Category Archives: Education

Our nation’s future depends on moments like this

Mueller Reading 51

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.

LA county Arts Interns Summit 2019 2

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.

Melina Young 3

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

More Info

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’

More Info

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.   

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

FB photo

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.”

Thank You Card.JPG

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)

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.

Victoria BG

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

Richard Gallegos joins Fountain Theatre team as Development and Outreach Coordinator

Richard G 3by Richard Gallegos

Hello Fountain Theatre family! I am Richard Gallegos and I’m thrilled to announce that I am the new Development and Outreach Coordinator at The Fountain.

My background: I am a native Angeleno. I am also a first-generation Salvadoran-American. I have been involved in the performing arts since I was in elementary school, and as a matter of fact, I credit my arts education teachers for shaping a very unruly and energetic child into the passionate, actor and theatre arts advocate that I am today.

My passion in theatre arts education is personal and it runs deep. It began as a last-ditch effort to curb my behavior, and over time the skills that I learned morphed into a sort of life curriculum. I have taught students from grades K-12, as well as college conservatory. Because I believe in the life changing potential of arts education, most of my work with youth has been about creating and implementing workshops that teach theatre skills, and include writing components, all with the goal of collectively devising new, non-linear works of theatre. I have collaborated with many students from various LAUSD schools and organizations (LACER, artworxLA, Company of Angels, Will & Company, Open Window, Bilingual Foundation of the Arts), and in my capacity as Resident Artist at PCPA-Pacific Conservatory Theatre. I am currently Theatre Director at Ramona Convent Secondary School and I love that I get to tackle some of my favorite plays with my super awesome students.

As an actor, I have been a long-time member of Critical Mass Performance Group, and my credits with CMPG are: AMERYKA (Kirk Douglas Theatre)Apollo; Parts 1 & 2 (World Premiere at Kirk Douglas Theatre), Apollo; Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Portland Center Stage), Antigone (Workshop, The Actors’ Gang). Other theatre credits include: The Secret Garden, Frost/Nixon, Art, Othello, Anna in the Tropics, Sylvia, Hortencia and the Museum of Dreams, Much Ado About Nothing. As a member of Rosanna Gamson/Worldwide I’ve performed in Grand Hope Flower, Aura, Rita Goes to Hell, Lovesickness, Tov. I am a member of AEA. 

 I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working as Development/Outreach Coordinator here at The Fountain. The work that is produced here is compelling, evocative, and at times deliciously provocative- all the things that I love about theatre. It is for these reasons that I’m really looking forward to growing our community support and involvement. My goal is to bring into our theatre the very people whose stories are getting a voice on our stage.

My website is www.richardgallegos.com.

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.  

Gandhi ashes Ganges

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.