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FRINGE BENEFITS | Three Hollywood Fringe gems come to NAMBA for the Women’s Voices Festival – VC Reporter

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picture: NAMBA Board Chair Tamara Varney (left) takes a selfie with Teruko Nakajima (holding Titi), Robyn Migel and Jenna Wadsworth McCarty at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2022. Photo by Tamara Varney

Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
nshaffer@timespublications.com

Some standouts from the 2022 Hollywood Fringe Festival have headed north, bringing original and inspiring stories to local theater lovers. The Women’s Voice Festival returns to the Namba Performing Arts Space July 9-10, debuting three solo performances for Ventura audiences, delving into anger, pain, survival, healing, and the creative process.

Jenna Wadsworth McCarty Appearance: First flight. Submitted photos

“All three women have powerful toolboxes,” said festival organizer Robin Miguel.

on stage this weekend fish town queenwritten and performed by Katierose Donohue Enriquez; Teruko Nakajima’s made in America; and Appearance: First flight, Jenna Wadsworth McCarty combines art, song, poetry and drama. All three works have been nominated for the 2022 Solo Splash Award, sponsored by NAMBA and awarded by the Board of Directors.

“The Line Between Laughter and Tears”

On Saturday, July 9th at 6:30pm, Enriquez will take the stage to share her dark comedy about change, authenticity and anger in an upscale Philadelphia neighborhood. It was a space she was very familiar with.

“Both my parents grew up in townhouses near Fishtown in Philadelphia,” she explained. “So I spent all my weekends there when I was a kid.”

According to Enriquez, Fishtown has long been one of the city’s least desirable neighborhoods, a place “where no one will set foot in a hundred years.” .. they’ve spent their whole lives trying to get out of there. Then the yuppies started moving in, renovating the area and turning the area into Philadelphia’s version of Bushwick.

“Forbes Magazine named it the #1 fastest growing community in America in 2017,” recalls Enriquez. “It’s now a scout, scout, high-rent, high-ticket neighborhood. So my show is about a woman whose life is changing. Her kids are growing up, she’s changing, her health is changing, She’s 40 years old – and the community is a mirror to her.”

Enriquez is a veteran of the theatre and comedy arts. A graduate of Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre, she performed at the Moscow Art Theater before coming to Los Angeles 15 years ago.

“I immediately went to Groundlings because I was like, ‘I need comedy!!!’ I was doing Chekov in Russia.”

Queen of Fish Town Its roots lie in the comedy sketches Enriquez wrote as a member of the Sunday Company of Ground Man. During the pandemic shutdown, she developed it as a TV pilot and started poking around — without success. The feedback she got time and time again was: “It’s not going to work because your protagonist isn’t likable; she’s so pissed off.”

“Women are not allowed to express their anger,” Enriquez noted.

She met her director Corey Podell in 2006 through Groundlings. Podell read the script, loved it and told Enriquez, “We’ve never seen a woman deal with her anger problem. Let’s do it.”

“If she hadn’t said that, I don’t know this show would exist,” Enriquez admitted.

So yes, fish town queen There is anger. But the writer/star said there was a lot of laughter too. “It’s a fun show. But it’s also dramatic. It’s definitely my sweet spot — the line between laughter and tears. . . in Philly we’re either laughing or screaming because the alternative is Too soft.”

“America Never Let Me Die”

With a bright smile, sweet voice, heart-shaped glasses and adorable dog Diti, Tokyo native Teruko Nakajima creates a sunny, playful image who is the embodiment of Japanese kawaii (cute or cute). But this internationally trained dancer, artist and actress is much more than meets the eye.

Written and starred by Teruko Nakajima made in America. Submitted photos

“I’m no a character! exclaimed Nakajima. “Whenever I do something, they say, ‘Oh, she’s imitating a Japanese accent. She must be American. No, I’m a real person – that’s why I wanted to do a one-man show in the first place. “

made in Americawhich takes place at 8.30pm on Saturday, July 9, details her journey from the tormented soul’s attempt to survive a childhood marked by domestic violence and sexual abuse to her “flight” to America, where She found herself and an unquenchable desire for life.

“Six years ago, I was on the suicide ward,” she explained. “I want to end everything. America never let me die.”

She thanked her team of psychiatric and medical professionals, as well as friends and social workers, for giving her “a chance to be born again”. After leaving the hospital, she joined the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) on the advice of a doctor who felt she needed art in her life.

“I feel so accepted and alive!” she exclaimed. “After six years, I’m completely drug-free. I have my dog. I really, really want to create something.”

Even so, the raw honesty of the piece was painful to her.

“It’s been my whole life, so it’s definitely hard to be exposed. I feel naked. I feel completely vulnerable,” Nakajima said. “I never told my history because it was so frustrating. But, every time, when I shared, people understood. People actually came back to me and said, ‘This happened to me too. Your sharing helped me a lot. So that’s why I started writing. It wasn’t easy, but it was almost like a thank you note to America.”

Her director, John Flynn, was also an important source of support for UCB, whom she called “a gentleman at its finest.”

“He understood my voice with great empathy and compassion. . . I almost felt like he was another therapist.”

Although the subject matter is dark, made in America Ultimately a story of survival, hope, and optimism, told by a woman who lives happily and considers herself “the greatest cheerleader on earth.”

“So I hope it’s not too sad,” Nakajima said. “Because I’m actually a cheeky person. Don’t think everything is going to be sad and tearful.”

“Mythical Poetic Life”

Like the other two plays, Sunday’s Appearance: First flight (Sunday, July 10 at 5pm) There are autobiographical elements. But Jenna Wadsworth McCarty’s work stands out for its mixed media: drama, poetry, spoken word, music and visual arts. For each hour of her performance, she creates an original piece of art on stage. Very impressive for someone new to the performing arts.

Jenna Wadsworth McCarty starred in her single-woman show “Apparent: First Flight.” Submitted photos

“The day before quarantine was my first day on stage,” she explained. “I didn’t learn to love the stage until I was 45, and here I am!”

Her circuitous resume includes work in social and environmental work, international development and rehabilitation (she is the founder of Juvenation, which focuses on restorative muscle therapy). Her journey as an artist is the subject of her solo exhibition, in which all elements are completely original.

Emergency situations From the 2019 art show (cough). A mutual friend connected her with Craig Thiel, a professor of theater and performance at California State University, Fullerton, who came to the show and heard McCarty tell her story.The two meet for coffee, then Emergency situations Take off.

“He said, ‘I think you have a woman acting.’ So we started working together,” recalls McCarty. “He had this vision for the show . . . he listened to every story, he looked at every piece of art, he read every poem, he listened to every song and helped me find them the clues in between and cut it down to this hour.”

With Thiel as director, McCarty was able to create a “mythical and poetic life.” Her artistic awakening included a struggle with depression and anxiety, her family’s inability to understand her intense creativity and her own grasp and understanding of her story. She found Thiel’s support invaluable.

“He really saw and believed me in a way that I had never seen before,” McCarty said. “That was life-changing for me. I absolutely need that support.”

With a background in therapeutic arts, she sees her work in theatre as an extension of her wellness journey.

“Any therapist, to be a therapist . . . you have to go on your own journey of recovery. I think it’s all a continuation/extension of the work of therapy.”

“Learn from what they learn”

Miguel and the playwright hope audiences get more from these productions than just a fun night in the theater.

“It’s about empowering women. Empowering women to empower women, you know?” Suppose Miguel. “It’s about elevating sisters . . . we’ve deliberately selected inspiring women because we want people, no matter how they identify, to come in and have something to take away.”

Enriquez hopes viewers can learn something from ‘City of Brotherly Love’ fish town queenand “leave knowing that whatever you feel is okay.”

McCarty sees the cyclical and good nature of hard times as one of the key messages from Appearance: First flight.

“Difficult times come, and then we get over them and learn. And then we often expect it to be, and that’s it,” she said. “We’ve been successful and now we’re better. But it tends to cycle. But it’s important to remember, yes, there are cycles of hard times, but so are cycles of good times, so keep going. go ahead.”

“Not only do I want women, but I want everyone to know that I really want them to be kind to themselves,” Nakajima said made in America“I want them to have compassion for themselves, and I learned that in America.”

“The tools you learn there, you leave,” Miguel said of anyone coming to Namba this weekend. “Learning how to express creativity, learning how to express anger, learning how to deal with people who have hurt you when you’re vulnerable – all of these things are very useful and we feel like we’re bringing something so inspiring to people. Pull. … If you’re smart, you learn from what they learn and carry it with you forever.”


The Women’s Voice Festival will be held July 9-10 at the NAMBA Performing Arts Space, 47 S. Oak St., Ventura, 805-628-9250, http://www.nambaarts.com.

For more information on the playwright, visit www.terukonakajima.com and www.jennawm.com.





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