Five Questions for Joana Knezevic

Rising star Joana Knezevic is pounding the pavement in the City of Angels, forging a path for herself as an actor in theatre, television and film. When we last checked in with Joana, she had just graduated from Cal Arts' MFA Acting Program. Let's see what she's gotten herself into since then.

Roger Q. Mason (RQM): Since we last spoke, you were working on your first
theatre production in Los Angeles. What was it like making theatre in Los
Angeles for the first time?

Joana Knezevic (JK): My first role after the graduation was in Ibsen's ‘Ghosts'.
Technically we started rehearsing just one month before my graduation and that show
was kind of my bridge to the real world in LA. I was lucky to present my work in front of the Hollywood Fringe audience and received good feedback.

Making theater in Los Angeles is quite different then in Europe. It seems to me that in LA everything is faster. A lot of work you have to do on your own, before and after the rehearsals. It is very exciting because it always keeps you in shape and you have to make quick and smart acting choices. That said it is important to nourish your instincts and listen to your inner voices. That requires constant work physically and mentally. I'm in love with the LA artist community. They are very supportive and they really want to help you and navigate you into the right direction. I feel I am growing here as an actress and that's the most important thing for me right now.

RQM: Have you done any plays since then?  What were those experiences like?

JK: Last November artist Edgar Arceneaux and Hauser & Wirth gallery invited me to be part of the project called ‘In response: Zoe Leonard's I want A President'. Edgar directed my solo show that we called ‘Rasputin for president', where I played a Russian monk Gregory Rasputin who came to the States to be a new president. I was fully in drag and we talked about gender issues, what does that mean being a female foreigner in the States, and problems about immigration. That day I had a chance to perform and show my work with fantastic and notable artists in LA. Some of them are Lita Albuquerque, Neo Bustamante, Patric Stuff performance Artist and co funder of Black Lives Matter, Edgar Heap of Birds, Patrisse Cullors… That day was very special because we share our deepest thoughts, concerns and feelings about our society and it was cathartic. I'm thankful to Russel Salmon from Hauser & Wirth who was there all the time helping and supporting us.

RQM: I did a little Instagram spying.  You have done some film work.  Tell me about some of your recent film roles.

JK: Yes, I did some short films, one music video and TV. The short film ‘One of Many' directed by Mikel Dever was part of his final exam at UCLA. It was nice experience because it reminds me how little you need to tell the story. The budget was not high and the time for filming was limited. So, again in a short period of time you have to create your character, tell the story and allow yourself to trust a young director. Working on the music video for the Danish band called ‘Idimish' was quite different. Director Inka Rusi had time to prepare the locations, story and the script. She really knows what she wants and how to direct actors. The last work that I did for TV is a short episode in the new TV show ‘In Ice Cold Blood' for Oxygen TV. Big production and huge team. It was a pleasure working on those projects.

RQM: What differences did you notice between film and theatre acting?  How did you change or alter your artistic process?

JK: In terms of acting no matter which medium you use you are oblige to tell the truth.

Through the lens of camera everything looks bigger. I am a very expressive actress and that means I have to be more focused on the details of the movements, and follow the rule ‘less is more'. (laugh) Film forces you to be very intimate with the camera when everything else around you is quite the opposite. You must stay grounded and focused in the world of your character no matter what's happening on set. You can make mistakes on camera and try another take  but theater will never allow you to do the same scene twice in front of the audience. That's one of the reasons why my heart belongs to theater. The stakes are higher with the live audience.

RQM: What is your current project?

JK: Currently I am working on a new show directed by Edgar Arceneaux called ‘Boney Manilly'. In this production I get to portray two men: Frank and Rasputin. I enjoy a lot in this process because this is my first time playing men in the disco world.

We have three more weeks of rehearsals before our tour to Nigeria to present a preview of this project as part of the Lagos Theater Festival in March. This is such a great opportunity to meet artists from all around the world and potentially collaborate with them. Our Los Angeles premiere is coming soon, so stay tuned!

In May I will be traveling to New York where I will be doing a workshop for the show ‘Medea' directed by Michael Alvarez and written by Peter Gray. Michael and I know each other very well from CalArts and this will be our first professional project together. I trust him fully and I can't wait to start.

Also, NY based choreographer and dancer Sophie Bortolussi is directing her new show
and I'm very lucky that she cast me to be part of her magic. It's very early in the process so that's all I can say for now.

S.O.S.: Five Questions for Director Madeleine Dahm

I love going to The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. On a recent visit there, I happened upon a postcard for a new show called S.O.S. Looking at it closer, I learned that the Wallis had recently formed an acting troupe. Looking at it even further, I saw it was a new devised show being presented in conjunction with Circle X. This took me forward and back. Forward to some devising projects that I am working on this spring and backward to the nascence of Atwater Village Theatre, when Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA and Circle X were sharing what was a renovated either toy or pillow factory in a part of town that was quickly becoming a new hub for creative thought and millennial lifestyle romping. That was about 10 years ago.

I digress.

The task at hand: to find out what are S.O.S. and the Wallis Studio Ensemble. To help me on this quest, I got in contact with director Madeleine Dahm. Here's what I learned from her.

Roger Q. Mason (RQM): To my knowledge, Wallis Studio Ensemble is a fairly new company here in Los Angeles. Tell me a little about the history of the group?

Madeleine Dahm (MD): In the 2016 I approached The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts about the idea of a company for early-career actors, that represented the diversity of actors here in LA and explored theatre as a force for social change - they liked the idea and so Grow at the Wallis joined with me in launching the ensemble. Since its inception two-and-a-half years ago, The Ensemble has steadily acquired a reputation for creating socially conscious, cutting-edge theatre, with a strong physical component. The Ensemble has mounted four full-length productions at The Wallis and performed at two international performing arts festivals.

2018 saw the mounting of Douglas Adams environmental satire The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (LA Times ‘Pick of the Week') and Disposable - an original devised work that examined the intersection between environmental destruction and human displacement, also seen at The San Diego International Fringe Festival in June 2018. It was hailed as “hauntingly beautiful” (San Diego Tribune) and "mesmerizing....this is avant-garde theater that sticks with you long after the curtain comes down.” (ArtNow LA).

In 2016/17 The Ensemble premiered at The Wallis Thebes, a contemporary feminist adaptation of the Greek classic by British playwright Gareth Jandrell, and its first original devised play Word of Mouth, an examination of Post-Truth and a response to the 2016 election rhetoric. Word of Mouth was not only featured on National Public Radio by Priska Neely, but was also seen at Rise Up LA and at The Crisis Art Festival in Tuscany, Italy, where The Ensemble spent a week in residence in July 2017.

S.O.S. cast member Siera Williams, a member of The Wallis Studio Ensemble - photo by Jo Rodriguez

RQM: Your current show is being presented in conjunction with Circle X. How did you link up with the company?
MD: This is not a partnership with Circle X, we are renting their theatre for this particular run. We really wanted to get outside of The Wallis space this year and into the 99 seat theater community, and we are very excited that Atwater Village Theater and Circle X were able to assist us with that.

RQM: What was the inspiration for S.O.S.?
MD: As we discuss topics and themes for our yearly devised work, we are always drawn to contemporary issues that directly impact our company members and their communities. The one thing that we found ourselves coming back to as we began this process three months ago, was the general sense of alienation and isolation felt by many people right now. With so much focus today being on attaining financial wealth it's interesting that a country's GDP is not related to the overall happiness felt by all its citizens, in fact it seems to be the opposite. Recent studies by the World Health Organization and United Nations have revealed that feelings of loneliness and alienation are reaching global epidemic proportions, and that this general sense of feeling disconnected is reaching many communities worldwide. So much so that now many countries have actually appointed ministers for loneliness in their governments, the UK being the most recent. There is no easy answer or fix to this problem but we wanted to explore how small acts of kindness, and authentic expressions of love can help us reach across the divide, and remember more thoughtful ways to interact with each other.

S.O.S. cast member, Viva Kanani Obiajulu Wittman, a member of The Wallis Studio Ensemble - photo by Jo Rodriguez

RQM: This piece is devised. What was your devising process for this show? I'm curious to learn more about the dynamic between you and the ensemble members specifically.
MD: The devising process usually begins by brainstorming topics and themes that are of interest to the company - as we begin to narrow down themes that we would like to explore, each member brings in support materials that can include text, photographs, music, newspaper articles, videos, all kinds of references. There is a lot of discussion in the early stages but, once we have landed on a specific focus for the work, we primarily begin developing the piece through improvisation. The devising process is very long and much of the material that is originated in the studio actually ends up on the “cutting-room floor.” As we hone in on the arc of the piece, many wonderful moments that we have created simply no longer have a place in the work and so we have to let them go. As the Director of a devised work it is my job to be the keeper of the initial vision and to bring all of the elements together in a cohesive way. It's like shooting a movie out of sequence, sometimes you're working on a section that will end up being at the end, but you're working on it first. Devising can be challenging for actors because there isn't an obvious through line that you would have with an existing play, and so there is a lot of trust that has to develop between director and actor, and actor and actor. It requires actors who are willing to jump off at the deep end, and have faith that we will get to where we need to by the end of the process.

RQM: What's next for Wallis Studio Ensemble?
MD: We hope to bring S.O.S to the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year. Then we have our second production of the season, which will be at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts June 6th through 9th, that will not be a devised piece but rather an existing play, on which we have yet to decide.

Featured photo: Cast of S.O.S. - photo by Jo Rodriguez

PODCAST: An Interview with Playwright Steven Vlasak of 'Nights at the Algonquin Round Table'

Local screenwriter and playwright, Steven Vlasak, premiered his Encore Award-winning play "Nights at the Algonquin Round Table" at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2017.
The play opened at the Three Clubs bar and cabaret in Hollywood, a theatre perfect and appropriate in its speakeasy-themed cabaret and bar space, which earned it a "Double Sweet" LemonMeter rating on Better Lemons.
Since then, the show has been picked up by the Studio Player's producers in Lexington, Kentucky, where the show is due to open soon in January next year.
In this interview, at Oeno Vino Wines, Vlasak talks on writing, prohibition, the Roaring Twenties, women's liberation and early sexual revolution, as well as on his very favorite subject–Dorothy Parker and the famous journalists and notorious "wise-cracking" writers of her "vicious circle," Robert Benchley, Franklin Pierce Adams, Alexander Woollcott, and George S. Kaufman, and their luncheons at New York's legendary Algonquin Hotel.
For more information on Steven Vlasak and "Nights at the Algonquin Round Table", its history and its future, visit Algonquinwits on Facebook.
"Nights at the Algonquin Round Table" by Steven Vlasak opens in Lexington, Kentucky, at The Carriage House, January 10, 2019, and plays January 13-27, 2019.  The Carriage House Theatre is located at 154 W. Bell Ct. and tickets for these shows are available through their ticketing agency.

For more podcasts like these visit Better Lemons on Soundcloud.

A Theater Reborn: 11:11 Finds a Home

The 11:11 experience is what happens when you tap into a creative flow, something beyond conscious thought, serendipity you might call it, that exact moment when everything comes together. For the theater and film production company called the 11:11 Experience, who are led by writer-director Micheal Leoni, it also means connection.

They have created a space - called simply the 11:11 - where they want to bring unlike-minded people together, challenging audiences with socially conscious work aimed to provoke awareness.

The 11:11 is located on Kings Road in West Hollywood and was last known as the Macha Theater. The aluminum warehouse exterior remains basically the same, but the interior is all new. It is intended to be a venue for all of the arts – hosting dance performances, film screenings, pop-up art pieces as well as theater like Famous, an original play by Leoni.

In a very fractured and diverse Los Angeles, they want the 11:11 to be something beyond a rental space or a home for a rep company. "We want artists to feel comfortable here, and create a community or hang out where people can be inspired, and develop new ideas," says Leoni.

Elevator, the play

11:11 didn't anticipate taking over the Macha. Their show Elevator – about seven strangers trapped in an elevator who confront their preconceptions and differences – ran at the Macha in 2010 after premiering during the first Hollywood Fringe Festival. 11:11 loved the Macha, and Famous was set to open there earlier this year. They planned to partner with the operator of the Macha theater and be something of a company in rep. She left the partnership rather abruptly, however, no longer wanting to deal with managing the space. An opportunity suddenly presented itself when the landlord offered the theater to 11:11.

"We came in planning to open a show, and suddenly we're renovating a space and opening a show on the same timeline," says Michelle Kaufer, a producer with the company who handles the logistics of running the 11:11 space. They just wanted to be creative, but all of a sudden, as Kaufer says, they also became general contractors – and may have wondered how that ever happened. But they decided to embrace the moment, and dove headfirst into it, learning along the way.

The 11:11 opened about five months ago. They hosted an opening night with bands, dancers and magicians, an event which briefly drew the ire of neighbors who thought the 11:11 was going to be a club. "After that," says Kaufer, "we introduced ourselves to the neighborhood and as soon as they realized that we were going to be a theater, and not a night club, they became much more supportive."

The 11:11 cafe/lobby is done up in what they call a retro-Laurel Canyon vibe, it's walls covered with film posters and album covers they found at thrift shops. The interior has a far more luxurious feel than that of it's predecessor, which had seen better days (originally opening in 1973 as The Globe Playhouse, a warehouse theater modeled on the Shakespearian-era Globe Theatre in London--you can still see the Tudor style windows and framework peeking through the remodeling.) Even more impressive is the technical firepower on the stage, featuring state of the art sound and theatrical lighting.

The Playground, the play

The five core members of the 11:11 Experience have worked together since The Playground, another original play by Leoni inspired by the true stories of homeless kids. Together they found a collective passion. They seldom if ever work outside the company, and juggling multiple projects is a habit for them. It's a little bit of magic and a little bit of crazy as Producer Michelle Kaufer says – a unique energy that has attracted people who mesh well within the group.

Erica Katzin, Creative Development Executive, says meeting the 11:11 Experience was very inspiring – they were doing, she says, meaningful work that was stylistic, edgy and different. She works closely with Leoni, researching and acting as a sounding board for his scripts. "I'd rather continue with this than keep farming out and finding out about whatever stupid meaningless stuff, which is great and it's still work, but why would I stop doing something that I find so meaningful and engaging and so connective through the company, but also from the people you meet?" she says.

Leoni writes and directs all of their material. He is certainly busy – writing another play about hazing called Frat Boy, as well as finishing a treatment for a musical. He's also written two feature film scripts, completed the show bible and first episode of a television show--and "he'll probably go home and paint his room a different color," says Christine Dickson, who runs the lobby's cafe/bar and created the look of the new space with Leoni. All of this work seems animated not only by a desire to do socially conscious work, but to resist overthinking and hesitation (Leoni also wrote Dare to be Bad, a pocket book about creative freedom similar to Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.)

Famous is my first exposure to their work. It is about a taboo topic – the sexual exploitation of young actors by older, more powerful men in Hollywood (although the play also portrays sexual assault inflicted on an underage actress.) Leoni at one point dropped the project because friends warned him that it could get him blacklisted. It takes place in 1994 during a party thrown by an actor named Jason Mast (Christopher Dietrick), who has just been nominated for an Oscar.

The play was originally conceived as a screenplay, and that's easy to see in the construction of the scenes and the way we jump from character to character and room to room. The action is played simultaneously on a video screen that Mast watches as the characters slowly spiral toward a dark conclusion that leaves no one unharmed.

Famous is about the abuse of power in Hollywood, but as the play progresses, it delves into themes that everyone--and not just industry insiders-- can understand. Katzin believes Famous is "...ultimately about dealing with your past, dealing with yourself and with whatever those boundaries to gain success you must cross that are sometimes questionable."

We see plenty of disturbing scenes during the play, but it's never gratuitous. The full technical prowess of the 11:11 is on display here – strobe lights to simulate slow motion, actors moving backwards as though stepping back in time, brilliant lighting design, the stunning multi-level set that looks like a cutaway of a Hollywood Hills home - although this abundance of technique sometimes overwhelms the material, muting the play's emotional impact.

The piece, however, cannot be faulted for a lack of ambition, and audiences have reacted strongly to its depiction of abuse. Leoni said they have seen people walk out before intermission, not necessarily because they disliked the show, but because the material reminded them of their own experiences, things they hadn't talked about with anyone.

"When we were putting it up, we didn't realize how it was going to affect audiences." says Leoni. "We had people leaving during intermission, sometimes four or five a night, and we thought the show might not be working." But Leoni found that many of those early exits came back. "What's beautiful is what they tell us." he says. "I've had people come up to me and say, 'I'm back, I left during intermission, because I was triggered and needed to process, and now I've come right back to see it.'"

The tagline for the play is "before we knew," but we have not come so far from 1994 as we might like to think, the revelations of the #metoo movement notwithstanding. "An actor came up to me, and he said the same thing that happened to this character happened to him, so it is still happening," says Leoni. He was shocked when a director he met at a recent party told him, "C'mon what director hasn't taken out their dick and made an actor jerk them off, c'mon?" Leoni was most struck by how cavalierly he said it, like it was just routine business, and not a big deal at all.

Famous also has triggered something of a reckoning for anyone in the industry who saw such abuse and did nothing to stop it. "People have come to the show, whether they are producers or people that we talk to afterward, and we can feel the guilt that they have. We've even had male directors and producers approach us and say I'm part of the problem, I didn't molest people, but I put them into that situation, and they're starting to say I've got to change," says Leoni.

The long overdue conversation about the abuse of women has only begun, but in the case of male victims, there has been little discussion yet, only the same unsubstantiated rumors about certain actors and producers that have been circulating for years. There has not yet been that one floodgate moment when someone speaks up, enabling countless others to step forward (the Kevin Spacey revelations may have brought some of this problem to light, but hardly all of it.) Famous wants to jumpstart that conversation.

Ideally Leoni would like to see actors and others who have experienced this type of abuse step forward and talk about their experiences – a chance not only for them to get this story out of their system, but perhaps change the industry before the same thing happens to someone else.

Leoni believes male victims have been afraid to speak out because of the male ego, and the way men are taught to handle themselves. Men are supposed to be strong, and if they were attacked it is seen as an indication of their own weakness – not entirely dissimilar from when women are ridiculously blamed for being raped. The cast worked intensely on this idea of male ego and the shame that comes with acknowledging you have been sexually assaulted. No one wants to say anything--and as Kaufer points out, this is the ultimate abuse of power - knowing that you can do whatever you want because your victim will not say anything.

Dickson cried when she first saw Famous during previews. It struck her in a way she wasn't expecting (she sounds like she is only half-joking when she says it is the most she cried since Trump's election.) She felt it tapped into the collective unconscious of the victims. "I was sobbing in a way where I don't even know where it came from, but I think as a women too you've been in so many situations where you've had to decide – when you've been stuck in a predatory situation – how to handle it," she says.

"I feel like there's been a process over the past decades of how the police and how you deal with a woman who has been sexually assaulted, but there's really been no talk about how you deal with a man whose been sexually assaulted," says Dickson.

A male victim might be younger and stronger than their attacker, and more than capable of defeating them in a fight, but this shame and psychological intimidation stops them from resisting, or even talking about what happened--because their assailant has fame and power on their side. This is what power, and desire for fame, can do. The repercussions of stopping the attack scared them into inaction.

You may find yourself asking how one play in a small theater is going to make much of a difference. Maybe it won't change a thing, but the collaborative nature of the work, and the process of developing a story, is at least as important as any impact it might have. And if your work reaches even one person, maybe has them reconsider their point of view or feel empathy for another human being, then hasn't it been worth all the long hours needed to bring that work to life?

"I think art has the capacity to change the world, I really do," says Kaufer. "You can't change the world in one fell swoop, it's one morsel at a time, one person at a time. It's the same thing: change is progressive." She is fueled by having a theater or film experience where you feel an impact, and can have an intense discussion about it afterward. "It's ultimately about facilitating the vision and connecting people to it because there's something fulfilling for me when someone walks out of a show and they're crying or they're laughing or they're hugging each other," she says.

That's why there is a joy to be found within the company--not always, as Katzin says, evident on the surface because catharsis isn't joyful. "There's an enjoyment that comes from all the work we do, from being on set encouraging collaboration--there is a joy in the process," she says.

"The bigger message of the show – yes, it's about abuse and sexual harassment and your inner child and fighting your demons, but I think what it's really being an artist," says Leoni, his words echoing the monologue that ends Famous. "We're all here to create, and no matter what you do, you're an artist." The 11:11 Experience has found something they believe in – their why as Leoni puts it, and he believes when you find a calling you have to follow it. Within their work and the space they have created, the 11:11 Experience asks at least one important question--What do you want to do? Once you have answered that question, jump in without a second thought and commit everything you have to making it happen.


Want to produce a show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (HFF) and don't know how?
Excited about the thought of doing a show at HFF , but have concerns and questions?
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“How to Produce a Hollywood Fringe Show”
The workshop will walk you through the step by step process of creating a project, finding a venue, creating a budget, publicity and production as well as money saving tips and the best way to utilize all the HFF has to offer.. This workshop is valuable for any independent theatre producer. In addition, each participant will get an E-File including an adjustable budget and timeline.
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PODCAST: An Interview with Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of 'Soaring Solo'

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu - Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of Soaring Solo, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival Prom Night 2016, Hollywood, California.

UPDATED: 8-25-18

I interviewed Director Jessica Lynn Johnson, teacher of Soaring Solo, a how-to series of workshops and individual instruction on creating solo theatrical projects and bringing them to fruition. Jessica is often a one-woman cheering squad for her students, creating unique costumes out of their promotional bar cards and items for Fringe Festival parties.

I first met Johnson at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2016, dressed head to toe in a costume crafted entirely from her students' and other producers' show cards. This creative endeavor she makes special each year for the annually anticipated social event, "Prom Night."

After seeing some of her students' shows at the festival and at the Whitefire Annual Solofest, I caught her in action at a recent Saturday morning workshop with LAFPI: The Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative at Whitefire Theatre, on Saturday, July 21, 2018.

I later spoke with Johnson, here, where we talked on the mechanics of her process for creating solo artist theatrical projects, her use of inspiring and provocative word prompts with exploring through two-minute on-the-spot writing, the free workshops she teaches at the Whitefire Theatre, and various festivals and creative outlets that feature solo shows such as Solofest, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the North Hollywood Fringe Festival, and work with The Los Angeles Women's Playwrights Initiative.

The atmosphere in her home studio is designed to be conducive to creativity, both for herself and for her students, and she talked further on how the process that she teaches can go far beyond that of creating a solo show, but lead a deeper path into self-discovery.

Jessica Lynn Johnson will co-host Hot Off The Press, a Night of Excerpt Readings, post-show Q & A, and music, with L.A. Women's Theatre Festival, September 16, 2018, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at The Whitefire Theatre.

Jessica Lynn Johnson: Website, Facebook and YouTube.

For more podcasts like these visit Better Lemons on Soundcloud.

PODCASTS: An Interview with Heather Keller of Chemo Barbie Now in Edinburgh

I interviewed Heather Keller of the "Chemo Barbie Show" which has made its journey from the Hollywood Fringe Festival to this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, now currently underway until the end of the month.
In this series of five podcasts, Keller talks on her cancer diagnosis, the ups, downs, and side effects of treatment, "cold-capping" (to keep her hair), healthy living, the enduring and lost relationships (the other side effects of cancer), workshopping at Samuel French and Johnson's Soaring Solo, woman power, the desire and plans to raise a family with her husband Brian McCarthy, and motherhood and planning for Edinburgh Fringe.
After her breast cancer diagnosis on December 30, 2015 and a few months into her treatments, Keller has been documenting her experience through a series of YouTube videos on her channel "Keep Abreast W/ Heather: A Cancer Survivor's Story," with her videos reaching cumulatively over 150,000 views.
Inspired through a few propitious events in her writing and further encouraged by her director Jessica Lynn Johnson through her solo artist workshops, and encouraged by the many comments from those affected by cancer on her YouTube channel, Keller then developed the funny and charming, with only a smattering of bittersweetness, "Chemo Barbie: My Lady Bits' Journey Through Breast Cancer."
Premiering at Studio C in Hollywood for the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival, it was nominated for Best Solo Show and won the Encore Producers' Award. After running its encore, it then went to the Whitefire Theatre's annual Solofest in 2017 where Keller began to think even broader for the future of the show.
Still currently being treated to stay cancer-free, through crowd-funding assistance and with producers Michael Blaha and Nigel Thomas, Keller has brought the "Chemo Barbie Show" to Edinburgh's Gilded Balloon Teviot for a coveted run in annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Chemo Barbie Show plays at 1:30 p.m. every day from now until Tuesday, August 28, 2018, with the exception of this coming Monday, August 13, 2018, (the only day the show is dark) at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. For those planning to visit Edinburgh this month, visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ticketing page for tickets.

For more podcasts like these visit Better Lemons on Soundcloud.

The TVolution 2018 Hollywood Fringe Awards!

And here they are

The TVolution

2018 Hollywood Fringe Awards…


Burglars of Hamm's Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk


Katt Balsan – Balls'ON


Joshua Thomas – Let There be Thistles


New Musicals Inc.'s:  Manson's Girls


Mackers! & The Day I Became Black


Ain't That America



Robert Watkins, Nick Howard & Gabrielle Farrow


John Braham (Red) Ain't that America


Yokko (Medea) Butoh Medea


Christopher Johnson – The School of Night's Hercules Insane




Jack Benny (A Ménage En Train) & Shilo Kloko 

Awards aside, there are, still, far many more individuals whose talents deserve some note of distinction and we at TheTVolution wish the privilege of acknowledging them:

Honors to the following Productions:

Hush by Madcap Creative

Sex and the Musical by For the Love of Parody Productions

The Runaway Clonby Zaftig Inc., The Unknown Artists & Ruckus Rockwell

Echoes by Redbeard Theatre & Fringe Management LLC

Honors to the following Actors:

Jim Martyka (Hans Gruber) A Very Die Hard Christmas

Ben Hethcoat (Chris Burden) A Beast/A Burden

Matt Curtin (Allen Ginsberg) Beatniks: A New Musical

Jeff Sumner (Creep) Dracula's Taste Test

Steven Syzdio (Abbie Hoffman)
Uncivil Correctness:
Osama Bin Laden, Joan Rivers, Abbie Hoffman

Tim Kopacz (Philip) Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

Chris Chapman (Henry V) Henry V (And Cocktail Party)

David Garver (Trent) American Conspiracy

 Honors to the following Actresses:

Joana Knezevic (Mrs. Alving) Ghosts

Megan Rose Ruble (Susan Atkins) Manson's Girls

Corsica Wilson (Jessica Burden) A Beast/A Burden

Tracy Leigh (Words) Easy Targets: Artists & Heroes

Pam Eberhardt (Laura) The Runaway Clone

Rachel Berman (Diane di Prima) Beatniks: A New Musical

Cyanne McCaerin (Constance Wilde) The Importance of Being Oscar

Virginia Tran (Kerri) Skin Jobs

Koni McCurdy (Birdy) Blind Spots

Melanie Holmes (Lily) Negative Spaces

 Honors to the following Performers:

Christopher Piehler – Sink or Swim

Burt Grinstead & Anna Stromberg – Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Alli Miller – Craftlesque

Evan McNamara – Last Christmas

Cooper Bates – Black When I Was a Boy

Jordan Rountree – Epic Fail

Honors to the following Writers:

Mitchell Bisschop – I Can Hear You Now

Jim Vejvoda – Skin Jobs

Davia Schendel (Book, lyrics and music) – Beatniks: A New Musical

Benjamin Schwartz – American Conspiracy

Giovanni Zuniga – Pervert

John Braham –  Ain't That America

Michael Shaw Fisher (Book, lyrics and music) – Doctor Nympho vs the Sex Zombies

Pam Eberhardt (Book, lyrics)  and Jonathan Brenner (music) – The Runaway Clone

Joe Hernandez-Kolski & Joshua Silverstein — The Joe & Joshua Show  (2018 edition)

Honors to the following Directors: 

Jonghee Woo – Ghosts

Gregory Crafts – A Very Die Hard Christmas

Branda Lock – Let There Be Thistles

Jin Blanchette – The Women of Lockerbie

Changting Lu – House of Tales

Albert Dayan – Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

Matt Ritchey – American Conspiracy

Dan Schultz – Ain't That America 



Reprinted with permission from

PODCAST: An Interview with Richard Lucas of 'Bono and The Edge Waiting for Godominos'

Actor, writer and director Richard Lucas of “Bono and The Edge Waiting For Godominos” discusses the inception of the idea for the show, its fruition fueled by the ongoing “Serial Killers” serial show series at Broadwater (formerly known as Sacred Fools), their successful run in various venues throughout California, his new book “The Dog Log,” and the future of “Bono and The Edge Waiting For Godominos.”
Bono and The Edge Waiting For Godominos“ stars Richard Lucas as Bono, Curt Collier as The Edge, Jeff Blumberg as Lucky, and Bruno Oliver as Domingo.
After recently returning from PianoFight in San Francisco, the “Bono and The Edge Waiting For Godominos” now heads to The Majestic Repertory Theatre in Las Vegas for shows on Friday, July 13, 2018, and Saturday, July 14, 2018, each night at 10 p.m.
For updating info on future shows visit their website or the show Facebook page.

PODCAST: An interview with Ben Benjamins of "Buzz'd Out! Live!"

An interview with Ben Benjamins, show creator, animator, and host of "Buzz'd Out! Live!", an immersive one-hour game show at the Studio/Stage for the Hollywood Fringe Festival and at Pasadena Media, with extended shows this weekend at the Studio/Stage Friday, July 6, 2018, at 9 p.m. and Sunday, July 8, 2018, at 7 p.m.
Inspired by multiple game shows, "Buzz'd Out! Live!" premiered for the Hollywood Fringe Festival at Studio/Stage and nominated for Best Immersive.

PODCAST: Matthew S. Robinson Brings Another Detailed Historic Story to the Hollywood Fringe, 'BlackBalled' at The Complex

Director Matthew S. Robinson of BlackBalled: The rise and fall of Negro League Baseball. (Photo by Noel Moul)

BlackBalled: The rise and fall of Negro League Baseball, based on the true story of Negro League Baseball, is a new ensemble play by Matthew S. Robinson. Inspired by his own family history, Robinson delves into the peak of National Negro League (NNL) baseball, an "organization worth millions of dollars destroyed almost overnight" by the virtual usurping of talented players like Jackie Robinson by major league baseball.

In an interview at Oeno Vino Wines of director Robinson, from his research and press notes the story follows NNL movers, shakers, and players, Effa Manley (Asia Pitts), co-owner/owner of the NNL Newark Eagles baseball franchise and "the first and thus far only woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame," Cumberland Posey (Alex Skinner) "the only man to be inducted into both the Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame," Gus Greenlee (Twon Pope) the "first African American to own his own professional baseball field," Jackie Robinson (David Cork), the "first African American to break the infamous color barrier of Major League Baseball", and baseball player John Fletcher (Robbie DeVillez).
BlackBalled: The rise and fall of Negro League Baseball is at The Complex on the Ruby stage at 6472 Santa Monica Boulevard, in Hollywood.

Performance dates are Sunday, June 3, 2018, at 6 p.m.Thursday, June 7, 2018, at 9 p.m.Thursday June 14, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.Saturday, June 16,  2018, at 7 p.m., and Saturday June 23,  2018, at 4:30 p.m. For tickets visit

Podcast: Director, writer, and actor, Matthew S. Robinson, discussed his show BlackBalled: The rise and fall Of Negro League Baseball, with Monique A. LeBleu of Better Lemons, at the Oeno Vino Wine Bar in Atwater Village. Blackballed: The rise and fall of Negro League Baseball comes to The Complex (Ruby Theatre) for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Saturday, June 3 - June 23, 2018.

Intro/outro: Backed Vibes by Kevin MacLeod
(Used via Creative Commons permissions licensing via YouTube)

Fire, Glass-Walk With Me: A Revealing Interview With Vixen DeVille

Fire-eating, glass-walking, circus aerial, magic, burlesque, costume crafting, comedy, and acting—British actress Cat LaCohie fits all of these skills into her life and her new solo show “Vixen DeVille Revealed", coming to the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June.

Originally from Newcastle, LaCohie began her career in London, with appearances at Cafe De Paris, The Ritz Hotel and at the Charing Cross Theatre in West End, since relocating to Los Angeles.

Having performed regularly at The Viper Room, LA Convention Center, The Roosevelt Hotel, Harvelle's Santa Monica and Long Beach, and at The Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, and with multiple television appearances like “Masters Of Illusion,” she also teaches her craft both privately and in group workshops with classes that range from “Introduction to Burlesque & Body Confidence”—where she teaches you to “embrace the freedom to express yourself...the good, the bad and the wobbly!”—to full “Solo Act Development”, along with “Costume Crafting” and specialty performance skills that include fire performance, aerial and more.

Also currently performing with the Doll Face Dames, where there are over 30 people in the troupe who perform in rotation throughout LA, LaCohie often serves as a form of host—or Mistress of Ceremonies—a position she found through her unique use of comedy, burlesque, and having the additional benefit of a British accent in Los Angeles.

In that, she works up the audience in preparation for the show to come, laying out the rules and restrictions with charm.

"We want you to be loud and rowdy, in certain ways!," said LaCohie. "So as the host we'll get people up and shouting. We'll tell you what the rules are—don't touch the girls, don't do this, do this, don't do that—It's kind of like a stand-up comedienne."

Starting her career in burlesque in 2006, she performed for nearly eight years in the U.K. When coming to Los Angeles, she only brought three burlesque outfits, just in case she needed them, because her idea and goal was to focus on acting.

"I figured, if I need to, I can make some money doing burlesque," she said. But ultimately, she simply missed it as a performance artist and decided to continue her style of burlesque performing in Los Angeles, which then lead to teaching.

Photos by Monique A. LeBleu
Cat LaCohie, Vixen DeVille, teaches burlesque technique, style, confidence, personalization at Madilyn Clark Studios, in Burbank, Calfornia, April 9, 2018.

She began teaching basic burlesque routine moves for a company, which she found pedestrian at the time. But in conversations, people expressed fascination and a desire to perform themselves, but had reservations varying from body confidence issues to disbelief that they could ever learn the skills or master the courage.

"I met people who said 'Oh, I could never perform burlesque!' or "I could never do ... but, want to do it!,'" said LaCohie. "If you have anything in you that wants to do this, then why are you talking yourself out of it?"

In teaching, she then began focusing not on the dance moves, or the technique of it. "Looking at your confidence, looking at your character, what pleases you, and what you're going to have fun doing in front of an audience ... do you want to show your dark side, or your fun side, or your sexy side," said LaCohie.

Aside from burlesque, LaCohie is trained in fire performance—including fire eating, fire fans and fire spinning, and body burning—aerial performance, and glass walking, the latter of which she incorporates a dance where she rolls in glass and experiments with ballet. But her experimentation has not been without dangers.

From minor injuries to her knee and legs while performing in an acting class in the UK, to more serious injuries while focused and teaching after coming to Los Angeles.

Early on, while training in the Meisner Acting Technique, she thought to incorporate the new skill of glass walking into a scene with another student. After smashing a bottle in the scene, while focused on the scene, she knelt into it - a risky transaction for the yet fully trained glass walker.

Cat LaCohie, Vixen DeVille, at Madilyn Clark Studios, in Burbank, Calfornia, April 9, 2018.

"[during the scene] I thought, 'Why is it cold?' And there's blood dripping all over me. And my teacher goes. 'Whatever hinders you is your task, continue with the scene!,'" said LaCohie, so she did. "So then the guy with me in the scene is helping me mop up the blood. So I thought, 'Well I guess I can't kneel down in it!'"

Another incident, in a distracted moment while teaching, LaCohie leaned back into preset broken glass, cutting deep enough into her hand to tear tendons. Once again, she quickly made temporary self-ministrations to her wounds so that she could continue while teaching in the moment, leaving a lengthy and costly recovery for a future time.

Encouraged after speaking with friends who've participated in the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival, LaCohie has now decided to pull her skills into a solo show. For the annual festival that brings Hollywood smaller theaters to the forefront of attention each summer, she will premiere “Vixen DeVille Revealed.”

Incorporating burlesque, circus, magic, comedy, LaCohie promises to reveal “the truth behind her multi-talented Burlesque persona, VixenDeVille'”, and invite you to “discover your own inner Vixen.”

With a limited VIP Experience, she will even teach you to eat fire or walk on broken glass, live on stage as part of the show.

In the meantime, LaCohie will be teaching a two-hour workshop at The Lounge Theatre on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at 11 a.m. with an introduction to the Basics of Burlesque Performance.

With plans to return to Newcastle and London sometime soon after the Hollywood Fringe Festival, LaCohie plans to bring Vixen DeVille Revealed home.

"Vixen DeVille Revealed" opens June 1, 2018, at the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, CA 90038.

Go here for more show information and tickets.

For more on Cat LaCohie, listen to the podcast: