Ten Shows I Can’t Wait to See at #HFF19

by | May 15, 2019 | Ovation Voter, Producing, The StageCrafts, Theatre Unleashed | 0 comments


Gregory Crafts

Gregory Crafts

Creative Multi-Hyphenate

An award-winning multi-hyphenate creative artist, with more than twenty-five years of experience as an actor, playwright, director, designer, and theatrical producer under his belt, Greg graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with a Bachelor’s in Theatre Studies in 2003. Soon after, Greg migrated to Los Angeles seeking adventure in the entertainment industry. He currently resides in North Hollywood, CA with his wife, Jenn, and their three cats.

The most wonderful time of the year!

There are over 400 shows and events in the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year. Having been a part of the festival every year since the beginning, I’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff; from 15-minute long mini-acid trips set to “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” to Hamlet performed by lamplight in the back of a utility van, to a Brazilian sex show espousing the ethos of the Marquis de Sade.

Last week, I talked about the three events I’m producing. Today, I spent a couple hours checking out all of the show listings on the Fringe site, and made a list of shows I’m excited to see. It was about forty shows long. Some were shows in my venues. A lot were shows written by, produced by, or featuring friends of mine (and I’m going to do a write-up of those shows next week).

But there were ten shows that caught my eye that I had either the flimsiest of ties to, or no ties at all, and I want to give them a shout-out right now.

An exploration of classic and neoclassic pieces of magic, viewed from a contemporary perspective. This interactive performance invites audience members to become active participants.

Performer and cowriter Siegfried Tieber has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times and Forbes. In 2015, Siegfried headlined at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, and in 2018 Time Out NY listed his show See/Saw as #1 in its “The best magic shows in New York City.”

Jon Armstrong – Artistic Director: Jon Armstrong is an internationally acclaimed sleight-of-hand artist, lecturer, and consultant. He has received numerous honors including Close Up Magician of the Year awarded by the world famous Magic Castle/Academy of Magical Arts, where he is a regular performer.

Jared Kopf – Cowriter: Jared Kopf is a poet based in Dallas, Texas. His work has been featured in multiple countries around the world and his publications “Vaticinium ex Eventu” and “Nothing but the Family Deck” have received critical acclaim. Mr. Kopf is considered by many one of the most influential thinkers in his field.

Learn More at SiegfriedTieber.com

Okay, this one’s a little bit of a cheat because I’ve seen Siegfried Tieber live before at a fundraiser for Theatre Unleashed. I don’t know him personally though, but I do love his work. So naturally, this is the first show on my list.

Get Tickets to Magic as a Medium

Set in occupied France in 1943, an actor is arrested for propagating subversive material and is being deported. When his train is sabotaged by members of the French resistance, he escapes from the platform and seeks refuge in the train station. His one chance for freedom before the train starts moving again is to win the support of a group of French gendarmes (the audience) by entertaining them with “amusements” that are not subversive. Playing 38 characters from The Arabian Nights, the actor becomes a male Scheherazade, spinning out stories in a chance to win his freedom. A funny yet scathing examination of complicity and self-preservation. “It’s An Acting Master Class”- SDGLT

Learn More at intrepidtheatre.org

I normally don’t enjoy solo theatre, but this is intriguing, and I love the conceit. I can’t wait to take a chance on this.

Get Tickets to The Thousandth Night

“A comedy as dark as this town’s secrets…”

It’s almost election day in bucolic Tranquilty, Neb. (Pop: 16,434), and the Mayor’s race is going to be a barn burner. Watch the final three candidates face off in the final debate before the votes are cast. The carefully curated civility of small town politics gets tested as Maya Berenger, Scott Jensen and Lindsey Suarez throw down over property taxes, the downtown parking meters and building that soccer field on the north side of town. The bromides and platitudes, however, mask a secret terror that has gripped Tranquility and prevents them from even discussing what happened to the previous Mayor. “The Mayor’s Debate of Tranquility, Nebraska” is a dark, comic satire that strips the polish off of democracy and reveals a horror that prevents the town from even asking: What the fuck is happening at the gazebo in the town square?

With Lucie Beeby, Emily Dorsett, Jim Hanna and Kate Hellen.

From Jim Hanna, the writer of “Human Hothouse: The Aftershow” (Nominated for Theatre Unleashed’s “Unleashed Production” at HFF17). and “The 7th Annual One-Man Show World Championships” (Nominated for Top of Fringe and Best Comedy at HFF15)

Okay, another slight cheat – I’ve known Jim Hanna for a few years, and love his work. But it’s not (just) his direct involvement that piques my interest in this dark political comedy. I want to see it because, well, it’s a dark political comedy.

Get Tickets to The Mayor’s Debate of Tranquility, Nebraska

Isaac Easton, a recently retired boxer, and his former sports manager open a gym together to help advance the popularity of female boxing. When their first female boxer gets into trouble only three weeks from the fight, they scramble to find a new fighter to train. Enter Zoey Jones, a young and shy fighter who has never fought in the professional circuit. Easton and Jones take a crash course in trusting and learning from each other over three weeks in preparation for the fight, and the two often butt heads. Can Jones pull out a win and save Easton’s reputation and gym? Through voice overs and grueling workouts in preparation for the fight, this one act play shows the audience how intimate a platonic relationship between a man and woman can be, the beauty of physical strength, and what happens when you are stuck in fight or flight mode.

Besides politics and baseball, I love the fight game, and a good underdog story, and this play looks like it scratches both of those itches.

Get Tickets to Fight or Flight

A dark comedy on the danger and absurdity of American politics.

Taking inspiration from the family drama of Arthur Miller and the gallows humor of Martin McDonagh, Treason explores the entitled toxicity of our current president and his surrounding culture without relying on recent headlines.

Synopsis- On a ranch in Nevada, Grant Wilson rules a made-up nation through empty shows of power and ridiculous propaganda, with his family as his only subjects. When his son takes the mission too far and his daughter questions everything, Grant fights for control in the face of family, country, and reality.

Love dark comedy. Love politics. Fascinated by the hook. Let’s see if the product’s as good as the pitch.

Get Tickets to Treason

Though Kahless himself, angry god of arms,
And all of Qo’noS’s potentates conspire
To dispossess me of this new-won crown,
Yet will I wear it in despite of them
As great commander of all Klingondom.
Full bowls of bloodwine to the god of war!
-Tamburlaine the Great

Seldom in the annals of legend and song has a conqueror’s rise been so meteoric as that of the emperor Tamburlaine.

Born a lowly shepherd he has risen to renown as dread bandit-warlord of the Central Plains of Qo’noS. By winning and enlisting the Imperial army dispatched to kill him, he has defeated and dethroned the aging emperor Mycetes.

Now new-crowned Emperor Tamburlaine pushes out from Qo’noS in a bloody spasm of conquest, planet after planet falling to the self-proclaimed Scourge of God.

But across the Neutral Zone, the Romulan Empire is watching warily. Fearful of Tamburlaine, they forge an alliance with a former hated foe … the Federation.

And so the stage is set for the ultimate battle, a clash to determine who rules the galaxy. Can the Romulans and Federation bury past hatreds? And if so, can they hope to stand against the raging martial tide of Tamburlaine?

The School of Night is proud to present Christopher Marlowe’s medieval pageant of will, war and conquest re-imagined as epic sci-fi spectacle. Tragedy! Romance! Mighty verse! Great battles waged on land and in space! Honor and glory! Qapla’!

An unofficial fan production adapted from Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II.

I have never seen a School of Night production. It’s time to fix that oversight. Considering that they’re combining two of my favorite things – classical theatre and Star Trek – this show seems like the perfect opportunity for me to familiarize myself with their work.

Maybe next year, I can work with them on Hamlet in its original Klingon.

Get Tickets to Klingon Tamburlaine

In 1980, Lee Atwater was a scrappy Southern political strategist. By 1990, he’d changed American politics forever. A year later, he was dead, his spectacular career over in a flash, and his legacy just another story to spin. SON OF A BITCH chronicles Atwater’s journey from ambitious campaign manager to the “Bad Boy” of the Republican Party.

More politics. I’m sensing a theme this year.

Get Tickets to Son of a Bitch

Like a lot of people today, jaded campaign manager Tess Baker (think Jessica Jones meets Josh Lyman) is sick of politics. She’s just about ready to throw in the towel when somebody wakes up a candidate she can work with – Abraham Lincoln.

Will he be a good President in 2020 America? Will he even win?

You decide – the play has two endings and your vote counts!

Learn More at lincoln2020play.com

Okay, yeah, I honestly didn’t notice until now just how many political comedies I’d picked. Jeez. But in this show’s defense, I love the conceit and the concept. Excited to see if it lives up to the hype.

Get Tickets to Lincoln 2020

A sadist, a murderer, and a predator, all share one common goal: to become the leader of the finest cult, the Ascendants of Abaddon. There’s only one problem. In order to obtain this position, they must go up against each other in a riveting competition to impress the cult’s current leader: Adam. He’s spectacularly charming and possesses the uncanny ability to influence all those who cross his path. With secrets spilled and matches met, the three contestants grow more and more daring with their desperate attempts to gain total power. However, no matter what happens, no matter who lies and who cheats, Adam always calls the final shots.

Okay, well, here’s something completely different. An immersive show about power, corruption, morality, and cut-throat competition… and it’s a horror. See? That makes it completely different.

Get Tickets to Hell’s Finest

The characters of nearly every beloved animated movie musical (from “The Little Mermaid” to “The Lion King” to “Frozen”) have not always been under the same house of mouse: they began in fairy tales and stories from the public domain.

But what about the public domain characters who have never appeared in an animated movie? In Public Domain: The Musical, characters from the bottom of the barrel audition with original songs to show why they deserve to have their own time in the spotlight.

Well, let’s wrap things up with a musical… about copyright law. Good lord, if someone did a reading of a spec script for The West Wing, I’d be there front row center without a second thought. That being said, I can tell you that it’s not just me that’s obsessed with political theatre. I think this year’s Fringe is very indicative of the zeitgeist. A lot of bold work either diving directly into and exploring the condition of our society today, or offering escape from it. Go figure.

Get Tickets to Public Domain: The Musical

As I mentioned above, next week, I’ll be back with another list plugging my friends’ projects. If they’re on that list, then they’re getting my personal recommendation and endorsement that their work is Something Worth Seeing.

Tickets are on sale now for all of the above shows, so get ’em while you can.

See you in June! Until then, onward and upward.


Gregory Crafts

Gregory Crafts

Creative Multi-Hyphenate

An award-winning multi-hyphenate creative artist, with more than twenty-five years of experience as an actor, playwright, director, designer, and theatrical producer under his belt, Greg graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with a Bachelor’s in Theatre Studies in 2003. Soon after, Greg migrated to Los Angeles seeking adventure in the entertainment industry. He currently resides in North Hollywood, CA with his wife, Jenn, and their three cats.