Category Archives: Anniversary

Fountain celebrates 30 years with electrifying season of premieres in 2020

FT night cars 2018Deborah Culver and Stephen Sachs founded the Fountain Theatre in an intimate, Spanish-style, East Hollywood building that belies the sizable local impact and international reach of the company’s acclaimed and award-winning productions. Now entering its 30th year as one of the most highly regarded theaters in Los Angeles, the Fountain is announcing a celebratory 2020 season of dynamic premieres and events.

“Thirty years ago, when we first entered this theater and stepped onto its stage, we knew we had found it. A place to call home,” Culver and Sachs said in a joint statement. “Since that April three decades ago, our charming haven on Fountain Avenue has been home to thousands of artists and millions of patrons. Fountain plays are now performed worldwide and seen on TV. Our flamenco concerts are first class. Our outreach programs change lives. Our legacy is noteworthy. And our future looks bigger and brighter than ever.”

The season opener, the world premiere of Human Interest Story — written and directed by Sachs who, in addition to his role as co-founder and co-artistic director of the Fountain, is an internationally acclaimed playwright — will open on Feb. 15. In this timely drama about homelessness, celebrity worship and truth in American journalism, newspaper columnist Andy Kramer (Rob Nagle) is laid off when a corporate takeover downsizes his paper. In retaliation, Andy fabricates a letter to his column from an imaginary homeless woman named “Jane Doe” who announces she will kill herself on the 4th of July because of the heartless state of the world. When the letter goes viral, Andy is forced to hire a homeless woman (Tanya Alexander) to stand-in as the fictitious Jane. She becomes an overnight internet sensation and a national women’s movement is ignited.

Slated for Spring, 2020, the Los Angeles premiere of If I Forget by Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen) will be directed by Fountain producing director Simon Levy. In this viciously funny, unflinchingly honest portrait of a Jewish family and a culture at odds with itself, a liberal Jewish studies professor reunites with his two sisters to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday. Both political and deeply personal, this play about history, responsibility, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for a new beginning was a New York Times “Critic’s Pick,” while DC Metro calls it “one of the greatest Jewish plays of this century.”

Summer brings the Los Angeles premiere of An Octoroon by 2016 MacArthur fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who won the Obie for this 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 that The New York Times calls “This decade’s most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America today.” Judith Moreland directs.

Another noteworthy Los Angeles premiere closes out the season in the Fall: Escaped Alone is a caustically funny and surreal afternoon of tea and calamity by celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill. In a serene British garden three old friends are joined by a neighbor to engage in amiable chitchat — with a side of apocalyptic horror. The women’s talk of grandchildren and TV shows breezily intersperses with tales of terror in a quietly teetering world where all is not what it seems. In his Off-Broadway review for Escaped AloneNew York Times theater critic Ben Brantley hailed the play as “wondrous” and Caryl Churchill as “the most dazzlingly inventive living dramatist in the English language.”

Also coming up in 2020:

Forever Flamenco: The dancers, musicians and singers of the Fountain’s monthly series will continue to delight audiences throughout 2020. The Los Angeles Times hails Forever Flamenco as “the earth and fire of first-class flamenco,” and LA Splash says, “the way you feel when you walk out of a Forever Flamenco performance is pretty darn fabulous.”

Hollywood Dreams: CBS star and Fountain family member Simone Missick (All Rise) and Fountain board chair Dorothy Wolpert will be honored at the Fountain’s dazzling 30th Anniversary Gala at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on SaturdayJune 27.

Walking the Beat Hollywooda pioneering arts education program for inner city high school youth and police officers, will return for its second year this August.

The Candidate: The Fountain’s third annual celebrity reading at Los Angeles City Hall, a stage adaptation of the 1972 Academy Award-winning movie that starred Robert Redford as a young, straight-talking candidate for the U.S. Senate, is set for ThursdayOct. 22. One night only.

For more information about the Fountain Theatre’s 2020 30th anniversary season, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com

Happy Birthday, Fountain Theatre

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Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor

When my parents met and fell in love, their favorite book was Eric Sevareid’s “Not So Wild a Dream.” They felt the phrase captured the promise of their bond, and had the words inscribed inside their wedding rings. For me, the Fountain Theatre is also not so wild a dream. Twenty-nine years ago today, Deborah Lawlor and I opened our doors. Our desire was to create a home. A sanctuary on Fountain Avenue where artists and audiences can gather to engage in the life-enhancing rhapsody of live art. Nearly three decades later, after hundreds of productions, thousands of artists and hundreds of thousands of patrons, that desire has proven itself to be not so wild a dream.

Serving Los Angeles for twenty-nine years and still going strong. Changing the world seventy-eight seats a time.

Onward

Stephen Sachs

She strolled into the theatre lobby that night and my heart jumped

canon theatre LL 2 - Copy (1)

The Canon Theatre, Beverly Hills

by Stephen Sachs

She called to take me up on my offer. I struggled to place who she was. A young woman from my Playwrighting Group in Hollywood willing to volunteer to usher at my theatre in Beverly Hills for the perk of seeing our long running hit play for free. I pretended to recognize her name but my mind raced. Who was she? A fellow writer? An actress?

“Sure, you can usher,” I muttered distractedly to the mysterious voice on the other line. “Be here at the theater tonight. Wear a black skirt or slacks. A white blouse. I’ll show you what to do.”

Part of my job as the theater manager at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills was to recruit volunteers to usher. The theatre was enjoying a celebrated 16-month run of A.R. Gurney’s play about friendship and romance, Love Letters, starring a rotating parade of famous actors, including Ben Gazarra, Gena Rowlands, Christopher Reeve, Whoopi Goldberg, Charlton Heston, Robert Wagner, Richard Thomas, Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, and many more. Because the celebrity roster changed every week, recruiting volunteer ushers eager to see the play wasn’t difficult. It often meant mobilizing a house staff of enlisted actors, wannabe screenwriters, middle-aged theatre junkies, and westside seniors looking for something to do. Then came the phone call from the enigmatic young woman.

She arrived that night precisely on time. I was standing in the theatre lobby, busily counting programs for that evening’s performance. I turned and glanced at the front entrance. Gliding in through the glass doors, the sun setting behind her and highlighting her slim form, strode a beautiful blonde in a black skirt, a white blouse, flashing a warm, inviting smile. My body jolted, even in my pressed suit. I stopped breathing. This is Los Angeles. Attractive women are everywhere. Something about her was different.

My hands shook as I demonstrated to her how to properly tear a theater ticket stub. Did she spot I was trembling? She leaned forward. Her warmth smelled delicious. Inside the theater before opening the doors, I stumbled down the carpeted aisle of empty seats with her, doing my best to outline our audience seating protocols, all the while my thoughts catapulting into a pathetic frenzied mantra, Ask her out, you idiot! Ask her out! Don’t let her get away. When the night’s performance ended, as we picked up littered programs from the floor and flipped up the seats, I asked her to join me for a bite to eat. She said yes.

We strolled south down Beverly Drive to an Italian restaurant still open and had pizza. Over wine, I explained that I was coming out of a long-term relationship and just wanted to stay casual. She confessed that she was ready to give up on dating and didn’t know how to be casual. We talked, we laughed, and we closed the place down.

Soon, we were catching new plays at The Music Center, having a ball at a jazz club in Encino, savoring intimate dinners on Melrose. We’d step out of my small apartment in Beachwood Canyon for late night strolls through the Hollywood Hills, talking non-stop, plotting our careers and confiding aspirations. The production of Love Letters at my theater provided the perfect background for our blossoming relationship. The play chronicles the bond that develops between a man and a woman as they share their hopes and ambitions, their dreams and disappointments, their triumphs and heartbreak.

Because Love Letters starred a new pair of celebrity actors each week, our theater was bombarded with flowers delivered to the stage door by fans. I would collect the dozens of bouquets and vases and display them around our lobby, filling the entranceway with bright color and sweet fragrance. Never imagining that one bouquet would help change the course of my life.

Late one night, following another sold out performance, I was locking up the Canon Theatre for the evening. The audience had gone home, the theatre was dark and empty. She was waiting patiently for me outside as I closed. We were on our way to a party in Brentwood. It was a warm August evening and she wore a lovely white linen dress. She beamed, fresh and radiant. I grabbed a large bouquet of flowers from the lobby and presented them to her with a flourish under the front marquee outside. She blushed and kissed me. We then turned and walked down Canon Drive to the car.

What happened next is difficult to describe.

As we strolled down the narrow sidewalk, she suddenly took my arm. We marched forward, arm in arm. I then glanced at her. At the two of us, together, arms interlocked. My suit. Her white dress. Flowers clutched in her hand. In that instant, I saw us. In a flash, time stopped, collapsed, and rushed forward. It was like peering into a looking glass, a crystal ball and a rear-view mirror, all at the same time. I saw our past, present and future together, as best friends, as life partners, as husband and wife, compressed into one perfect vision. I saw it.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” I whispered.

A recognition of the other.

It’s you.

We were married, exactly one year from the night we first met. One year to the day from that first afternoon when she stepped through those glass doors and into the lobby, and my life, forever.

Stephen Sachs is the Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood. Stephen and his wife, Jacqueline, have been married twenty-seven years and have two sons. 

Fountain Theatre Celebrates 25 Years of Intimate Excellence

FT Redbury logo

In celebration of a “silver” theatrical milestone, “The Fountain Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Gala and Auction” will honor co-artistic director and award-winning playwright/director Stephen Sachs on Saturday, October 3rd at Hollywood’s Redbury Hotel. City of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell serves as honorary chair.

The gala event will include a cocktail reception, silent auction, champagne, dessert and dancing on the hotel’s rooftop overlooking Hollywood. Highlights will include a special presentation by Councilmember O’Farrell and a retrospective montage of the last 25 years of Fountain Theatre history.

The Fountain online auction is now live with enthusiastic bidding already underway. Great deals on over 140 amazing items — inc luding travel, dining, theatre and sports tickets, vacation packages — are now available and just one click away. The online auction ends September 3oth. The silent auction takes place on the night of the event at The Redbury on October 3rd.

The evening is a tribute to Sachs, who, together with co-artistic director Deborah Lawlor and producing directorSimon Levy, has guided the organization since its founding in 1990 and cemented its place in the Los Angeles theater community. Under Sachs’ leadership — as a director, a producer and a playwright — the Fountain Theatre has achieved over 250 awards and international acclaim; in a recent article, Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty named the Fountain, “one of L.A.’s most vital intimate theaters.”

Stephen Sachs

Stephen Sachs

Sachs has also personally won every major theater award in Los Angeles, including two Ovation Awards for Best Director of a Play. He has twice been nominated for the SDC Zelda Fichandler Award honoring outstanding stage directors in the Western United States. Sachs has authored 12 plays that have been produced across the U.S. and internationally and translated into multiple languages. A two-time finalist for the PEN Literary Award for drama, Sachs wrote the teleplay for Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Sweet Nothing in My Ear based on his award-winning play. The movie aired on CBS and starred Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin and Golden Globe winner Jeff Daniels. His play Bakersfield Mist won the Elliot Norton Award for Best New Play, received its London premiere starring Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in London’s West End, and is now being produced in theaters across the country and around the world. Sachs’ Citizen: An American Lyric, a stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine’s award-winning book, is currently running at the Fountain, where it has received rave reviews and was named a “Critic’s Choice” by the Los Angeles Times.

For more information on the Gala and details about how to participate in the celebration with a tribute message, email FT25@fountaintheatre.com.

Net proceeds from The Fountain Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Gala and Auction will provide vital funds to support the development and production of new plays and provide educational outreach opportunities for students throughout greater Los Angeles.

Mixing stylish chic hip with the glamour of old Hollywood, the Redbury is a boutique luxury hotel located near the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine in the heart of Hollywood.

The Fountain Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Gala and Auction takes place on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Tickets are $125. Special discount tickets for theatre artists are $99. The Redbury Hotel is located at 1717 Vine St., Hollywood, CA 90028. For more information to make reservations, call (310) 665-1525 or go to www.fountaintheatre.com.

To enjoy the online auction click here