Category Archives: Arts education

Our nation’s future depends on moments like this

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Fountain Board member Miles Benickes and Zoey Rosenzweig at Mueller Read-A-Thon.

by Stephen Sachs

First, she said no. She would not do it. When her grandfather asked her again in the Fountain Theatre lobby, she awkwardly took a step back in retreat, shy and embarrassed.  

“No,” she said, in a blushing 14-year old half-grin.

She would not join her grandfather, Miles Benickes, on stage to read a ten-minute section of the Mueller Report in front of a gathered audience of LA professionals and unseen viewers watching online via a simultaneous live stream on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. No way.

Then Zoey Rosenzweig changed her mind. I was thrilled and surprised when she strode out onto our Fountain stage with Miles and diligently read through the Mueller legalese with her grandfather. She may not have understood much of the gobbledygook she was reading. Who did? That didn’t matter. Something vital for the future of our nation was happening. Zoey Rosenzweig was getting involved.

Thursday’s 15-hour Mueller Report Read-A-Thon at the Fountain Theatre held dozens of unforgettable moments like this for me. The marathon event was emotionally overwhelming. The Fountain hummed with ecstatic energy all day and all night. A parade of politicians, actors, writers, and community leaders read from the podium as if declaring from a public square, each person high-charged by their call to duty.

I thought of the day as an Open House. The Fountain Theatre opening its doors – all day and all night — to democracy. At an Open House, all visitors are welcome. At an Open House, anyone who wishes may visit. An Open House is a gathering that’s open to anyone who wants to come by, any time. 

An atmosphere of community was everywhere. In the lobby, in the audience, out front on the sidewalk, in our upstairs café.  Theatre provides community. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in this country, and our LA theatre network is large and widespread. But on Thursday our Mueller Report Read-A-Thon proved that, like the motto of our nation, Los Angeles and the LA Theatre Community is “out of many, one.”

For our nation to survive, engaging young people in the arts and politics of this country is essential. I studied closely as our twenty-four-year-old Fountain intern, Melina Young, sat in the front row watching respected LA theatre critic Sylvie Drake read from our stage. A proud grin spreading across Melina’s face. Sylvie Drake is Melina’s grandmother. Now Melina seeks a career in the theatre. Her grandmother, by example, reminding her how the arts and social action can intersect.    

An endless stream of memorable instants that day/night flood through me now, two days later. Images of celebrities, LA Theatre icons, government officials. But it was Zoey Rosenzweig, perhaps, who remains the most indelible. A fourteen-year-old girl reading this urgent government document from the podium while her grandfather somberly leans over her shoulder like a rabbi guiding her through the Torah.

Moments like this are the reason we hosted the reading of the Mueller Report in the first place. It gives me hope. We need Zoey Rosenzweig and Melina Young and millions more like them.

Our nation, and our art form, depend on them.     

Stephen Sachs is the Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre. 

Britney Spears and climbing to the theatre arts summit

LA county Arts Interns Summit 2019

2019 LA County Arts Interns Summit at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

by Melina Young

I’m scared.

Terrified in fact. There, I said it.

But really, who isn’t?

It may come as a shock to absolutely no one that to be a recent college graduate is legitimately terrifying. I can almost hear Britney Spears’s dulcet (if a bit nasal) tones reminding me that, “I’m not a girl / Not yet a woman.” She knows something I don’t… or rather she knows something that I do know but that I am trying desperately to avoid admitting.

Britney Spears

“I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” Britney Spears (2002)

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s 2019 Arts Summit asked me to look Britney square in her wide set, brown eyes dusted with early 2000s glitter and acknowledge that we are the same—not girls; and not yet fully-grown.

It’s true. I will proclaim it loudly in my best Britney Spears impression (which, to my dismay, is not that good).  Britney and I have something else in common—something that she demonstrates in her 2002 smash hit—we’re both artists.

I have to take a moment here to thank LACAC for organizing day jam-packed with illuminating events and with equally (if not more) illuminating fellow interns.

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2019 county arts interns touring downtown Los Angeles.

I’ll continue my momentary digression by commenting on what a relief it was to look at the 2019 class of 203 LACAC arts interns sitting around me and see that the room was not overwhelmingly white and male. This was markedly different from my experience in college and was a refreshing reminder of what it actually looks like to be an Angelino.

Back to Britney.

To be clear, my goal is not to be a pop star, but it is no less ambitious. My goal is to have a fulfilling and sustaining career in theatre. That’s no easy trick.

Here’s what my whole Britney device was leading me toward: Is it possible to give good, actionable advice to someone in my situation? I don’t have an answer to my question. And I’m not sure that I’ve encountered someone who does. I hope that doesn’t sound ungrateful, because I AM GRATEFUL.

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Melina Young at the Fountain Theatre.

Overwhelmingly grateful. And at the same time, I’m still terrified. I don’t think anything that anyone could say or do would change that. Unless what they do is hand me a contract and what they say is: “Hi, I’ll be your agent for life and I can magically promise you job security, longevity, financial stability, and artistic fulfillment.”

That does happen, but only for the lucky few.

Here’s what’s heartening. Despite the fact that the odds are against us, Arts Summit represented the coming together of two hundred and three arts interns (out of four thousand applicants I might add) who are pursuing the arts in bold defiance of those odds.

We believe in ourselves; and what’s more, we believe in one another.

I think that’s what we might call hope and courage. Fear that’s said its prayers. Sure, it’s hard to be a recent college grad that wants to be an artist. But I’ll take it because I get to be hopeful and courageous and I’m in fabulous company. That’s exciting.

To my delight, I think I encountered good, actionable advice in my LACAC peer group. (I won’t name names to protect the innocent.) Here it is:

Sometimes making art feels like screaming into the void. That’s frustrating; but scream anyway, and use that frustration to scream louder.

So I’m screaming. I hope it’s loud enough that you heard it.

Melina Young is our 2019 summer intern at the Fountain Theatre. Our thanks to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the LA County Arts Commission for its Arts Internship Program.

VIDEO: Highlights of awesome week one of ‘Walking the Beat’ at Fountain Theatre

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HBO supports Fountain Theatre’s cops/kids program ‘Walking the Beat’ with $10,000 gift

WTB Group Day One

Cops, kids and staff of Walking the Beat at the Fountain Theatre.

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to announce that HBO is making a generous contribution of $10,000 to support Walking the Beat, the Fountain’s educational arts program that brings together LAPD police officers and inner city students over an 8-week period to write and create a theatre piece that they perform themselves.

“We are thrilled to welcome HBO to the Fountain Family,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “HBO’s pedigree in providing ground-breaking, high-quality entertainment is matched by its commitment to young people and communities nationwide. Walking the Beat is an innovative program that uses theatre to promote empathy, self-expression and empowerment.”

HBO’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Dennis Williams explains the cable network’s philosophy of giving as “how we can do the best with the resources that we have.”

“If you’re in a position of power or privilege, the question you should always ask yourself is, ‘Are you using your powers for good?’” continues Williams. “At HBO, we’re in a position to inspire change and start conversations in a way that others might not be able to do themselves. We must use our powers for good.”

Walking the Beat was devised by Theo Perkins and Angela Kariotis at Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble in New Jersey. HBO supported the project there for three years, and continues its sponsorship with the Hollywood program at the Fountain.

HBO and EYTE join other sponsors and partners for Walking the Beat at the Fountain, including the Hollywood Police Activities League,  Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy, Deborah Culver, The Vladimir and Araxia Buckhantz Foundation, Dorothy Wolpert, Robert and Carrie Meadow, the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and District 13, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and District 3.

Home Box Office is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service in the United States, with 140 million subscribers worldwide as of 2018. HBO’s Corporate Social Responsibility team unites employees, talent and non-profit partners to elevate social issues connected to communities. At the heart of HBO’s effort  is a passion for making a difference, to use its platform to educate, inspire thoughtful action and help make the world a better place.

More Info on Walking the Beat

VIDEO: Cops and students share stories in Fountain Theatre’s new outreach program ‘Walking the Beat’

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Summer intern Melina Young is thrilled to be back in LA and at the Fountain Theatre

Melina Young

Melina Young at the Fountain Theatre.

by Melina Drake Young

Hi.

My name is Melina Drake Young and I’m the new Development Intern at the Fountain Theatre. This is supposed to be a chatty-get-to-know-me kind of piece, so let’s chat and get to know—well—me. I would say each other, but since this isn’t a real conversation I can’t, so I didn’t.

Relax. Take off your shoes.

Pour yourself a glass of Rosé.

Did you do it?

Me neither. I’m at work. But it’s nice to pretend.

That’s what I like to spend my time doing—playing pretend. Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to be a pretend-player—a storyteller—so naturally I wound up in The Theatre. (I hope you read that to yourself in the voice of Katherine Hepburn because that’s exactly how I hear it in my head.)

I’m an actress and writer (a rare bird in Los Angeles, California?) and a (VERY) recent graduate of Bard College’s Theatre & Performance and Literature programs. I was born in Silver Lake just before it became Silver Lake. And I think I liked it a little bit more when the neighborhood wasn’t italicized. What I mean is, LA is my home. Oh mother LA, how I love you. When I was studying in the Hudson Valley, I would often identify LA in movies (as one does) by its light. It’s golden, warm, heavenly, distinctly-LA light.

I’m thrilled to return to it and to re-discover LA’s artistic vibrancy as a young adult. How lucky am I to be starting my theatrical career at the Fountain?

A typical day in the life at the Fountain Theatre for this Development Intern includes time spent discussing theatre, organizing, crafting surveys, writing, chatting with co-workers, and being dazzled and moved by the students participating in Walking the Beat . Created and led by Angie Karoitis and Theo Perkins in Elizabethville, New Jersey, Walking the Beat is new to the Fountain and new to me. The program seeks to create a discourse between and eventually a performance devised by and starring ten remarkable students from LA high schools and LAPD officers.

Melina at WTB Orientation

Melina guides students through paperwork at the orientation for Walking the Beat.

Before my time at the Fountain, I would like to say that you’d have found me traipsing around the beautiful Hudson Valley, but the truth is more likely than not I was in rehearsal. If I wasn’t, I was writing at my desk.

This is still true.

The setting, however, has changed.

TIME: The present.

LOCATION: 5060 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA.

CAST OF CHARACTERS: A blonde 20-something who doesn’t like to be identified as such. She wears glasses sometimes. Her eyes are myopic, but she isn’t. She’s grateful to be where she is and she hopes that you can tell.

The Fountain Theatre thanks the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the LA County Arts Internship Program.   

VIDEO: Actor/teacher Theo Perkins visits Hollywood High School for Fountain’s ‘Walking the Beat’

Take a look as actor/teacher Theo Perkins visits Hollywood High School to interview students for the Fountain Theatre’s new educational outreach program, Walking the Beat. Our innovative program will bring together ten students from six high schools with five LAPD officers, using theatre as a tool to create understanding and empathy.

In partnership with Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble, Hollywood Police Activities League, and the Los Angeles City College Theatre AcademyThe Fountain Theatre will introduce Walking the Beat, a summer theater arts based program for inner city high school youth and police officers in the Hollywood area. This pioneering arts education program, originated by New Jersey’s Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble in 2016, and now expanding into Hollywood with The Fountain Theatre, will provide transformative experiences for police officers and underserved youth in Hollywood. Utilizing performing arts as a vehicle for youth empowerment and community building, Walking the Beat has transformed lives with a results-based arts education methodology and curriculum. This 10 week program builds confidence, character, communication skills, and community. Walking the Beat inspires — in students and officers alike — an appreciation for their common humanity, and a commitment to community and social justice.

Our first orientation is this Friday.  More Info

Young people from East LA say ‘Hype Man’ at Fountain Theatre was “awesome”

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Variety Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles

A fabulous group of young people from Variety Boys & Girls Club enjoyed an unforgettable Saturday afternoon seeing Hype Man a few weeks ago. Today, a large hand drawn thank you card arrived at the Fountain Theatre office from the kids expressing their gratitude and describing their experience.

Variety Boys and Girls Club has a 68-year tradition of providing meaningful activities and programs to young people of the community.  There are no geographical limitations to membership, although most of the members come from areas surrounding the Club in East Los Angeles.

Club Executive Director Patricia Siqueiros conveyed her appreciation to Fountain Outreach Coordinator Richard Gallegos.

“For many of our Club members, it was their first time watching a theatre production,” Siqueiros related. “I feel fortunate to connect with individuals like you who introduce our kids to a world beyond their surroundings.”

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Thank you card from Variety Boys & Girls Club

The kids sent Richard a large handmade thank you card, writing to him their thoughts and feelings about experiencing the play.

Hype Man is my first live performance.” – David (age 17)

“Hype Man touched on race and racism which I find challenging to speak about with other kids my age.” – Jessica (age 15)

“I like the changes in lighting. Helped set the scene.” – Yael (age 12)

“I loved it! I understood the sarcasm.” – Johnathan (age 15)

“Hype Man was super engaging.” – Yolanda (age 17)

“Thank you for a great show!” – Danny (age 17)

“It was good seeing the friends got together to overcome disagreements.” – Marcelo (age 13)

“I enjoyed watching Hype Man because it touched on relevant topics.” – Alaize (age 14)

“It made me very happy to witness the conversation about gender inequality.” – Evelyn (age 14)

“I liked the cast going through the audience during the social protest.” – Aimee (age 20)

“This is the first time I ever sat through a Q&A.” Aracely (age 14)

Hype Man was very fresh and educational. The music really got my attention.” – Jesus (age 12)

“We need more plays like Hype Man!” – Jocelyn (age 18)

Video: Actor Bill Brochtrup is happy to be back at the Fountain in ‘Daniel’s Husband’

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Now Hiring: paid summer internship for college student at Fountain Theatre

FT Staff with Saif Saigol Last Day

2018 intern Saif Saigol (center) with Fountain staff.

Know a college student looking for a paying job this summer? A young person who likes theatre and enjoys working in a crazy, eccentric theatrical environment? Search no further. The Fountain is the place.

The Fountain Theatre is now accepting applications to hire one Development Intern for 10 weeks this summer between  June 1 – August 25. It is a full-time position (40 hours per week for 10 weeks) that pays $570 per week.   

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established the Arts Internship Program to provide undergraduate students with meaningful on-the-job training and experience in working in nonprofit arts organizations, while assisting arts organizations to develop future arts leaders. This is our sixth year participating in the program and we’ve had great luck with our summer interns. Each one has been incredibly helpful, has learned a great deal, and became part of our Fountain Family. We are still in contact with all of them.

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2016 Arts Intern Victoria Montecillo with Director of Development Barbara Goodhill

Student eligibility for internship positions is limited to currently enrolled undergraduate college students who reside or attend college in Los Angeles County. Students must have completed at least one semester of college by June 1, 2019 or will complete their undergraduate degree between May 1 – September 1, 2019 in order to be eligible to participate. Students who have already earned a BA, BS or a higher degree are not eligible.

The Development Intern will work closely with the Director of Development to create and launch new fundraising and grant writing campaigns. The intern will assist in targeting and contacting new funding sources, creating and implementing new fundraising materials, assist in individual contribution programs, and facilitate special events for donors and community partners. Under professional guidance, he/she will learn and develop grant writing skills to create and submit new grant proposals to major foundations.

The intern candidate must have basic computer and word-processing skills (PC, Word, Excel, Internet), good communications skills and pleasant phone manner, organizational skills, be detailed oriented, and have the ability to multi-task in an intimate office environment. A sense of humor and a willingness to learn many aspects of theatre management. She/he should be self-motivated and have the ability to take initiative when required. She/he should also have a passion for theatre. Excellent writing and editing skills. An ability to work effectively both independently and cooperatively. Creativity, enthusiasm for learning, and an outgoing friendly demeanor.

Email cover letter and resume to Barbara Goodhill, Director of Development 
barbara@fountaintheatre.com