Entertainment on the Fringes of Hollywood

Hollywood Fringe Festival (Photo from http://www.hollywoodfringefest.org)

Looking for live theater outside the norm? Want to see original works by slightly offbeat,
creative quasi-professionals? Got a few weeks to spare? Then the Hollywood Fringe Festival is
your entertainment dream come true!

Once a year, for three weeks, the Fringe blankets Hollywood with twisted goodness. (There’s plenty of twisted mediocrity and badness, too; the quality may vary but the twistedness is a constant.)

The Hollywood Fringe can be daunting. It includes 380 shows in more than 2,000 performances. The challenge: finding a gem or two. Of course, to really share the Fringe experience, you also need to see something outrageous, awful and/or self-indulgent.

Of the 380 shows, 97 are solo performances. Many have titles like The Day I Became Black, A
Reasonable Fear of Tubas
and It’s Easier to Love a Cat.

The F word is rife, although everyone handles it differently: Earhart: More than a F-Ing Mystery
(A Musical Flight)
, F*Ck Fiction: True Tales Of Life And Death In Paradise and F#@K I Love
U: Alive!

Previews start May 31 with The Autism Mamalogues, a one-woman show. I’ll be taking in some shows and will report back next week with recommendations.

Where did it come from?

Fringe began in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947, as a sideshow for those not invited to participate in a mainstream festival. Today there are Fringe fests all over the world, including dozens in the U.S.

Insider Tips for First-Time Fringers

Be Aware
The Fringe Festival is completely uncurated and uncensored. Meet the deadlines, pay the (low)
fee, pull your show together, and you’re in. The majority of the shows are “world premieres.”
Lengths range from 15 minutes to 2 hours. You can see a show on almost any topic you could
name, and many you’d never think of. For example, Phrack: “A cyberpunk Southern gothic from Podunk Productions…written and directed by Bigfoot.”

Pessimists, proceed at your own risk. Optimists, go find that diamond in the rough! Fringe is all
about the joy of discovery. And sometimes nudity.

Start with the Website

Head on over to http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/. You can search by category (see a cabaret show, musical or ensemble piece!), schedule (set aside an evening to see multiple shows) or venue (maybe start with something close to home, at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, 5636 Melrose Ave, just east of Larchmont).

There’s also a somewhat overwhelming printed guide, which you can get at any theater or view
online here.

Buy a Button

For $5, you can buy a Fringe button that gets you a $1 discount off all tickets purchased through the website and other discounts, as well as free entry to some Fringe-sponsored events. Put a button in your cart before you check out to obtain discounts and support the Fringe cause. Pick up your button at Fringe venue 1a, 1123 Vine St.

Buy Tickets

Each show’s page has a Tickets tab showing its location and all performances. They’re spread out across the three weeks, so you’ll have several opportunities to see each show. Most tickets are $10-20, and some are as low as $5.

Online sales end a few hours before the start time. Tickets to all shows also may be purchased by calling (323) 455-4585 (additional fee applies). And tickets are sold at the door of most performances.

Parking

Considering this is LA, I probably should have led with parking. It’s famously terrible in that part of town, but here are a few suggestions, assuming you don’t want to take the easy way out and use Uber or Lyft.

Most shows are in the area around Santa Monica and Wilcox. Theaters there include the Complex, the Hudson, the Broadwater and the Three Clubs. You can often find parking on side streets south of Santa Monica, west of Cahuenga. I’ve had good luck on Hudson, Cole and Romaine, between Willoughby and Santa Monica. There’s a Gold’s Gym on Cole and Romaine where diagonal street parking opens up regularly.

Spaces on Cole and Cahuenga along the Hollywood Recreation Center just north of Santa Monica are often available; the ones on Cole have no meters or time limits.

Other shows are scattered as far north as Franklin and as far east as Normandie, and all I can tell you for those is, good luck. Most small theaters in LA have no parking lots, and there are few public lots nearby. An exception is Actors Company on Formosa, which has its own parking lot.

Eating and Drinking

Make a night (or day) of it! Here are some nearby restaurants walking distance from the primary
Fringe location on Santa Monica Blvd.

Eat This Café, part of the Hudson Theater complex at 6547 Santa Monica Blvd, open 10 am-8 pm weekdays, 9am-8pm Saturday, 9am-4pm Sunday. Salads and sandwiches. Serves wine.

Rao’s, 1006 Seward St., open 6-10pm weekdays, 5-10pm Saturday, 5-9pm Sunday. High-end New York-bred Italian. Full bar.

Grub, 911 Seward St., open 11am-3pm weekdays, 9-3 weekends. Yummy comfort food. Serves wine and beer.

Hunter & Charlie’s, 1050 Vine St. on the corner of Santa Monica, open 8am-8pm weekdays, 10am-8pm Saturday, 10am-3pm Sunday. Salads, sandwiches, rotisserie chicken and more.

Quick options include Mexican La Guanaquita, Philly Steak Depot and a food truck in the parking lot of the Mobil station at Santa Monica and Vine, next to The Three Clubs, a Fringe venue that serves no food at all but plenty of booze.

Write a Review

Fringe is crowd-sourced theater, and participants love audience reviews. Promote a show you
loved and help its team get seen. You can write reviews for individual Fringe shows on the Fringe website (you’ll need to register), or post about it using #hff18. You can also post on the
Fringe Facebook page.

I’ll be back next week with some reviews. Enjoy!

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About Laura Foti Cohen

Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and marketing consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Neo Ensemble Theatre in Hollywood.

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