GracieandRose.com

Hollywood Fringe Festival site: hff13.org/1372

Facebook.com/GracieAndRoseASoloShow

Funding Friday Fringe Edition!

Friday May 3

5:30pmPT/8:30pmET

Live Broadcast

Funding Friday: Fringe Edition!

ringe freaks

Guests include: Fund-raising Consultant Michael Kass

Lily Mercer & Allie Costa: Before a Fall

Danielle Ozymandias: The Other F Word

Matthew Hill: Jason ❤ Medea, a fresh look at an ancient love story

Have questions about crowd-funding, fund-raising or the Fringe? Ask in the comments below or tweet to @CindyMarieJ

Sneak Peek: Gracie & Rose at Celebration Theatre

Thanks to the CCI (Center for Cultural Innovation) grant, I’m the Social Media Consultant for this 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival show. It’s a great challenge, to promote a show while training the team. I’ll keep you updated here.

We have a special reading at the Celebration Theatre in Hollywood Tuesday night, and I hope you can make it.

Celebration Theatre Play Reading Series

Presents

Gracie and Rose Gracie and Rose

love off the grid and live off the land in 1950’s Wyoming – where wild horses run free and appearances are deceiving. Gracie lives as George so she and Rose can be together. Is true love in the body worth the cost of living a lie in the world?

Written and performed by Anastasia Coon and directed by CheRae Adams

Tuesday, April 30th @ 8pm at Celebration Theatre. Doors open at 7:30pm.

7051 Santa Monica Blvd (1 Block east of La Brea Blvd)

Admission for the reading is by donation ($5 suggested)

Gaiman, Poorhouse & Round Rock

Recently I’ve been at a string of sneak peeks and opening nights. Here are my reactions to three. I am not reviewing these works, and it’s really not appropriate to do so at the times when I only see a rehearsal. My reactions will center around the experience and whatever kept bouncing around my head after seeing each show.

I will be transparent as to when I got comps, but all opinions are truthful and my own, not associated with any employer or colleagues or even my dog (though she’s quite opinionated).

Poster outside Sacred Fools LA
Poster outside Sacred Fools LA

Neverwhere

by Robert Kauzlaric
adapted from the novel by Neil Gaiman © 1996
directed by Scott Leggett

Disclosure: Saw a dress rehearsal, no cost. Except what I spent at The Faculty pub after the show. Get the spicy mac-n-cheese.

I was invited to the dress rehearsal of this epic onstage, and tried to manage expectations. Not of Sacred Fools specifically – they have an excellent reputation and I doubted they would produce this piece without knowing what it would take. What concerned me were my expectations to see how envision the novel onstage versus Scott Leggett and his creative team’s vision.*

Jonathan Kells Phillips as Marquis de Carabas checks his crossbow prop.
Jonathan Kells Phillips as Marquis de Carabas checks his crossbow prop.

Even in rehearsal, it didn’t take long to let that concern fall to the side. This massive story translates very well to the stage. In fact, their abstract unit set and use of the space sparked a very personal, necessarily theatrical reaction in my brain, so in a way I got both my Neverwhere and Director Leggett’s Neverwhere without the two ever feeling at odds. They chose the right things to specify and the right moments to blow their wad, theatrically speaking. The audience fills in the rest with their own interpretations. Sort of like reading a good book, coincidentally enough.

The video projections feel most effective in London Above (the ‘real’ world we know), whereas London Below relies on words, the ensemble’s honest acting and the audience’s imaginations.

And boy, do they do it well.

*(I love the book, have hardly watched the series, and I am grateful they welcomed me into a rehearsal. I thank everyone for trusting me to see the sausage being made.) WATCH my broadcast with Paula Rhodes (actress who plays Door) a week after I saw rehearsal. Total coincidence: The Geekie Awards arranged it.

April 5 – May 11, 2013

Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 7pm

Tickets: $25
(310) 281-8337 or Buy Tickets Online

—–

poorhouse

Take Me to The Poorhouse

A middle class African girl dreams of becoming poor to have “soul” and win the heart of her classmate ♥.

Disclosure: Invited to staged reading in private home. No cost to attend.

I’ve been hearing about this show because the Assistant Director/Producer attends my workshops. The story is fascinating and has all the ingredients for success: a POV I’ve never heard, the right balance of humor and gravity, a dynamic performer, plus partnership with a like-minded organization:

We pledge to donate 10% of all ticket proceeds to MAMA HOPE, a non-profit with a mission to “Stop The Pity and Unlock The Potential” in several African communities. We dig that :-)

I dig that too.

With two more months until it’s premiere in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, it will be exciting to see how it all shapes up. Femi does a beautiful job of letting the words create the world instead of describing it. Poorhouse really got me thinking about how much better other solo shows could be if they simply tell the story, if even biographical events are experienced by a character rather than narrated by themselves. The basic Show, Don’t Tell mantra. I’m very interested to see in performance.

Also an integral point to this invited reading: we were asked to give any questions and feedback on cards while watching; more importantly, the producer gave the description of the show and asked if what they were saying matched what we just saw. What a great way to test run your marketing blurb!

June 8-28, 2013. Dates/times differ.

——-

Round Rock

presented by Theatre Unleashed

Written & Directed by Aaron Kozak

Disclosure: I was offered opening weekend comps. I wrote a play in their 24-hour festival based on Pink Floyd songs. But most importantly:

I do love a Texas Sunrise.

Beyond those theater doors, I would never touch a Texas Sunrise. I am usually not a fan of sweet covering up the taste of my alcohol. Truly, it’s the novelty of the drink themed for a play that I love. And so my evening began.

I included Round Rock with these other pieces I saw in process because I also saw their workshop at last summer’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Audiences can leave responses on the Fringe site, and since I’ve worked with Aaron, decided to essentially give it a dramaturgical  once-over. Last summer he simply had too much plot, not enough story. It was very fun to see how the show progressed. If I can, I’d like to see it again before the run ends, as I’m sure the actors settled deeper into their roles.

This full production offered the same story, with much more of the meaty stuff; characters have room to breath without losing the pacing needed for a good ‘ol western with a heart of gold. I left with a deep sense of family, including: the artists involved, the audience at opening, and the special definition of family that Kozak explores though typically outcast characters.

Theatre Unleashed always offers good fare at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and Kozak’s directing their 25 Plays Per Hour tradition. Last year that evening tossed my emotions around like a gourmet salad, and his keen eye should serve it well.

Another important part about the experience to note: Kozak and the team remembered my first response, and were all very exited to hear what I thought of the new production. Their attention to one audience member’s honest opinion goes a long way, and if more organizations opened their workshops and process to their audience, really taking and using the feedback, they might find it easier  to retain loyalty in the long run.

UPCOMING SNEAK PEEKS: Gracie N Rose by Anastasia Coon (reading at Celebration Theatre) & live-tweet of Long Way Go Down by Zayd Dorhn.

Pitching Workshop

Yesterday’s workshop at Theatre Asylum was a new one for me. We had two fantastic Press guests- Brett Chapin & Noah J. Nelson – who gaveDSCN9004 their perspective on being pitched to cover your show.

In the last hour, attendees placed themselves into different scenarios and I played a person they were pitching. We had a lot of fun and I actually got to say all the things I want to tell people when hearing a pitch:

  • get over your fear
  • look for the signs of interest
  • how to close (soft or hard sell)
  • how to describe your show, and more.

Many participants were nervous at pitching in front of people (who wouldn’t be?), and I took a moment to explain how frightened I am the night before I teach a workshop. That surprised a lot of people, and I heard from the audience: “You’d never know it.” That, I said, is from years of self-producing and pitching my own work. You just have to get over the idea of pitching your own art. Fake it if you don’t feel it.

I left the workshop energized. Participants jumped at the end to connect with each other, to see how they can cross-promote, or just to talk about their shows. I feel everyone got a chance to talk through their pitch and we helped them find the interesting bits. So much so, in fact, that I changed the MAY 24th workshop to be another round of Pitching. Everyone needs it, and how often do you get to practice?

DSCN9019Can’t wait for next week!

Here’s the rest of the schedule (all workshops 10am-1pm).

Don’t see a workshop that answers your question? Comment below & we can arrange individual instruction.

MAR 30 – Find New Audience on Twitter (basics included)

APR 6 – Standards & Best Practices for Social Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc)

APR 20 – Using Video to Promote Live Performance (includes You Tube/Vimeo)

MAY 11 – Marketing Strategy in the Thick of It

MAY 24 – Pitching Your Show to New Audiences

JUNE 8 – Standing out at a Festival without Being a Dick

Comment below or email smb@combinedartform.com for more information.

Social Media Boot Camp

Most self-producers do it to get their work out there – so how to  reach audiences beyond your friends and family?DSCN9326

Social Media Boot-Camps at Theatre Asylum

Interactive workshops, giving useful takeaways regardless of your budget or manpower.

Each workshop is $40.

All 5 for $175. – Pay for all 5 Workshops

Bring an additional person for an additional $20.

 

FEB 16 – Pay for Workshop
Self-Promoting Without Annoying Your Friends

Comment below or email smb@combinedartform.com to pay for the archived video & worksheet.

 

FEB 23– Pay for Workshop

Build Your Marketing Strategy

  • What is your show’s story?
  • Who is your audience?
  • Who are your audience’s influencers/
  • How can you target them?
  • Basics of a pitch to media & bloggers
  • Includes basic media lists
Panelist at Broad Humor Film Festival with Comediva Founder Erika Cervantes & Susan diRende.
Panelist at Broad Humor Film Festival with Comediva Founder Erika Cervantes & Susan diRende.


MAR 9 – Pay for Workshop

Telling Your Show’s Story Online

  • In depth, interactive look into your show’s story & how it translates to social media
  • Where is your story best told?
  • How to schedule posts for maximum views
  • Creating posts that tell the story better than words
  • Moving beyond your friends & family to reach new audiences
  • Difference between PR, Publicity, Marketing, Outreach & Audience Development
  • How those differences help your storytelling
  • Translating good story to butts in seats


MAR 23– Pay for Workshop 

Pitching Press/Audience in Person & Online

  • Building a lasting Media List
  • Difference between PR, Publicity, Marketing, Outreach & Audience Development
  • Finding & Pitching Bloggers & Influencers
  • DOs & DON’Ts of Pitching
  • Bring your elevator speech! Every participant gets a pitch coaching session during workshop
Gregory Crafts & Crowin Evans perform how NOT to approach a potential nonprofit partner. Watch video.
Gregory Crafts & Corwin Evans perform how NOT to approach a potential nonprofit partner. Watch video.


MAR 30 – Pay for Workshop

Mind the Gap: Reaching New Audiences on Twitter

  • Basics & Best Practices
  • Twitter as your best Research Tool
  • Building Strong Relationships with Audience & Press before asking them for something
  • Utilizing word of type to your advantage pre and during your events
  • Gaining attention of Press without pitching
  • Finding & Enlisting Influencers as Brand Ambassadors
  • Running Giveaways & Ticket Discounts

Email smb@combinedartform [dot] com to get on the mailing list or comment below.

MORE APRIL – JUNE

APRIL 6 – Standards & Best Practices for Social Marketing

APRIL 20 – Using Video to Promote Live Performance (includes YouTube basics)

Good reading: How to turn your office (or home/rehearsal room) into a video production studio

MAY 11 – Marketing Strategy in the Thick of Production

MAY 24 – Press/Media/Influencer Brunch Mixer

JUNE 8 – Standing out at a Festival without Being a Dick

More Time to Fringe!

 If you followed me last June, you know I am a huge fan of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Along with infusing a sense of community into the arts scene, it also encouraged me to try new methods of outreach. The Let’s Fringe! interviews conducted through Bitter Lemons LA & Google+ Hangouts last year sparked the Arts Outreach Channel now in process.

The main issue many have with the Festival is they don’t have time to see as much as they’d like. Enter the relentless Fringe Staff with their announcement that the dates are extending! Here’s the release with all the info.

Even if you aren’t in Hollywood, follow their online platforms. Everyone can take a lesson or two in galvanizing artists from these folks.

And stay tuned for some announcements regarding Fringe on my end…….you might want to press “Follow this blog.” Just a suggestion!

 

Hollywood Fringe Festival Press Contact:
Stacy Jones Hill
Communications Director
Press@HollywoodFringe.org
805.604.5106
www.HollywoodFringe.org
Thursday, November 15th, 2012
For Immediate Release
JUNE IS FOR FRINGE
Hollywood Fringe Festival Extends 2013 Dates to Include Additional Week
Hollywood, CA– The Hollywood Fringe Festival (www.hollywoodfringe.org) announced today that the fourth annual festival will be a week longer than the three previous fests. The fourth annual festival will take place June 13th-30th after a week of Previews taking place June 6th-11th. The festival is now one of the largest uncensored performing arts festivals in the country, and extending the length will expand opportunities for both artists and audience members. The festival sold 25,000 tickets in 2012, giving back all $200,000 to participating artists and venues. Festival organizers feel confident that an additional seven days of Fringe will help to keep ticket sales growing at a steady pace.
“Since 2010, we’ve made it our mission to include all types of artists and arts supporters, adopting a ‘come-one-come-all’ mentality meant to unite us in our endeavors to create. A very special community has emerged, one that encourages and cherishes the work of others,” says Ben Hill, Hollywood Fringe Festival Director. “This supportive community is part of the reason our attendance has increased dramatically from year to year. By adding an additional week for Fringe 2013, we hope that we can provide a wider range of entertainment for audiences while also welcoming more producing groups into our already-diverse pool of performing artists.”

Hill and other organizers behind the Hollywood Fringe are planning to host a number of Town Halls and Workshops to assist venues, participants and other community members prepare for the festival. The first of these Town Halls will focus on the Registration process and will be held on January 17th at 7:00pm atTheatre Asylum. Those that can’t attend the event are encouraged to listen to recordings that will be posted on the Hollywood Fringe blog.

Registration for the Hollywood Fringe opens February 1st and closes on April 1st. The event is open and non-curated; any artistic group able to book a venue within the festival’s boundaries may register. Registration for the festival is a three-step process. The first step is the creation of a project page (http://hollywoodfringe.org/add_project) on the festival’s site. Second, the project must be booked at a participating venue within the festival’s boundaries. Once the venue deal has been completed, groups can complete registration by paying the registration fee. The first two steps can be started before February 1st. Read more about the registration process here.
Traditional theatre spaces as well as temporary or DIY spaces are encouraged. Venues can list their space on the festival’s website starting today. Participants may attempt to book a venue that has already signed up, or they may bring their own venue. All registrations complete before April 1st will receive placement in the Festival’s Guide, which will be distributed throughout Hollywood and greater Los Angeles starting May 2013. Registrations completed after that time will be included in listings on the Fringe’s website.
Key Dates for 2013:
November 1st- Venue Sign Up Open
February 1st- Registration Open
April 1st- Registration Deadline for Guide Inclusion
June 6th-11th- Fringe Previews
June 12th- Fringe Opening Night Gala
June 13th-30th- 4th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival
June 30th- Fringe Award Ceremony & Closing Night Party
The organization needs volunteers and interns throughout the year. Any interested persons may learn more here:http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/learn/index/132
Want more information? Contact the festival at support@hollywoodfringe.org or by visiting the website at www.HollywoodFringe.org.
Follow @hollywoodfringe on Twitter (or use the #hff13 hashtag), become a fan of our facebook page, or check us out on tumblr.