What’s Next?

It is often said that people don’t do theater because they want to, they do it because they have to. This may be especially true of the indie theater artists that ply their trade at fringe festivals. We asked the performers in the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival what their future plans were and here’s some of their answers.

Dr. Christina Johns of A Night in Wilkes Ferry: We will be doing the show in various locations. We always do the show as a benefit for anyone raising money for cats.

Keith Haddock of Hitler in the Gereen Room: I actually want to expand Hitler in the Green Room into a full length 2-act musical production. I think it could have legs. I’ve also considered making what I have of it so far into a musical web series.

David Kleinberg of Return to the Scene of the Crime: I’m just getting started with Return to the Scene of the Crime. This coming January will mark the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, and at that time, I’d love to perform Hey, Hey, LBJ! one night, and the sequel Return the next. I’d like to think that would be some remarkable back-to-back theater.

Irma Herrera of Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?: I have a show on November 15, 2017 at The Marsh Theatre in San Francisco as part of the Marsh Rising Series. I’d love to get a run at The Marsh. I have also taken my play to San Antonio, Texas and plan to return with performances in S. Texas next spring at a couple of universities and some community theatre. I’m exploring performing in other cities as well.

Debra Ryll of Religomania (a.k.a. “Holy Crap!”): Once we see it performed - along with audience reaction and feedback - we’ll brainstorm the next step.

Sinohui Hinojosa of Submitted For Your Approval: I am currently working on a comedy puppet show, in the vein of Colbert or the Daily Show with content that would change weekly based on current events. I am also directing a feature film this winter, plus I am the cofounder of the San Jose International Short Film Festival coming this year December 7th-10th.

Marion Lovinger of To be or not to be, telle est la question !: I would still like to be part of a theater company and perform lines that I did not write. But developing my solo performance To be or not to be... is my first goal and I will look for any occasion to perform it in the future.

Kelly Nesbitt of Poonstruck: New Frontiers in Vaginal Consciousness (VAGCON™): I am interested in the process. I feel as though Poonstruck™ found me, and so I am going with it as long as it serves me. Its true I daydream about staging Dr Tallulah’s funeral as a performance, and that may very well happen (if I get a grant to die). But I really cannot say. That is the fun part. Maybe she will vanish? Maybe she will shape-shift? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that one focus leads to the next. Stay weird. Keep on having integrity in what you do. And revert back to James Baldwin’s words if you get stuck.

Jaye Lee Vocque of A Day At The Beach: Personally, I continue to perform my award winning one-man story-telling show Based On Actual Events. I continue to write shows for Ultrasuede Productions and our new Performing troupe ShakesPOP. As for the future of A Day At The Beach we are looking for more Festivals to take it to.

Sue Bevan of An Audience With Shurl: From here I travel briefly back to NYC where I performed An Audience With Shurl last month, and then on to Toronto for two nights in a cute little theatre there. After that I’m getting some bookings in from the UK. I’d love to tour Scandinavia with it, and it went down tremendously in South Africa, so I’d really like to return there and tour more widely. I have the seeds of plans to take it to the Welsh community in Patagonia (I’m Welsh) and deliver a bilingual show there - watch this space! But I’m also in the early stages of producing the play for which I won the award - Mum’s The Word. Our early try-out tour had a phenomenal response.

Charley Lerrigo of $wampland: The seven playwrights who created the script for $wampland have been invited to share their invividual scenes on their own, or ,,,as some, including myself, who are thinking about expanding their 10 minute work into more substantial pieces. I expect to expand the piece I wrote about two school teachers (one African American and one Caucasian) have to go beyond the problem of guns in their schools to see how race does matter in their their own personal friendships. I want to go beyond the particular issue to explore how it’s relationships that make for lasting justice and peace.

Sherri Rose of How Not To Die: As my director, Kimberly Lester, likes to say, How Not To Die is a socio-political comedy.” So, I’d love to take the show on a Fundraising for Liberal/Progressive Causes Tour. We might call it How Not To Die: Because the World Needs You! I’d love to hear suggestions from folks after they see the show – both for groups to perform it for and a fun title.

Amy Mihyang Ginther of Homeful: We hope to take Homeful to other cities, and perhaps to a University tour, since the premise is the show is that I graduate college and I have no idea what to do with my life. I am currently working on a number of devised projects that center narratives of color.

And of course there’s the other perspective ...

Emily Scott of Book of Emily (Part One): I don’t like making plans.
Beth Cockrell, Michelle Talgarow, Curtis Overacre,
Benedict Conran, Dan Ransom, Amanda Ortmayer,
Nicole Gluckstern, and Teresa Hernandez

Those Fringe Techies
Have Just Too Much Fun

You may not know it, but Fringe Techies have a theme day each year at the Fringe. This is Cowboy Day at the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival.
Join Us For The
Closing Night Party
Tonight September 23
at EXIT Theatre

Come and celebrate the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival with good food, good cheer, good fringers and awards.
Best of the Fringe
3 Benefit Performances
To Support the 2018 SF Fringe
Tickets $20 -- 7PM Tonight
Saturday September 23, 2017
-- see either
Expeditious Intent
Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth
Apply To Perform
In The
2018 SF Fringe
The San Francisco Fringe Festival will begin accepting applications on December 1, 2018 to perform in the 2018 Fringe Fest. Applications will be accepted online on the Fringe website until Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018. Performers will then be selected by lottery.

Eric Rubin performing at The After Hours Cabaret.
Photo Kelly Nesbitt

The After Hours Cabaret
Tonight, Friday September 22 10-11pm

Join us tonight in the EXIT Cafe for the final After Hours Cabaret of the 2017 San Franciasco Fringe Festival. Members of the Fringe community and friends look to show off a talent or take an artistic risk for the entertainment of their peers, whether that’spying a song, performing a monologue, reading a poem, juggling, turning a magic trick, or who knows what else! Curated by Stuart Bousel.
What Inspires a Fringe Show?

“The urgency in this year’s Fringe also feels particular to what the Fringe is and has always been. It is the least mediated of all Bay Area theater. Neither artistic director nor selection committee chooses the lineup; it’s all by lottery.” -- Lily Janiak, SF Chronicle

Because the San Francisco Fringe Festival is open to all artists and is totally non-censored each year’s lottery selection surfaces a certain cultural zeitgeist reflecting the world around the Fringe. This year a number of plays were inspird by recent, or not so recent, political events. Here the creators of Hitler in the Green Room, A Day At the Beach, $wampland, and Religomania discusss the genesis of their shows.

Keith Haddock on the inspiration for Hitler in the Green Room
The kernel of Hitler in the Green Room came to me a couple years ago, though it was pretty vague. I didn’t get into the Fringe that year so I shelved it. Then Trump got elected and it all came to me in a flood. It’s like my subconscious was working on it for two years. Of course the idea was to take a satirical poke at Trump via the Nazi metaphor. And every Fringe Festival needs its zany Hitler show. I also thought that a drag queen Hitler impersonator was hysterical.

Jaye Lee Vocque on the inspiration for A Day At The Beach
The original concept for the show was years ago while people watching at a beach in Florida. Two women, seemingly strangers, sat near me and chatted all day. They were polar opposites but enjoyed the company. I jotted down the idea but knew I wanted something more for the story. Then November of 2016 happened and I saw everyone I care about scared and grieving. So I came up with what I thought was a far-fetched scenario as a setting in which these two could meet.

Charley Lerrigo on the inspiration for $wampland
The trigger for $wampland was, of course, the shock and NAW!!! of the 2016 election. Donald Trump was elected and has started to remake American in his image. It didn’t take long for six award winning playwrights I knew to meet in an Oakland home and figure out what they thought were appropriate theatrical responses to what we’re calling “the current adversity.” Our goal? to “uplift and energize audiences.”

Debra Ryll on the inspiration for Religiomania (a.k.a. “Holy Crap!”)
I believed in religious tolerance... until 9/11. At that point I started reading everything I could about religion, but it wasn’t until I read “God Is Not Great” by Christopher HItchens that “the scales fell from my eyes.” Religion is supposed to keep us together, but it’s been keeping us apart for thousands of years. I dropped all my other projects and convinced my friend and co-writer Michele Rundgren to collaborate. We both had kids and were concerned for their futures... what if religious zealots got their hands on nuclear weapons? We developed our play in fits and starts while raising our children, working multiple jobs... and doing endless loads of laundry.
Best of the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival Benefit Performances !
Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth, Nigga-Roo, and Expeditious Intent return September 23rd for one performance each to benefit the 2018 SF Fringe. Tickets $20 at All Best of Fringe shows are at the same time so you must choose just one!
House Manager, and avid Daily Starr reader Glen Michelleti.
Photo Nicole Gluckstern
Closing Night Party
Saturday September 23
at EXIT Theatre
156 Eddy Street
Come and celebrate the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival with good cheer, good fringers and awards.

Sue Bevan in An Audience With Shurl

An Audience With Shurl

Every year there are Fringe shows that weave their way into the hearts of other Fringe performers, and the Fringe community at large, but have a hard time finding an audience. This year the Welsh performer Sue Bevan’s An Audience With Shurl is one of those shows.

Kim Chinh of Reclaiming Vietnam said “Sue Bevan’s many-layered play gave me chills.” Karene Vocque of A Day at the Beach called An Audience With Shurl a “fantastic tale that I couldn’t stop listening to” and Denise Dee of Rebel Seer said “Sue Bevan strips herself bare on the stage.” Jo Tomalin, who has reviewed 15 SF Fringe shows for the rates it “Highly Recommended” and says “Shurl is a force of nature, she’s personable, dynamic and part diva!”

Sue studied for a Masters in Contemporary Theatre, years after her first degree in Politics and Economics and a long career teaching and lecturing before finally embracing her passion for theatre. But it took winning an international award for her first play to convince her that she had a voice people might want to hear. For the last two years she’s been Artist-in-Residence (theatre-maker) on a little island off the south coast of England and as she says “Some of us just have to wait for the right time - and mine is now!”

About Shurl, Sue says “Performing a cabaret slot some time back as The Diva From The (Welsh) Valleys it seemed to me I had a great character to develop. Shurl emerged from that, and this show grew out of my own experience of losing my first child to adoption when I was just a child myself. It weaves autobiographical detail with rich magical realism, comedy with some seriously tragic moments. First produced with two live jazz musicians and detailed tech, I found myself paring it back and back then back some more, and with each refining it grew ever stronger as a piece, finally getting a nomination at the Prague Fringe for their prestigious Outstanding Performance Award, alongside great 4 Star reviews in the UK and South African Press.”

From San Francisco Sue returns briefly to NYC where she performed An Audience With Shurl last month, and then goes on to Toronto for two nights in a “cute little theatre.” Then she has some bookings back in the UK and hopes to return to South Africa, where the show had a tremendous response, and she wants to take it to the Welsh community in Patagonia and deliver a bilingual show.

The final performance at the SF Fringe of An Audience With Shurl is Saturday September 23 at 4pm.
Frequent Fringers Don Wood and Patrick Simms.
Photo Nicole Gluckstern

Ask an...Audience Member!
(We certainly couldn’t have a Fringe Festival without AUDIENCE! Thanks guys!)

Q: As an audience member, what is different to you about being in the audience at Fringe as compared to other shows?

A: (Dapper Man about Town, Patrick Simms) It’s a festival, so it has a festival atmosphere. I also always run into a LOT of people I recognize when I come, some of whom I may not have seen since last year’s Fringe. And when you walk into the cafe, you see that it’s happening to other folks too, them running into people they recognize and haven’t seen in a while and are glad to see.

(Frequent Fringer, Don Wood) I’m going to mirror Patrick’s statement. I like the blend of the familiar and the unfamiliar—the familiar being all the people I recognize when I come to the Fringe, the unfamiliar being all the new shows!

Editor’s Note: Don Wood will appear in EXIT Theatre’s production of Eugene Ionesco’s Exit The King opening March 16, 2018.
Best of the Fringe Benefit Performances of Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth, Nigga-Roo, and Expeditious Intent now on sale at 7pm September 23
Benefit Tickets $20. Support Indie Theater
Closing Night Party
Saturday September 23
at EXIT Theatre
156 Eddy Street
Come and celebrate the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival with good cheer, good fringers and awards.

Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth, Nigga-Roo, and Expeditious Intent
Best of the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival Benefit Performances Announced !

Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth, Nigga-Roo, and Expeditious Intent return September 23rd for one performance each to benefit the 2018 SF Fringe. Tickets $20 at All Best of Fringe shows are at the same time so you must choose just one!

DANDY DARKLY, New York City’s alt-cabaret, cult sensation with a masterful and mesmerizing style of Southern gothic storytelling, made his San Francisco debut at the SF Fringe. Time Out magazine said he combines “fantastical fairytale horror, equal parts Tennessee Williams, Edgar Allen Poe and Bruce LaBruce with a dash of Brothers Grimm for good measure.”

NIGGA-ROO, by Oakland’s Dazié Grego-Sykes, is a humorous, “dark” “In Your Face” commentary on racism and its impact on the Black individual in a Nigga-centric culture. SF Fringe audiences said “Bravo! This show is the most avant garde performance art piece in the SF Fringe festival” and “I cannot recommend this work by Dazié enough. The raw truthful heartfelt words live at the intersection of a life lived on the edge and center of one’s heart and soul.”

Fringe performers raved about EXPEDITIOUS INTENT, saying it “reaches down into the dark depths of insanity utilizing a cornucopia of lunatic characters in surreal and real situations. Highly recommended!” and “Rarely have I seen anyone with such a mix of flamboyance and sincerity … If you’re ready to go on an amusement park ride through a room where you are not sure what is coming next with a stand-up comic/punk/boy you wished lived next door well then this is the show for you.”
Hamlet’s Lines
Through a Deeply Personal Lens

Memorizing and reciting Shakespeare is often a daunting task for native English speakers. When the unmistakably French Marion Lovinger faced having to unpack the layers of meaning in Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy and commit it all to memory in a theater workshop, she was seriously intimidated. But when her teacher advised her to freely associate the words with whatever came to mind, the language came alive and she realized that those lines could be applied to many modern situations. This free association with events in her own life forms the core of Lovinger’s To be or not to be, tell est la question, playing at EXIT Studio during the Fringe.

Through each snippet of the soliloquy, Lovinger takes her audience on a personal journey through her history, from peering into her childhood family dramas in the French countryside to exploring her family’s experiences evading the Nazis during World War II to experiencing the aging and passing of her parents. Many of Lovinger’s subjects are difficult but she handles each with heavy doses of humor. One audience member said that Lovinger is “a witty performer, self-deprecating, aware, funny and intelligent. While mostly humorous, there were some truly poignant moments that had me tearing up in a surprising way.” Another audience member said the play “‘untangles’ aspects of being human that we often don’t speak aloud but hold inside as little ropes, binding us into structures we don’t even see.”

Lovinger says that she was a part of theater production as an actress from her school days, in college and as an adult in France. In the US, however, she found it difficult to find a theater company to perform with unless the company needed a French character. She says her solo performance is the perfect vehicle for her to write and perform in English on her own terms. Although she would love to find a company to perform with, her priority now is continuing to develop To be or not to be, tell est la question, and perform the show wherever she can in the future.

At one point, Lovinger nearly gave up writing until she read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and found the following quote towards the end: “Whether ‘tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them...

But you don’t do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy.” Lovinger says that quote captures her point exactly.

The final performance of To be or not to be, tell est la question isThursday, September 21 at 8:30pm in the EXIT Studio.

Emily Scott of Book of Emily (Part One)
Book of Emily (Part One)
Writer Emily Scott takes the audience on a wild journey—punctuated by song, dance, and roller skates—through Part One of her life story. As she explains, Scott initially wrote Book of Emily in an effort to combat the author’s loneliness after moving back to her hometown of Palo Alto following eight fast-paced years in NYC. Not just another angsty coming of age story, Scott opens up about her inner demons and tackles topics such as eating disorders, depression and, of course, gymnastics.

The show debuted at the Dragon Theatre in Redwood City. It has continued to evolve with every performance as Scott delves deeper into her own truth. Deeply personal, but resonating with universal emotional experiences, Book of Emily takes on the struggles we all face in the search for love and the sometimes very bad decisions we make along the way.

Scott engages the audience and incorporates improvisation, meaning you will never see the same show twice. Skipping through her youth, Scott shares her memories of growing up in Palo Alto, in a seemingly typical middle-class childhood. She soon discovers a troubling compulsion for food. Scott explores the many methods of escape she developed to deal with her addiction. Along the way, she chronicles successes and failures in the theatre world, culminating in a dream-come-true opening in New York City. A twisted bad romance and other tragedies soon bring her right back home to California.

No excuses, unapologetic, Book of Emily is as promised: a chance to get to know Emily Scott. The Fringe invites you to get to know her too. Book of Emily will be performed for the final time during the Fringe at EXIT Stage Left on Wednesday, September 20 at 7:00 p.m.
Ask a...Perfomer!
(We certainly couldn’t have a Fringe Festival without PERFORMERS! Thanks guys!)
Q: In brief, what does it mean “to Fringe?”
(cast and playwright of A Day at the Beach, clockwise from top)
Jaye Lee Voque: Live
Mariah Cardoza: Art
Karene Voque: Freedom
(from How not to Die)
Sherri Rose: To explore, to connect, and to create.
(from Expeditious Intent)
James Sunquist: Being a part of San Francisco theatre, for performers and audience, both.
(from Rebel Seer)
Denise Dee: To fringe? To binge!
(from Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?)
Irma Hererra: A chance to put my work before people who might not otherwise see it, and a chance for me to see shows by others I may never have seen before.

Kelly Nesbitt as Dr Tallulah. Photo Credit: Amanda Cotois

POONSTRUCK: New Frontiers in Vaginal Consciousness (VAGCON™)

Theatrical inspiration comes in many forms. The Daily Starr caught up with Dr Tallulah, the fiery sexual activist, zen cosmetologist, and vaginal consciousness pioneer, to talk to her about the inspiration for her show and how she got involved in theater.

It was born from porn! A couple years ago I made and submitted a 5 minute amateur porn film for Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival which starred my character Dr Tallulah. From that I was asked to perform in a sex-positive theater festival produced by Dance Naked Productions. It was in these live performances that the character Dr Tallulah really came to life. The greatest inspiration in her development was that this festival had asked each performer to draw from their own personal sexual experience and to be vulnerable. As a result, POONSTRUCK™ walks the line between the character’s voice and the writer’s in a hilarious and heartfelt way.

When I was a child, I dreamed of being on the Gong Show and I watched hours of syndicated TV to include; Archie Bunker, Carol Burnett, SNL, In Living Color, MTV, and more. One of my first theatrical memories was jumping into the frame of my dad’s super 8 camera. I loved being in the spotlight. My neighborhood cohorts and I were in a fake KISS rock band together. I was a dancer growing up. As a young adult, I gravitated towards collectives of mixed media artists (musicians, printmakers, dancers, activists, videographers, poets) which proved to be prolific creative years. From there I participated in clown, physical theater, or somatic process based workshops and residencies.

Folks of varied backgrounds, genders, and ages seem to be effected by Dr Tallulah’s heartfelt story. We can all relate to dying alone or yearning for intimacy. What’s interesting is how Dr Tallulah makes you laugh about it all. This is not just for the femmes. Everybody is welcome. No vagina is needed to tap into the fold!
(left to rght) Peter Sroka, Jenny Rand, Colin Timmins,
Chris Callahan, and Rey Zegri in Hitler in the Green Room.
Photo: S. O’Neil

Hitler in the Green Room:
the Keith Haddock interview

What began as a vaguely envisioned romp through an “alternative history” of a particularly fraught period in time, has morphed due to circumstances not originally predicted into actual political satire. And although for any even fair-weather theatre-goer the idea of a Third Reich-based musical will automatically bring Springtime for Hitler to mind, Fringe veteran Keith Haddock prefers to view Hitler in the Green Room with a more activist lens.

The Daily Starr: What inspired the creation of this particular piece?

Keith Haddock: I came up with the idea of Hitler in the Green Room a couple years ago, submitted it to the Fringe but didn’t get past the lottery. Then Trump got elected and the juices started flowing and everything clicked. After I got through the lottery (this year), I went to work writing the script and music to what I thought was just going to be merely a twisted and fabulous story that skewered Trump via the Nazi metaphor. When the tragedy Charlottesville unfolded...we were really on pins and needs about people misinterpreting our show. But we talked through it, adjusted the ending to be a little less ambiguous, and were finally reassured by publicist Gary Carr that no, in fact, people will look to our show for relief and humor, satire being the deepest of criticism.

DS: Does the play have any basis in historical fact, meaning the part about the impersonation of Hitler? Or is this an alternate-reality Hitler and co.?

KSH: I think I’ve settled on the idea that it’s an alternate reality, not some sort of secret history. Like the ending of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, in which Hitler and the Nazi high command get killed in a movie theater. That said, Ernst Rohm was, in reality, a gay Nazi who loved going to the shady cabarets of Weimar and post-Weimar Berlin. There were comedic Hitler impersonators and drag shows of all varieties...This led to my plot point that Ernie, as we call him in the show, knew where to find a Hitler impersonator when the Fuhrer fell ill — at a notorious cabaret called The El Dorado in Berlin. Additionally, it was rumored that Hitler himself had Jewish lineage under the name Schicklgruber. This is how I developed the faded cabaret drag performer named Martin Schicklgruber, who happens to look a lot like Adolf Hitler.

DS: You’re a two-time Best of SF Fringe winner. What keeps you coming back for more?

KSH: I think really that I’m just compulsive. I like writing stories and songs and performing. The number of unpublished novels, unproduced scripts and castaway songs that exist in boxes and on my computer is alarming. Then once in awhile, a conduit for expression comes up like a Fringe Festival or a band (for instance, The Gravel Spreaders). This is the first show I’ve put up that I’m not actually in and I like it — way less pressure.

DS: You have a BA in psychology. Do you find that comes in handy when you’re creating characters or determining motivation?

KSH: I’ve long held that being educated in psychology informs all my work. It’s made me a life-long studier of the human condition, of the contradictory light and dark nature of human motivation. Existential desperation and unexpected heroism are common motifs in all my stories.
Thank You Sue!

The San Francisco Fringe Festival, and by extension fringe festivals around the world, is a community. One of the most active members of that community this year in San Francisco has been Sue Bevan who brought her show An Audience With Shurl all the way from Ryde in the United Kingdom. She has performed at the After Hours Cabaret, seen shows, posted reviews, and been an all-round Fringer. Here’s her posting on the Fringe Review site.

What a fantastic fringe festival to be part of – great people, tech, venues, bar…fabulous chance to meet audience and other performers after shows (and before). And 100% of ticket sales to the artist? A life-saver. Thank you, SFF!!
Sue Bevan


Here at the Fringe, we’ve a fondness for the bizarre, the unexpected, and the surreal, which are all descriptors that could be applied to Terminal Theatre’s production of CJ Hopkins’ screwmachine/eyecandy. We snagged an interview with director, and Best of Fringe winner, Steven Westdahl, to get his take on why we could all use a little screwmachine/eyecandy in our lives.

Daily Starr: You seem to have a knack for bringing underperformed absurdism to the SF Fringe. What led you to screwmachine/eyecandy, and what prompted you to present it here?

Steven Westdahl: I’ve always felt that a Fringe festival is a great time to share a Fringe work. Some folks see an opportunity to explore classics and contemporary masterworks, but I would rather bring something to the party that not many have seen before... I moved back to California from Georgia years ago and have a whole collection of scripts that have never been produced in this part of the world. Zurich Plays (by Marc Cram and Brian Griffin) was one such script and won me the Best Of Fringe in SF two years ago. As a dada history of dada and with the 100-year anniversary of the birth of the movement being discussed, it seemed like a good time for that show...Now, with Trump in the White House, and Make American Great Again regression causes our nation to backslide to an earlier social/political time, it seems like we need a little screwmachine/eyecandy in our lives. I wouldn’t wish a world that needs this play in it upon anyone but this is the world we are currently stuck with, so here is a play that reflects that world back at itself. This is a play written to criticize the Bush era but it seems we haven’t quite learned our lessons yet.

DS: Without giving away any major plot points...what should audiences expect to see or hope to experience?

SW: I think the audience can expect all the major tropes from both a “game show” and a “tragedy.” There will be jokes and a laugh track. There will be questions and answers. There will points earned and prizes won. But, as with most competitions, for every winner, there is going to be a loser. And, in true tragedy style, the loser doesn’t get off easy...

DS: You were a member of the SF Neo-futurists for a time, and now perform your own solo “neofuturist” show around town. What is neofuturism and how does it inform you creatively?

SW: Neo-Futurism is a non-illusionary theatrical art form. Meaning the performer never pretends to be anything other than a performer on stage in that moment of time and space. And you never ask your audience to suspend their disbelief. I will always be Steven. You will always be you. If I drink something on stage, I really drank that thing. If I say I was once given a black eye by a stripper, it really happened to me...Neo-Futurism sometimes get lumped in with improv and sketch comedy. But the similarities are really just surface level and any comparisons speak more to the audience’s role than the writer/performer’s...any scripted activity performed in a space where some sit passively to observe while others are taking action...this is a play. It doesn’t need to have light cues and costumes and props or even happen in a theater...When you strip modern theatre down to its essentials, I think you find Neo-Futurism there. Or at least the building blocks of it.

DS: Have you toured the International Fringe circuit? Any road stories of note you’d like to share?

SW: I crashed the Edinburgh Fringe as an audience member back in ‘97. I had been in Ireland performing in a Yeats piece in Sligo and my friend Barbara and I decided to just go to the world’s largest Fringe without a plan or a place to stay. Suffice it to say, we had a blast! Then, in 2002, one of the improvisers that I had worked with in college was finishing up a year at St. Andrews and decided to put together a team to take to Edinburgh. I flew over to join the show and spent almost a full month in Edinburgh, this time with a rented apartment, performances almost every night of the week, and a C Venues performers badge that opened up all sorts of experiences that are hidden from regular audience members. Our improv show got a 5/5 star review from The Scotsman and we got shortlisted for a Perrier Comedy Award for Best New Group which meant we got to go to a party in a castle with Noel Fielding and Jimmy Carr and other famous non-American comedians...I could definitely see myself on the road with a show in the future. Just not this show right now.
What’s In a Name ? ...

“Why is it called ‘The Daily Starr?’” you ask. ‘Cause The Daily Starr is the paper the newsboy is hawking on the streets when Blanche arrives in New Orleans at the beginning of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Sue Bevan of An Audience With Shurl performing at the After Hours Cabaret

Celebrate the Fringe ...
Join the Fringe community of audience, volunteers, techies, performers and staff at our special events.

The After Hours Cafe (Fri & Sat 10-11pm)
Members of the Fringe community look to show off a talent or take an artistic risk for the entertainment of their peers, whether that’s playing a song, performing a monologue, reading a poem, juggling, or who knows what else!
Mid Fringe Celebration (Sat Sept 16 4-6pm)
The Fringe provides food, beverages, and good cheer in the Green Room to nourish the Fringe community of staff, volunteers, performers and sudience at the middle of the 2017 festival.
Closing Night Party (Sat Sept 23 9pm)
Awards, music, good cheer, and good fringers celebrate the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival at EXIT Theatre.
Coming to EXIT Theatre ...
for the closing night party
The TL Four

Applejack Walroth -- vocal and harmonica
Craig Ventresco -- guitar
Eric Friedmann -- drums
Steve Hazlewood -- bass
9pm Saturday September 23

At the Fringe we’re well aware that not every story worth telling fits neatly into 60 minutes. That’s why we created a special time slot for a limited number of 90-minute shows. One of these, BLACK!, comes to us from Arizona, though its creator, Michael Washington Brown, was actually born and raised in London. Thanks, in part, to his international perspective, he portrays a cast of characters from around the world, each with a different experience of what it means to be BLACK! We caught up with Michael pre-Fringe to get his thoughts on his creative development and on fringing in general.

Daily Starr: You’re currently based in Arizona, but it seems like you also have some strong Bay Area ties. What brings you back to the Bay and how long were you here the first time around?

Michael Washington Brown: When I arrived in America in 1992, it was San Jose I first called home. Within a year I moved to San Francisco, and not long after my acting journey began. I was loosely connected to the arts — working in an art gallery located on Geary (directly opposite the Curran Theatre). I found myself mesmerized by the patrons going to see Cats, but it was observing the camaraderie among the ACT students that really struck a chord. I subsequently joined an acting/scene-study weekly workshop with Ed Hooks, and my passion was solidified. I eventually moved to New York to continue the journey but I’ve always felt eternally grateful for the opportunities and training I first absorbed in San Francisco. It feels like a full circle moment to be coming back to the Bay Area, not just as an actor, but as a Playwright/Producer/Performer: a concept that seemed light years away from being a reality during the years of 1992-1998.

DS: Is BLACK! your first solo show? What made you decide on the solo show as a format?

MWB: BLACK! is not the first solo show I’ve written, but it is the first show I’ve produced and performed. It runs deeper for me than an opportunity to showcase “me.” It carries the weight of my ancestors, my family and the wonderful richness of the black experience. This is also juxtaposed with some of the self-sabotaging behaviors within the black “global” community, which inspired me to document these perspectives. I didn’t choose this piece...the piece chose long as I remain a vessel, then their truth comes through.

DS: Describe in brief the characters we’ll meet in BLACK!

MWB: You will meet an African American, English, African, and Jamaican person/s. Any more (information) than that may taint one’s experience, and I won’t do that.

DS: You’ve been on the Fringe circuit all year, starting with Frigid Fest. What have been some of the highlights of your tour?

MWB: The highlight of traveling the Fringe circuit is meeting the audiences. The unfiltered exchanges, appreciation and encouragement to keep sharing these perspectives...With all that is occurring in and around the country, it’s reassuring to me that despite what’s being (presented) in the media are minor infractions and do not represent the majority of this country’s conscience...The response to BLACK! has been very encouraging from people from all backgrounds, but especially from the Black community. My recent run in Chicago truly solidified my purpose and commitment to travel as far and wide as possible, to share this story or perspectives. My personal highlight will be to perform at home in London, England (in) 2018. This is truly a universal message.

“Today, it’s a politically revolutionary and vitally necessary act for one person to sing his, her or their unvarnished truth and for another to truly listen to it, and no place facilitates those connections better than the Fringe.” -- Lily Janiak, SF Chronicle

There are 300 reviews on the Fringe audience review site. Two of the most prolific reviewers are Fringe performers Denise Dee of Rebel Seer and Barbara Selfridge of Sex, Math and Seizures. Here are some excerpts from their reviews.

“A Night in Wilkes Ferry is a beautiful intimate show where I felt like I was on a porch in the summer listening to a spellbinding storyteller subtly impart teachings to me. A sleeper hit of the Fringe.” Denise on A Night in Wilkes Ferry

“What a great show! Two ladies with smart political humor and irreverent physical humor. The birth of civilization goes OB-GYN graphic…” Barbara on You Fucking Earned It

“There is no uplifting ‘feel good’ conclusion which only made me love Cat and her show even more. I applaud her for not only confronting brutal truths and not letting us look away and doing it wholeheartedly.” Denise on Tasha

“In the end, the passionate analysis and poetry of “Nigga-Roo” was right there, palpable for each of us. See it, think on it, stay in ‘this’ conversation.” Barbara on Nigga-Roo

“Sue Bevan strips herself bare on the stage.” Denise on An Audience With Shurl

“I could watch Kim Chinh forever! Vivid Vietnam scenes, tho it was less about that homecoming than I’d anticipated. Nice nuanced character work with her brothers and cousins.” Barbara on Reclaiming Vietnam

“This is my favorite show of the Fringe so far ... If you’re ready to go on an amusement park ride through a room where you are not sure what is coming next with a stand-up comic/punk/boy you wished lived next door well then this is the show for you.” Denise on Expeditious Intent

“David Kleinberg returns to Vietnam looking for any trace of his 50-years-ago GI self. A good job of showing us now, then and how much that history still means both to those of us who lived it and to the ones who came after.” Barbara on Return to the Scene of the Crime

“If you love being given the gift of space to slow down and/or butoh you will love psychobotany. This show is not for people who need to things to be linear, make “sense” or spelled out for them.” Denise on psychobotany

“So painful. So well-done. Thanks for the very useful talk-back afterwards.” Barbara on Tasha
House Manager Mary Naughton. Photo Nicole Gluckstern
Ask a...House Manager! Mary Naughton
The undersung heroes who get the presales distributed, the hallways cleared, and the tips rolling in. Thanks guys!
Q: How many years have you been house managing here at the Fringe?
A: Actually, this is my first year.
Q: Cool, so what brought you to the Fringe?
A: Normally I do production design, my last show here was A Life on the Ocean Wave, over the summer. So I got to know everyone at the EXIT that way and was invited to house manage, and here I am!
Q: Seen any shows yet?
A: I did get to see A Night in Wilkes Ferry and it was brilliant!
Fringe Cafe staff and house manager Happy Hyder performing atg The After Hours Cabaret
Celebrate the Fringe ...
Join the Fringe community of audience, volunteers, techies, performers and staff at our special events.

The After Hours Cafe (Fri & Sat 10-11pm)
Members of the Fringe community look to show off a talent or take an artistic risk for the entertainment of their peers, whether that’s playing a song, performing a monologue, reading a poem, juggling, or who knows what else!

Mid Fringe Celebration (Sat Sept 16 4-6pm)
The Fringe provides food, beverages, and good cheer in the Green Room to nourish the Fringe community of staff, volunteers, performers and sudience at the middle of the 2017 festival.

Closing Night Party (Sat Sept 23 9pm)
Awards, music, good cheer, and good fringers celebrate the 2017 San Francisco Fringe Festival at EXIT Theatre.

Dandy Darkly:
the Myth behind the Man

Buckle up Bay Area-ens. Seasoned Storyteller and Dark Cabaret artiste Dandy Darkly is coming to town with his latest show Myth Mouth, and you won’t want to miss out on his personal brand of spooky and sexy. We wrangled an interview with this NYC-based, award-winning Fringe veteran whilst he was on the road, and here’s what he has to say for himself:

Daily Starr: Before your solo show career, had you been previously involved in cabaret-style performance? How did you get to where you are now?

Dandy Darkly: I’d always had a performative bent, but my first performance wasn’t until Stonewall Inn on Halloween of 2010. At the time I’d been writing a blog about my travails in and around the wonderful, wicked haunts of queer NYC, and a lovely vaudeville producer, Chuck Dandee, who admired my writing, suggested I perform one of my tales at his Halloween cabaret. Four Edinburgh Fringes later, critically-acclaimed runs in London and New York, and this insane American tour — the rest is history!

DS: What is the premise of Myth Mouth?

DD: I’ve long been obsessed with myths and legends, in particular Greek mythology, but surprisingly only one tale delves directly into Greek myth. It’s an allegorical take on Persephone as a heroin chic, party princess begrudgingly undertaking the most taxing of modern era events — the dreaded visit back to your small hometown. Other stories look at belief and indoctrination from different angles. I was most excited to explore the very nature of creativity itself and to consider our cherished pantheon of queer icons as pop culture gods and goddesses who all resonate and inspire long after they’ve left the mortal world. The Moth this is not.

DS: You recently published a book of your tales, if I’m not mistaken. How is that going, and where can we buy a copy?

DD: It’s going swimmingly! Across my four shows, I’d compiled a backlog of some twenty original tales that I was very eager to publish. Dandy Darkly’s Six Hundred and Sixty-Six Tales of Sex and Death! is available on Amazon, Kindle, and I’ll have copies with me to sell following my show.

DS: Is it fair to say that Sex and Death are two of your obsessions? Does one balance the other for you, or is it their extremes that appeal to you most?

DD: Oh, absolutely. But I also think Sex and Death are everyone’s obsession. It’s the end and the beginning. Creation and destruction. It’s all we think about, particularly as Americans. And in the wake of AIDS, especially as queer people. They’re the two taboos that no one talks about, but it’s the only thing on everyone’s mind – getting our rocks off and how are we gonna die? And God forbid if someone dies during sex – the ultimate scandal. My stories certainly go to extreme places, but as a proud Libra there’s nothing I appreciate more than balance. Sex and death are so universal that I can draw on different aspects for multiple solo shows or music or costumes...

DS: You’re an old hand at the International Fringe circuit, what have been some of the highlights? Any tips for prospective companies to take their show on the road?

DD: My advice is to expect the unexpected. And that’s advice for both Fringe hopefuls looking to make their dream a reality and audience members who may not take a chance on something outside their comfort zone. When it comes to Fringe Festivals you’ve truly got to set expectations aside and just go for it. I’ve walked into many potential venues to find out there’s no speakers or the audience will be sitting on the floor because the chairs were literally stolen. Likewise, I’ve seen some of the most amazing performances because I decided to catch something on a whim. Fringe Festivals are the lifeblood of independent, innovative theatre and San Francisco is so lucky to have a festival right here. I cannot wait!
Kyle McReddie performing at the After Hours Cabaret in the EXIT Green Room.
The After Hours Cabaret
EXIT Theatre Green Room
10-11 PM
Friday September 15
Saturday September 16
Friday September 22

The Green Room returns to the Fringe with its usual mix of snacks, crafts, souvenirs and services, including a brand new After Hours Cabaret! Join us on Friday and Saturday nights of the Fringe for an hour of socializing and entertainment featuring your fellow Fringe performers, staff, and volunteers. From 10 PM to 11 PM the After Hours Cabaret will feature members of the Fringe community looking to show off a talent or take an artistic risk for the entertainment of their peers, whether that’s playing a song, performing a monologue, reading a poem, juggling, or who knows what else! Think of it as the Fringe Open Mike event you’ve always wanted to enjoy while having a champagne cocktail and putting your feet up for a moment after a long day at the Festival. Interested in signing up to perform? Contact Coordinator Stuart Bousel at and be sure to put “After Hours Cabaret” in the subject line.

Just arriving at the SF Fringe are four shows from afar to shake up your mind and the local theater scene.
BLACK! From Phoenix, Michael Washington Brown brings four individuals who each describe their personal experience with the word “BLACK!” We learn their stories, how their lives are affected by this word, whether positively or otherwise, and most important, their individual perspectives. We hope to better understand whether there are any similarities or has Society ‘bought into’ the stereotypes that exist. If so…WHY?
Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth! From Brooklyn, Dandy Darkly makes his San Francisco debut! He is NYC’s alt-cabaret, cult sensation with a masterful and mesmerizing style of Southern gothic storytelling that has astounded critics and delighted audiences at Fringes and theaters across the globe. His latest show explores themes of religion, addiction and social media obsession via satirical tales concerning a junkie Persephone, space-pup Laika, virtual reality fixation and humanity’s premiere popinjay, Cha-Cha the Caveman.
POONSTRUCK: New Frontiers in Vaginal Consciousness (VAGCON™) From Portland, Kelly Nesbitt tells a a hero’s journey through the orifices of Dr Tallulah, a fiery Sexual Activist, Zen Cosmetologist, and Vaginal Consciousness Pioneer! A metaphysical cross between Archie Bunker, Dr Ruth, and Carol Burnett on cosmic viagra! This satire taps into the New Age zeitgeist, juxtaposes pratfalls with seriousness, blends pathos with humor, explores intimacy, and utilizes Qi-Gong-Gi-Long foam rolling, traumatic storytelling (with a twist!), and ‘La Femme Fontaine.’
Religomania From her tiki bar in Princeville, Kauai, Michele Rundgren combined with her creative partner Debra Ryll from Monterey to create a musical comedy that skewers religion and the dogma that divides us. Fed up with religious extremism, Mona is on a mission to take down organized religion. But with a new Republican regime infringing on the rights of ALL citizens, can she convince her friends to join the crusade? Or do they need faith to get through the next eight years?

Stripping Down to basics with Naked Empire and You Fucking Earned It

Back in 2012, Naked Empire Bouffon Company won a Best of Fringe for their death-obsessed romp You Killed Hamlet, and went on to successfully tour the Canadian Fringe among other festival circuits. This year, they’re reversing their mode, winning an Artist’s Choice Award at the Edmonton Fringe (the largest Fringe in North America) this summer, and bringing their sharply satirical You Fucking Earned It to the SF Fringe this fall. So what exactly is bouffon? Read on to find out more!

Daily Starr: For the uninitiated, what is it you guys actually do?

Naked Empire: We do bouffon, which can be understood by most as an anti-clown. Where the audience laughs at the clown - an innocent - the bouffon laughs at the audience, and is an all-knowing and ancient creature. For us at Naked Empire, we like to tie issues of social justice into our work. We use the comedy of our bodies - our masks - and the shapeshifting and metaphor-wielding nature of bouffon to point out certain behaviors to our audiences that we are all complicit in - as citizens of a first world country, as residents of the Bay Area, as human beings on this planet.

DS: It’s been a few years since we had a Naked Empire performance at the SF Fringe. What have you all been doing in the interim?

NE: A few years ago, we created some short pieces for an “American Dream” cabaret at Mojo Theater. The following year, we turned those pieces into a 12-minute piece for Pianofight’s “Shortlived” play competition. We didn’t win, but we did pair up with the awesome people who run Pianofight and did two years of monthly shows at their space. Last year, 2016, was also a busy creation year for Naked Empire. We were awarded a number of grants that were used to create two new shows: a one-man bouffon show starring Nathaniel Justiniano called Do What You Love and You Fucking Earned It starring Cara McClendon and Sabrina Wenske. Last spring our company did a residency at the San Francisco Circus Center followed by another residency at Drop, Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY. We premiered both shows as a double feature at PianoFight in SF in October 2016. Since then, both shows have been performed in Canada, and now we’re looking forward to the SF Fringe!

DS: Let’s talk about the performers! Who are you folks and what brought you to Bouffon/physical theatre/Naked Empire?

NE: We’re all graduates of Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater in Blue Lake, CA. It was here that Nathaniel Justiniano, the founder and Artistic Director of Naked Empire, first studied bouffon with teacher Giovanni Fusetti. Cara and Sabrina, both with clowning and physical theater backgrounds, took a workshop with Nathaniel in bouffon and fell in love with the art form, for different reasons. After all working together in the workshop, an opportunity to collaborate on work for a cabaret came up and that began the collaboration history of the current members of Naked Empire.
DS: Let’s talk creative process. What goes into the creation of a Naked Empire piece/this particular piece?
NE: One of the worst parts of bouffon is that it literally involves looking deep inside of tragedy, both actual tragedies that have occurred and also the tragedy of human life and existence. It’s supremely difficult to be steeped in a process of trying to make people laugh about the horrible things that happen in the world. We use humor to disarm the audience and drive home bigger points about our complicity in behaviors that harm others and it works, but the creation process can be absolutely demoralizing. After our run last fall and the subsequent election results, all three of us took a serious break from performing and bouffon to repair our psyches a bit. Even though the research and creation process can be really tough, the feedback we get from audiences makes the work worth it. When you feel people with you during the show, when you hear them laughing AND groaning, and when people come up afterwards to thank you for making the work you do - in the end, all of these things make doing the work really satisfying.
The San Francisco Fringe Festival is a proud member of CAFF, the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals.
CAFF was formed to protect the four guiding principals of “pure” Fringe Festivals:

Participants are selected on a non-juried basis, through a first-come, first served process, a lottery, or other non-curated method.

The audience has the option to pay a ticket price, 100% of which goes directly to the artists.

Fringe Festival producers have no control over the artistic content of each performance. The artistic freedom of the participants is unrestrained.

Festivals provide an easily accessible opportunity for all audiences and all artists to participate in Fringe Festivals.

The mission of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals is to unite, support, empower and strengthen member festivals in order to cultivate and foster independent artistic exploration for artists and audiences across North America.

Fringe and Fringe Festival are registered trademarks of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) and cannot be used without expressed written permission from the Association. This trademark allows CAFF to ensure that any theatre festival in Canada that wishes to call itself “Fringe” must abide by the CAFF mandate and the four guiding principles.
Ask a…Stage Manager!

(longtime Fringer and brand-new Stage Manager for Keeping Up With the Jorgensons, Dot Janson)

Q: What is a favorite Fringe memory for you?

A: It was my first year House Managing and I was giving the opening speech for Todd Pickering and Raya Light’s show, and Todd was playing along on the piano. It made me feel very included, and part of the show!

(ed. note: see Keeping Up with the Jorgensons next Sunday at 8:30 pm, and Todd Pickering’s new show, Even If It’s Wrong, Thursday the 21st at 8:30 pm)

Rebel Seer
Modern-day Renaissance woman Denise Dee has done it all, from playing in a punk band, to making a living as a photographer and psychic, to founding her own “virtual” arts festival focused on the cycle of creativity and destruction (ed. note: that’s our kind of festival!). Drawing inspiration from a host of oddities (her schizophrenic father, the voice in her own head, Banana Bag & Bodice), Dee lives the life of both an artist and a visionary: a true Rebel Seer.

Daily Starr: It’s not really in your program blurb, but you’ve stated elsewhere that punk rock was a very influential and inspiring part of your young/creative life. What originally drew you to the punk scene and what are some of the lessons in the creative process that you came away with from it?

Denise Dee: What drew me to punk was the lyrics and the music. People who were telling the truth and who were angry. That there were women in bands. Not just as the singer but also playing instruments. That you could just pick up an instrument and play. The biggest lessons for the creative process for me from Punk were: tell the truth; don’t wait – do it now; all feelings are worth writing about. Raw emotion is my favorite thing in music, theater, film, and in life. I call the Fringe “Theater in the Raw.”

DS: Another influence on you, apparently, was the 1999 San Francisco Fringe Festival! What did you see that inspired you, and what was your first (award-winning) Fringe piece about?

DD: What inspired me most about the SFFF was that it was a total crap shoot. It was inexpensive enough to risk seeing 20+ shows knowing some of them would be life-altering and some of them might be awful. I loved the chaos. Paul Terry as The Ugly Duchess and Banana Bag & Bodice’s The Bastard Chronicles (both in the 1999 SFFF) both inspired me in the same way punk did. I didn’t need to spend years learning how to write a play, or play an instrument, all I had to do was have the courage to speak my truth. My first Fringe play, The Family Tree, was about family, and the tangled roots of pain, loneliness, and love.

DS: Between the 2001 Fringe and now, what have you been up to?

DD: In 2002, I started moving around the country. I lived in 8 cities in 15 years. I brought the spirit of punk and the Fringe with me. I ran an art gallery out of my house in Flagstaff, AZ, curated poetry & auto-fiction readings in unconventional settings in Chicago and Cleveland, and made a living from my photography and doing psychic readings.

DS: You also curate the Brouhaha virtual festival. What exactly is a virtual festival and what can participants expect?

DD: This is the 4th annual Brouhaha – Causing A Disturbance – Festival ( I started Brouhaha to inspire people to take risks and to be willing to cause a disturbance. A virtual festival is one that takes place via the internet. As much as I love in-person festivals, some people don’t have money to travel. I organized this festival virtually, so people could come from all over the world. Brouhaha is for artists, creators, witches and visionaries who aren’t afraid of the dark. I spent a few years in New Age circles and got completely frustrated at people who wanted to sweep things they found unpleasant under the rug. When you come onstage, your shadow comes with you, and I feel that trying to disown those parts of ourselves cuts us off from our deepest gifts.
Which Country Are You From?
Um, Texas

“What name should I put your reservation under?” the hostess asks my friend. “Sarah,” my friend responds. Her name is not Sarah. But rather than having to deal with more perplexed back and forth with a stranger trying to pronounce her South Asian name, she becomes Sarah.

Irma Herrera knows situations like “Sarah’s” all too well, unfortunately. In Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?, her one-woman show at the Fringe, Ms. Herrera deploys a mash-up of language lessons, stand-up comedy, history lessons and more as vehicles to talk about how communities of color have evolved and the sometimes harsh reception they have faced in the United States. Although Ms. Herrera’s topic is serious – exploring prejudices and how difficult it is for any of us to examine our own beliefs about other groups – the show does lighten the atmosphere with laughter. Audiences have called the play’s varied vignettes “powerful and thought-provoking, and the well-placed humor makes it a wonderfully entertaining experience.” One audience member said: “I recommend this presentation to everyone regardless of age, gender, background.”

Ms. Herrera grew up in a very segregated low-income community in south Texas. Through her educational experiences she was able to meet and get to know people from many backgrounds and cultures. Her work as a civil rights lawyer helped fuel her passion for social justice and shaped her perspective about race and racism and gender discrimination.

Ms. Herrera plays more than 20 characters in Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?, from the Filipino nuns who were her teachers in parochial school, to law professors and opposing counsel. She originally thought she would be writing a book about the topics in her show, but the concept evolved into a one-woman show. An audience member who has seen the play evolve has said that Ms. Herrera has grown as a writer and performer and believes that the show will continue to develop with further performances.

In addition to her Fringe shows, Ms. Herrera will be performing Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? in November at The Marsh Theatre in San Francisco as part of the Marsh Rising Series. She has also taken the play to San Antonio, Texas, plans to return with performances in south Texas next spring at a couple of universities and some community theatres, and is looking into other cities as well.


The truly great thing about the term “fringe,” (as in festival) is that it encompasses so many different performances and formats. We’re always excited to host shows that don’t slot neatly into any one category, expanding the definition and experience of “theatrical.” With Nigga-Roo, local performance artist and poet Dazié Grego-Sykes brings us one such show – a multi-faceted, multi-media performance that interrogates the pop culture, the politics, and the personal behind the use of the word “nigga,” within the black community and its impact on black identity. We asked Grego-Sykes to share his thoughts on the work and its development, and here’s what he had to say.

Daily Starr: You describe yourself as a “performance artist” which can be a polarizing term for audiences. What do you view as the primary difference between a “performance artist” and an actor?

Dazié Grego-Sykes: When I pick up a script that was written by a playwright and become a specific role I know that I am acting. (When) I write my own solo work, that work is based on who I am as a man in our society. By performing my truth as art, I am trying to reveal how I have been shaped by the world. If there is any one goal I hope my work achieves, it would be to reshape that world in return.

DS: You’re a graduate of New College and currently studying at CIIS after a ten-year gap in Academia. What brought you back to studying and what have you been doing in the interim?

DGS: When I attended New College’s Experimental Performance Institute ten years ago I was a poet who wanted to stop trembling when I read my work in front of audiences. That experience broadened how I saw myself, and I left knowing that I was an artist. Since then I have performed as part of ensembles, in plays, and have written and produced several one-man shows. I returned to Academia because I wanted to see what I could accomplish as a student who knows they are an artist; as opposed to one who isn’t sure.

DS: In a Fringe full of provocatively-titled pieces, yours definitely stands out. What about this title encapsulates what you will be presenting?

DGS: I find the word “Nigga” to be fascinating. I have been called “Nigga” by teachers, police officers, riff-raff, and even by my lovers. It’s almost a curse word, almost an insult, it’s almost “nigger.” Nigga-Roo is about the “Nigga” becoming distorted even further by race and internalized racism. It is about what we can’t control and what we lose when we normalize the word. It is the question that I, and many black men and women ask ourselves when we see how cavalier we are about using the word...What does it mean to call ourselves, and the people we love, Nigga?

DS: Tell us about your creative process, and the overall trajectory of the development of this show. How long has the process taken you and where will you go from here?

DGS: First I had to give myself permission to write about my experiences with racism without being concerned how white people would feel about what I have to say. I also had to go through a phase of being hyper-sensitive to what this work might mean to other black people. It is both a privilege and an obligation to be black and be an artist. Using black face is not something that should be taken lightly by any person regardless of their intention. The minstrel shows have had a terrifying impact on all Americans whether we acknowledge it or not. Finally I had to ask if I was merely “scab picking.” I didn’t want to simply pick an issue that is upsetting and claim that performing it somehow facilitates healing and empowerment. As far as where I am at in the development of the actual work I can only say that I thought I had finished. (But), after performing the work in June and rehearsing for the San Francisco Fringe Festival, I think it is quite possible that I will be doing a lot more work on this piece in years to come.
Production Manager Amanda with Lady Techs Alexia, Teresa, and Beth. Photo by Lady Tech Nicole Gluckstern.
Ask a ... Fringe Technician!
Q: “In one word, what is Fringe?”
Curtis Overacre: “Delightful.”
Beth Cockrell: “Special.”
Ben Conran: “Exciting.”
Amanda Ortmeyer: “Community.”
Dan Ransom: “Real.”
Alexia Staniotes: “Silly!”


In 2015 a 37 year-old black woman with a history of mental illness was tased to death in the Fairfax County jail in Virginia, a story that might not have made the news at all were it not for the graphic video footage taken of the incident. The images made such an impression on local actor and Anti Police-Terror Project activist, Cat Brooks, that she created the show Tasha in her memory. In a time of growing awareness surrounding issues of police brutality, especially targeting the black community, this work couldn’t be more timely or relevant. Need more convincing? Read on!

Daily Starr: Given your long history of organizing here in the Bay Area, what made you decide to write your solo show about a case in Virginia? What about this particular case spoke out to you?

Cat Brooks: For a long time, we mostly only heard about men being killed by police...When the #sayhername movement kicked off, society was provided with a fuller picture of the enormity of the epidemic of police violence in this country...Natasha was killed within a few days of another woman here in the Bay named Yuvette Henderson. Both of them weighed heavily on my mind, in part because of the sheer brutality of their murders. My initial thought was to write a piece that encompassed both Yuvette and Natasha. But one night I was in bed – it was like 2:00 in the morning – and Tasha started talking to me. I got up and started typing and it became clear it was her story that needed to be told, and that I had no option other than to tell it.

DS: Talk a bit about the creative development of this piece and working with Ayodele Nzinga and Margo Hall.

CB: The piece started off as just a monologue that I did for a collection of political pieces performed at Eastside Arts Alliance, done in conjunction with Jose Navarette and Debby Kajiyama of NAKA Dance Theater. It is their brilliance behind the technical aspects of the show. Margo Hall directed that first piece and it was just wonderful working with her. Ayodele was the dramaturg. I think it was important to have Black women in those roles as they too could relate to Tasha and all of the pain and fear and trauma that we as Black women walk through the world with. The piece then went on to be directed by Ayodele for a performance at the Flight Deck. This performance has a mix of everyone in it – which I’m really excited about.

DS: what form does the narrative take? First person, through Natasha’s eyes, multiple POV, transcripts, all of the above?

CB: The play is told from multiple POVs, including first person through Tasha, and is interlaced with video of her actual murder. I tried to make space for everyone’s voice – including the police officers involved.

DS: You’ve been in quite a few shows over the years. What have been some of your favorite roles and why?

CB: I like playing strong, complicated and multi-faceted women, women with depth and histories and dreams and faults. I had the amazing opportunity to play Lady Macbeth at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. It was a walk about show on the streets of Scotland – one of the most amazing theatrical experiences of my life. Most recently I got to play a drug addicted, brazen, beautiful prostitute named Yolanda in Robin Bradford’s Low Hanging Fruit. She was interesting to live with for all of that time. Cast was amazing, script was phenomenal, and our director, Louis Parnell, was magic.
Don’t Panic!
OK, Maybe Panic

Nuclear threats and posturing are back. Amidst the current chest-thumping between the U.S. and North Korea, the drumbeat about terrorist threats and the depressing recurrence of mass shootings, Sherri Rose’s How Not To Die is even more relevant than when the show debuted in 2014. Ms. Rose’s multi-character solo dark comedy jumps about in time, from taking us back to the Cold War hysteria of the 1960s, when children learned to duck and cover in atomic bomb drills, to exploring the multitude of hazards or perceived hazards we face today.

Audience members have called How Not To Die “serious and funny, thought and memory provoking” and said that the ever-evolving show will make you “laugh, reflect, and get a little perspective.” Ms. Rose says that she was inspired to write the play when she was rummaging through old photos three years ago and discovered a picture of her teacher from 1961. Suddenly, the hysterias of that day and the sometimes absurd precautions that were advised came flooding back. When a friend the next day told her of “shelter-in-place” drills children were now required to do to respond to active shooters, she knew that she had to explore all of crazy threats and ways we try to stay safe in an uncertain world. As the world and its obsessions change, Ms. Rose has tried to update her show in response.

How Not To Die is fully interactive with the audience because, as Ms. Rose explains, “we’re all in this together making choices in the name of safety and survival.” Ms. Rose based the show on interviews and personal accounts from 1944 to today, hoping that it will connect her experiences to others across generations. If nothing more, Ms. Rose promises that audiences will leave How Not To Die with some very practical safety tips.

Although Ms. Rose has loved theater since childhood and had done some voice-over work and community theater, she earlier had prioritized her full-time career and did writing mostly for herself. That changed when she filled out a bucket list with writing and performing a one-woman show at the top. She has now done two full length shows in the last six years, including How Not To Die, and shows no signs of stopping.
Fringe Program Guide Glossary
Here at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, we know how overwhelming it can be reading through the program guide to pick out the best possibilities. That’s why we’re proud to present the definitive Fringe Program Guide Glossary, which can be applied to any (Anglophone) Fringe Festival in the world, in an attempt to translate some of the more common descriptors into recognizable audience-speak.

Bare Bones: We’ve never heard of kickstarter
Cheese: Neo-surrealists in the house
Classic: We don’t need the rights to present this work
Dark: At least one of the characters dies
Disturbing: If you don’t like fart jokes
Dynamic: Theatre Arts undergrads
Edgy: Guaranteed to offend at least one minority group
Erotic: For inexplicable reasons, won’t include nudity
Existential: At least half of the characters die
Experiential: Audience participation required
Experimental: We decided not to bother writing a script
Fresh Take: You’ve seen this play 100 times before
Hilarious: If you like fart jokes
Inspirational: Overcoming the effects of an upper middle-class upbringing
Interactive: Don’t sit in the front row
Internationally-acclaimed: Also performed at the Winnipeg Fringe
Multi-media: If our projector breaks we’re screwed
New Translation: We worked way harder on this show than you can imagine
Noir: Will be wearing great hats
Noirish: Couldn’t afford great hats
Poignant: There will be at least one monologue about innocence lost
Provocative: Will include violence and nudity
Quotes from famous people: Assistant Director used to walk their dogs
Quotes from previous runs: We have had a chance to rehearse this
Reimagined: We don’t actually have the rights to present this work
Sensitive: Over-wrought
Site-Specific: Wear layers
Riveting: The stage manager’s mother-in-law said so
Thought-provoking: Will include either violence or nudity
Uncompromising: Guaranteed to offend pretty much everyone
Unforgettable: No matter how hard you try
Universal: Fart jokes
Visceral: Don’t sit in the front row
Wacky: A kazoo will definitely make an appearance at some point
With a twist: You can see it coming
World Premiere: We haven’t had a chance to rehearse this
(reprinted with permission from The San Francisco Bay Guardian and author Nicole Gluckstern)

Good Evening, Vietnam ...
David Kleinberg and Kim Chinh on experiencing and recreating Vietnam for the theatre.

We were so intrigued this year by the fact that we had two very different shows about experiencing Vietnam in this year’s Fringe, David Kleinberg’s Return to the Scene of the Crime and Kim Chinh’s Reclaiming Vietnam, that we felt we really needed to have them do a joint interview on the topic, including interviewing each other. Sadly for us, the Daily Starr has a limited word count, so we couldn’t publish the interview in its entirety, but happily for you, you can fill in the blanks by seeing their respective shows, both of which open tonight!

Daily Starr to both: Before you went to Vietnam, what was your impression of it, and how did that change when you were actually there?

David Kleinberg: I went to Vietnam twice. The first time I went was in 1966 when I was drafted and sent to Vietnam as an information specialist for the U.S. army’s 25th Infantry Division. My first impression of Vietnam was that it was a place where I could end up dead. After that, I just relaxed and it became like a movie that would eventually end. The second time I went to Vietnam was April of last year, more than 50 years later. I was going in the hopes of performing my one-man show (Hey Hey LBJ) about the above experiences and how I had gone to Vietnam supporting the war and came home to protest it... I did not return to Vietnam to (write) a sequel...but somewhere several months after my return, I felt called to do it. It seemed like too important of a story – one man returning to a war of his youth to come to terms with his past.

Kim Chinh: Before I went to Vietnam, I could only picture it through images I’d seen in war movies – villages destroyed, people without arms or legs, helpless, begging, broken. When I made the decision to go, I was terrified of what I’d find there, but I also felt that I needed to see the country with my own eyes. When I actually arrived, it was completely different. There were no vestiges of war, the people were friendly and kind and wanted to know about my reasons for visiting. They wanted to know about my dad – whether he was from the north or the south. As a kid, growing up in Texas, I...would pray to look more white like my mother rather than be identified as Vietnamese or Asian like my father. In Vietnam this changed for me, I desperately wanted to be recognized as Vietnamese...and I found myself feeling fiercely proud of my Vietnamese heritage.

DS: Talk a bit about the development process of your show(s). How did you create what you’ve created, and how has it morphed or evolved throughout?

DK: The piece started in class with the great Marsh Theatre guru/teacher David Ford. David set the foundation for the piece’s development, and my great director Mark Kenward has shaped it since. Last month I performed the full piece for the first time five times at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington. I felt it was a very successful first outing, and that the work is still in development.

KC: The idea all started from a monologue I wrote after going back to Vietnam a second time, this time with my father who hadn’t been back in 40 years. The other parts were developed in my acting class. There were conversations I needed to have with family members and my acting coach helped me to formulate what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. We rehearsed these talks before I left New York for an extended period. When I returned to acting class one year later, I filled in my coach on all that had transpired during these fraught conversations. She took notes, handed them to me and said, “You’ve got to turn this into a show.” After some time had passed and I worked on writing new pieces for the show and got more encouragement from my acting class, I finally produced it myself and have been performing ever since.

Kim asking David: When you went back to Vietnam, what were (your) feelings?

DK: Part loneliness, part fear of the authorities if it were found out what I was trying to do regarding my play...I can see that if I had gone with my wife or a friend, it would have been far more a different trip – more of a vacation trip. By myself, I had time to fill...going back to Cu Chi, going to the War Remnants Museum and trying to find the street in Saigon where I lived for three months. Things from the past.

KC: Were any of the expats who saw the show (in Vietnam) also veterans?

DK: No. That was the amazing part of the experience...They were all barely much older than I was when I first went to Vietnam. When I pointed that out to my producer, he said “the ex-pats here are not only young, but they are also living and working in an alien nation. Everywhere they go, everything they do, they can feel the vibration that something major has happened. But they’re not able to put their finger on it. Tonight you filled in some of the blanks.”

David asking Kim: You say you found yourself when in Vietnam becoming proud of your Vietnamese heritage, how did that change you when you returned home to Texas?

KC: Well, actually, although I grew up in Texas, I was living in New York City when I first went to Vietnam. It’s true that I didn’t really feel “American” when living in Texas because I never felt I belonged. When I came back from living in Vietnam, I still felt different, but suddenly, I was proud of this difference. I had the full picture of what it meant to be from two separate cultures because I intimately knew both sides.

DK: This is interesting because some people go back “home” – like black Americans returning to Africa – and are completely treated as Americans. Why do you think this was different for you?

KC: Great question. I think part of it was that I rejected my heritage growing up and hated myself for a long time...There was a sense of acceptance of me by the Vietnamese people which helped me to have compassion for myself and also for the country’s struggles.

DK: Has your father seen the work, and what does he think of it?

KC: Honestly, I’m afraid it’s too loaded for my dad. It broaches some heavy topics and I have a scene with him in the play where I kind of accuse him of being racist against his own people. It’s a grey area. I hope he does see it one day...
Submitted For Your Approval

The grim political reality of 2017 makes for the perfect time to revisit the dizzying and terrifying world of The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling’s television classic used sci-fi, horror and surrealism to comment on controversial social issues and to explore the darker elements of human nature, with characters often destroying themselves for vain ends or fleeting glory. In Submitted For Your Approval, playwright, director and co-producer Sinohui Hinojosa steps back to 1965, the year after the series ended, with three inter-connected one acts in the style and spirit of the original.

Hinojosa sought to apply a universal theme to a series of one acts. The Twilight Zone concept had the advantage of being both familiar to audiences and sufficiently flexible to create unique stories that could touch on a variety of genres. Hinojosa worked with other playwrights to develop the individual plays, which he says are part morality tale, part analogy of what and how the human condition has been checked, rechecked and manipulated. Of the three one acts, Hinojosa took the pen for “The Paradox Syndrome,” John Tulin and Meghan Maugeri collaborated on “Silent Partner,” and Matthew Miller wrote “The Perfect Child.”

Rod Serling’s introductory monologues and closing epilogues were iconic features of the original series and each Submitted For Your Approval one act captures this element through a narrator. Several actors play multiple roles throughout the show and Hinojosa says that the performances are by far the most interesting aspect of the plays.

Hinojosa is a Fringe Festival veteran and has been involved with the performing arts throughout his life. He co-founded EAP Creative with Bernard Fork, who is co-producing Submitted For Your Approval. Hinojosa is also a co-founder of the San Jose International Short Film Festival, which takes place this December. He is currently working on directing a feature film and developing a comedy puppet show, in the vein of The Colbert Report or The Daily Show with content that would change weekly based on current events.