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.
Neva “People are dying of hunger in the streets and you want to put on a play?” I saw this play (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.
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.
BullandSmoke are both by Rogue Machine, who never seem to disappoint with new plays.
Just Because I Dig This Kind of Thing
TroyBefore 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.
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 people 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
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 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.
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.
Set to debut during The Hollywood Fringe Festival in June, The Lemon Lounge is a webcast program featuring local artists, variety segments, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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).
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 I envision the novel onstage versus Scott Leggett and his creative team’s vision.*
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.
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!
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.
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?
Can’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.
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!
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