Santa Monica Playhouse has been a cultural treasure in the seaside community for 61 years. Now, the Playhouse is giving love back with its Sixth Annual Binge Free Festival (BFF), a full month of free performances, workshops, readings, music and poetry in Santa Monica’s ONLY fringe festival. The BFF’s primary focus will be on Santa Monica and Los Angeles-based artists.
Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. This is just south of Wilshire. There is a municipal parking facility across the street. Most events in the Binge Free Festival will take place in the Playhouse’s performance space called The Other Space, with select events being performed on the Playhouse’s Main Stage (as noted below). All events are FREE, but reservations are REQUIRED. Some events are family-friendly (See the descriptions below). There will be something for everyone.
To reserve your FREE tickets for an event, call 310-974-9779 ext. 1, or e-mail [email protected] When making reservations, state the name of the show that you want to see, how many seats you wish to reserve, your full name, and your contact number.
This year’s Binge Free Festival is a hybrid festival, with all events being performed both live in-person and also livestreamed.
The Festival will run from October 10 through November 9, 2021.
Binge Free Festival 2021 is presented through generous grants from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of arts and Culture, the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Arts Commission, and Playhouse PALS.
Covid safety protocols in effect on the days of performances will be observed.
The roster of events follows:
Sunday, October 10
Pain in My Aspberger’s
6:30pm, 80 min, 12+
With eight original songs and compositions, Jeremy Ebenstein offers a story of optimism and love, not only for those suffering with Asperger’s Syndrome, but for all who have ever hoped and dreamed of making something of themselves.
Tuesday, October 12
7:30pm, 80 minutes, 16+
Told through the bold perspective of a vivacious drag queen named Tanvi, Naturally Tan follows Tanya Thomas’ desperation to fit in as a minority in Singapore and her search for acceptance in America. Fueled by assimilation pains, Tanya delves into the heart of colorism that plagues the Asian diaspora, the complexities of racial identity, and the consequences of damaging beauty standards. Will Tanya hide behind her insecurities forever or will she embody her worth as a woman of color, mother, and artist? Naturally Tan, written and performed by Tanya Thomas, directed and developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, was an Official Selection & Best of Fest in The Whitefire Theatre’s SoloFest 2021 last winter. The show adds a distinct voice to the full range and diversity of Asian American stories.
Wednesday, October 13
Caught in the Mix
7:30pm, 45 minutes, 13+
An autobiographical one-woman show about Kira, a mixed black and Latina woman, who grew up believing she was white. Kira takes us on a journey through her life as she struggles to accept her true identity. Kira’s vulnerability, truth, and humor carries us through the topics of racism, anti-blackness, white favoritism, colorism, and what it’s like for a person of color to be raised in a household and society that idolizes whiteness. We follow her through her identity struggles into a life of self-love and self-worth. Winner: Hollywood Fringe Diversity Scholarship, Best of Broadwater Award, Soaring Solo Social Impact Award. Written & performed by Kira Powell. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Thursday, October 14
7:30pm, 45 minutes, 21+
A unique solo show exploring ASMR: Audio Sensory Meridian Response through ice chewing and accompanying narration. Written & performed by Ruchika Mandhyan.
Thursday, October 14
If Truth Be Told
9:00pm, 45 minutes, 18+
A raucous evening of comic stories, told by a woman who has seen a few things. Actress and humorist Jennifer Brown examines how the truth can play out in a variety of ways. What exactly is “the truth”? And when you are asked to tell the truth, whose truth do you stand in? Winner, Best of Broadwater 2019/Hollywood Fringe Festival. Written & performed by Jennifer Brown. Directed by Lee Costello.
Friday, October 15
7:30pm, 70 minutes, 7 to adult
In this award-winning musical comedy, aspiring singer Casey is content to sing back-up when life beckons her to take the lead! Raised to think penny-pinching is practical, this songstress’s stinginess is spilling into unexpected areas of her life. When Casey accidentally stumbles into a new-agey “Bank of the Future”, with vaults filled with conscientious cabaret singers instead of cold cash, she begins to question whether her self-worth is at the root of her net worth. This fast-paced, one woman show features original music, over 40 characters, and multi-media music videos with enough retro-camp to harken audiences back to the best days of MTV! The math adds up, Worth It equals success! Written & performed by Carla Delaney. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Saturday, October 16
1:30pm, 90 minutes, 13 to adult
At first, Kirsten is thrilled to have discovered the long forgotten American goddess, Columbia- an inspiring symbol of female empowerment! But when Kirsten makes a commitment to anti-racism, she uncovers truths about her family’s history that connects her to Columbia’s own problematic past. Together, they wrestle with being white and female- of being both oppressed and an oppressor. Is liberty for all, just a tease? Written & performed by Kirsten Laurel Prather Caplan. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
3:15 – 4:15 Post-show anti-racist workshop
Come join Kirsten for an interactive and reflective workshop- where EVERYONE is INCLUDED.
Explore issues of Diversity, Inclusion, Justice, and Equity… or as Kirsten says- come learn about being a JEDI. Join Kirsten’s follow-up workshop after Lady LiberTEASE.
(Note: Feel free to come for the workshop even if you aren’t seeing the show, or vice versa)
Sunday, October 17
Postpardon Me, a world premiere
6:30pm, 70 minutes, 18+
“PostPardon Me” is a one-woman serio-comedy written and performed by Liesel Hlista and directed by & developed with Jessica Lynn Johnson. “PostPardon Me” follows a new mom, Liesel, through her surprising postpartum journey deep into the trenches of toddlerhood. Given the privilege of raising a tiny human, with less required testing than she got at the DMV. While thrown a few curveballs along the way, Liesel writes her own manual that can help her brave the storm of trying to raise a child, maintain her marriage and attempt not to be a complete hot mess on the daily. With brutal honesty, hilarity and a bit of song, “PostPardon Me,” breaks down the taboos of being a new mommy and tells it like it is. This shit is cray, like literal shit…so much shit. Through so many diapers and so few showers, Liesel Hlista is out to save the world, one vagina at a time. This 70 minute rollercoaster ride through mommy life is a postpartum journey including fertility struggles and rebirth. Written & directed by Liesel Hlista. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Tuesday, October 19
Yes, No, Maybe So
7:30pm, 75 minutes, PG-13
After an unsettling doctor’s appointment, Catherine’s inner social justice warrior, Professor Sarah P. Outrage, takes Catherine on a hilarious musical tour of her own fraught relationship with boundaries. Will Catherine find the courage to speak up about what happened to her even though she sucks at consent? Written & performed by Catherine Barnes. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Wednesday, October 20
A Light in the Shadows
7:30pm, 80 minutes, 21+
This is a reading of the Stage Play A light in the Shadows by Tony Cronin. The play tells the story of a famous New York Artist on the skids who meets a young model who reinvigorates his passion for art. Featuring Tony Cronin, Cris Klen, Frank Raducz and special guest artists.
Thursday, October 21
Botch Bros Revival
7:00pm, 50 minutes, 18+
Botch Bros: Revival is equal parts professional wrestling, immersive theater, sketch comedy, and religious ceremony. Two veteran masked wrestler-comedians use gonzo tactics and sweaty belligerence to ask the questions everyone else is afraid to ask – like ‘Why aren’t you laughing?’ and ‘Do you have a problem with me?’ Revival is the culmination of years of Botch Bros performances, a showcase of a career spent mildly amusing confused audiences. This is their Waterloo, their coup de grace, their Die Hard With a Vengeance. Written & performed by Hank Horn, Rex Reed, Nate Ballard and Vlacklen Makkhloghi. Produced by Brandon Barrick and Zach Huddleston.
Thursday, October 21
The Public Trial of Greg Tindale
9:00pm, 50 minutes plus post-show talk back, 18+
In 2021, the biggest fear of straight, white, men is to be put on trial in the court of public opinion for past problematic behavior. In Greg Tindale’s comedic, self-reflective and self-deprecating one man show, he acts as a prosecutor against himself trying to convince the audience that Greg Tindale SHOULD be “cancelled” from public life. The audience interactive show ultimately puts Greg’s guilt or innocence in the hands of the viewers. The Public Trial of Greg Tindale represents a departure from the traditional, furrowed-brow approach to Diversity and Inclusion entertainment. Performer, Greg Tindale is delightfully and painfully human, profoundly relatable, and entirely disarming. His goal is to spark change-making conversations with his insatiable curiosity, willing vulnerability, penchant for awkward topics, and frank exchange. Rife with wit, humor, sincerity, and a huge helping of empathy, it is an experience that simultaneously entertains and engages.
Friday, October 22
New Works from East West Players Writers Institute
7:30pm, 90 min, all ages
An anthology of 10-minute works from 9 playwrights in 5 different time zones: Christine Ma(LA), Kimberly Wong(LA), Chen Gu(Dallas), Jennifer Yoo (Boston), Dance Aoki(Hawaii/LA), Sora Chung(LA), Andrew Grace(LA), Steven Tran(LA), and Zaza Muchemwa (Harare, Zimbabwe). The brand-spanking-new plays were created during the lockdown via ‘New Year, New Play,’ an 8-week playwriting workshop through East West Players David Henry Hwang Writers’ Institute. Most of the actors will be the playwrights, who have watched the plays bloom during the course of our workshop. It is an exciting group of progressive writers who are showing the new complexities of Asian American characters and play worlds in the most imaginative and surprising ways. Says producer Alice Tuan, “We’ve only ever heard and shared the work in our weekly Zoom squares. So it will be a great pleasure to hear them together, live. Many of us have never met in person.”
Saturday, October 23
80 Minutes Around the World
2:00pm, 60 min, 16+
The Los Angeles debut of the personal storytelling show, 80 Minutes Around The World, which features immigrant and immigrant adjacent stories. Started in 2017 by Nestor Gomez, who is “The Boss,” having won over 50 Moth story slams, 80 Minutes Around The World features a wonderful mix of personal stories that reflect what it means to be an immigrant or an ally to immigrants in Los Angeles. Produced by M.J. Kang, this show will entertain through connection. Featuring M. J. Kang, Vicki Juditz, Cara Lopez Lee, Frank Traynor, Spencer Frankeberger.
3:15 to 4:15 Personal Storytelling Workshop
Personal storytelling can be used for business, interviews, auditions and story slams. Utilizing improvisation and meditation exercises, M.J. Kang will guide participants in creating their own personal stories. There is no one way to tell your stories. She will guide you to help develop your stories so you may tell them your way. M.J. Kang is a 5 time Moth story slam winner as well as many other slams. She is also an actor, playwright, director, improvisor and storyteller.
(Note: Feel free to come for the workshop even if you aren’t seeing the show, or vice versa)
Sunday, October 24
I Heart Maroc
6:30pm, 60 min, PG-13 family-friendly
A lively solo show featuring a mix of wacky characters, multi-media and edutainment, I HEART MAROC will take you on a journey into the lives of rural Moroccans as experienced by Azo, a 24-year-old Peace Corps volunteer. Azo goes to Morocco to find her life’s purpose with the wide-eyed, innocent hope of changing in the world “one bitlma at a time.” Instead, she is thrust into a culture she has to figure out with her Armenian-American immigrant sensibilities and a language she is too “Kesoula” to learn – according to her language tutor, Khadija. Taking place during the height of the Bush Administration and worldwide condemnation of the US war in Iraq, Azo has to navigate anti-American sentiment, win over ALL the villagers – including the cranky Sidi Ali – nurture a budding romance with her Moroccan true love, Mohammed, and she has to survive a Moroccan wedding…so she can ultimately save humanity OR find her life’s purpose. It will definitely be one of those two outcomes. Will Azo get through her two-year service in one piece or will she obey her Armenian immigrant mother’s wishes and move back to Glendale to marry an Armenian dentist? Written & performed by Azo Safo. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Tuesday, October 26
Island Girl: Rescue Mission
7:30pm, 60 minutes, 14+
Island Girl: A Rescue Mission is a personal and fantastical story about having and losing faith. Join Sprite Named Spot, a divinity sprite who is assigned on a mission to rescue the faith of a young woman from Hawaii. Sprite Named Spot weaves through moments of spiritual insight for this young woman, and eventually to the life-changing crisis which ultimately threatens her faith. Written & performed by Luka Lyman. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Wednesday, October 27
7:30pm, 60min, 14+
Veronica Carey Matthews navigates this solo show as she (Veronica) narrates the story of her previous identity (Carey) and his journey into transitioning. Having struggled for years on the Hollywood scene, Carey was starting to make some strides as an actor and a performer. He did a one man show, he directed, he won some local awards…things were slowly moving upward until he got in his own way. As his life started to fall apart, Carey had to make some changes; and while change was in the air, an even bigger life “transition” was afoot. Winner of the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Producers Award, Pick of the Fringe Honorable Mention, and Nominated for Best World Premiere, Best Solo Show, and Solo Splash Award. Written & performed by Veronica Carey Matthews. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Thursday, October 28
7:30pm, 65 minutes, 16+
While Holly’s body is being deconstructed during cancer surgery to remove her lady parts, she watches her life be deconstructed. Led on a journey (that is also part-circus + gameshow) by a cheeky British Angel, Holly faces what happens when everything we’re programmed to believe makes a woman is taken away. Written & performed by Holly Sidell. Directed by Jonathan Fahn. Original music by Tricia Minty. Script Consultant – Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Friday, October 29
MATTY: An Evening with Christy Matthewson
7:30pm, 90 minutes, 1 intermission, all ages
Baseball fan or not, you definitely want to see this show. “It’s 100% true that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to be completely engaged by Eddie Frierson’s performance. He leaves the audience with a real appreciation of Christy Mathewson, and the place and time in which he was an authentic hero. On the other hand, if you are a baseball fan, you will be amazed at how much you didn’t know about “Matty,” his contemporaries, and the dramatic baseball events of their time.” – Bob Costas, NBC. “A magnificent trip back in time! I recommend it highly!” – Keith Olbermann, ESPN. “A superb theatrical experience. MATTY hits a home run!” National Public Radio, NPR.
Saturday, October 30
2:00pm, 60 min, ages 2 to 102
A profoundly multilayered tale about the supreme spirit which exists in and connects all beings, and all things. Mick E. Jones revitalizes the myth and mystery of the cat by telling tales about some of his feline friends. He portrays them as affectionate, sociable, even psychic, and possessing variable personalities, behaviors and attitudes. Their demeanor ranges from cool and aloof, to bright and courageous, lovable and beastly to downright bizarre. They all possess great dignity and pride, and a lot of irony in their nature. For Jones, cats are amongst God’s most beautiful creations, and by examining them, he also examines life and the Supreme Being’s hand in it. Cat Tales: Da Real Pussy shows the special love between humans and felines, which cat fanciers everywhere, will surely appreciate. Written & performed by one-man-show-artist/actor/poet/boxing trainer/community activist Mick E. Jones. Directed by Obi Ndefo.
Tuesday, November 2
I Have Too Many Feelings
7:30pm, 60 minutes, 18+
Bethany’s feelings may have dominated her life, but now she’s actually facing them along with hilarious characters through the many growing pains of bedwetting anxiety, LGBTQ+ matters, ADHD, depression/anxiety, addiction and sobriety! Written & performed by Bethany Vee. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
Wednesday, November 3
Romantic Poetry Night with Candles
7:30pm, 55 minutes, all ages
The American premiere of Colombian actress Erika Jolly’s charming, Bohemian style bi-lingual evening of poetry. Now a Santa Monica resident, Erika interprets poems from around the world, in English and Spanish. A BFF International Selection.
Thursday, November 4
7:30pm, 70 minutes, 18+
1941 London Underground at Holborn. A group of citizens seek shelter from the Luftwaffe bombing of London. Their hopes, differences, and fears on a fierce night. A BFF First Look performance. Crafted and performed by Robert Rossi and Javi Molero. Performed on the Main Stage.
Friday, November 5
7:30pm, 85 minutes, 18+
A BFF First Look production of Walter “Wally” Dalton’s newest play takes you on a crazy roller coaster ride exploring the comedy ups and downs of Tinsel Town show-biz hopefuls. Frustrating call-backs, lazy husbands, hot young roller bladers, surfer dudes, and Hollywood dreams vie for attention at BALLOONS – a party-specialty shop populated with balloon-trick savvy clowns, sky-divers and roller-skating babes.
Actor/playwright Dalton is joined by an ensemble LA cast and will be performed on the Main Stage.
Saturday, November 6
Will Power Shakespeare Hour
2:00pm, 60 minutes, 7 to adult
Join the ensemble players of The California Shakespeare Company as they perform scenes, sonnets and soliloquies from the greatest plays by the world-famous Bard. All ages are invited, especially students, teachers and anyone who enjoys great literature. Since 1990, The California Shakespeare Company has presented skilled actors on intimate stages throughout California, relying on the power of Shakespeare’s wonderful words. No gimmicks, no special effects.
Tuesday, November 9
7:30pm, 60 minutes, 18+
An autobiographical story of a modern Mormon wife who tries to redeem her eternal marriage from a sin next to murder. This 60-minute one-woman show explores the question: is the sin with a capital “A” redeemable? “Deep, bold and poignant, [Tatum] delivers with strong comedic undertones that perfectly compliment the depth and rawness of the content.” Experience the heartfelt journey as one woman battles between saving her marriage and saving her soul. Written & performed by Tatum Langton. Directed & developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.
NOTE: All shows take place in The Other Space unless otherwise indicated.