Post Mortem Movement Theater uses movement to explore Hamletmachine

I Was Hamlet
Post Mortem Movement Theater’s I Was Hamlet comes to the Hollywood Fringe Festival following its debut last December at the George Burns Soundstage at UCLA. Adapted by Kyle Johnston, Angel Correa, Emily Josephine, and Angela Lopez (who also directs), the one hour piece is a physical adaptation of Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine. It explores issues of gender and identity, abuse of power, and the tortured nature of performance by combining the grotesque and the awe-inspiring via dance, acrobatics, and various other physical disciplines.

The company has previously received awards for their Fringe productions of Charivari in Voyeurville and Ravens and Writing Desks. Remaining performances are Friday, June 17 (8pm), Sunday, June 19 (1:30 pm) and Saturday, June 25 (5:30 pm) at Actors Company’s Other Space Theater, 916 N. Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046. Tickets: http://hff16.org/3614.

I was Hamlet

I was Hamlet

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Get Your Shakespeare On with Twelfth Night at the Fringe

Twelfth Night
A group of students from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television are currently encoring their production of Twelfth Night at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, following a brief but very successful run on campus. In this Shakespeare classic tale of mistaken identities, audience participation is not only encouraged, it is often unwillingly imposed, so beware! Director Will Block fills us in.

Will, why did you decide to produce Twelfth Night at the Fringe?

The play is incredibly relevant in today’s cell phone obsessed society. All of the characters are so caught up in preserving their own sense of self that they neglect forming personal relationships with anyone around them. Viola and Sebastian serve as a disrupting influence that causes the characters to begin to genuinely reach out to each other, with variously happy and disastrous results. I think this reflects where we are today. My generation, thanks to social media, is so caught up with perception, and less so with communication.

Is there anything particularly unusual about the show?

There is no fourth wall in our production. The actors very much play this play with the audience, not for them or to them or at them. We think this is how these words need to be spoken – acknowledging the audience allows everything to become more active – and it’s a practice that’s becoming rarer and rarer.

Why would fringe-goers love to see it?

This production is full-blooded and bare bones. There are no scenic elements and few costumes. This places a greater emphasis on Shakespeare’s words, and the line of the narrative itself. We think Fringe-goers will appreciate this, as well as our extensive audience participation (get ready to dance).

For tickets and more information go to http://hff16.org/3606.

MacDeth! Raises Money for Pulse Victims with Friday Performance

Ryan J-W Smith - MacDeth

Award-winning British poet and playwright, Ryan J-W Smith, artistic director of Rogue Shakespeare®, has announced that 100% of the box office of this Friday’s performance of his new verse comedy, MacDeth!, will be donated to the GoFundMe campaign Support Victims of Pulse Shooting.

“Every available ticket has been made ‘Pay What You Can’ – with a suggested donation of $100,” says Smith. “I do not want to politicize what we are doing – we just want to do something to help the victims of this horrific attack. Let’s sell-out Friday night, please give what you can to support those in need, and hopefully this will encourage other shows to do the same. We all live in luxury here, we can all afford to donate a little cash – and at least one night’s work.”

MacDeth! is currently playing at the Ruby Theatre on Hollywood. Friday’s performance starts at 10pm. For tickets and more information, visit http://hff16.org/3680.

Shakespeare at the Fringe: Taming of the Show Goes Caveman

Taming of the ShowLittle Candle Productions brings its world premiere of the new musical Taming of the Show by Blake Waker to this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. The 55-minute farce takes the audience through the outlandish and hysterical rehearsal process of a dysfunctional production of Shrew set in caveman times. It will run June 5 – 25 in the Sacred Fools Theatre’s Black Box.

A line has been drawn in the sand betwixt actors and crewmembers. Never the twain shall meet. And yet… Eddie Littlejeans, the assistant stage manager of a dysfunctional production of Taming of the Shrew dares to harbor a flame for the leading lady. Can love find a way backstage? In what might be considered Noises Off! meets Misery (with singing and dancing!) the show within a show goes terribly wrong, while Taming of the Show gets it just right.

The cast includes Jeff DeCrosta (Eddie), Chineze Enekwechi (Annie), Marc Forget (Montana Stanislavski), Greg Steinbrecher (Brayden), Steve Peterson (Hillary), Paula Deming (Betty), and Anthony Papastrat (Ronald Jeremy). Musical direction is by Billy Gill and the show is produced by Karissa McKinney and Lynn Downey Braswell.

TAMING OF THE SHOW
June 5 – 25, 2016
Little Candle Productions at Sacred Fools Theatre: Black Box
6322 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90038.
Tickets: $12 ($10 with Hollywood Fringe Festival Button)
http://hff16.org/3418

Hollywood Gets Bloody with Kids when Titus Andronicus Jr. Hits the Fringe

Titus Jr.

Table 8 Productions makes its Hollywood Fringe Festival debut June 5th with a twisted premiere of Titus Andronicus, Jr., written and directed by Troy Heard, at Sacred Fools’ Second Stage.

The premise: Benjamin, a recently divorced art teacher at upscale Dawson Middle School, is assigned the most unenviable task of directing the spring play. When he opts to mount Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy he gets caught in a darkly comic spiral as the students supplant the teacher and he learns the toughest lesson of them all.

Titus Andronicus Jr. originated two years ago when Heard staged A Very Merry Unauthorized Scientology Pageant with a cast of young children. “After Pageant, I had people coming up to me saying I should do Shakespeare with children, which didn’t really interest me. But I thought if only there were a gimmick…and that’s where the idea of doing Titus popped up. I took inspiration from the pageant scenes in The Addams Family movies.”

But that still wasn’t enough for Heard. “The framing concept of the teacher/director suffering a nervous breakdown developed about a year later,” he says. “Who else would be insane enough to attempt to stage this show with a bunch of middle schoolers than a teacher at the end of his rope. So ‘Mr. Benjamin’ quickly became a major character and in some ways his descent into madness mirrors General Titus’s tragic decline.”

A public reading of the script took place at UNLV’s Organic and Homegrown Playwrights Festival in March and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Audiences expecting a quirky evening of children performing Shakespeare were instead given a darkly comic journey.

Sounds perfect for the Fringe…

TITUS ANDRONICUS, JR.
June 5 – 18, 2016 (8pm)
Sacred Fools Theater Second Stage
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Running Time: 60 minutes
Ticket: $12 at hff16.org/3410 or at the door

Interview: Ryan J-W Smith and his Fringe Favorite, Love Labours Won

Love Labours Won

Ryan J-W Smith as Duke Caesus

Shakespeare was a clear favorite this year at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Among the award-winning productions was Ryan J. Smith’s Love Labours Won, which received two fringe awards: The International Award and an Encore Producers’ Award. Back by popular demand, the show has extended through August 6th and will play Thursday nights at 8pm in the Dorie Theatre. Is it a sequel to Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost like the title might imply? I asked Ryan to tell us about the play, which sounds delightful.  More

Fringe Review: Bright Swords, Very Highly Recommended

Bright Swords

Bright Swords has three essential elements that make it one of the most polished, intelligent, and satisfying productions at Fringe: an elegant performance by Ryan Vincent Anderson, a beautifully written, smart, funny, human script by playwright Rick Creese, and stylish, impeccably focused direction by director Jeffrey Wienckowski.

Alone on stage, Anderson takes the audience through the challenges and triumphs of one of the most important but little-known early actors of the theatre. Ira Aldridge was the first African American to play Othello on a London stage at a time when actors of color were often nothing more than figures to be laughed at. His determination to portray his characters as men rather than stereotypes was revolutionary in the 19th century. He challenged prejudices by remaining true to his artistic heart, declaring he was the best case for abolition and wouldn’t have it any other way.  More

Love Labours Won has its U.S. Premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

Love Labours Won

Rogue Shakespeare® (theatre company) makes its long-awaited U.S. premiere of celebrated poet Ryan J-W Smith’s award-winning third verse play, Love Labours Won at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Love Labours Won is an original, comedic Shakespearean pastiche written entirely in Elizabethan-style rhyming iambic verse and one of the most acclaimed plays ever to come out of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was Pick of the Fringe two years running; garnered multiple 4 and 5 star reviews, an Arts Council England award, and played to packed houses.

Smith directs and stars in the 65-minute production, which also features a cast of six international actors including Seth Leslie, Carol Vandegrift, Cameran Surles, James Hansen, Stephen Tyler Howell, and Elyse Sharp, at the newly renamed Acme Theatre on Hollywood Theatre Row. And, according to press materials, the audience will be treated to free organic chocolate at every performance…(perhaps in anticipation of a sweet ending?)

Ryan J-W Smith is a world-renowned British poet, playwright, director, producer, actor and filmmaker. He has written 4 critically acclaimed plays in rhyming iambic verse, over 1280 (and counting) Shakespearean Sonnets, was nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and is currently completing his debut feature documentary 2plus2makes4 starring himself, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Ed Asner, Tony-nominated Daniel Sunjata, Professor Noam Chomsky and the late Emmy-nominated Gore Vidal. Smith’s previous films have received over 25 film festival selections, nominations and wins.

LOVE LABOURS WON
June 19 – 27, 2015
Rogue Shakespeare
Acme Theatre
6470 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
Tickets: http://hff15.org/2653

Fringe Review: The Porters of Hellsgate – BREAKING BARD

Breaking Bard - The Porters

Gus Krieger and Jesse James Thomas. Photo credit: Zach Andrews

This theatrical parody of a TV favorite has Fringe hit written all over it. Get your tickets now because the theater only has about 40 seats and this show is quickly going to sell out. It should. Gus Krieger’s writing is smart, compact, wickedly funny, and exactly what you hope it will be when you picture a Walter White world with William Shakespeare dialogue.

The show is full of surprises but far be it from me to spoil them for you. I’ll only highlight one bit of brilliant writing; Krieger’s transformation of Shakespeare’s “Seven ages of man” into the “seven stages of cooking meth.” It’s worth the price of admission for that speech alone.

Characterized by fast-paced scenes that establish the chronology, hit the joke, land, and move on, and well-cast actors (seriously, every one of them nails his or her role/s), who find the comic hook for each character, it’s the kind of show that keeps you involved from beginning to end. As the aha moments stack up, so do the laughs.

Krieger has White down – the look, the stance, the serious consideration he gives to every problem at hand – even the singular way he reasons through to a solution. It’s a perfect fit for the actor/playwright and an inspired pairing if ever there was one. Jesse James Thomas trades street punk Jesse Pinkman’s trademark “bitch” moniker for “wench,” stretching it out a little longer each time as he comically flaunts the character’s vocal cadence.

Thomas Bigley makes an out-of-left-field cameo appearance late in the play that provides the perfect capper to the entire show. All that and a toilet on stage too. It’s a winner!

Ellen Dostal
Shakespeare in LA

BREAKING BARD
June 6 – 28, 2015
Asylum Lab at Theatre Asylum,
1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: $10 at http://hff15.org/2146

Fringe Review: R&J, a gender-reversed Romeo and Juliet

R&J Mine is Yours

I confess to being very confused by the production. In this modern twist on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, women play men and men play women. Or rather, women play male characters as men and men play female characters as women…I think.

My confusion comes with the use of pronouns and lack of consistency in the costuming. For example, Romeo is played by a woman and is now called Romea (Mary Ellen Schneider) and referred to as “she” and “my wife” but she’s playing the role as if she were a man. The same is true of the rest of the female actors. Their stance and posturing is male, and their energy is masculine, but they’re still referred to in the feminine. They’re even dressed mainly in gender-neutral leggings and vests with a masculine edge, and vice versa. The two female roles – Juliet, now Julian (Dane Oliver), and the Nurse (Alan Blumenfeld) – are men playing women as if they were women but they’re referred to in the masculine and dressed in men’s button down shirts and trousers. It’s confusing to even describe it.  More

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