Review: The BRISK FESTIVAL Brings Ten Minute Plays From Around the World to Hollywood
Christian Rodrigo first professional theater project was as an Assistant Director of John Malkovich in 2003 and 2004 when he directed the play Hysteria in Barcelona and Madrid. The Spanish actor, producer, director and member of The Actors' Gang credits include Snatch (Season 2), No Way Out, Wings and Stevie. Perhaps his most noteworthy artistic creation is The BRISK FESTIVAL, which he created in Los Angeles in 2018 as an international theater Festival that features short plays up to 10 min long, giving all involved the opportunity to experience what makes live theater so special, namely the human interaction between the players on stage and between actors and audience members.
This festival is a wonderful tool for writers, directors and actors who want to share their voice and talent in a professional environment and venue. Its goal is to become a powerful tool for diversity and plurality in the entertainment industry, as well as providing a way to discover new or established local talent by engaging more people in the live theater experience at a very reasonable cost. The festival multiplies participants' raw and creative energy, with different ensembles, directors and writers exchanging ideas, learning from each other and providing creative inspiration.
The first BRISK FESTIVAL L.A. is taking place through August 11, 2019 at the Broadwater Mainstage on Hollywood's Theater Row, with 52 short plays and more than 250 artists participating since the event began on July 11 this year. Comprised of two rotating performance groups (The Red Program performs in Spanish; the Pink Program in English) that take the stage back-to-back on all performance dates, audience members are invited to vote on their favorite three scenes after each group set, with the winners brought back to perform again.
On Friday, August 2, I attended the Pink Program portion of BRISK FESTIVAL L.A. which was comprised of the following seven short scenes:
The Next Ivan Sharansky - written by Jim Geoghan, directed by Jonathan Levit, and performed by Lois Bostwick and Laurence Braude. Actors in the audience who struggle with auditioning certainly identified with Braude as Carl, a long-suffering with disappointment actor who excitedly meets his acting friend Ida for lunch at Subway, excitedly confiding his excitement of just auditioning for a film - playing a dead body! Although not cast, losing out to an actor known for playing such "bubbly" roles, the two actors banter back and forth comically about many aspects of the industry, generating laughs galore from the audience. I especially loved their observation of each other: "Of course we gossip and judge people. We're in show biz!"
Performance Review - written by Flick Anderson, directed by Amy Sole, and performed by Flick Anderson and Liam Mollica. Certainly, there are times when we ask our best friends for their honest opinion about something we have done or the way we are. But what happens when it turns out that honesty is not something you really want to hear? Alta (Anderson) is on the road to self-improvement, making lists of pros and cons about herself, bringing her friend Jack (Mollica) along for the ride - whether he likes it or not. I am sure you can guess the outcome!Doctor's Orders - written and directed by Gerald B. Fillmore, performed by Beau Bowkey and Gerald B. Fillmore. This tale of a patient in hospital gown who is awaiting test results would have been a lot more interesting had the actor portrayed crazy Dr. Doug not yelled as loudly as possible through the entire scene, making it difficult to even want to listen to what was being said. Moderation is all things is the best advice I can give to that actor.
Fandango - written by Karissa Montaner, directed by Guy Picot, and performed by Karissa Montaner, Sarah Marquelle Kruger, Helena Orts and Paul Antico. Antico's lovely guitar playing was the highlight of the scene, which according to the program was about two estranged sisters, forced to unite and discuss the fate of their decreased father's Tapa Restaurant, who become heels deep in one hell of a flamenco reckoning. But I have to admit the heavy accents of the actors in this scene made it impossible to understand the story line at all, although the dancing was fun to watch.
Dead Man's Curves - written by Dan O'Day, directed by John Fingal O'Donnell, performed by Chelsea Newman and Paul Jackson. A tribute to all things film noir, especially Humphrey Bogart, this scene involved a private eye, a dame and a mysterious box.
Spoiler - written by Jaime Palacios, Anna Bertran and Sergi Cervera who also directs the scene, performed by Alice Torriani and Sergi Cervera. Much of this scene is done in another language (perhaps Italian?) which communicated the emotions if not the subject matter of the scene between a couple who argue about his tendency to spoil movies and TV shows she watches.
The Silent Woman - written by JMS Guitian, directed by The McMichaels, and performed by Michael Connors and Christopher Cass. This tale of an imaginary meeting between Adolf Hitler and composer Richard Strauss at the Dresden Opera House on the evening before the premiere of "The Silent Woman" opera satirizes many of the comments currently spewing from the mouth of our own leader at the moment. And given the hatred alive in the world right now for others different than ourselves, the two men argue over Strauss using his own music and libretto by the Austrian writer of Jewish origin Stefan Zweig. Strong performances and subject matter highlight the scene, which, despite its topic, managed to generate laughs in all the right places.
Somewhat distracting during the entire evening was the constant turning of four large, screened boxes with inner lights, two sides of which were white, the other two black. Several times the movement caused lights to go out, causing the two stage managers to struggle to get the lights back on, wasting quite a bit of time for scene transitions. It would have been much better to just leave the boxes in the same formation throughout since the only set pieces needing to be moved were a table, a few small crates used as chairs, and a few handheld props.
The BRISK FESTIVAL takes place at the Broadwater Main Stage at 1076 Lilian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Tickets start at $15.00 (plus taxes & fees) and are available at https://briskfestival.com/tickets/ Regular performances end on Sunday, August 4, with the best plays, chosen by a professional Jury (casting directors, producers, directors, actors, writers, managers and agents) and by a popular jury (the audience), will compete in the final weekend of the festival, August 10th and 11th. The best play in English and the best play in Spanish will receive an award of $500.
How can you get involved for the next BRISK FESTIVAL? If you are a professional actor, director, writer or a theater company, you're more than welcome to submit your short play for consideration. Artists or theater companies are encouraged to submit a short play with a script, director and actors attached, but we are open to receive scripts from writers or directors looking for a script, or actors looking to be cast in a play. But the recommendation is to be proactive and bring your own idea and your own team: be creative and be yourself making the decisions. More information at https://briskfestival.com