Meet Sabina England & Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life

Sabina EnglandName: Sabina England

Tell us about you. 

I am a filmmaker, playwright and performance artist. I am profoundly deaf and cannot hear but I work with musicians a lot in my projects. I just won a Jury Award at Lady Filmmakers Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California last month for my short sign language poetry film, “Deaf Brown Gurl,” which I wrote, filmed, directed, produced and edited.

Tell us about your current project? 

I wrote and created “Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life” which is a solo multimedia performance show with sign language, mime, music, video and movement. I incorporated elements from traditional South Asian dances and Sufi poetry into my show, creating an unique deaf theatrical experience for both deaf and hearing audiences.

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 

I am performing “Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life” at New York International Fringe Festival here in New York City. I believe New York City is a great fit because of the rich diversity of so many cultures and communities. My show appeals to everyone, not just for Deaf or brown people, but for anybody who has wondered about the meaning of life and why we are here on Earth.

What’s next for you? 

After I am done with New York International Fringe Festival, I will write, direct and produce a short silent narrative film about an undocumented man and deaf woman who fall in love together.

What is the name of the last show you saw? 

No Exit, by Jean-Paul Sartre, produced by SATE Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri

Any advice for your peers?

Don’t worry what everyone thinks of you. Just focus on doing what makes you happy and keep going with your dreams. You are here on Earth for yourself, not to please anybody or make others happy.


Show Information: 

WHEN: October 21 (7:00pm), October 23 (4:45pm), October 27 (1:15pm)

WHERE: 685 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

TICKETS: https://www.sabinaengland.com/allahearth.html

Follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Sabina_England/

FringeNYC + FringeBYOV Returns 2018

After a one year hiatus, the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) returns with a new look.  It also returns with an additional moniker called FringeBYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) which opens the festival and audience members to theatre beyond the borough of Manhattan. Unfortunately, the Bronx wasn’t included but kudos to Staten Island for being creative in their presentation of The Ferry Play as a podplay.

So I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t some trepidation around the new format. August in NYC for theatre-makers and audience members comes with an acceptance. There will be 200 shows to read in the program guide (in addition to the other festivals and shows); you’ll only be able to get to maybe ten (2 if you are in the Fringe); and you’ll have to run from venue to venue in 100 degree weather. Honestly, as much as I complained about it, I LOVED it. Even if some of the shows were hit or miss.

This leads me to figuring out my Fringe schedule in October. The days are getting shorter, there are some serious plays being produced at our non-profit institutions, and now there’s the Fringe Hub where we all meet to be taken to our venue. How to see it all?! Yes, a luxury problem, but in today’s climate, the theatrical platform, soapbox, medium, choose your noun, is essential. So when Onaje is the play that kicks off my Fringe viewing, I am intrigued. The show is already sold out in the days prior to its opening.

Onaje uses the Cambridge riots of 1967 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as a backdrop for a group of people who are neighbors turned enemies due to the race relations. An ensemble of nine tell the story of an astrological hobo, an ex-CIA operative, a stripper, a drunk, an angry cop, a family living a simple life, and hitchhiker as they intersect on the highway (literal and metaphorical). We learn soon that this is the first layer of the onion. Wrong place at the wrong time. Running away from the truth. Money solves all problems. The grass is always greener on the other side. Leaving the world better than we found it. All of these are reflected in each actor as in their insightful and careful expression of Robert Bowie, Jr.’s words.

It took me some time to unpack the 145 minutes of intensity. There were many aspects of the show that left me in thought. The cast was talented, Pat Golden’s direction tight in telling the story within the allotted time (though it felt long at spots), and the writing significant.

My next stop was Jamaica Center for the Arts & Learning (JCal) as part of the fringeBYOV/fringeQNS. On the way to see The Public and Private Deaths of Carol O’Grady, I listened to a new feature of the Fringe called the podplay. I listened to Subway Plays which was simply a pretty cool thing to experience as I rode the 7 train. The good thing about the series is that you don’t HAVE to be on that line if you’re already familiar with the subway. I listened to Damper Felts: N on the bus and had the same experience. If you are a tourist, though, it’s a great companion piece for taking the train. All the conversations you have, don’t have, avoid, overhear, and imagine are in one place. Jenny Lyn Bader, Jessie Bear and Colin Waitt capture those moments. As a native New Yorker, I laughed aloud many times and didn’t care about the reactions of others.

As for The Public and Private Deaths of Carol O’Grady, Frank Murdocco’s solo show was a breath of fresh air on a cool night in Jamaica, Queens. The experience began as soon as I arrived and was treated with a tour of the venue which boasts two artists’ gallery. That prepared me for another surprise – a beautiful state-of-the-art 120 seat theatre. It’s Christmas and something terrible has happened to Carol O’Grady! Murdocco’s tells the story through three characters in the style of Sarah Jones, Anna Deveare Smith and Eric Bogosian. He flawlessly and smoothly transforms into these characters. The only indication of a character change is a click of the lamp (which I loved) which added to the layer of the insanity created by Jessica DiPaola and Lindsey Smith.

My trip to the Fringe is coming to a close due to scheduling but definitely support the artists. We need their voices and their stories. And we need yours too. Start creating!


The NEW York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC + FringeBYOV)

www.fringenyc.org

October 1st – 31st, 2018

OCT 12th – 28th

OCT 5th – 28th

OCT 1st – 31st

FringeNYC Announces Plans For The Future

**Festival moves to October beginning in 2018**

After a 1-year hiatus spent evaluating the needs of New York’s indie theater community, FringeNYC (New York International Fringe Festival) has unveiled its plans for the next 3 years under Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy.

Beginning in 2018, FringeNYC will move to October and will have three components:

• A smaller, adjudicated festival. This smaller adjudicated festival will allow FringeNYC to continue to serve the NYC area’s truly emerging creators / underrepresented communities and those who do not have ample opportunity elsewhere. This will be where international shows, too, can be a part of FringeNYC – since helping them secure visas is key to their participation. Similarly, national artists who are less familiar with producing in New York, and New York City venues, will find a home at this new smaller adjudicated FringeNYC.

• Because of the shift to the fall, FringeNYC becomes the annual convening of indie performance makers, with panels and workshops addressing current issues and the gathering of all indie performance stakeholders and constituents.

• In 2018, FringeNYC will also add a twist on the “Bring Your Own Venue” model. In the coming weeks, FringeNYC be forming an outer borough steering group to devise a plan by which venues outside of Manhattan can apply to make their programming an official part of FringeNYC.

In October of 2019, through a network of affiliated fringe festivals from across the United States, FringeNYC will become the official “National” Fringe Festival. FringeNYC will invite the 2018 award winning show from each affiliated US fringe festival (which currently includes nearly 30 festivals in cities including Chicago, San Francisco, Tuscon, Boulder, Orlando, Hollywood, Atlanta, and Washington DC) to participate in the adjudicated festival starting in 2019.

And then in 2020, theater producers and producing organizations locally and regionally will be invited to present an award to the piece that they’d like to further develop and present in a future season, which FringeNYC will help to promote.  These further developed / next generation piece will also be welcomed back to a future festival.

FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy. In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe festival. FringeNYC has presented over 3000 performing groups representing every continent, prompting Switzerland’s national daily, Neue Zuercher Zeitung, to declare FringeNYC as “the premiere meeting ground for alternative artists.” FringeNYC has also been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Never Swim Alone, Jammer, Debbie Does Dallas, Last Train to Nibroc, Dog Sees God, Brandon Teena, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, 21 Dog Years, The Irish Curse, and Silence! The Musical; movies including WTC View and Armless; and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair). FringeNYC alumni include Bradley Cooper, Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory), Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, CNN’s Inside Man), Mindy Kaling, Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Pippin), Leigh Silverman (Violet), W. Kamau Bell (Totally Biased), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), David Anders (iZombie), Sam Underwood (Fear The Walking Dead) and Kristen Schall (Last Man on Earth), among countless other success stories.

FringeNYC Presents Benefit — And Announces Plans For The Future/Sunday, August 20th

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FringeNYC (New York International Fringe Festival) will present FringeNYC 20/20: A Vaudeville, the first ever benefit gala for New York’s largest theater and performance festival. FringeNYC 20/20 will celebrate FringeNYC’s first twenty years with an evening of eclectic performances by FringeNYC alumni and will include the highly-anticipated first announcement of their vision for the future. Hosted by Todd Robbins, the evening will feature performances by Billy (The Mime), Jena Friedman, American Horror Story’s Naomi Grossman, Dominique Salerno, Gianmarco Soresi, and more. It will be presented Sunday, August 20 at The Gramercy Theatre (127 E 23rd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues). The VIP reception begins at 6pm, doors open at 6:30pm and the show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets range from $50 – $175, available at www.FringeNYC.org

FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy. In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe festival, joining Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco. FringeNYC has presented over 3000 performing groups representing every continent, prompting Switzerland’s national daily, Neue Zuercher Zeitung, to declare FringeNYC as “the premiere meeting ground for alternative artists.” FringeNYC has also been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Never Swim Alone, Jammer, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, Brandon Teena, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, 21 Dog Years, The Irish Curse, and Silence! The Musical; movies including WTC View and Armless; and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair). FringeNYC alumni include Bradley Cooper, Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory), Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, CNN’s Inside Man), Mindy Kaling, Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Pippin), Alex Timbers (Rocky), Leigh Silverman (Violet), W. Kamau Bell (Totally Biased), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), David Anders (iZombie), Sam Underwood (Fear The Walking Dead) and Kristen Schall (Last Man on Earth), among countless other success stories.

Todd Robbins (FringeNYC ’00) is a New York City based performer who has spent decades specializing in arcane forms of popular entertainment, offbeat amusements and intriguing deceptions. Currently Todd can be seen on the Investigation Discovery channel’s new series True Nightmares. The series features Todd as the host telling bizarre true tales of murder and mayhem that all have a lovely ironic twist to them. Recently Todd he was seen in the acclaimed off-Broadway theater show Play Dead. It is a joyous evening of true ghost stories about real people and unholy resurrection that he created with Teller (of Penn & Teller). The show also played to a sold out run at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, and a new production will be opening soon in Las Vegas. Todd is also one of the partners in Magical Nights Inc, the producers of New York’s longest running magic show Monday Night Magic and its sister show Magical Nights at Feinstein’s. He is the author of the cult classic book The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing and the creator of the companion Modern Con Man DVD Collection.

Billy (The Mime) (FringeNYC ’06) first garnered attention with his show stopping appearance in the hit documentary The Aristocrats. After appearing at FringeNYC, he presented his show, America Love Sex Death, at The Flea Theater in New York, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Risadaria Festival (Brazil), Mainstage at Playwright’s Horizon, Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, The Lake Shore Theater and Mayne Stage (Chicago) and The Revolutions International Theater Festival in New Mexico. Television appearances include Mom, My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Parks and Recreation.

Jena Friedman (FringeNYC ’08) is a stand up comedian, actor, writer and filmmaker. She is currently a correspondent for National Geographic Explorer and has worked as a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman. Her critically acclaimed stand up special, American Cunt, is now available on Seeso and Amazon.

Naomi Grossman (FringeNYC ’11) is best known for her portrayal of “Pepper” in “American Horror Story” Previously, she wrote, produced, and starred in her second hit solo show, “Carnival Knowledge: Love, Lust, and other Human Oddities,” which enjoyed a twice-extended, sold-out run and rave reviews (“Recommended” by LA Weekly); the show was then reprised at the world-famous fringe theatre festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, where it received more critical praise (4 stars: The Scotsman, Broadway Baby, Fringe Review) and a transfer to London’s West End (Leicester Square Theatre). It was later reprised Off Off Broadway in New York. Its predecessor, “Girl in Argentine Landscape,” also received critical acclaim (LA Weekly, “Pick of the Week”) and earned her an LA Weekly Theater Award nomination for best solo performance. Naomi also toured with “Girl…” to Chicago’s Single File Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, and FringeNYC. A graduate in theatre from Northwestern University and a former member of the esteemed Groundlings Sunday Company, Naomi has starred in numerous self-penned/produced comedic shorts under her “Red Meat Entertainment” umbrella, as well as recently appeared in her first feature film, “Table for Three.”

Dominique Salerno (FringeNYC ’16) is a New York based actress, singer, director, improvisor, and playwright. She received her MFA in Acting from American Conservatory Theater, and her A.B. in Religion from Princeton University. Her hilarious solo show, The Box Show, recently won the Overall Excellence Award in FringeNYC and Best Comedic Script in the United Solo Theatre Festival.  It also was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 shows out of 200’ for the Fringe Encore Series

Gianmarco Soresi (FringeNYC ’14) is a comic, storyteller and actor, but his obituary will likely lead with “the guy from all those General Electric commercials.” A regular performer at The PIT, UCB, Broadway Comedy Club, The Creek and The Cave and more, he’ll be headlining Carolines Comedy Club September 27th and releasing his first hour special, Infinite Bris, later this year. His play, Less Than 50%, debuted in the 2014 Fringe Festival, transferred for Fringe Encores, and will return next summer to 59E59 for a full Off-Broadway run. His sketch comedy work has been featured Fast Company, A. V. Club, Huffington Post, Metro New York, CityLab, Splitsider, Laughspin, and he’ll be creating original video for Funny or Die in October. Besides his commercial work, you might recognize from Blue Bloods (CBS), Unforgettable (A&E), Hack My Life (TruTV), I Love You But I Lied! (Lifetime), The Last O.G. (TBS), Clown Bar (Pipeline Theatre Company) and the EST One-Act Marathon. Follow him @GianmarcoSoresi for upcoming stand-up dates or with his sketch team Uncle Function and check out his sketch series Matza Pizza and An Actor Unprepared. More at www.GianmarcoSoresi.com

fringeNYC 2016 Recap #2

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Houseless in Paradise by Dr. Mark Tjarks; Directed by Dennis Gleason

Houseless in Paradise exposes the homelessness problem in tropical Hawaii. The Aloha  State has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the United States. The playwright, Dr. Mark Tjarks compiled more than 60 stories from the “houseless” community as well as city and state officials to create a play about hope.

The program included a bonus feature called The Unsalable Thing also written by Dr. Tjarks about a bidding war for a storage locker with a twist.
After a short pause there’s a transition into Houseless in Paradise. However, the location of the piece was unclear at the beginning. The ensemble wonderfully shared the many stories that reflect painful childhoods, addiction, abuse, prostitution, economic downfall, and illness as a basis of the loss of homes. However, it was unclear to whom they were talking.
Though emotional and thought provoking, it was missing an element that would connect this audience to Hawaii. The piece began with the use of projection and wasn’t used again until the end. Since the play is performed in New York City, where homelessness is also a widespread issue, the lack of photos from Hawaii didn’t transport the audience to the locations mentioned in the script. It also didn’t give us the element needed to forget what’s right outside the theater. Therefore, if one hasn’t been to Hawaii (like me), it was hard to connect to being homeless in paradise. Regardless, I was able to hear the stories and be empathetic.
Show Info:
WED 8/17 @ 4:30
FRI 8/19 @ 4:45
SAT 8/20 @ NOON
VENUE #1: Teatro SEA at The Clemente
107 Suffolk Street (between Rivington & Delancey)
Click HERE for more info.

 

Meet Michael Bradley Block & The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer

Michael Block Headshot 4Name: Michael Bradley Block

What is your current project? The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer

Where are you performing it and why is it the right fit for your piece?

The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer will be presented as part of the 20th Annual New York International Fringe Festival! I’ve been dreaming to be a part of the festival for quite some time so getting this opportunity now is extraordinary. FringeNYC is a place where works that may not be able to see the light of day get the opportunity to experience life in front of an audience. My play is inspired by Ibsen’s Peer Gynt told through the lens of modern sexuality. The pitch is filled with buzzwords but to a regular audience, it may not be their cup of tea. Because of the structure of FringeNYC, not only are we getting friends and family to attend, we’re getting patrons of the festival which then brings word of mouth! This play at this time is important. And I’m thankful that FringeNYC will be a part of the adventure!

What’s next for you?

I am keeping up with my site Theater in the Now (theaterinthenow.com) as well as pushing for my musical, The Girls in White, to see life on its feet. So if anyone wants to produce a musical that is virtually “Orange is the New Black” meets “Chicago” with a country twang, I got the show for you!

Who is your biggest inspiration right at this moment and why?

I’ve said this a lot recently, but I truly mean it. Right now, my biggest inspiration right now is Chris Goodrich, the director of The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer. Not only is he an amazing friend but he’s pushed me in ways that have made me a stronger person and a stronger artist. I’m not going to lie, producing a play for FringeNYC is not easy. Chris has been such a wonderful support and is the reason why this play is happening. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably have pulled all my hair out! Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like him.

WANT MORE?

Website: dreamerplay.com, theaterinthenow.com
Twitter: @dreamerplay2016 @theaterinthenow
Facebook: facebook.com/dreamerplay2016, facebook.com/michaelbblock

Michael Bradley (Playwright): originally from Mahwah, New Jersey, Michael is a theater artist based in New York City. Most recently, his musical The Girls in White, written with Artie Sievers, received a concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below featuring two-time Tony winner Michael Cerveris. As a playwright, his work as been seen and heard throughout New York including TinyRhino, Less Than Rent, Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City, PTP/NYC, and Rhapsody Collective, to name a few. He is the founder and artistic director of Rhapsody Collective. He is also the founder and lead critic of Theater in the Now (theaterinthenow.com), a leading source of theatrical criticism in the Indie and Off Broadway theater community. As a stage manager, Michael has worked on and off Broadway including Stick Fly, produced by Alicia Keys, Signature’s revival of Angels in America, and the original productions of Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris and Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker. Michael is a graduate of Boston University and a proud member of AEA.


Show Information

WHERE: Venue #1- Teatro Sea at The Clemente (107 Suffolk St.)

WHEN: SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 @ 9:30; TUESDAY, AUGUST 16 @ 5+; MONDAY, AUGUST 22 @ 4:45; WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24 @ 7; SATURDAY, AUGUST 27 @ 1:30

TICKETS: fringenyc.org

Dreamer Postcard Front

TBB: The Pawnbroker Extends to FringeNYC Encores, I Am Me, EstroGenius Festival, Fountain of Youth

When one festival closes another one opens. Or overlaps. Or extends.  My journey has taken me through many of the festivals in NYC (Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, West Village Musical Theatre Festival, NYMF, FringeNYC and now EstroGenius). I won’t lie. I am tired as I am sure the many many artists who have taken part in this festivals. As exciting as it is to be able to produce these shows and have an audience, reviewers, industry be in attendance, I have been wondering when do we take a breath and recharge.

Over the last few months, I have been writing for The Write Teacher(s) about theater beyond Broadway. This has allowed me to interview artists that have been in festivals as well as the mother of all festivals, Edinburgh Fringe. Overall, this sentiment is joy but there is a layer of frenzy that exhilarates as well as drains.

I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on festivals?

Click HERE to read more about the featured listing and and I will see you at the show!

TBB: Planet Connections Final Week, Our Bar, Newtown Literary Release

CaptureBelieve it or not, I do actually do activities that are non-theatrical. This past week, I decided to take a night off and hang out with some fellow artists at an open mic for Inspired Word.  I read three poems that are in the running for my performance at the Kaufman Studios Block Party.  I don’t perform as much as I used to by choice.  I really enjoy being behind the scenes producing, directing and promoting. However, it is important for me to feel  the butterflies and fear of speaking in front of people, so I can effectively communicate with fellow artists. It is one of the reasons I asked my friends to be my guest bloggers. I like to read and share their experiences with you.

As of this Friday, Valerie G. Keane will by my First Fridays guest blogger. Valerie is a passionate and opinionated artist whose work is published in Newtown Literary Magazine. She is also the curator of Poetry and Coffee, a monthly poetry salon where people discuss great poetry.

I want to thank Josh Rivedal, Nick Radu, Adam Kern, Kate Powers, Dawn Slegona McDonald, Ian McDonald, Isaac Klein,  Linda Gnat-Mullins and Cas Marino for being my guest bloggers.  I appreciate them taking the time to share about their wonderful work.

And on to June. Keep me posted on your shows as summer has Fringe, Midtown International Festival, NYMF and so much more.

See you at the show!