Category Archives: Board of Directors

Fountain Theatre welcomes Rabbi Anne Brener to Board of Directors

Anne Brener

As the Fountain Theatre continues to add public-spirited individuals to its nonprofit arts organization, it welcomes Rabbi Anne Brener to its board of directors. She is a longtime friend and supporter of the Fountain who has enjoyed many plays and special events over the years. She also currently serves on the board of ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

“The Fountain Theatre begins 2021 with a large, active, dedicated board of directors who are dedicated to guiding the organization to not only survive these difficult times, but rise above them,” says Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Rabbi Anne Brener offers wisdom, intelligence and a compassionate heart as we trek forward. Her years of experience in community building and serving others is inspirational.”

Rabbi Anne Brener, Professor of Ritual and Spiritual Development at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, is the author of Mourning & Mitzvah: Walking the Mourners’ Path, now in its third edition. She is a Psychotherapist, Spiritual Director and Meditation Teacher, whose writing appears in many anthologies and periodicals. Anne co-founded one of California’s first Domestic Violence shelters and the Morei Derekh Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program.  She worked as a Hospice Chaplain and currently serves on the board of ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal and Los Angeles’ Fountain Theatre. Her work has been dedicated to the study of ancient Jewish rituals and practices to harvest an understanding of the universal healing wisdom that is embedded within them.

Actor, ‘Walking the Beat’ co-founder Theo Perkins joins Fountain Theatre Board of Directors

Theo Perkins

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to announce that actor, director and producer Theo Perkins has joined the board of directors. Perkins is known to Fountain audiences for his dazzling performances in the Los Angeles premieres of The Brothers Size and In the Red and Brown Water.

“Theo is a beloved member of our Fountain Family,” said Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “He brings to our board a shared belief that theatre can serve as a vehicle for social change and an educational tool for young people.”

Theo Perkins is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE), a not for profit social justice arts organization whose mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists within communities. EYTE’s major initiative is Walking the Beat: a  devised theater program for youth of the Global Majority and police officers both in Los Angeles and New Jersey. For his work, Theo was honored by the Union County Urban League Young Professionals of New Jersey, recently featured in Oxygen Network’s 2020 Unsung Heroes, and is a 2020 AEA Paul Robeson Award nominee.

As an actor, his television credits include guest star appearances on Fox, TNT, and CBS. On stage, he has performed on Broadway and regionally at NJPAC, Kirk Douglas Theatre, International City Theatre, Boston Court Theater and the Fountain Theatre.

Theo is a graduate of Morehouse College, UCLA’s MFA Acting program and the Executive Arts Leadership Program at the University of Southern California. He currently works as an Arts Coordinator for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

Fountain Theatre welcomes Margaret E. Phillips, PhD, to its Board of Directors


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Margaret Phillips, PhD

The Fountain Theatre is proud to announce that esteemed teacher, researcher, and consultant Margaret E. Phillips, PhD, has joined its Board of Directors. Her special interests are in cultural influences on organization behavior, management development in multicultural contexts, and organization diagnosis and design for sustainability.

“During my long career as an international business professor, a cross-cultural management researcher, and an organization design consultant, I have spent much of my time exploring challenging topics that incite conversation and ignite social change,” Phillips explains. “Much like the Fountain does every day using the medium of theatre. That is likely why the invitation to join the Fountain’s Board of Directors was so intriguing to me, especially coming at the time of my retirement from academia.”

Her work has been published in books and academic journals and included in compendiums of key contributions to the fields of cross-cultural management and international human resources management. Her book, Crossing Cultures: Insights from Master Teachers is a resource for teachers and trainers with proven methods for developing coping strategies and problem-solving skills in the cross-cultural arena. She co-authored the comprehensive chapter on “Conceptualizing Culture” for the Handbook for International Management Research and “Contextual Influences on Culture Research: Shifting Assumptions for New Workplace Realities” in the International Journal of Cross Cultural Management.

She has served on the governing boards of several organizations, for-profit and not-for-profit, with culturally diverse stakeholders.

“I have been a committed supporter of the Los Angeles theatre community for over 50 years,” she states. “Yet have only recently become a fan of the Fountain after experiencing the performance of Citizen: An American Lyric at Center Theatre Group’s first Block Party, and engaged with the theater after experiencing the powerful Walking the Beat this past summer. Subsequent performances and interactions with the Fountain family have allowed me to see that the values conveyed from the stage are lived in this company. This, and of course the charm and passion of the board colleagues themselves, have enticed me to join with you all as the Fountain moves toward its 30th year and beyond. I am proud and delighted to be along on this journey.”

Maggi Phillips enjoys opening night of Between Riverside and Crazy, 2019.

Dr. Phillips has been a member of the Western Academy of Management, the Academy of Management, the Academy of International Business, the International Organization Network, and the European Group for Organization Studies. She has conducted teaching exchanges and faculty workshops for several of these organizations in multiple international settings, and has made presentations and convened symposia for all, including Designing Culturally Sustainable Organizations for the 2012 EGOS meeting in Helsinki.

Dr. Phillips received her PhD in Management from the Anderson School at UCLA, an MS in Administration from the Merage School at UC Irvine, and a BA in Psychology from UCLA’s College of Letters and Science.

Dr. Phillips’ husband, Professor Mario Gerla, PhD, a pioneer in computer networks who had supervised more than 100 Ph.D. graduates during his long career, passed away in February after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Phillips has two daughters, Marisa and Cristina.

PHOTOS: A night at the ballpark on Fountain Theatre Dodgers Game Night

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As retired Dodgers veteran sportscaster Vin Scully would declare, “It’s time for Dodgers baseball!”

With the warm nights of summer comes the annual Fountain Theatre Dodgers Game Night, a yearly tradition for Fountain staff, Board members, Fountain Family and friends to enjoy a night out at the ballpark.  Last night’s event brought thirty-four Fountain folks together for hot dogs, peanuts, beer and the joy of cheering our Boys in Blue.  For some, it was their first visit to Dodger Stadium. For a few, last night was their first time watching a baseball game ever.

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The evening ended in celebration: The Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3.

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-two-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. 

VIP Donors gather in Hollywood for Fountain/EWP premiere “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo”

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Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs welcomes guests.

Friends and supporters of the Fountain Theatre and East West Players gathered Sunday at the lovely Hollywood home of Diana Buckhantz to celebrate the upcoming California Premiere of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park.  There is much to celebrate. The production marks the first time the Fountain and EWP have collaborated and both companies share excitement about this meaningful opportunity.

“For almost 30 years, The Fountain has opened its doors to diversity and inclusion,” Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs stated in his welcoming remarks. “We welcome East West Players into our home. From day one, our collaboration has been open and generous. As the nation’s premiere Asian American Theatre, EWP brings its artistry and authenticity to the production, as we share resources, audiences and communities with each other.”

EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai echoed Sachs’ enthusiasm for the partnership. Desai shared EWP’s history with the play and director Jennifer Chang. EWP hosted a reading of Hannah in 2013 directed by Chang, winner of the 2019 LADCC award for excellence in direction for the LA premiere of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone at EWP. Desai kept his eye on Hannah and planned to include it in a earlier season.  After Sachs saw the world premiere at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in 2017, he secured the rights to the play and reached out to EWP in partnership.  Everything fell into place.

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In the play, Hannah receives a FedEx box with two things: a 100% bona-fide-heart’s-desire-level wish and a suicide note. Hannah tracks the package back to Seoul, where her grandmother recently jumped from the roof of her retirement home onto the wrong side of the Demilitarized Zone. Hannah and her family need North Korea’s permission to retrieve the body, but Kim Jong Il just kicked the bucket, and things in the DMZ are even stranger then they seem.  The play is a whimsical, surreal and poignant tale about a grandmother, mother and daughter striving to reconcile the cultural contradictions of their lives.

At Sunday’s gathering, guests enjoyed some Korean delicacies catered by Don Tahara of First Street Cuisine. A brief scene from the play was presented in the living room read by cast members. Then Fountain Director of Development Barbara Goodhill explained to the group how they could support the production.

Guests included James Bennett, Jason Blackwell, Diana Buckhantz, Rose Chan, Jennifer Chang, Wendy Chang, Charles Chatelain, Hahn Cho, Chris Christensen, Snehal Desai, Kiyomi Emi, Lois Fishman, Barbara Goodhill, Elaine Kao, Serena Kim, Jully Lee, Gavin Lee, Simon Levy, Dick Motika, Sally Pai Unruh, Pia Palomo, Youn Park, Dora Quach, Stephen Sachs, Allison Thomas, Steve Warheit, Jerrie Whitfield, Dorothy Wolpert, Kim Wonjung. Melina Young.

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Slideshow: Fountain Friends gather at Hollywood Hills home to celebrate ‘Daniel’s Husband’

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Jane Anderson reads message from Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs

The beautiful hilltop home of playwright/screenwriter Jane Anderson and author/producer Tess Ayers was the lovely location on April 14 of a special gathering of VIP donors and Fountain Friends supporting our Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband. The funny and poignant new play by Michael McKeever on gay marriage is currently playing at the Fountain Theatre to rave reviews, heralded as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times.

After enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Alligator Pear Catering, the group assembled to hear director Simon Levy speak about his vision for the play.

“There is a commitment to tell these stories on our Fountain stage,” said Jane Anderson, reading a letter from  Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, who was in New York that evening. “Stories of struggle in the gay community as they fight for the most fundamental of all human rights: to be who we are and love whom we choose. In these dark, hateful times, Daniel’s Husband invigorates us with this one simple truth: love is worth fighting for.”

Cast members from Daniel’s Husband then read selections from the play.

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The entertaining event, hosted by Jane Anderson and Tess Ayers, was a delightful success.  Attending were Oscar Arslanian, Bill Brochtrup, Diana Buckhantz, Denis Cagna, Carrie Chassin, Deborah Culver, Tim Cummings, Ken Debie, Jose Fernando, Richard Gallegos, Jackie Goldberg, Barbara Goodhill, Ron Guzman, Jochen Haber, Karen Kondazian, Simon Levy, Ed Martin, Carlos Medina, Jenny O’Hara, Nick Ullett, Don and Suzanne Zachary, Jason and Allison Zelin. 

Info on Daniel’s Husband

Entertainment attorney Jason Zelin joins Fountain Theatre Board of Directors

Jason Zelin

Jason Zelin

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome attorney Jason Zelin to the Board of Directors. Mr. Zelin is a special counsel at the Sheppard Mullin law firm in the Entertainment, Technology and Advertising Practice Group in Century City.

Joining the board of the Fountain Theatre is a culmination of this lifelong love of theatre and he “is thrilled to be part of the most vibrant and thought-provoking theatre experience in Los Angeles.”

Mr. Zelin has extensive experience in many facets of the entertainment industry, from both the legal/business and the creative perspectives. In addition to working at private law firms, Mr. Zelin has worked inside the entertainment industry in several capacities, including:

  • Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Warner Bros. Television
  • Vice President of Film Acquisition at Vestron Video
  • Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at The Feldman/Meeker Company
  • Vice President of Acquisitions of Lorimar Pictures
  • Vice President of the Completion Bond Co.
  • Executive Vice President of Business Affairs at Village Roadshow Pictures
  • Executive Vice President of Miramax Films
  • President and Chief Operating Officer for Miracle Entertainment
  • Producer for the film “Killing Pablo

In these roles, Mr. Zelin negotiated talent deals, network licensing agreements, literary acquisitions as well as scripted and unscripted television development and production. Working outside film studios, he bonded more than $100 million in budgeted new films, and served as a primary liaison with studios. When working as part of film studios, Mr. Zelin also gained experience supervising all legal and business aspects of multi-national productions, and developed film projects with such notables as Ridley Scott, Will Smith, and Janet Yang. As a result of his extensive experience, Mr. Zelin is able to provide valuable insight into many aspects of the entertainment industry garnered from his many decades “in the trenches.”

“In addition to a great deal of knowledge and experience in the entertainment industry, Jason brings to the Board his passion and enthusiasm for the theatre,” says  Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “We look forward to his guidance as we move onward into the next important phase of growth for the organization.”    

Stanley Wolpert: A lifelong love of India and Dorothy

Stanley Wolpert

Stanley Wolpert, 2017.

by Stephen Sachs

Shortly after Stanley Wolpert met Dorothy Guberman in an American government class at New York City College in 1953, he knew he wanted to marry her. They both knew. They had been thrown together to buy a present for a class professor, yet it was clear very quickly to these two perceptively analytical yet free-minded young people that they were meant to be life partners. They married six weeks later, on June 12th. Their bond continued sixty-five years. Stanley Wolpert passed away last Tuesday, on February 19th. He was ninety-one years old. 

I met and knew Stanley through Dorothy, who joined our Fountain Theatre’s Board of Directors and now serves as its President. Stanley and I chatted often at Fountain opening nights and fundraising events. Always gracious, charming and warm-hearted, Stanley was a sharp-eyed gentleman with an easy smile and a comfortable manner that belied his stunning intellect and depth of knowledge. To me, the first few months after meeting him, he was simply “Dorothy’s husband” — a moniker for which I’m sure he’d have been happy to be known. But soon I discovered how formidable he truly was. Yes, Stanley was Dorothy’s husband, her partner, fellow traveler, her best friend. I quickly learned he was also Stanley Wolpert: nationally heralded scholar, author, lecturer and beloved UCLA teaching professor, the foremost historian of India in the United States. 

The son of Nathan and Frances Wolpert, Stanley grew up in Brooklyn. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and the New York State Maritime Academy.  On his twentieth birthday, while serving as an engineer aboard a U.S. Merchant Marine ship, Stanley set sail to Bombay, India, for the first time. What he experienced there, the first day, would transform him.  

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Urn with Mahatma Gandhi ashes carried to confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, February 12, 1948.

On the day Stanley arrived in Bombay, Mahatma Gandhi had been killed just two weeks earlier and the nation was overwhelmed by grief. Stanley had never seen anything like it. Standing on a hilltop overlooking the holy Ganges River, he witnessed millions of mourning Indians rush to touch the ship moored at the sandy riverbank on which Gandhi’s ashes were placed to be scattered into the water below. As the ashes touched the water, the sea of countless mourners joined in a great roar of “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai” — victory to Mahatma Gandhi. Some wept. Some stood mute, their hands clasped before their faces. The scene of teeming multitudes deeply impacted the young engineer from Brooklyn. 

“That early encounter with India,” wrote Stanley, “Changed the course of my life.”

Returning home to Brooklyn, Stanley abandoned his career in marine engineering for the study of Indian history. He received a B.A. from New York City College in 1953 and was awarded the Pell Medal for academic achievement in History.  A fellowship from the Ford Foundation enabled him to pursue Indian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, learning Sanskrit and earning his Ph.D. in 1959. His dissertation, published as Tilak and Gokhalewas selected for the Watumull Prize of the American Historical Association in 1962, recognizing “the best book on the history of India originally published in the United States.”

Stanley Wolpert UCLAStanley Wolpert became a world-renowned historian of India. He began teaching in the Department of History at UCLA in 1959. Over the years, he helped build the ranking of the History Department nationwide. He was appointed Chairman of the Department and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and was honored with UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching and University Service awards. His devotion to teaching earned him the gratitude and affection of thousands of students over the course of his 59-year teaching career. 

Every work morning, Stanley would walk from his Westwood home to the UCLA campus. He’d grab a coffee and a bagel at a nearby coffee shop. On campus, he’d stride up the five flights of stairs to his office, balancing coffee and bagel, then plop at his desk to prepare for class, do research and write. Stacks of books littered his office. His advice to young writers was “Read everything.” His classroom was a mecca for history students for nearly six decades. He taught his last seminar at UCLA at 90.  

In addition to his national reputation as a teacher and scholar, Stanley was a distinguished author. When Dorothy was asked if Stanley missed New York, she answered that as long as Stanley had his typewriter, he was fine where he was. He published fifteen books, including several highly praised textbooks and four novels, and was Editor in Chief of the Encyclopedia of India. His celebrated novel on the assassination of Gandhi, Nine Hours to Rama, was made into a feature film in 1963 starring José Ferrer. His A New History of India was hailed as “the best textbook on Indian history now available.” 

Stanley was a man of impressive achievements. I would wager that he knew, deep in his heart and soul, that his greatest triumph was his marriage and his family. Ever a die-hard New Yorker, Dorothy begrudgingly moved to Los Angeles with Stanley in 1959 so he could pursue his teaching at UCLA. Stanley steadfastly acknowledged her contribution to his research and editor for many of his books. She joined him on numerous trips to India and was with him when he interviewed Jawaharlal Nehru for his book, A Tryst With Destiny. And Dorothy is notable in her own right. A Founding Principal of the Century City law firm of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, Dorothy Wolpert was selected to Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation” in the United States for 2017. In 2018, Dorothy was chosen by her peers for inclusion in the 2019 edition of Best Lawyers in America. Dorothy and Stanley have two sons — Daniel and Adam — and three grandchildren—Sam, Max, and Sabine.

Stanley and Dorothy were partners. In life, work, and public giving. Best friends and soul mates who read books aloud to each other in bed every night. They were, as Gandhi taught, the unity of heart, mind, body and spirit.  

A memorial for Stanley Wolpert is planned for the spring. 

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

Photos: Fountain Family brunch gives thanks to VIP donors for supporting ‘Arrival & Departure’

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The backyard of Carrie Chassin & Jochen Haber

On a beautiful Sunday morning at the lovely Encino home of Fountain board member Carrie Chassin and husband Jochen Haber, members of the Fountain Family and supporters of Arrival & Departure gathered for a delicious brunch to salute our upcoming world premiere opening July 14. 

Arrival & Departure is the most innovative and ambitious production in our 28-year history, ” said Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, in his remarks to the group. “We are deeply grateful to our extraordinary donors who make it possible for the Fountain to keep raising its bar of excellence.” 

Actors Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur joined Fountain staff members Sachs and his wife Jacqueline Schultz, Deborah Lawlor, Barbara Goodhill and James Bennett at the festive backyard get-together. Hosts Chassin and Haber welcomed board member and donor Karen Kondazian, donors Debbi and Ashley Posner, board president and donors Dorothy Wolpert and husband Stanley Wolpert, and board member and donor Don Zachary. Andrew Leyva provided ASL interpretation. 

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The savory spread included salmon, salad, fruit, roasted vegetables and bagels. It was a glorious afternoon enjoyed in a beautiful outdoor setting, celebrating some of the remarkable donors who have nurtured the creation, development and soon-to-be opening of this highly anticipated new play at the Fountain. 

Enjoy the photos! And get your tickets soon for Arrival & Departure.