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Piss Play and Drag Nuns in a Blue Lagoon Capture Fruit Cup Awards At International CringeFest '09

By: Aug. 12, 2009
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International CringeFest '09 wrapped up with a big bang last Sunday with the Fruit Cup Awards and a splendiferous costume party at the Producers' Club. More than 100 festival participants attended and partied till dawn with a great spread of food and drink donated by local restaurants and bakeries. Don Cummings, writer-director of "Piss Play Is about Minorities, So It's Really Important," took home the coveted Golden Pineapple. His intelligently written comedy challenges our interpretation of art and funding practices, and garnered a Jack Lemon Jr. acting award for David Youse. The company came from California to re-create the production here in New York. Don's other play, "A Good Smoke," recently received an industry reading at The Public Theatre with Meryl Streep, Henry Wolfe Gummer, Grace Gummer (Meryl's children), and Debra Monk. The play has been optioned for first class production in New York.

A SpeciAl Golden Pineapple (festival first) was awarded this year to Tony Spinosa for Best Direction of a Theme Evening: "Is That a Spear in Your Pocket?" which included 5 plays/musicals and a funny, poignant monologue delivered by 9 year old Cameron Ocasio.

"The Blue Lagoon," written by Jonathan Padget and directed by Kenny Howard, nabbed the Silver Tomato. And, lead actor Anthony Johnson took the Jack Lemon best actor award. This clever musical parody presents two young first cousins adrift in more than an ocean. Appropriately enough, the Bronze Banana was grabbed by writer Michael Wanzie and director Kenny Howard for "Dragness of God & the Naked Holy Ghost." A brilliant take-off on the Broadway hit, this production boasted nuns in drag and a (really) naked holy ghost (the running joke being he was added just to boost ticket sales!).

Other Best Actor Awards: the Jack Lemon III was squeezed by the wonderful Tommy Wooten, Dr. Martha Livingston of "Dragness of God." Best Actress Awards: Jack Lemon to Caroline Tamas (multiple roles in "Is That a Spear in Your Pocket?"), Jack Lemon Jr. to Shayna Albertson of "Blue Lagoon," Jack Lemon III to Lauren Piselli of "Sex Encounters of the Absurd Kind."

There were numerous special citations, e.g., Best Time Ever Had in a Swamp ("Swamp Ho" directed by Tom Amici), The Director & Cast We Most Like to Play with (Kenny Wade Marshall & actors of "Children & (Other) Sharp Objects"), and Giving Great Exposure to the Festival (actors who bared it all -- or close to it). Citations were also given to interns from colleges (Hamilton, Brandeis, and others) and from the Summer Youth Employment Program of the Department of Youth & Community Development. These interns worked tirelessly both at the theatre and in the office to make the festival happen.

This is the second year for the festival at the Grand Theatre of the Producers' Club. Very soon, the company will reopen its homebase, Downeast Arts Center in the East Village. To support the new center, a silent auction is being conducted on the Internet and continues through Friday, August 14. Some of the more intriguing offerings are: "Coffee with... Ginger!" (luminous actress-nightclub singer Tina Louise, best known as Ginger the movie star on "Gilligan's Island"), "Coffee with... legendary actor-writer-director Austin Pendleton," "Coffee with... Richard Pryor Jr." (actor-singer and, yes, son of Richard/ brother of Rain), "Coffee with... Broadway producer Pat Addiss," and more. Further bidding is for an Ipod touch donated & inscribed by Yoko Ono, 3 movie posters donated & signed by John Waters, signed NYC Ballet soloist toeshoes, designer clothes by Teri Jon, Shin Choi, Twisted Heart, Velvet; dance packages, restaurant certificates, family outings, hotel stays, Broadway/ Off-Broadway tickets, autographed photos & books, and more. To get on the auction mailing list:

The International CringeFest, in its 5th year, includes the Bad Plays Festival and Bad Musicals Festival (and this year Bad Films). These are REALLY GOOD & HILARIOUS works that are irreverent, politically incorrect, naughty, and utterly zany. Some wild special events beyond the regular insanity included: Unholy Sunday Film Matinees with popcorn and talk-backs. Festival entre actes included regulars: musician-comedian Huck DeMilo, sound effects comedian Zero Boy, comedy belly-dancer Tandava, plus surprise guests. For one ticket, audiences saw 4-5 works arranged in theme evenings and then voted every night for winners of the Fruit Cup Awards. Submissions for next year's festival will be accepted starting in the fall. Starting in January, actors are invited every Monday night to take part in cold readings and discussions of the submissions.

NY Artists Unlimited is a 26 year old nonprofit organization that provides theatre and art to under-served audiences. The company is supported in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nancy Quinn Fund, Puffin Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, corporate and individual contributors. These festivals, in their own wacky way, support the mission to serve the community. The movers 'n shakers behind this insanity are: Melba LaRose, Artistic Director; Court Sweeting, Technical Director, and playwright Jean Hart of the Honorary Golden Pineapple Committee.

For further information or to get on the company's mailing list:, visit