Sherwood Award-winning Kristina Wong Brings 'UndocuStories' Through LA Department of Cultural Affairs Grants

Actress, Comedian, and local Politician, Kristina Wong, will be presenting a “UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom” workshop series at the Dream Resource Center in MacArthur Park, beginning September 3, 2019.

Sponsored by UCLA Dream Resource Center, Wong, and the UCLA Labor Center, the workshop is funded by an Artist-in-Residence grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

In the eighth year as recipient of this grant as Artist-in-Residence, Wong, who refers to her work as “mind-blowing social commentary with a little humor,” on a picture of her 2020 Census Form posted on her Facebook page, facilitated a similar workshop last year where DACA recipients, undocumented individuals, permanent residents, mixed-status families, and allies participated with a similar grant, which was increased this year from $8,000 to $12,000.

Participants in the "UndocuStories" workshops in 2018 in an exercise involving karaoke. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Wong/UCLA Dream Resource Center)

“Last year’s show was a combination of comedy sketches, poetry, movement work, first-person testimonials and a cover of Vanilla’s Ice Ice Baby called “ABOLISH Ice, Ice Baby,” she said. “This year's workshop will specifically center on experiences of undocumented immigrants.”

Wong, who is a newly elected Representative for Sub-District 5 Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, recently received the Center Theatre Group’s Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award for her work as a “Boundary-Pushing Artist,” which was presented to her at the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards ceremony at this year.

"UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom" is a twelve-week theater workshop facilitated by Wong, that will feature guest artists Yosimar Reyes (2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry) and Kat Evasco (Working in the Theater) who will teach skills in comedy writing, Theater of the Oppressed (TO), movement, and performance, where participants will engage on issues that “impact the undocumented immigrant community, transforming those stories into an original theater piece for the public,” said Wong on the LAFPI site.

According to the Mandala Center for Change, TO is a form of community-based education that “uses theater as a tool for social change" that was developed by Augusto Boal.  Theater of the Oppressed "is now used all over the world for social and political activism, conflict resolution, community building, therapy, and government legislation. It is also practiced on a grassroots level by community organizers, activists, teachers, social workers, cultural animators, and more."

Per Wong, as a public elected official in Koreatown in “a small, unpaid position, but very mighty,” a lot of her constituency and neighborhood is undocumented. In her first 100 days in office, and while still working as an actress, comedian, and writer, she wrote a community impact statement about supporting the abolishment of ICE (Integrations and Customs Enforcement), and that process may make it into a future show. Since then she has made it her goal to work and educate toward achieving social justice through her comedy, where she discusses social issues affecting people of color—especially women of color—, white privilege, and how to be an armchair social justice warrior (or a better one on foot). A great example of her approach is one of her earlier productions titled the “Wong Street Journal.”

“Last year, our allies were really great about stepping up to support the storytelling of our undocumented participants and de-centering themselves when necessary to keep the focus of storytelling on the experiences of undocumented participants,” said Wong in her blog.

Each week, for twelve weeks, with information provided by the Dream Resource Center, participants will explore a new topic that specifically affects the undocumented community, such as “Know your Rights” or healthcare options for undocumented communities and unaccompanied minors crossing the border, along with theater games, a mix of improv and sketch writing exercises, and performance work.

For some individuals who might be concerned about giving their identities with regard to the workshop and performances, they will establish community rules at the top of each meeting so that “everyone is on the same page about how to work together,” according to the LAFPI article, so participants may not be required to give full names if they are undocumented.

“Just let us know if you don’t want your name published on materials or if there are limits as to what you want to share with the group or publicly,” Wong wrote on the LAFPI site.

With regard to any fears about ICE roundups, Wong said, “they would have to have a warrant” [for an individual] and that there are staff members present who are “super trained on how to address ICE” if they were to show. But she feels confident that would not happen or be an issue.

“To those who are not undocumented, it seems scary, but the "Know Your Rights" training in the workshop prepares the undocumented as well as the allies so that we are all ready to put the knowledge to the task," Wong said. “But also they have to ring a doorbell to come in, so we'd at least be able to confront them at the door.”

The “UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom” workshop is located at UCLA Downtown Labor Center at 675 S Park View St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, which will meet Tuesdays from September 3 - November 19, 2019, from 6 - 8 p.m., with the final performance on November 19th at 7 p.m. Participants do not need to be a UCLA student to attend, there are no age restrictions for the workshop, the workshop is free, and dinner will be provided at each session. For more information contact: [email protected].


The Second Annual 'She L.A. Summer Theater Festival' Opens at the 'Zephyr'

The 2nd Annual "She L.A. Summer Theater Festival" at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood opens Tuesday, July 30, 2019, with five original full-length works by women-identifying writers.

Produced by She NYC Arts, She L.A. "was borne out of the desire of artists in the LA area to bring the She NYC Summer Theater Festival to the west coast", which "supports the creation and production of meaningful, powerful, and commercially viable works by women writers, composers, directors, and actors." As a non-profit,  SheNYC Arts, Inc. receives a generous grant from The Puffin Foundation, which, along with donations from theatre patrons,  enables them to provide a free program for high-school girls interested in producing and writing for the theatre through their CreateHer program.

Rehearsal of "She's Not There" for the 2nd Annual She LA Summer Theater Festival 2019, at the Zephyr Theatre, Hollywood. Photo courtesy of She L.A./ SheNYC.

Here is an overview of the fives shows featured in this year's festival:

"To Each His Own" by Nakisa Aschtiani - A few months after 9/11, Sharzahd Jensen, a caregiver, arrives for her newest assignment: as a live-in aid to an elderly, blind Iranian man. New to the town, she befriends a kind lawyer. A few days in, Sharzahd notices harassing letters and graffiti targeted towards her new patient, but who is the real victim and who can she trust?

Aschtiani returns to the Festival as a part of SheLA, where her previous play, "Children of Camelot," was a part of SheNYC in 2017. In addition to playwriting, Aschtiani has been an active member of the theatre world for over twenty years as an actor and producer. Her third play, "Bismillah," is also playing this summer in the Fresh Fruit Festival in NYC.

The show, scheduled on Sunday, August 4th at 12 p.m., is an enhanced performance for blind and visually impaired patrons.

Rehearsal of "Charlie Boyd" for the 2nd Annual She LA Summer Theater Festival 2019, at the Zephyr Theatre, Hollywood. Photo courtesy of She L.A./ SheNYC.

Multi-award winning playwright Ali MacLean’s "She's Not There" focuses on how a third-party threatens the relationship of a contented couple. That third-party: a shadowy form that seeps into the walls to attempt to kill one of them. "The play anthropomorphizes depression and explores how it can devastate a person and the lives of those around them."

MacLean’s work has been performed and workshopped at the HBO Workspace, Comedy Central Stage, A Noise Within, Antaeus Theatre, and The Ensemble Studio Theatre. "She’s Not There" has been performed in the Screencraft Stage Play Competition, The Garry Marshall Theatre New Works, The Dennis and Victoria Ross Foundation Project, and won the John Gassner Playwriting Award.

The show scheduled on Friday, August 2nd, will have a talkback with the creative team and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services following the 8:30 p.m. performance.

"Do Us Part" by Karen Lukesh is a comedy about a bitter couple who accidentally reunite in their home the day before their divorce is finalized. "A quagmire of egos, misplaced feelings, and stubborn pride" follow, but the future of their relationship is anyone's guess.

Rehearsal of "Between the Colored Lines & Other Black Girl Tales" for the 2nd Annual She LA Summer Theater Festival 2019, at the Zephyr Theatre, Hollywood. Photo courtesy of She L.A./ SheNYC.

Playwright and director Lukesh's "Do Us Part" won the Special Marquee Award in the 2017 American Movie Awards stage play division, and her feature scripts, TV pilots, shorts, and stage plays have garnered numerous writing awards in contests such as Gimme Credit, BlueCat, Page International, Final Draft Big Break, and the Nicholls Fellowship. A seasoned playwright and screenwriter, she provides script consultation on her site KarenLukesh.com.

"Charlie Boyd" by Allie Wittner is a comedy about a college student home from Winter break, whose friend, Charlie Boyd, "re-enters her life abruptly after a shared secret compelled him to disappear. Set amidst a Hanukkah rivalry, this madcap romance brings you love, betrayal, drugs, crossword puzzles, mysterious visitors, and many, many menorahs."

Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Wittner makes her playwriting debut with "Charlie Boyd."  Formerly a member of the sketch comedy troupe Chocolate Cake City in Boston, Wittner's previous performance credits include "The Donkey Show" at the American Repertory Theatre and "We Are Pussy Riot."

"Between the Colored Lines & Other Black Girl Tales" is a poetic stage play by Tiffani Dean that features a married couple at a turning point, where a wager determines who holds the proverbial remote control during Monday Night football. This innovative stage play with dance, music, and poetry chronicles the next few weeks of their relationship, as the dramas that play out on TV shed light into the real-life relationship that has been happening on their couch all along.

Dean, from Philadelphia, is an author, playwright, poet, executive director, executive producer, co-founder of Family Poetry Collective, co-founder The Collective Mic, LLC, The Collective Mic Productions, The Collective Mic School Of The Arts, and The Collective Mic Art Gallery & Arts Café.

The 2nd Annual "She L.A. Summer Theater Festival" at the Zephyr Theatre:

"To Each His Own" by Nakisa Aschtiani
Tuesday, July 30, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 4, 2019, 12:00 p.m.*

*Sunday, August 4th at 12 p.m. is an enhanced performance for blind and visually impaired patrons.

"She’s Not There" by Ali MacLean
Friday, August 2, 2019, at 8:30 p.m.*

*Friday, August 2, 2019, will have a talkback with the creative team and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services following the 8:30 p.m. performance.

"Do Us Part" by Karen Lukesh
Wednesday, July 31, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 3, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.

"Charlie Boyd" by Allie Wittner
Thursday, August 1, 2019, at 7:30, 2019, p.m.
Saturday, August 3, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.

"Between the Colored Lines and Other Black Girl Tales" by Tiffani Dean
Saturday, August 3, 2019, at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 4, 2019, at 5:30 p.m.

The Zephyr Theatre is at 7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets are $20 are available at  SheLAArts.org.

SheNYC Arts, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, made possible in part by a generous grant from The Puffin Foundation and from theatre patron donations.


Announcing the Hollywood Fringe Festival 'Sponsored,' 'Runway,' 'Encore! Producers,' and 'Best of Broadwater' Awards

The following are more winners of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, including the Sponsored Awards and Fringe Runway.

Now that the Hollywood Fringe Festival has technically come to a close, here are awards that provide additional opportunities through the Encore! Producers Awards and the Best of Broadwater Award which provide an avenue for shows to extend through July, August, and beyond, to see the shows you might have missed.

Sponsored Award Winners

2019 Unleashed Awards

The Mayor’s Debate Of Tranquillity Nebraska

The Unleashed Award is given to the ensemble production who unleashes their production with a strong focus on telling the story and the winner receives a certificate, a dog collar and tag engraved with the name of the show, the award and the year, award laurels for social media use, and shout outs on the Theatre Unleashed social media sites.

2cents Theatre Distinctive Voices Award

The Institute For The Opposite Of Longing

The 2Cents Distinctive Voices Award recognizes an artist/team of artists who prove themselves as a true auteur. The winning production will demonstrate unique perspective, fresh interpretation and defined approach, providing a one of a kind experience of unexpected storytelling. The winner will receive a coveted engraved 2Cents Piggy.

Aunt Lyla’s Fave Fringe Flyer

Matt: The Gathering

Aunt Lyla’s Fave Fringe Flyer recognizes superb flyer design and the winner(s) receive an award plague showcasing the winning flyer.

Fight the Power Award

Start Swimming

Fight The Power Award is granted for performance, writing, direction combined "to create a powerful piece that moves the needle in social justice, inclusiveness, normalization of reality, and forward-thinking art." Winners receive a custom ‘Fight the Power’ trophy.

No Room In The Green Room Award

Borracho: Spanish For Drunken Bum

MB Stage Productions No Room In The Green Room Award "goes to those who like to challenge themselves to have a full audience and an even fuller stage."  Winner(s) are awarded a trophy and recognition on MB Stage Productions, LLC’s website, social media and digital laurels.

O Face Award For Orgasmic Achievement In Theatre: “Most Orgasmic Performance”

Macy Idzakovich – Flower Society

The O Face Award For Orgasmic Achievement In Theatre: 'Most Orgasmic Performance' Award singles out one production "for forging a connection between artist, audience and the divine, bringing all three together in an explosive theatrical experience that transcends convention and can only be regarded as 'Orgasmic.'" A 7th Annual O Face Award statuette is presented to the winner.

Showorks Don’t Wait. Create! Award

The Duchess & The Stripper

The ShoWorks Don’t Wait. Create! Award is awarded to "writers and creators who develop their own opportunities by producing original content and pushing the creative envelope from 'page to stage.'” The winner receives this 3rd Annual award statuette.

Soaring Solo Artist Award

Dear Jeff by Callie Ott

The 3rd Annual Soaring Solo Artist Award is presented by Soaring Solo LLC, Jessica Lynn Johnson & the Whitefire Theatre recognizes and celebrates "excellence in solo theatre within the Hollywood Fringe Community." The winner receives an award plaque, along with a spot to perform their winning solo show at the Whitefire Theatre’s SOLOFEST 2020.

Standout Song Award

“Smellay Lahk A Turkay (She Was)” Blackboxing

Standout Song Award honors "the song at Fringe that we feel represents the 'number one hit' of the festival. The song that we remember as we leave their show and keep thinking about as the festival goes on." The award involves "a fully funded/produced music video of the original song that will be published online."

Steve Kent Award

Earth Stories: Our Climate And Our Future

Steve Kent Award, named after co-founder of the legendary Company Theatre, the late Steve Kent,  "is given a piece of theatre that uses their art for to create political or social change within an individual and their community." and a trophy is awarded to the winner.

The Diverse Diva Award

Squeeze My Cans by Cathy Schenkelberg

The Diverse Diva Award is presented by the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, co-sponsored by City National Bank, and is awarded to a solo female identified artist performing  "cabaret, poetry, dance, as a singer-songwriter, vocalist, musician [or]  storyteller" selecting one "engaging and unique female identified artist who exemplifies what it means to be a 'Diverse Diva.'" The winner receives a framed award certificate, a performance spot in the LAWTF Wine Down Wednesday event, and a week-long stay at the Writer’s Well International Literary Retreat in Sharpsburg Georgia (including lodging.)

The Golden Key

The Pod

The show with the highest score will receive The Golden Key, a symbol of the production’s ability to unlock a new world for guests.

The Encore Award

The Encore! Producers Award represents the best of the Hollywood Fringe selected by venue producers, based on artistic merit and commercial potential. The extensions immediately follow the HFF2019 and run through July in participating fringe venues. Shows selected receive extensions "giving them the opportunity for additional audience, press, awards and extensions. Shows receive "at least one performance," following the Hollywood Fringe Festival, in July. Typically extensions are one to two performances, but longer runs are possible and are negotiated between venue and show producer.

The Inkwell Theater Playwright’s Promise Award

Butcher Holler Here We Come” By Casey Wimpee

The Inkwell Theater Playwright’s Promise Award, presented by the Inkwell Theater Development LAB, recognizes a writer of a Fringe production. The criteria for this fifth annual award is based on the play itself, not necessarily the production. The playwright of the winning production is invited to "participate in a number of special events and reading opportunities throughout our 2019-20 season" and receive a “Golden Pen” statuette.

The Outdoor Voices Festival “conversation Creation” Award

Dear Jeff: A Musical Comedy About Suicide & Domestic Abuse

The Outdoor Voices Festival “conversation Creation” Award honors the show that "encompasses all of the qualifications that make up a brilliant piece of socially relevant theater." The winner of the award receives a statuette and is invited to perform in the "Outdoor Voices Festival, Winter 2019" where a limited number shows are selected each year.

The Paul Koslo Memorial/Met theatre Award

A Time Traveler’s Guide To The Present

Sponsored by MET Theatre (MET Foundation) The Paul Koslo Memorial/Met theatre Award, in honor of the late MET Theatre founding member Paul Koslo, is given to "outstanding theatre makers who reflect that same bold, creative, and inspirational spirit as was possessed by our beloved Mr. Koslo." The winner receives a statuette, plaque, or "the like" along with "20 Free Rehearsal Hours (a $500 value) at the MET Theatre on the Paul Koslo Stage in the Great Scott space."

TPP’s Trope Buster!

Blackboxing

Sponsored by They Played Productions, LLC., TPP’s Trope Buster! is awarded to shows that "break the mold," disrupt the medium, and take the "expected roles or stories or themes or tropes of theatre and spin them off the axis into unknown territory."  Winners will receive an award created by producer and artist Thea Rivera specifically for this year’s TPP Trope Buster as well as a digital file listing your winning award.

LAFPI's Most Wanted Award

LAFPI's Most Wanted Award is granted in "recognition of the gender parity efforts and achievements by LA Theaters and Fringe Venues, focusing on female-identifying playwrights" and receive a certificate.

The LAFPI Most Wanted Awards:

Actors Company
Assistance League Theatre
Hudson Theatres
Lounge Theatres
Asylum @ McCadden Theatre
Asylum @ Studio C
The Hobgoblin Playhouse at The Arena Stage, Theatre of Arts
The New American Theatre
The New Collective

Fringe Runway Winners: 

1st Place- ANGELBIRD
2nd Place- THE HUMAN[OID] EXPERIENCE
3rd Place- Start Swimming
Honorable Mention – Mil Grus

Audience Winners:

1st Place – Squeeze My Cabaret
2nd Place – HAMILKONG

Best of Broadwater Award

The Best of Broadwater Award is awarded to a select few Hollywood Fringe productions that have performed at The Broadwater based on "their high level of artistry and excellence." Winners receive a statuette and certificate for their production during the Hollywood Fringe Festival Closing Night Ceremony and are offered an extension at one of The Broadwater’s four stages on Best of Broadwater Weekend July 5th-7th.

SCARLETT FEVER
LEAR / LOMAN – THE BEST OF INK @FRINGE
COME BACK!
THE LAST CROISSANT
GRAIL PROJECT
POCKETS
JOURNEY
LINCOLN 2020
SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS
EARTH STORIES: OUR CLIMATE AND OUR FUTURE
RIDE OR DIE: THE HIP-HOP MUSICAL
JORDAN MAVERICK HISTORY TEACHER
TEMPLE TANTRUM
NORMALER THAN EVERYONE
45 MILLIGRAMS
EARTH TO KAREN
THE FLOWER SOCIETY
SON OF A BITCH
ORANGUTAN
FOUR CLOWNS PRESENTS: SHAKEDOWN AT THE DUSTY SPUR!
COME ON DOWN
MR. YUNIOSHI
THE SAME ROOM
GHOST TOWN
RED, WHITE, BLACK & BLUE
DEAR JEFF: A MUSICAL COMEDY ABOUT SUICIDE & DOMESTIC ABUSE
THE DEATH OF SAM MOBEAN
MEET ME IN MIZZERY
ALIVE-ISH
IF TRUTH BE TOLD

Encore Extensions:

The Actors Company
#CANCELLED
BIRTHDAY
HAPPY HOUR
HUMAN FOUNTAINS
MANDY PICKS A HUSBAND
ORACLES AND MIRACLES
PUBLIC DOMAIN: THE MUSICAL
REWIND – A NEW 80’S POP MUSICAL
THE LONDON ROSE
[TITLE OF SHOW]

New American Theater
THE SCORPION AND THE FROG: A TIME-KILLER
LOOSE UNDERWEAR

Hudson Theater
COMEDY HOE
THE RIDE
GOLDFISH
EVA PERON BY COPI EN ESPAÑOL
AN YET ANOTHER EVENING WITH THE SISTAHS- UNSUNG SHEROES
LOVE, MADNESS, AND SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN
IT TAKES TWO: MUSICAL IMPROV WITH PEARCY & BYRNES
SWIPED

The New Collective
YOU TOO
YOU, AGAIN

The Complex Hollywood
2 FOR 1
ACID WASH LOVE
BLACKBOXING
CAVE GIRL THE MUSICAL
THE COLOR COLLECTIVE
CRACK WHORE, BULIMIC, GIRL-NEXT-DOOR
DEATH AND THE FOOL
FIVE
IF IT GOES THERE
KLINGON TAMBURLAINE
MY TRANS WIFE
THE NARCISSIST NEXT DOOR
OLIVIA WILDE DOES NOT SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE
PIT OF GOBLINS
POCKETMON! A PARODY MUSICAL
PRINCESS MAGIC’S TRASH TIME REVUE
PRODIGY
SEXUALMISADVENTURESOFASTRAIGHTWHITEMALE: APRIVILEGESTORY
SHIVA FOR ANNE FRANK
TALES FROM THE POWDER ROOM
THE MAYOR’S DEBATE OF TRANQUILITY, NEBRASKA
THIS WAY YONDER
VERY GOOD ACTOR: AN ACTING SEMINAR
WHAT I NEVER TOLD YOU
WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?
YES. NO. MAYBE.

Lounge Theatre
AN EXCUSE TO BEHAVE BADLY
CHRISSY METH – A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL AND THE JOURNEY BACK
CORINA, FROM LAP DANCE TO SUNDANCE
HIDE YOUR FIRES: BUTOH LADY MACBETH
HOLLYWOODN’T
(IM)PERFEKT
TO RICHARD!
A BIT MUCH
CLEMENTINE
FERTILE.
IF WE RUN
LEAVING PRINCE CHARMING

Studio/Stage
BAT KNIGHT!
BATTER UP! MY BRAIN ON BASEBALL
CRABBE AND GOYLE ARE DEAD
DISROBED
LIFE PLAN, OR LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE IN A COLLAPSING WORLD
THE JOURNEY OF THE LITTLE PRINCE
PHO GIRL
TATTERED CAPES
SILENT JOY, A NEW PLAY
SUGARFREE: FOSTER CARE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

The Hobgoblin Playhouse at the Arena Stage
EARTH & FIRE WALKING (TIERRA Y FUEGO QUE CAMINA)
SHE KILLS MONSTERS
RADICALS
TABLETOP (THE MUSICAL)
THE BULLY PROBLEM

McCadden Theater
GUNFIGHT AT THE NOT-SO-OK SALOON
LET’S WRITE A MUSICAL
MIL GRUS
MONKEY MIND
NO MORE TOYS
SIREN CALL
STRAIGHT WHITE MEN TRYING TO WOKE
Thymele Arts
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.

Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
BUNNY THE ELF LIVE!
GEORGE.
GREENWOOD 1964
OUT OF THE BLUE
RAISED BY WOLVES
SORRY ABOUT MY FRIEND
SWIPE RIGHT: THE MUSICAL
THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME
THE HUMAN[OID] EXPERIENCE
TOBINCON

Studio C
AMERICAN STRANGER
ASK A BLACK WOMAN
DANDY DARKLY’S ALL ABOARD!
DEAR JEFF: A MUSICAL COMEDY ABOUT SUICIDE & DOMESTIC ABUSE
DOUBLE FEATURE: THE ORIGINAL ENGLISH & MURDERFUCK
I AM NOT A MAN
JAMBA JUICE: THE MUSICAL
MORAL FIXATION (ORIGINALLY TITLED BOYS
WILL BE BOYS)
MR. YUNIOSHI
ONE HUMP HEART
PAPER TRAILS
SPEAK I WILL: A FRACTURED SHAKESPEARE
SUPPORTIVE WHITE PARENTS
TEMPLE TANTRUM
THE LAST POWERPOINT
THE MASHER
THE ONE-MAN IMPROVISED MUSICAL
SEVEN
ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS