PICTURED: Tamara Varney, board chair for NAMBA (remaining), with Teruko Nakajima (holding Titi), Robyn Migel and Jenna Wadsworth McCarty at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, June 2022. Photograph by David Haverty
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
A few standout productions from the 2022 Hollywood Fringe Pageant have traveled north to provide initial and inspiring tales to local theater fans. The Women’s Voices Festival returns to NAMBA Performing Arts Room July 9-10, debuting for Ventura audiences 3 solo reveals that delve into anger, pain, survival, healing and the artistic system.
“These ladies, all three have mighty toolboxes,” claims Robyn Migel, competition organizer.
On stage this weekend will be Queen of Fishtown, created and done by Katierose Donohue Enriquez Teruko Nakajima’s Designed in The usa and Emergence: Very first Flight, Jenna Wadsworth McCarty’s mix of art, track, poetry and theater. All three operates have been nominated for the 2022 Solo Splash Award, sponsored by NAMBA and bestowed by its board of administrators.
“That line amongst laughter and tears”
On Saturday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m., Enriquez will take the stage to share her darkish comedy about transform, authenticity and anger in a gentrifying neighborhood in Philadelphia. It is a room with which she is intimately common.
“Both of my moms and dads grew up in row houses in Philadelphia encompassing the neighborhood of Fishtown,” she clarifies. “So I put in all my weekends there as a kid.”
In accordance to Enriquez, Fishtown was for a very long time just one of the most undesirable neighborhoods in the city, a position “no a person would move foot in for a hundred a long time . . . they all used their lives making an attempt to get out of there.” Then yuppies began moving in, renovating and turning the location into Philly’s model of Bushwick.
“Forbes Journal listed it as the No. 1 best-increasing neighborhood in America in 2017,” Enriquez remembers. “It is a bougie, bougie, substantial-hire, higher-ticket neighborhood now. And so my show is about a female whose lifetime is shifting. Her youngsters are escalating up, she’s transforming, her health is altering, she’s turning 40 — and the community is a mirror to her.”
Enriquez is a veteran of both of those the spectacular and comedic arts. A graduate of Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, she had been performing with the Moscow Art Theatre prior to coming to Los Angeles 15 a long time ago.
“I straight away went to the Groundlings, due to the fact I was like, ‘I will need comedy!!!’ I was executing Chekov in Russia.”
The Queen of Fishtown has its roots in a comedy sketch Enriquez wrote as a member of the Groundlings’ Sunday Organization. Through the pandemic shutdown, she created it into a tv pilot that she started out shopping close to — without success. The opinions she bought, all over again and again: “This isn’t viable because your primary character is unlikable she’s too indignant.”
“Women are not permitted to convey their anger,” Enriquez notes.
She found an advocate in her director, Corey Podell, who she’d met in 2006 by means of the Groundlings. Podell go through the script, liked it and explained to Enriquez, “We never get to see a female offer with her anger problems. Let’s just do it.”
“Had she not mentioned that, I really do not know that the demonstrate would exist,” Enriquez admits.
So, indeed, Queen of Fishtown has anger. But the writer/star states there’s a great deal of laughter, as well. “It is a funny present. But it’s also dramatic as very well. That’s surely my sweet location — that line in between laughter and tears . . . in Philly we’re both laughing or we’re screaming, since the different is just far too gentle.”
“America never ever permit me die”
With her beaming smile, sweet voice, coronary heart-formed eyeglasses and endearing puppy Titi, Tokyo native Teruko Nakajima cuts a sunny, playful determine that is the very embodiment of Japanese kawaii (cute or lovable). But there’s so a great deal additional to this internationally qualified dancer, artist and actress than satisfies the eye.
“I am not a character!” Nakajima exclaims. “Whenever I do some stuff, they say, ‘oh, she’s imitating Japanese accent. She ought to be American.’ No, I’m the real human being — which is the primary purpose I needed to do the one particular-person present.”
Made in The us, getting position Saturday, July 9, at 8:30 p.m., specifics her journey from tortured soul striving to survive a childhood marked by domestic violence and sexual abuse to her “escape” to the United States, where she discovers herself and an unquenchable lust for daily life.
“Six many years in the past, I was in a suicide ward,” she points out. “I preferred to conclusion almost everything. And America never let me die.”
She credits her team of psychiatric and medical gurus as very well as close friends and social staff for providing her “a likelihood to live once more.” Just after becoming discharged, on the suggestion of her doctor, who felt she required art in her life, she joined the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB).
“I felt so recognized and alive!” she exclaims. “And after 6 years, I am totally out of medicine. I’ve got my puppy. I definitely, really wished to make a thing.”
Even so, the raw honesty of the piece was unpleasant for her.
“This is my whole life, so it is unquestionably hard to be unveiled. I felt naked. I felt absolutely susceptible,” Nakajima says. “I by no means informed just about anything about my record, since it is so depressing. But then, every time, when I share, individuals recognize. People really came back again to me and explained, ‘It occurred to me, too. And it aided me that you shared.’ So that is the purpose I began writing. It’s not effortless, but it’s virtually like a thank you letter to The usa.”
She discovered a good supply of guidance in her director, John Flynn, also of UCB, whom she describes as “the finest gentlemen.”
“He understands my voice with wonderful empathy and compassion . . . I virtually felt like he is one more therapist.”
Irrespective of the darkish subject matter subject, Created in The usa finally is a tale of survival, hope and optimism, advised by a woman who is content to be alive and considers herself “your major cheerleader on Earth.”
“So it is not as well sad, I hope not,” Nakajima suggests. “Because I am in fact a cheeky human being. Really don’t presume it’s heading to be all unfortunate and teary.”
“Mythic-poetic telling of a life”
Like the other two plays, Sunday’s Emergence: 1st Flight (Sunday, July 10, 5 p.m.) has autobiographical components. But Jenna Wadsworth McCarty’s piece stands out for its mix of media: theater, poetry, spoken word, new music and visible artwork. She generates an unique operate of artwork, on phase, in the course of each and every hour-prolonged efficiency. Rather outstanding for a person new to the accomplishing arts.
“The day before quarantine was my to start with working day on stage,” she explains. “It took me until I was 45 to understand to adore to be on phase, and in this article I am!”
Her circuitous resume has involved stints in social and environmental do the job, international growth and therapeutic (she’s the founder of Juvenation, which focuses on restorative muscle mass treatment). Her journey towards becoming an artist is the matter of her solo demonstrate, and all things in it are entirely primary.
Emergence emerged (ahem) from a 2019 art show. A mutual pal connected her with Craig Tyrl, a professor of theater and performing at California Point out College, Fullerton, who arrived to the present and heard McCarty telling her tale. The two achieved for coffee, and Emergence began to get flight.
“He said, ‘I think you have received a a person-woman demonstrate.’ And so we began collaborating,” recalls McCarty. “He experienced these a vision for the demonstrate . . . he listened to just about every tale, he seemed at each individual piece of artwork, he examine every poem, he read every song and assisted me find the thread between them all and pare it down into this a single hour.”
With Tyrl as director, McCarty was capable to generate a “mythic-poetic telling of a lifestyle.” Her inventive awakening involves struggles with melancholy and stress and anxiety, her family’s incapability to have an understanding of her fierce creativeness and her possess grasp and knowing of her tale. She identified Tyrl’s aid a must have.
“He just really noticed and believed in me in a way that no a single at any time had just before,” McCarty says. “That was life transforming for me. I totally necessary that assistance.”
With a qualifications in the healing arts, she sees her do the job in theater as an extension of her possess wellness journey.
“Any healer, to be a healer . . . you have to be on your individual therapeutic journey. I imagine it’s all a continuation/extension of that healing do the job.”
“Learn from what they’ve learned”
Migel and the playwrights hope that the viewers will consider away considerably additional than a enjoyable evening at the theater from these productions.
“It’s about empowering females. Empowered women of all ages empower ladies, you know?” posits Migel. “It’s about lifting up sisters . . . We intentionally chose inspiring women of all ages simply because we wanted people today, no make any difference how they determine, to appear in and have a thing to take absent.”
Enriquez hopes audiences will discover something about “the City of Brotherly Love” from Queen of Fishtown, and “leave figuring out that it is Alright to feel having said that you’re experience.”
McCarty sees the cyclical mother nature of difficult situations and fantastic as one of the consider-house messages from Emergence: 1st Flight.
“The tough situations come, and then we go through them and we understand. And then oftentimes we expect it to be, that is it,” she suggests. “We’ve manufactured it by and now we’re far better. But it tends to cycle close to and all over. But it is vital to recall that, of course, the tricky moments cycle, but the good moments cycle, too, so continue to keep likely. Hold a heading.”
“I want not only women of all ages, but everybody, to know that I definitely hope they are getting form to them selves,” claims Nakajima of Made in The us. “I hope they have compassion for themselves, much too, that I realized in The usa.”
“The equipment you learn there, you leave with,” Migel states of everyone who will come to NAMBA this weekend. “To discover how to convey creative imagination, to master how to express anger, to study how to procedure men and women that harmed you when you have been vulnerable — all of these points are so valuable that we experience like we are bringing something so inspiring to the people of Ventura. … If you’re sensible, you understand from what they’ve acquired, and you choose that with you permanently.”
The Women’s Voices Competition normally takes put July 9-10 at NAMBA Performing Arts Room, 47 S. Oak St., Ventura, 805-628-9250, http://www.nambaarts.com.