The Hollywood Fringe Festival is an open-access theatre festival taking place each June, celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts. Hundreds of productions are taking place in the Hollywood area, in LA.
Extraordinary Aliens is a hilarious sketch comedy about the Visa process, more specifically the Artists Visa/ O1 Visa/ Visa for Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities (hence the name of the play). The name of the Visa is already enough material for a comedy. Who doesn’t want to be an Alien with Extraordinary Abilities? So, in order to get their Visa, these “aliens”, aka “international artists,” need to prove their extraordinary abilities. And how do they prove these abilities? Through credits, press, letters of recommendation, high income and contracts.
The play explains the whole process in detail. The gist of it: be famous. Not the easiest thing to achieve, especially when you only get a one year work permit in the US to achieve said “fame”. However, as demonstrated in Extraordinary Aliens, all is not lost. There is hope. In the play Fabianna, a young actress from Italy, goes through the process of applying for her Visa. On top of the stress, paperwork and money that it takes to apply, Fabianna’s lawyer ends up in jail for committing fraud. The play is based on true events. However, even Fabianna finds a way to get through it. She has help from two magical Visa elves. “When I was a kid and going through hard times, I always invented magical creatures who would lift me up with motivational speeches. That’s where the idea of the Visa elves came from,” said director Flavia Sgoifo. The message of the play: If Fabianna can make it through the process, anyone can.
Extraordinary Aliens features the three talented international actresses, Bianca Waechter (Austria), Arianna Wellmoney (Italy) and Flavia Sgoifo (Italy and Greece), who are also the creators of the play. They decided to make a comedy out of their misfortunes and struggles. In the end, isn’t the most important thing to just have a laugh?
Why is this play so important? We are living in a time where immigration issues are becoming more and more prevalent. Creating art about it allows us to create a community. No one is alone in the process.
The play premiered to a standing ovation at Casa Italiana Zerilli/Marimò on March 15th. Stefano Albertini, director of Casa Italiana, said: “This play proves that theatre is relevant. At Casa Italiana we often discuss the themes of immigration, but this was the first time we did it with a laugh.”
The same was the case in LA. Extraordinary Aliens had its first preview on June 10th at Asylum Studio C on theatre row in Hollywood. Waechter and Wellmoney gave brilliant, whimsical performances as the two Visa Elves who helped Fabianna–wholeheartedly portrayed by Sgoifo–go through her Visa process. Waechter and Wellmoney showed an incredible range by enacting different roles: as the Visa elves and the lawyers.
“Extraordinary Aliens” is a a must see, and not just for international artists who are going through the same process, but for everyone. It inspires you to follow your dreams against all odds, but also not to take things too seriously. The play will be performed again on Saturday June 15th at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and it has also been accepted by the prestigious Winterfest in New York, which takes place in January, 2020.
For more information on the performance at the Hollywood Fringe Festival click here.
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