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Press Contact: Heidi Wienckowski – Heidiwiencko@gmail.com

#Hashtag (Hashtag Hashtag) at the Hollywood Fringe 2013

Do you suffer from status anxiety? Social gridlock? How do you make a mark on a world where everyone’s an amateur artist and an armchair activist? Where do you go when you don’t know what you want from your career? From your relationships? From life?

#Hashtag is a new comedy directed by Jeffrey Wienckowski (founder and artistic director of the Sons of Beckett Theatre Co) and devised by The Mechanical Heart, a group of UCSD Alumni. It explores the daily struggle to remain engaged in the present moment while immersed in a culture built on social media.

As the audience enters the Elephant Space, they are encouraged to keep their phones ON, take photos and video (which they can upload to Instagram and Youtube) and live-tweet the characters onstage. With #Hashtag, The Mechanical Heart wants to make the everyday routine of social media an essential part of the theatrical experience.

#Hashtag is created by and starring: Spencer Howard, Brian Johnson (Co-Founder of Sons of Beckett), Leland Montgomery, Dana Murphy (Co-Founder of Lonesome No More), Nathan Turner, Katie Willert (of Cracked.com) and Jeffrey Wienckowski.


What: #Hashtag When: June 6-30 2013 June 06 2013, 10:00 PM June 08 2013, 2:30 PM June 13 2013, 8:30 June 16 2013, 5:30 PM June 20 2013, 12:00 AM

June 23 2013, 12:30 PM June 25 2013, 7:00 PM June 27 2013, 10:30 PM

June 29 2013, 8:30 PM June 30 2013, 2:30 PM

Where: Elephant Space-6322 Santa Monica Blvd., LA CA 90038

How: Tickets are $12, to reserve visit http://www.hff13.org/1353

Meet the #Hashtag Team

Meet the #Hashtag Team Jeffrey Wienckowski (Director) is the founder and Artistic Director of the Sons

Jeffrey Wienckowski (Director) is the founder and Artistic Director of the Sons Of Beckett Theatre Company. Their first production of Waiting for Godot drew wonderful reviews from Los Angeles Times and the LA WEEKLY, who called it “Superb.” Jeffrey produced over eleven shows with the S.O.B. Theatre Company including a Vaudeville Musical Version of Oedipus the King-which the LA Times called “Blindingly funny” and the West-Coast Premier of Gao Xingjian’s The Other Shore which Backstage hailed as “Spellbinding” and “Intoxicatingly potent,” making it a critic’s pick.

Jeffrey holds a MFA in Directing from UC San Diego where he studied under Les Waters, Christopher Ashley, Gabor Tompa, and Dominique Serrand. His thesis production of The Threepenny Opera was one of the most successful productions in UCSD’s history, selling out the La Jolla Playhouse’s Potiker theatre every night. The

San Diego critics raved that the production was “Big, bawdy and charged face theatre!”

. . .


More recently, Jeffrey has directed productions for Chalk Reparatory Theatre’s Flash Festival and the Independent Shakespeare Company’s Solemn Mockeries, which the LA Weekly called “Brutally funny and brutally sad.” Production photos, video and press from his past productions can be found at www.jeffdirects.com

Jeffrey is thrilled to be making his Hollywood Fringe debut surrounded by so many talented friends and colleagues.

Meet the #Hashtag Team Jeffrey Wienckowski (Director) is the founder and Artistic Director of the Sons

Spencer Howard (Kit) Spencer Howard is thrilled to be working on his fourth project for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. In Fringes past, he was seen onstage as the Lobster Man in Cowboy Mouth and heard as The Voice in both Making Love Over There and Pagan Play.

Other stage credits include the world premieres of Hatchlings and The Party (also directed by Jeffrey Wienckowski) for the Chalk Circle Rep, the Doctor in Woyzeck for Lonesome No More! Theatre, A Delicate Nothing for The Company of Angels, and many plays at UC San Diego. It was there that he studied acting, wrote plays, did pratfalls, and curated the Undergraduate New Play Festival for two years.

He is a member of the sketch comedy group Interrobang Ltd., for which he writes, acts, shoots, and edits. He has been seen in sketches for Cracked.com, The Kids Table, and Those Aren’t Muskets. He also created and starred in an early webseries called The Spencer Howard Show. Spencer has found work as a filmmaker, actor, editor, graphic designer, and television producer.

He is a member of Lonesome No More! Theatre, and co-founder of Moving Parts Theatre, Magpie Theatre Company, and The Institute for Gravitronomic Inertiametrics.


Katie Willert ( the Girlfriend) is a writer, comedienne, and tap dancer from La Jolla, CA.

Katie Willert (the Girlfriend) is a writer, comedienne, and tap dancer from La Jolla, CA. She cut her comedy chops at an early age by trying to make her mom pee her pants with laugher. During her time at UCSD, she began to perform with the online sketch group Those Aren't Muskets and eventually graduated with a BA in Theater.

Katie then moved to LA to join her friends at Cracked.com where she started acting in After Hours and The Katie Willert Experience, two fun web series where they allow her to be crazy and silly 100% of the time. She is currently a writer on the UCB Beta team Muddleberry and a writer/performer on the iO West main stage sketch team DJ Faucet and loves being ridiculous with them on a weekly basis. Katie was also incredibly lucky to play the intensely awkward Mary Bennet in South Coast Repertory Theatre's production of Pride and Prejudice. Katie lives with her cat Lola and loves pie. Specifically coconut cream.

Katie Willert ( the Girlfriend) is a writer, comedienne, and tap dancer from La Jolla, CA.

Leland Montgomery (the Brother) is an actor, writer and designer from Oakland, CA. Since graduating from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Theatre and Writing, Leland has participated in a number of productions with Lonesome No More! Theatre (Woyzeck, No Exit, Making Love Over there) as well as The Trip Theatre Company (‘Twas The Night). He writes primarily for Paste magazine, where he pretends to know more about film than he actually does. This is his second Hollywood fringe festival and he’s incredibly grateful to be among his UCSD family once again.

Katie Willert ( the Girlfriend) is a writer, comedienne, and tap dancer from La Jolla, CA.

Brian Johnson (the Friend) is no stranger to the stage. After pursuing a Theatre Degree at Cal State, Northridge, Brian formed The Sons of Beckett Theatre Company (SOB Theatre Co.) with current collaborators, Jeff and Heidi Wienckowski. From their inaugural production of Waiting for Godot (Vladimir), Brian helped produce such other shows as Veronika Decides to Die, Oedipus! The Musical (Barbershop Quartet), The Other Shore (Man), Measure for Measure (Pompey) and Mother Courage.

As the company’s Master Carpenter, Brian’s creations were hailed by the press, including Steven Lee Morris' immortal critique that the set looked “held together by duct tape”. Since the company’s disbanding, Brian has pursued voice over, as well as music, with his band The MOODS, an indie rock juggernaut. Brian is incredibly excited to not only be working with his old collaborators, but also a fresh, intelligent and above all, hilarious young group of artists that are just swell! You will LOVE our show or die trying!

Nathan Turner (the Agent) is a native of San Diego, California….the hippest city in town. He

Nathan Turner (the Agent) is a native of San Diego, California….the hippest city in town. He graduated from UCSD with degrees in Theatre and Philosophy. He was also trained in Shakespeare at BADA in Oxford, where he got to work with the incomparable John Barton. He has taught Movement, Stage Combat, Sword Work, and Shakespeare for La Jolla Playhouse and the San Diego Shakespeare Society; and his comedy group Interobang Ltd. does online sketches, films, and occasional live performances in the area. This is his second project with The Hollywood Fringe, having collaborated with Moving Parts Theatre Company on “Pagan Play” for the festival’s inaugural year.

Nathan Turner (the Agent) is a native of San Diego, California….the hippest city in town. He

Dana Murphy (Assistant Director/Choreographer) is a director, choreographer, actress, and theatre educator from Culver City, CA. After graduating from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Theatre, Dana participated in the first annual Hollywood Fringe Festival as a performer and collaborator in Pagan Play by Moving Parts Theatre Company and she has participated in the festival every year since then directing and producing with her company Lonesome No More! Theatre (Spring Awakening and Making Love Over There). She continues her educational theatre work as Associate Director of deeLightful Productions, a children’s musical theatre company in Culver City, and Artistic Director and founder of the John Adams Middle School Theatre Company in Santa Monica. If she is not teaching, directing, acting, or dancing, Dana is probably camping, arty-partying, loving, or high-fiving.

Nathan Turner (the Agent) is a native of San Diego, California….the hippest city in town. He

Reviews for Director Jeffrey Wienckowski’s work

Waiting for Godot

Reviews for Director Jeffrey Wienckowski’s work Waiting for Godot LA Weekly The meaning of Irish playwright

LA Weekly

The meaning of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s landmark 1953 absurdist work has been debated and analyzed for decades, though Beckett himself dodged any explanation — "If I knew, I would have said so in the play." It’s better simply to bask in this darkly comedic contemplation on the tediousness of human life, the

vicissitudes of class struggle and the farce of hoping. Despite a blown fuse that left the cast performing under glaring work lights, director J. Wienckowski and his young, adept ensemble redeemed the situation with a zany and bittersweet presentation reflected through the lens of a silent movie conceit — an apt milieu, given the play’s rampant slapstick. On a lonely stretch of French country road, tramps Estragon (Eric Carter) and Vladimir (Brian Johnson), costumed like Laurel and Hardy, respectively, face another day of interminable and inexplicable waiting for the enigmatic Godot. While they meditate on the banality of their lives, the wealthy Pozzo (Chaplin-like Jay P. Africa) and his slave-attendant, Lucky (Ari Radousky), wander by, breaking the vagabonds’ monotony while unwittingly helping them to reach a harrowing realization. All four are superb, as is Sarah Tarlow as Godot’s anxious messenger boy, bearing tidings of small comfort and even less joy. (Martín Hernández)

Oedipus the King: A Vaudeville Musical

Oedipus the King: A Vaudeville Musical LOS ANGELES TIMES Going Slapstick With Sophocles: Wacky 'Oedipus the


Going Slapstick With Sophocles: Wacky 'Oedipus the King' views tragedy

through absurdist lens.

It's raining seltzer water on Thebes in "Oedipus the King" at Theatre/Theater. This

Sons of Beckett vaudevillian adaptation of Sophocles' deathless tragedy whips patricide, incest and manifest destiny into an uproarious blend of Tex Avery, Ernie Kovacs and National Lampoon.

Director Jeffrey Wienckowski goes for old-time music hall, instantly evident from Brian Johnson's set, Tim Watson's footlights and the barbershop house music. The Greek chorus of "OediPals" (composer-musical director Christopher P. Ellis, Kevin Ellis, Johnson and Marilyn Zaslow) are sublime. These ham-fisted harmonizers launch their insidious prologue with a glee that is blindingly funny. So, mostly, is the show that follows, its twisted trajectory and fractured focus maintained by Wienckowski's costumes, arranger Heidi Kushnatsian's honky-tonk accompaniment and, certainly, the certifiable cast.

Jay Africa's Oedipus is an unflagging absurdist patsy, and the Winifred Shaw- flavored Jocasta, played by real-life spouse and choreographer Erin McBride Africa, defies rational analysis. The religious and sheep-tending factions of Richard-Edward de Vere and Eric Carter; Kelli Anne's cocktail waitress Euridice; and the inbred nightmare pair of Asia Garcia's Antigone and Anna Kennelly Baardsen's Ismene are all hysterical. Wienckowski's blind Teireseas needs direction but fractures nonetheless, and, as the pickled Kreon, Chairman Barnes is a devastating comic find. The savage climax can't be sustained without dropping comedy for Grand Guignol melodrama; how to reach a tragicomic resolution with the sick hilarity of a John Waters is an unsolved riddle. Still, this goofball romp is surely the brightest deconstructed Grecian formula since Steven Berkoff's "Greek," which augurs well for its future. (David C. Nichols)

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera San Diego News Network Theatergoers thrilled by full engagement of all the senses

San Diego News Network

Theatergoers thrilled by full engagement of all the senses must rush to the University of San Diego’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera,” with music by Kurt Weill and performed by UCSD Masters of Fine Arts students. Created in 1928, “The Threepenny Opera” is what might be called “in-your-face” theater. It’s big, bawdy and charged with the anger and attitude of angry, disenfranchised people, as timely as images from Cairo. In Brecht’s book, the underdogs are the petty thieves, beggars and prostitutes of London. UCSD’s production is a colorful one, with scenic designer Ian Wallace’s red light district cribs fully lining the walls. They are as many as five tiers high, festooned with ladders, a spiral staircase and a hangman’s noose for the execution of Macheath, a.k.a. Mack the Knife (Zachary Harrison). This piece allows MFA student director Jeffrey Wienkowski, along with his MFA creative team and student actors, to design and perform an iconic work that is so full of itself and was mined by musical creators since (think “Cabaret,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Les Miserables”). If it has a flaw, the UCSD production is too busy (something constantly draws the eye from the action that moves the piece forward), but that is also part of its attraction. Purple and orange dominate Elisa Bezoni’s amusing costumes (she puts Macheath in a purple wide whale pinstripe suit, dark red fedora and orange vest). David Corsello solves sound challenges, and Sarah Cogan lights the goings-on cogently. Best performances musically are that of Martens as Peachum and Regan Linton as a wheelchair-traveling street singer, who introduces the show and the final ensemble with the hit tune, “Ballad of Mack the Knife.” Music is in the capable hands of Mark Danisovszky, a multi-instrumentalist and an experienced Weill interpreter. Heidi Wienkowski assists in numerous seamless ways. (Charlene Baldridge)

The Other Shore

The Other Shore Backstage (Critic’s Pick) Nobel Laureate playwright Gao Xingjian employs a dizzying but riveting

Backstage (Critic’s Pick)

Nobel Laureate playwright Gao Xingjian employs a dizzying but riveting array of theatrical styles in this avant-garde work, which was banned in his native China due to its bold anti-Communist themes. One is initially drawn into to what appears to be a quintessential example of didactic Brechtian presentationalism. Before long, we decide it's closer to classic Beckett absurdism. Then subsequent segments with artfully stylized group movements and dance suggest the conventions of shadow plays or other Asian theatrical forms. This amalgam of diverse styles yields amazingly cohesive results, as eloquent symbolic imagery takes precedence over conventional narrative. Director Jeffrey Wienckowski and a splendidly agile ensemble illuminate Xingjian's timelessly compelling vision, a plea for human liberty and peace. The abstract story charts a man's search for identity amid the oppressive sources that surround him. Wienckowski bookends the piece with impromptu-style segments in which the actors in a workout studio exercise, dance, laugh, and chat. The fourth wall is broken as a woman (Elly Jaresko) hands a spectator in the front row a long rope. Along with another actor (Jay Africa), she leads the cast in elaborate games in which they try to win rope-pulling competitions, demonstrating themes of power and manipulation. These themes continue throughout the 90-minute show as the characters go on a desperate quest to cross a treacherous river, believing their exodus to the destination identified only as "the other shore" will bring elusive meaning to their individual lives. Jaresko's character initially takes the role of teacher and guide, but her fellow travelers soon rebel for irrational reasons and beat her to death. The power then shifts to the Man (Brian Johnson). He is tapped to rule the group, but he likewise encounters a series of obstacles to success. Though the scenes seldom progress in a logical fashion, the cumulative impact is alternately chilling and humorous. The dysfunctional interactions suggest the ill effects of political anarchy and the equally treacherous prospect of inefficient or self-serving rulers. The spellbinding sense of surrealism in the actors' graceful movement, beautifully choreographed by Erin McBride Africa, as well as their crazed speech, work in effective counterpoint to the black-and-white simplicity of Jay Africa's unit set and Wienckowski's costumes. (Les Spindle)