Festival Fringe Time in Hollywood 2018, Part I


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Ernest Kearney

Writer, Registered Critic


It's that time once again L.A.! —
June!
The six month of the year, one of four boasting 30 days, the official flowers of which are the honeysuckle representing “generosity” and “devotion,” and the rose representing…I dunno, “red things with pointy prickly parts?”
Named for Juno; Roman goddess of marriage. (Not the 2007 Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman cloying coming-of-age flick.)
It was June back in 1903 that Henry Ford took a few days offs from his busy schedule of “Jew-baiting” to found the Ford Motor Company,
It's National Accordion Awareness Month (But is one month really enough?)
It's also National Adopt a Cat Month.
In Poland it's the month of Czerwiec.
It was the month the Great Auk went extinct in 1844 and saw the opening of the first American roller coaster at Coney Island in 1884.
In 1890, it was the month Stan Laurel was born.
And June 29 marks the 405th anniversary of the original Globe Theatre burning down.
But here in Los Angeles we won't be sniffing honeysuckle, admiring accordions, mourning flightless birds, baking a cake for Stan, trying to figure out how to pronounce Czerwiec, or adopting a cat –
(Wait, on second thought, everybody go out right now and adopt a cat.  Trust me, a little purring chaos in your life keeps you humble.)
But forget the rest, because it is time for the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival!
(INSERT TRUMPET FANFARE HERE!)
Venues on Santa Monica Boulevard from Vine to Highland and localities near at hand will host a creative cacophony from 368 shows from local, national and international artists playing day and night throughout the whole month of June.   
For a full roster of all the shows check out the Hollywood Fringe website, but here and now, to wet your cultural whistle, let me serve you up a sampler of what this month will be offering.
We'll kick off with some familiar faces –

Last year the Burglars of Hamm easily skipped away the HFF17 Best Comedy Award for Easy Targets; a quartet of spot-on spoofs offering pitch perfect parodies of the solo-shows from hell.  In and of themselves, these satires — beautifully conceived and performed by their troupe — would have made for a raucous good time, but arming all

Scott GoldenScott Golden, A Burglars of Hamm member (Winners of HFF Best Comedy Award/Multiple Years)

those in attendance with a score of rolled up sock balls, to engage the audience in a little “pitching” participation? Genius.
This year the Burglars, Jon Beauregard, Selina Merrill, Eric Curtis Johnson, Matt Almos, Tracey Leigh, Hugo Armstrong, Jaime Robledo are returning to tickle our funny bones (and allow us to show off how good our aim is) with EASY TARGETS: ARTISTS AND HEROES and four new offerings: “All About Me,” “An Evening with Abraham Lincoln,” “Word Magic” and “Space Man (or How I Found Myself in Low Earth Orbit).”
(BRACE FOR THE RONCO MOMENT!)
For Show Info:  http://hff18.org/5087


But wait – there's more!

The Burglars of Hamm Company Members, Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

The Burglars of Hamm will also be presenting their acclaimed production of Lars Mattsun's (1849 -1912 — Swedish playwright/provocateur) recently discovered lost masterpiece RESA FANTASTISKT MYSTISK; a surreal exploration of artistic madness, sexual artistry, mysterious children and some guy name Philip.
Find More Show Information Here:  http://hff18.org/5086


For my money the stagecraft displayed in The School of Night's past Fringe productions of Punch and Judy (Live Action!) and The Faggot King or the Troublesome Reign of Edward II straight up sucker-slapped anything that shows up at the Pantages from New York. Company director Christopher Johnson and his partner in crime Jen Albert once more in the selection of their undertaking manifest a hubris bordering on the heroic – Seneca's HERCULES INSANE!

Jason Britt (“Hercules Insane”)

Johnson guarantees,
“A Senecan spectacle of poetic bombast, gut-wrenching tragedy, gladiatorial combat, supernatural horror, rousing adventure, live human sacrifice, toxic masculinity, feminine fury and murderous madness.”
Does that sound like a recipe for a kicking good time or am I spitting seeds?
Find More Show Information Here:  http://hff18.org/5303


Ah, and welcome back those heartthrobs of the Fringe The Cherry Poppins. This year, those Muses of musical Burlesque are dishing up a sexy restyling of a 1996 horror cult classic in THE CRAFTLESQUE.   Bringing the bump and grind to the witches of St. Benedict's Academy are writer/producers Alli Miller and Sarah Haworth.

The creative team of Benjamin Schwartz and Matt Ritchey whose Angel's Flight took the 2016 Best Cabaret & Variety Award return this year with AMERICAN CONSPIRACY,which promises to revisit John Hinckley Jr.'s attempted assassination of then President Ronald Reagan. *  *  Additional Show Information: http://hff18.org/4891.


Matt Ritchey (“American Conspiracy”)

Benjamin Schwartz (“American Conspiracy”)

 

Awareness of the Hollywood Fringe continues to spread among the world's theatre communities as is attested to by both the growing number of international artists in our ranks as well as the diverse nations they represent.

To highlight a few —
The “Land Down Under” had a strong presence last year with the crowd pleasers Sparrowand The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign.  This year out of Australia comes THE BIG PICTURE.


Creator/Performer of “The Big Picture,” Jolly Goodfellow

Cirque du Soleil's veteran Jolly Goodfellow assures us it is a “visual and aural extravaganza” that will feature “experimental cosmic trickster stuff with prop comedy, freestyle improvised foolery, playing with toys, juggling, fiddling with gadgets, musical nonsense, surprises and spring shoes etc.”
I tremble to imagine what “etc.” might encompass.
Additional Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5421


Image from the Künstler Collective Konglomerat's “Men of Blood”

From Germany the Künstler Collective Konglomerat brings three short pieces by contemporary German writers merged as MEN OF BLOOD.  These works will seek to deconstruct the human proclivity to overstep borders.  A fascinating topic, especially to those of us who believe it's “art” only when you color outside the lines.
Additional Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5321


Image from “Earth and Fire Walking”

EARTH & FIRE WALKING arrives from Argentina, with one of that nation's cultural treasures in tow; Tomas Galvan and Gimena Herrerra will delve into the depths of passion that can exist between a man and woman in love, and they will do so through the tango.  If you've never experienced authentic tango, it's like witnessing a choreographed lava flow.
Additional Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5378



From Wales comes LAST CHRISTMAS, playwright Matthew Bulgo's recounting of a doomed soul plummeting down into the black bowels of that foul vortex known as “heading homes for the holidays.” Evan McNamara performs.  Behind this staging you have HFF stalwarts Michael Blaha and Matthew Quinn producing, with John Coppolataking director's duty.  A triumvirate of talent comparable to – oh, let's say that 2011 tsunami that bumped into Japan. Could be worth a looksee.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5205


Conor McPherson's Shining City
From Ireland arrives SHINING CITY by playwright Conor McPherson, in which a desperate man seeks out a Dublin therapist for help in escaping the ghost of his dead wife.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5411


UK playwright Henry Naylor took top honors at the Edinburgh, Adelaide and Prague Fringes with ECHOES, which chronicles two young British schoolgirls, separated by 175 years, on the path towards the inevitable fate they share in common.
This was the year “#metoo” became a call to arms.  The year of Weinstein's outing, Cosby's conviction, and the Oval Office's occupation by an individual who lacks the ethics of a deflated masturbation doll left in a West Covina trailer park dumpster. So this Fringe should shimmer thick with reflections of the traumas women have suffered and triumphs they have earned.



It is fitting to begin with YELLOW WALLPAPER, an adaptation of one of feminist literature's seminal works.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1892 indictment of the male dominated medical field was based on her own experience with the “rest cure” that sought to protect women from the dangers of “mental stimulation.”  Refitted to the 1950's, a time the American Dream was black and white, but the “wallpaper” remained blindingly yellow.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4920


Peerada Meemalayath in “Trafficked 2.0”

In a multilingual tale that incorporates elements of movement and dance, TRAFFICKED 2.0 tells the harrowing story of a 13-year-old girl kidnapped into the underground network of sex trafficking and the relationship that develops between her and a young woman who has endured the horrors she faces.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4906


Cindy D'Andrea in “It's Easier to Love a Cat”

Coming out of a series of abusive and unfulfilling relationships, Cindy D'andrea recounts a ten-year retreat into the emotional sanctuary she found in a progression of four legged purring panic rooms.  Directed by Iona Morris. Entitled: IT'S EASIER TO LOVE A CAT.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5275


“Most Massive Woman Wins” Producer, Director, Performer Yridia Ayvar

Set in a liposuction clinic's waiting room, four women struggle to obtain perspective on their perceptions of themselvesMOST MASSIVE WOMAN WINS
offers monologues on shapes, sizes, and the power we permit or deny ourselves when body image becomes a prison or a pedestal.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5222


Creator/Producer Carrie Mikuls (“I Came to Make Noise”)

I CAME TO MAKE NOISE blends dance with hip hop confessionals, as three women confront those fears that keep us from living large in this beatbox feminist manifesto.
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/4903


“Vixen Deville Revealed”

Cat LaCohie promises a three ring circus of magic, comedy and self discovery in VIXEN DEVILLE REVEALED, a celebration of our freedom to always become the person we want to be.  To quote Nietzsche, “When you stare into the burlesque, the burlesque stares into you.”
More Show Information:  http://hff18.org/5071


To see the entire list, please go to: TheTVolution.com/2018/05/festival-fringe-time-in-hollywood-2018-part-i

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Ernest Kearney, an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note, has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His play Peddle was selected by the Midwest Theatre Network as one of the best plays of 1997. His most recent work 'The Salt Prince' was awarded honors from the Nathan Miller History Play Contest as well as the Fremont Center Theatre Play Contest. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on workingauthor.com and TheTVolution.com. Hang with him on Facebook. Comments welcome.