Category Archives: actors

We’re back! The Children returns for its final 3 weeks of performances

by Terri Roberts

Happy New Year! After a long and tumultuous 2021, the hope and promise of the first calendar page of 2022 has arrived.

At the Fountain, we have much to look forward to in the months ahead. New, exciting productions are already in the works (more news on them to come), but first we wrap up our LA premiere presentation of Lucy Kirkwood’s Tony-nominated drama, The Children. This critically-acclaimed production returns to our indoor stage on Saturday, January 8th, to begin the countdown of its final seven performances.

Directed by Simon Levy, The Children stars Ron Bottitta, Elizabeth Huffman and Lily Knight as longtime friends and work colleagues at a British nuclear power plant who are reunited after decades apart when one of the trio surprises the other two with an unplanned visit and an unthinkable request. Kirkwood’s funny and astonishing play is a taut and disquieting thriller about responsibility, reparation and moral accountability. The Children is a provocative legacy drama that asks the big questions we often try to avoid but ultimately must always face: what is our responsibility to the future? To ourselves? To our children?

Lead L.A. Times theatre critic Charles McNulty declared that, “…we hang on to every word… Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children follows the wisdom of the environmental slogan “think globally, act locally.”… What Kirkwood excels at is creating characters that audiences want to learn more about… The Fountain bravely continues to bring L.A. audiences important contemporary works the larger theaters in town still haven’t the courage or vision to produce.” (CLICK HERE for links to reviews and to read pull quotes from them.)

If you haven’t yet seen the show, you still have time. The Children runs through Sunday, January 23rd, with performances Saturdays and Monday the 10th at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. (Dark on Monday, the 17th, in observance of Martin Luther King Day.)

CLICK HERE to make reservations.

Please Note: All Covid protocols are followed and enforced. Audience members will be temperature checked and must show proof of full vaccination to be admitted. Masks are mandated and must be worn at all times inside the theatre, except when eating or drinking. Our upstairs café is open and waiting for you.

Terri Roberts is a freelance writer and the Coordinator of Fountain Friends, the Fountain Theatre’s volunteer program. She also manages the Fountain Theatre Café.

Being Thankful for an Attitude of Gratitude

By Terri Roberts

I have a ritual I perform every night, no matter what. I write out a list of the things I am grateful for that day and text it to a dear friend. He, in turn, sends me his nightly Gratitude List as well. We have been doing this, without fail, for almost two years now.

This simple little exercise keeps us focused on the important things in our lives. The things that really matter. And while yes, we sometimes note gratitude for such mundane (but still important) things such as paying the bills, gas in the car, and a working AC on a blistering summer day, our lists are mostly filled with thankfulness for friends and family, meaningful work, joy in simple things, and actions that reflect a refusal to live in the shadow of doom and gloom.

That does not mean, however, that life is lived on a pink cloud. Far from it.

Invariably we each have days where there’s just not a drop of gratitude to be found. Anywhere. Problems at work, health issues, financial stresses, family challenges, the nightly news and the state of the state/country/world can all be tenacious and debilitating in their grip. And so it becomes a wonderful thing – and something else to be deeply grateful for – to have someone there to offer perspective, support, and unflagging friendship and love. We have each pulled the other out of the roadside ditch many times, and are closer for it.

Here at the Fountain, the list is long of similar struggles. But the list of our blessings is even longer. Our amazing supporters and donors. A devoted board of directors. Tremendous plays, performers, and production teams. The generous grantors who believe in our work and the power of theatre to create awareness and change – and help to fund it. A blossoming volunteer program with folks eager to help however they can. Ever-evolving programing to extend our reach into the community even deeper and further than before. A small, but very mighty, staff. And always, a willingness and determination to keep theatre alive and well.

Having an attitude of gratitude is not just putting on a happy face and ignoring the problems before us. It is an action we take. It is a conscious shift in perspective to find the positive in the negative, the good in the bad. An unimaginable pandemic lockdown encouraged us to find new ways of keeping our art alive. The technology of Zoom kept us connected with members of our Fountain Family. The incredible blessing of owning our building and property allowed us to apply for funding to build an outdoor stage in our parking lot – and to make that stage available to other local artists and companies who have either been displaced by Covid or are not yet ready to return to an indoor space. Indeed, the Fountain overflows with blessings.

So tell me – what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? What’s on your Gratitude List? I would love to know! Email me at terri@fountaintheatre.com and share with me what fills your heart with thankfulness and joy. With your permission, I will share some of your thoughts in an upcoming blog. Gratitude, after all, is not restricted to one day of the year. An attitude of gratitude is something to be cultivated year-round. Writing out, on a regular basis, what brings you thankfulness and joy is a powerful way to do that.

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving. And for all you have done for all of us here at the Fountain Theatre, “I can no other answer make but thanks and thanks and ever thanks…”

Terri Roberts is a freelance writer and the Coordinator of Fountain Friends, the Fountain Theatre’s volunteer program. She also manages the Fountain Theatre Café.

The LA premiere of The Children opens at the Fountain Theatre

Photo by Jenny Graham

by Terri Roberts

Twenty months ago, the Fountain Theatre was forced to close in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Downstairs our stage was dark. Upstairs the café was empty. It was an unimaginable time.

All of that has changed now. The success of preventatives (vaccines, masks, etc.) have allowed theatres to finally re-open with safety measures in place, and so last week the Fountain flung open its brand new double front doors to accept audiences back to our beloved indoor stage. There, on Andrew Hammer’s picturesque set for a British seaside cottage — beautifully lit by Christian Mejia, detailed by props designer Shen Heckel and sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett, and costumed by Naila Aladdin Sanders — we introduced Lucy Kirkwood’s 2018 Tony-nominated play, The Children, to Los Angeles theatre-goers. Twenty months is a long time…and when the pre-show recording welcomed everyone back, the audience erupted in spontaneous cheers and applause!

The Children, directed by Simon Levy, is set in the afterworld of a life-threatening, and wholly preventable, environmental disaster. Also an unimaginable time. Long-married Hazel (Lily Knight) and Robin (Ron Bottitta), both retired nuclear engineers who worked at the local power plant, have moved to this isolated cottage following an explosion at their former workplace. Their pick-up-the-pieces quiet coastal life is upended, however, by the arrival of Rose (Elizabeth Elias Huffman), an old friend and fellow co-worker, who arrives with secrets and surprises that bring even more upheaval and fireworks.

Saturday, November 6th, was the official Opening Night for The Children. Following a thrilling performance, folks headed upstairs to our charming café for a tasty reception courtesy of Butler Pantry Catering. The entire building was filled with joyous embraces, vibrant conversation, and laughter and gratitude for being back together again.

Please enjoy these photos from our LA premiere production of The Children and the Opening Night reception. For information and to make reservations, CLICK HERE.

Terri Roberts is a freelance writer and the Coordinator of Fountain Friends, the Fountain Theatre’s volunteer program. She also manages the Fountain Theatre Café.

I sing for beloved Fountain actor Adolphus Ward

Adolphus Ward with playwright Athol Fugard at the Fountain Theatre in 2010.

by Stephen Sachs

“When you look at a fellow, if you taught yourself to look for it, you can see his song written on him. Tell you what kind of man he is in the world.” – Bynum, JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE by August Wilson


Adolphus Ward was a shaman. When you stood in his sphere, you felt it. This was a man who accessed the otherworld. A conjure man, a healer, the keeper of souls. His impish grin, twinkling eyes, the playful tone of his voice warmed the heart.

The Fountain was Adolphus’ theater home. “From the start, the Fountain Family has been like blood-family-members to me,” he said. He and Ben Bradley were friends for more than thirty years, harking back to their Milwaukee theater days. At the Fountain, they partnered on two August Wilson plays. Adolphus’ favorite moment on stage in Gem of the Ocean was going to the City of Bones. “That was a damn good trip.”

I directed him in the premieres of two plays by Athol Fugard. Both times, Adolphus was other-worldly. In Coming Home, he played the ghost-spirit of Oupa (“grandfather”). A gentle soul who tended his desert plants and called the magic pumpkin seeds in his leather pouch “little miracles.”

In Fugard’s The Train Driver, he played a gravedigger overseeing a bleak South African burial site for the unknown and unwanted, who “puts the nameless ones in the grave.” I’ll never forget the moment in the play when Adolphus, as the gravedigger, sang a Xhosa lullaby to the souls in the ground who were “sleeping.” The song floated from Adolphus like smoke on the night air. Haunting, beautiful, quietly transcendent.

Adolphus now sleeps. And I sing to him.

Adolphus Ward passed away on November 7th at the age of eighty-six.

Stephen Sachs is the Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

L.A. Premiere of Lucy Kirkwood’s ‘The Children’ opens Nov. 6 on the Fountain’s indoor stage

What is our responsibility to the future? What legacy do we want to leave? The Los Angeles premiere of The Children, written by Lucy Kirkwood and directed by Simon Levy, asks those questions and more in its Los Angeles premiere at the Fountain Theatre. Performances begin on the Fountain’s indoor stage (with all health and safety guidelines strictly adhered to) on Saturday, Nov. 6. The run continues through Jan. 23.

Kirkwood’s funny and astonishing Tony-nominated play is a taut and disquieting thriller about responsibility, reparation and what one generation owes the next. With the outside world in chaos following a devastating environmental disaster, two retired nuclear engineers live a quiet life in a remote cottage on the lonely British coast — until a surprise visit from a former colleague upends the couple’s equilibrium and trust.

The cast includes Ron Bottitta (Hir, Faith Healer, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Arsonists at the Odyssey Theatre; Superior Donuts, Yes, Prime Minister at the Geffen; Oppenheimer, Honky, Razorback at Rogue Machine Theatre, where he also hosts the company’s Rant and Rave spoken word series); Elizabeth Elias Huffman (artistic director of Chain Reaction Theatre in Pittsburgh, most recently seen on stage in The Oldest Profession by Paula Vogel at Portland’s Profile Theatre); and Lily Knight (Ovation, LADCC and Stage Raw award nominee for A Small Fire at the Echo Theater Company; A Delicate Balance at the Odyssey; Three Days in the Country, The Crucible, Peace in Our Time, The Autumn Garden at Antaeus, where she is a member).

“What I love about the play,” says Levy, “is that it tackles these enormously important contemporary issues about our responsibility to the planet, to each other, to future generations, and grounds them in funny, complex, identifiable characters grappling with a moral dilemma that, quite frankly, all of us are confronting, right now, in real time.”

“The nuclear disaster the town is struggling to survive could be anything — it could be COVID, or climate change,” says Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs. “The moral dilemma is: what world are we leaving to our children?”

The Children premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2016, then transferred to the Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway the following year. In 2019, The Guardian placed The Children on its list of “greatest theatrical works since 2000.” London’s The Independent called millennial playwright Kirkwood “the most rewarding dramatist of her generation.”

The Fountain creative team includes scenic designer Andrew G. Hammer; lighting designer Christian V. Mejia; sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett; costume designer Naila Aladdin Sanders; choreographer Annie Yee; and dialect coach Nike Doukas. The production stage manager is Gina DeLuca. Stephen Sachs and James Bennett produce for the Fountain Theatre. Producing underwriters include Sheila and Alan Lamson, and Carrie Chassin and Jochen Haber. The executive producer is Karen Kondazian.

Proof of vaccination and mask-wearing will be required of all patrons. Admittance limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.

For reservations and information.

NOW CASTING: LA Premiere of Lucy Kirkwood’s timely and riveting “The Children”

The Fountain Theatre returns to indoor performances in October with the Los Angeles Premiere of the acclaimed Tony Award-nominated drama The Children by Lucy Kirkwood. With case numbers of the Delta variant trending downward in Los Angeles, the Fountain plans to reopen its indoor stage in October with all health and safety guidelines in place after nineteen months of closure due to the pandemic.

The Children is set in a small cottage on the east coast of England, where Hazel and Robin, two retired nuclear scientists in their mid-sixties, are living. A recent disaster at the local nuclear power station where they used to work has devastated the area, and they live under the threat of radiation pollution. Electricity and water are rationed, and they keep a Geiger counter to check for signs of radiation. However, Hazel is determined to preserve some semblance of normality and live the healthiest life she possibly can. So, Robin now farms, while Hazel practices yoga and devours salad. But when Rose, a former colleague whom they haven’t seen for 38 years, suddenly turns up, she disrupts their precariously ordered existence. Rose is determined to fix the problems they have caused for the next generation, even if it means certain death. Without ever mentioning climate change, Lucy Kirkwood’s brave, funny, humane, and chilling play asks us to confront the responsibility each generation must face for how it leaves the world. What is our responsibility to the future? Especially as we get older. What legacy, future, do we leave our children?

NOW CASTING

[ROSE] 64 to 68 years old, all ethnicities female. LEAD. Nuclear scientist/engineer. Sharp wit. No-nonsense. Strong-willed. Independent. A survivor. But these are shields to hide regrets and deep pain. Never married. Never had children. Lived in America for many years. A city person. She’s on a mission to save the world, to be accountable. She has many secrets, including being the former lover of ROBIN. She’s come to visit HAZEL and ROBIN after 38 years, out of the blue, with a request, with one of those secrets that is the turning point of the play.

[HAZEL] 64 to 68 years old, all ethnicities female. LEAD. Nuclear scientist/engineer. Retired. Has lived in the countryside most of her life. British droll sense of humor. She’s the homemaker, the caretaker. She believes in routine. She believes routine and salad and yoga will keep her and ROBIN and the world safe. She just wants everything to be nice, to be okay, to be controllable. But when that’s challenged by ROSE, she can be a fierce, formidable foe. Married to ROBIN for 40 years. Mother of 4. Grandmother. She will do anything to keep everyone safe. And she will not let ROSE steal ROBIN from her… and she will not let ROSE’s secret mission destroy her world.

[ROBIN] 64 to 68 years old, all ethnicities male. LEAD. Nuclear scientist/engineer. Retired. Down-to-earth. British droll sense of humor. Has that lived-in look. Husband of HAZEL. Married for 40 years. Father and grandfather. Former lover of ROSE. He’s the jokester. The little boy. He needs to turn pain and discomfort into humor and playfulness whenever possible. He’s also a workaholic. Always got to be doing something. Working the former farm. Taking care of the animals. Fixing the cottage. Can’t sit still. Like ROSE, he, too, has secrets… but ROSE’s secret request forces him to confront a moral dilemma that will change everything.

Producer/Theatre Company: Fountain Theatre
Artistic Director: Stephen Sachs
Director: Simon Levy
Writer: Lucy Kirkwood
Casting Director: Stephen Sachs
Audition Date(s): Sept. 2, 2021
Callback Date(s): Sept 7. 2021
Rehearsal Date(s): Sept 13, 2021
Preview Date(s): Oct. 20, 2021
Opening Date(s): Oct. 23, 2021
Closing Date(s): Dec. 19, 2021
Rate of Pay: AEA 99-Seat Contract
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Submit to: Actors Access or email casting@fountaintheatre.com

Fountain Theatre hosts Monday press conference celebrating “Save the Performing Arts Act”

State Senator Susan Rubio in front of the set for An Octoroon at the Fountain Theatre’s Outdoor Stage

On Monday, August 16th, from 9:30-10 a.m., performing arts leaders and Hollywood celebrities will join State Senator Susan Rubio (D – Baldwin Hills) and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (13th District, City of Los Angeles) on the Fountain Theatre’s Outdoor Stage to celebrate Governor Gavin Newsom signing into law Senate Bill 805, entitledSave the Performing Arts Act of 2021.” Fountain Theatre Artistic Director Stephen Sachs will emcee the event.

“This bill is recognition from the State of California that intimate theater companies matter,” says Sachs. “I applaud Senator Rubio for her tireless advocacy in crafting this bill, and thank her for taking action to support the needs of small nonprofit theaters across the state.”

The “Save the Performing Arts Act of 2021,” authored by Senator Rubio and co-authored by State Senator Benjamin Allen (D – Santa Monica)and State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Canada Flintridge), provides $50 million in much-needed immediate financial aid to small performing arts organizations with annual budgets under $2 million (including the Fountain.) The bill also includes $500,000 to set up payroll services support, which will be overseen by the California Arts Council. The public is invited, and encouraged, to attend this celebratory event. Please note: mask-wearing and social distancing will be in effect.

SB 805 is the first bill in the nation that will create a critical funding infrastructure to help assist Small Nonprofit Performing Arts Companies (SNPAC) with average adjusted gross revenues equal to, or less than $1.4 million, to be adjusted every five years based on the California Consumer Price Index. SB 805 will direct the California Arts Council to establish the California Nonprofit Performing Arts Paymaster, which will provide low-cost payroll and paymaster services to SNPACs. This legislation will establish the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund to ensure that SNPACs can pay all workers minimum wage, particularly workers in marginalized communities. Small nonprofit theaters are incubators for playwrights, actors, designers, directors and other artists. They have historically provided networking opportunities and mentorship for Black, Indigenous and People of Color artists to facilitate connections necessary for career advancement by providing performance experience that helps to open doors to larger, less accessible companies. Furthermore, SNPACs contribute to the economic growth, social well-being and cultural vitality of the local communities they serve.

Other confirmed attendees include:

Danny Glover, Co-Founder of The Robey Theatre Company; upcoming recipient of the 2022 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (an Honorary Oscar); BET Award, Cable ACE Award, NAACP Image Award and Asian Pacific Screen Awards winner, and Emmy Award-nominated actor. SB 805 Coalition Member.

Josefina López, Founding Artistic Director, CASA 0101. Theater, Emmy Award, Sundance Film Festival and Humanitas Prize Award-Winning Writer. SB 805 Coalition Member.

Ben Guillory (Co-Founder, CEO and Producing Artistic Director, The Robey Theatre Company, SB 805 Coalition Member. The Robey Theatre Company is a member of the Senate Bill 805 Coalition.

Kirsten Vangsness, tech-kitten Penelope Garcia on the Criminal Minds franchise, and a longtime member of Theatre of NOTE, which is a member of the Senate Bill 805 Coalition.

Snehal Desai, Producing Artistic Director of the award-winning East West Players, the nation’s premiere Asian-American theater company and one of the longest-running theaters of color in the United States.

Jon Imparato, Producer and Artistic Director of the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Center at Los Angeles LGBT Center

Arianna Ortiz, Western Regional Councilor for Actors’ Equity Association

Martha Demson, President of Theater Producer’s League Los Angeles and Artistic Director of the award-winning Open Fist Theatre Company, both of which are members of the Senate Bill 805 Coalition.

Simon Levy, Producing Director of the Fountain Theatre

SB 805 Coalition Members, which include: Leagues: Alliance of Desert Theatres, Arts for LA, Californians for the Arts/California Arts Advocates, San José Arts Advocates, Theatre Bay Area, Theatrical Producers League Los Angeles; Theaters: 24th Street Theatre, Actors Co-op Theatre Company, Altarena Playhouse, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, CASA 0101 Theater, Celebration Theatre, Chance Theater, Coin & Ghost, Collaborative Artist Bloc, Company of Angels, Dezart Performs, Downey Arts Collective, El Teatro Campesino, Flat Tire Theatre Company, Fountain Theatre, IAMA Theatre Company, Infinite Jest Theatre Company, The Inkwell Theater, Inland Valley Repertory Theater, Interact Theatre Company, Invertigo Dance Theatre, Latino Theater Company, Macha Theatre Company/Films, Moving Arts, New American Theatre, Novato Theater Company, Numi Opera, Open Fist Theatre Company, Ophelia’s Jump Productions, Playwrights’ Arena, Rogue Machine Theatre, Rogues Artists Ensemble, Sacred Fools Theater Company at the Broadwater, Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, Sierra Madre Playhouse, Skylight Theatre Company, SkyPilot Theatre Company, The Robey Theatre Company, The Road Theater Company, The Victory Theatre Center, Theatre of NOTE, Theatre Unleashed, Teatro Máscara Mágica, Teatro Visión, Theatre West, Town Hall Theatre; Independent Artists: Producer Michaela Bulkley, Performer Devon DeGroot, Actor Robert Fancy, Actress Cristal Gonzalez, Performer Julia Sanford and Performer Christopher Sepulveda.  

Meet the cast of An Octoroon

by Terri Roberts

The Memorial Day holiday may have been a three-day weekend for most, but at the Fountain Theatre the cast and crew of our Los Angeles premiere of An Octoroon were digging in to rehearse the show and prepare for the long week ahead of loading in set, lights, video, and sound, all leading up to the all-important tech weekend.

It seems like we only just started, yet our fabulous cast has not only been hard at work for a few weeks now, but they recently donned costumes, hair and makeup for a publicity photo shoot.

Meet the wonderful actors from An Octoroon here:

And check out the photo shoot for An Octoroon here:

Tickets for Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie Award-winning Best American Play, An Octoroon, are on sale now. The show runs June 18 through Sept. 19, with performances on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7 p.m., with the following exceptions: Saturday, June 19, the performance is set for 5 p.m. and will be followed by a special Juneteenth event. More on that coming soon! And the weekends of July 30 – Aug. 2 and Aug. 27 – Aug. 30 will be dark for An Octoroon so that our acclaimed dance series, Forever Flamenco, can shake up the stage! More on that to come as well.

Tickets for An Octoroon range from $25–$45; Pay-What-You-Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.fountaintheatre.com.

Terri Roberts is a freelance writer and the Coordinator of Fountain Friends, the Fountain Theatre’s volunteer program. She also manages the Fountain Theatre Café and outdoor concessions.

Spectrum News covers the Fountain’s outdoor stage

by Terri Roberts

Recently, actress Aleisha Force (Human Interest Story) stopped by the Fountain Theatre simply to pick up her belongings which had been locked in a dressing room since March 2020 when the pandemic closed our doors.

But when she arrived, she ran into artistic director Stephen Sachs and a film crew from Spectrum News. They were on-site to do a story about the installation of the Fountain’s outdoor stage, and Aleisha’s jump-for-joy excitement at seeing the progress, and at being reunited with her Human Interest Story director – and her shoes! – immediately made her part of the story.

“This is literally going to be the first theatre that I see!” she happily promised Sachs as she watched the stage being constructed. And it’s highly likely that that will be true for many other live theatre lovers in Los Angeles. Now that Actors’ Equity Association, the union governing live stage performers and stage managers, has approved the Fountain’s COVID safety plan for its actors, audience, staff and crew, the Fountain has become the first intimate theatre in all of L.A. to be granted union approval for re-opening.

But even before getting AEA on board, the City had to sign off on the idea of an outdoor stage in the Fountain’s parking lot. “The hoops we had to jump through, the hurdles we had to cross…it was a long arduous journey,” Sachs told the Spectrum’s reporter Tara Lynn Wagner. “But the City is behind it 100%. And so is the theatre community.”

Inaugurating the outdoor stage will be the L.A. premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins‘ Obie Award-winning Best American Play, An Octoroon. An Octoroon is a radical, incendiary and subversively funny riff on Dion Boucicault‘s once-popular 1859 mustache-twirling melodrama set on a Louisiana plantation. A spectacular collision of the antebellum South and 21st-century cultural politics, An Octoroon twists a funhouse world of larger-than-life stereotypes into blistering social commentary to create a gasp-inducing satire. Previews begin June 11; opening night is June 18. Performances are Fridays-Mondays at 7 pm through Sept. 19. Tickets are on sale now via the Fountain box office at (323) 663-1525 or on our website at www.fountaintheatre.com.

Catch all the excitement, and watch the entire Spectrum News interview, here:

Terri Roberts is a freelance writer and the Coordinator of Fountain Friends, the Fountain Theatre’s volunteer program. She also manages the Fountain Theatre Café and outdoor concessions.

Casting complete for the Fountain’s L.A. premiere production of An Octoroon

Casting is complete and rehearsals begin this week for the Los Angeles premiere of a radical, incendiary and subversively funny Obie award-winning play by MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Performances of An Octoroon will inaugurate the new outdoor stage at The Fountain Theatre on June 18. Performances will continue through Sept. 19, with four public previews set for June 11, June 12, June 13 and June 16, and a special press preview on June 17.

Judith Moreland directs Jacobs-Jenkins’s outrageous deconstruction of a moustache-twirling melodrama by 19th century playwright Dion Boucicault. Matthew Hancock (LADCC, Stage Raw and Ovation award-winner for Hit the Wall at the L.A. LGBT Center, previously seen at the Fountain in Between Riverside and Crazy, Hype Man, The Brothers Size, I and You) stars as a modern-day Black playwright struggling to find his voice among a chorus of people telling him what he should and should not be writing. He decides to adapt his favorite play, Boucicault’s The Octoroon, an 1859 melodrama about illicit interracial love.

The Black playwright quickly realizes that getting White, male actors of today to play evil slave owners will not be easy… so, he decides to play the White male roles himself — in whiteface. What ensues is an upside down, topsy-turvy world where race and morality are challenged, mocked and savagely intensified. A highly stylized, theatrical, melodramatic reality is created to tell the story of an octoroon woman (a person who is one-eighth Black) and her quest for identity and love.

The cast includes Rob Nagle (Human Interest Story at the Fountain, The Judas Kiss at Boston Court) as Boucicault; Hazel Lozano (America Adjacent at the Skylight, Othello at Griot Theatre) as the production assistant; Mara Klein (The Judas Kiss at Boston Court, Sucker Punch at Coeurage) as the octoroon, Zoe; and Vanessa Claire Stewart (Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara at the Geffen, Finks at Rogue Machine) as Dora, a rich Southern belle in love with the plantation owner (who is also played by Hancock). Meanwhile, Leea Ayers (BLKS at Steppenwolf, Incendiary at the Goodman Theatre), Kacie Rogers (NAACP award-winner for No Place to be Somebody at Robey Theatre Company and An Accident at Griot Theatre Company; The Heal at Getty Villa) and Pam Trotter (And Her Hair Went With Her at the Fountain, national tour of The Color Purple) portray three startlingly modern slave women.

An Octoroon brutally satirizes racial stereotypes in a funny and profoundly tragic whirlwind of images and dialogue that forces audiences to look at, laugh at, and be shattered by America’s racist history.

“The more you experience this play, the more it turns into something else,” says Moreland. “It’s an extraordinary piece of theater — hilarious, but also shocking, profound, moving… and designed to provoke and offend. We have a terrific group of actors who are completely game and up for the challenge. It’s a celebration of how theater can both move you and change lives.”

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program, commonly but unofficially known as the “Genius Grant,” awards no strings attached cash prizes to individuals who demonstrate “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The website described Jacobs-Jenkins as “a playwright [who draws] from a range of contemporary and historical theatrical genres to engage frankly with complicated issues around identity, family, class and race. Many of Jacobs-Jenkins’s plays use a historical lens to satirize and comment on modern culture, particularly the ways in which race and class are negotiated in both private and public settings. Although the provocation of his audience is purposeful, Jacobs-Jenkins’s creation of unsettling, shocking, often confrontational moments is not gratuitous; these elements are of a piece with the world he has established on stage and in the service of the story he is telling.”

The Fountain Theatre creative team includes scenic designer Frederica Nascimento, lighting designer Derrick McDaniel, sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett, video designer Nicholas E. Santiago, costume designer Naila Aladdin Sanders; prop master Michael Allen Angel; choreographer Annie Yee; fight director Jen Albert; and dramaturg Dr. Daphnie Sicré. The production stage manager is Emily Lehrer, assistant stage manager is Deena Tovar, and production manager for the Fountain’s outdoor stage is Shawna Voragen. Stephen Sachs and Simon Levy co-produce for the Fountain Theatre, and the associate producer is James Bennett. Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel are executive producers.

The Fountain’s outdoor stage is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Karen Kondazian, Barbara Herman, the Vladimir and Araxia Buckhantz Foundation, Rabbi Anne Brener, Carrie Chassin and Jochen Haber, Miles and Joni Benickes, and the Phillips-Gerla Family.

The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won hundreds of awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally.

An Octoroon runs June 18 through Sept.19, with performances on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7 p.m., except Saturday, June 19, which will be at 5 p.m. and will be followed by a special Juneteenth event, and July 30 through Aug. 2 and Aug. 27 through Aug. 30 which will be dark. Four preview performances will take place on June 11, June 12, June 13 and June 16 at 7 p.m. There will be one press preview on Thursday, June 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $25–$45; Pay-What-You-Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles.For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.