Originally commissioned by immigration attorney Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Detained is based on interviews with longtime U.S. residents held in immigration detention, and with their family members, advocates, attorneys and representatives of ICE. Inspired by their stories, Detained explores how families fight to stay together as increasingly cruel U.S. immigration legislation keeps them apart through mass deportations and immigration detention centers. It offers a heart-wrenching and in-depth look at the human lives behind the policies, and celebrates the strength and determination of the ordinary people who must fight against an unjust system while keeping their hope and faith in humanity intact.
“All of the stories in this play are true, and they are heartbreaking,” says Benson. “The more people I met, the more time I spent with them, the more important it became to tell their stories. When you go through trauma, you want to be seen, to be given a voice. My own family immigrated to America in the 1970s, and my father received a humanitarian award for the work he did at Krome Detention Center in the ’80s and ’90s. This is his story too, and a way for me to honor the sacrifices he made for us.”
When Rabinovitz first approached Benson, President Obama was still in office. Under his administration, more people were being deported than ever before. Since then, with harsher immigration legislation enacted under President Trump and the current Covid-19 health crisis, the situation for many immigrants has become ever more dire. As more stories of injustice persist and legislation changes, so does the play.
“This play is a living document, and I’m constantly updating it,” Benson says. “People think that now that Biden is president, things are better. But thousands of people are still facing deportation every day. Many of these people have been living in this country for decades. They own houses, run businesses, pay taxes, have families.”
Characters in the play include a teenage foodie aspiring “chef-lebrity,” a U.S. Veteran, and a mother of two who works as a roofer in New York City. Together, their collective voices weave a compelling and complicated tapestry.
Detained was developed, with a generous grant from the Miranda Family Foundation, at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York under artistic director Billy Carden.
Detainedopens February 19 and runs to April 10. Proof of both vaccination and booster will be required for admission. Patrons must be masked at all times in the theatre, except when actively eating or drinking in our upstairs indoor café/outdoor deck. Snug, surgical grade respirator masks (N-95/KN-95/KF-94) that cover both mouth and nose, are strongly encouraged, but blue surgical masks are acceptable. Cloth masks are no longer approved.
Lawrence Stallings, Pablo Castelblanco, Richard Azurdia, Peter Pasco
It was announced today that the Fountain Theatre has been nominated for seven Stage Raw Theatre Awards for two productions in the 2016 season. Our Los Angeles premiere of My Manana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin and the world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ Dream Catcher were acknowledged with the following nominations:
Leading Male Performance – Lawrence Stallings, MY MAÑANA COMES
Supporting Male Performance – Peter Pasco, MY MAÑANA COMES
Playwriting – Elizabeth Irwin, MY MANANA COMES
Two Person Performance – Elizabeth Frances & Brian Tichnell, DREAM CATCHER
Lighting Design – Jennifer Edwards, MY MAÑANA COMES
Set Design – Michael Navarro, MY MAÑANA COMES
Production Design – Dillon Nelson, MY MAÑANA COMES
Another unforgettable afternoon at the Fountain Theatre. Thirty students from Ramona Elementary School around the corner on Mariposa Street walked over to the Fountain Theatre Friday morning for a special visit that included a lesson on Native American storytelling and the making their own colorful animal masks.
Teacher Eric Arboleda’s 3rd grade class have been studying Native American culture prior to their visit. The Fountain’s current hit production of Dream Catcher offered the perfect invitation for the theatre and Ramona School to partner for the benefit of the young students. The project is made possible through Theatre as a Learning Tool, the Fountain’s educational outreach program that makes art accessible to young people.
The same class from Ramona Elementary School visited the Fountain in November during the run of The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. For that production, the students painted their own stones in bright colors and patterns.
Sarah Boulton guides the class on Native American creation stories.
Friday morning’s visit began with the students gathering in the theatre to see Dream Catcher’s in-the-round dirt setting. Fountain colleague Sarah Boulton guided the students through a lively lesson plan exploring the creation stories from a variety of Native American tribes.
Eric Arboleda and Stephen Sachs
The students were then ushered outside where a long table covered with art supplies waited for them in the parking lot. There they enjoyed an exuberant get-together of mask making, grabbing paper and colored markers and scissors and bright vibrant feathers. It was a joy to watch the kids create their animal masks with such laughter and festive chatter, sharing in this art adventure they would not otherwise experience.
“Reaching out to young people is an important commitment for us. It’s what we do and who we are,” explains Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Offering art and creative expression to students who may otherwise have no access to it. For us, there is no higher calling. Plus the pure fun and joy of it is rejuvenating for all of us.”
The Fountain will expand and enlarge its ongoing partnership with Ramona Elementary School. And, through Theatre as a Learning Tool, will continue to broaden its reach to serve young students throughout Southern California.
The Fountain Theatre continued its association with Native Voices at the Autry by hosting a post-show discussion Monday night following the performance of our acclaimed new play Dream Catcherby Stephen Sachs, directed by Cameron Watson.
Inspired by a true story, the powerful and thought-provoking new play dramatizes the passionate confrontation between Roy, a young engineer, and his fiery Mojave Indian lover Opal who claims the billion dollar solar energy plant Roy is helping to design is actually being built on the site of ancient tribal burial grounds.
Native Voices at the Autry is the only Equity theatre company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights. Founded in 1994 by Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott, Native Voices became the resident theatre company at the Autry Museum of the American West in 1999.
After the performance of Dream Catcher Monday night, actors Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell and playwright Sachs joined Reinholz and Scott for a Q&A discussion with the audience. Patrons shared their reactions to the play and examined such issues as cultural diversity, the peril of global warming, and the intersection of science and spirit.
“We had a great night,” exclaims Randy Reinholz, Producing Artistic Director of Native Voices. He hailed Dream Catcher as “Theatre about the important issues of our time.”
“Randy and I both love Fountain Theatre’s commitment to tackling difficult issues,” says Jean Bruce Scott, Producing Executive Director of Native Voices. “The production is wonderful and the cast fantastic. Superb script, acting, direction. Thank you so much for a wonderful night in the theater and for the lively and friendly talkback afterward.”
Randy Reinholz and Jean Bruce Scott of Native Voices
Join the cast and creative team of Dream Catcher and NativeVoices Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz, Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott, and Ensemble Leader Jennifer Bobiwash in a post-show Q&A discussion with the audience after the performance this Monday night, February 22 at 8pm.
The panel will include Dream Catcher actors Elizabeth Frances, Brian Tichnell, director Cameron Watson and playwright Stephen Sachs. The discussion will focus on the tribal issues raised in the play, the challenges faced by Native actors in this era of diversity casting, and an assessment of how Native people are dramatized in theatre, film and television.
Dream Catcher actress Elizabeth Frances is a member of Native Voices.
NativeVoices at the Autry is the only Equity theatre company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights.
In Dream Catcher, construction of a billion dollar solar energy plant in the Mojave Desert is threatened to be brought to a halt when it is discovered that the plant may be sitting on a Mojave Indian burial site. Inspired by a true event, the world premiere production has earned rave reviews and runs to March 21.
Looks like the Fountain may have another hit on its hands. Our world premiere of Dream Catcher by Stephen Sachs is earning rave reviews and has been spotlighted as Ovation Recommended by members of LA Stage Alliance. Broadway World hails it as “an incredible tour de force” and ShowBuzzNYC exclaims that it’s “an emotional rollercoaster thrill ride.”
Directed by Cameron Watson and starring Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell, Dream Catcher is performed in a thrilling in-the-round setting (“Fountain 360”) until March 21.
Enjoy this new video highlighting the fabulous press quotes earned by this passionate production.
Packed house in the round for Opening Night of ‘Dream Catcher’
Our world premiere production of Dream Catcher by Stephen Sachs opened this weekend to a flurry of parties, standing ovations and enthusiastic response. A packed sold-out audience on Saturday night was thrilled with director Cameron Watson’s in-the-round staging and riveted by the kinetic performances of Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell. Dream Catcher runs to March 21.
A select group of Fountain donors and board members enjoyed an early look at Dream Catcher Friday night at the final Donor Preview. They included actor Alan Mandell, Lois Fishman, Ejike and Victoria Ndefo, Nick Ullett, Ruth Tavlin, Patty Paul, Bill Butler, Susan Stockel, Dick Motika and Jerrie Whitfield, and Oscar and Nyla Arslanian. They were joined by Director of Development Barbara Goodhill, Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, producing Director Simon Levy, and members of the Fountain team. After the performance, all celebrated upstairs in the cafe for a catered party with the actors and company.
After seeing Dream Catcher, actor Alan Mandell beamed, “A terrific performance. Very intense. Exciting theater directed by that master director Cameron Watson. A wonderful script from Stephen Sachs. Don’t miss it.”
A packed sold-out audience filled the theatre on Saturday’s Opening Night. The provocative in-the-round setting — dubbed “Fountain 360” — created heightened excitement and electricity. At the post-show reception, playwright Stephen Sachs was surprised by a special guest in attendance: Louis Sahagun, the LA Times reporter who wrote the original article in 2012 that inspired Sachs to write the play.
LA Times writer Louis Sahagun congratulates Sachs (right) on Opening Night.
Early reviews for Dream Catcher are starting to come in. The Examiner hails it as “Extraordinary! A must see!” LA Splash raves the “Stunning performances.”
Feel it. Full circle. In the round. Experience Fountain 360 for yourself.
Construction underway for in-the-round seating for ‘Dream Catcher’.
Director Cameron Watson wants Fountain audiences to walk into the theatre and immediately be surprised. To encounter the unexpected. For his mounting of the world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ Dream Catcher, patrons will be startled the moment they step through the lobby door: the seating has been changed to a dynamic in-the-round configuration.
“This play is volatile and exciting,” says Watson. “The muscularity of it got my attention right away.”
Watson doesn’t want audiences to experience the kinetic energy of Dream Catcher in the conventional way. Instead of sitting in the dark and watching the play as an observer, audiences will surround the playing area on all sides and be inside the world of the play with the two characters.
Dream Catcher is set in an empty stretch of the barren Mojave Desert. The construction of a huge solar energy plant in the middle of the desert is threatened to come to a halt when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts are found on the site. Changing the theatre seating to an in-the-round configuration opens up the space to help evoke a feeling of wide expanse. It also creates a sacred circle for the audience, a sense of ritual and ancient storytelling that is central to Mojave Native culture. Even the hoop shape of an actual dream catcher is circular, signifying unity.
“I felt like it needed to be a circular, almost tribal, space,” says Watson. “I felt like it is told in a ring. Communal. That we all need to be part of the experience and commune with the story. Inclusive. The circular space echoes the vastness and isolation of the wide open space and also the circular configuration of the solar field in the desert.”
The new set is being created by award-winning and longtime Fountain designer Jeff McLaughlin. Changing the audience seating required extra effort for Fountain Technical Director Scott Tuomey and his crew.
This is not the first time the Fountain has experimented with altered seating. In 1993, The Seagull starring Salome Jens was performed in-the-round. Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver had a three-quarter setting in 2010, with the audience seated on three sides.
But this current in-the-round seating for Dream Catcher is unique and has an immediate impact on the total feeling of the space. It is kinetic, energetic and alive.
In our upcoming world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ new play Dream Catcher, Opal is a young Mojave woman living on the reservation being threatened by the construction of a huge new solar energy plant. She describes to her engineer lover Roy the power of the hoop-shaped object hung over her bed. What is it? A dream catcher.
Dream catchers are one of the many fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.
The dream catcher has been a part of Native American culture for generations. One element of the Native American dream catcher relates to the tradition of the hoop. Some Natives held the hoop in high esteem because it symbolized strength and unity.
The legend of the Native American dream catcher varies somewhat from tribe to tribe, but the basic theme was to allow positive dreams to slip through the web and into the sleeper during the night while the negative dreams were caught in the web and would die at morning light. Other tribes have the opposing belief that the web will catch your positive ideas and the negative ones will go through the hole.
The earliest dream catchers, also called “sacred hoops,” were crafted by parents to protect their children from nightmares. Newborn babies were given charms that were woven in the form of webs to protect their dreams so their innocence would not be harmed by the troublemakers of the night. The dream catcher charm would be hung from the hoop on the cradle.
Dream catcher hoops were originally made out of red willow and covered with sage, the webbing was made from deer sinew. Modern dream catchers are made with wood or metal wrapped in leather strips, artificial sinew replace the now forbidden use of deer sinew. The decoration of the web along with the shape, size and colors used is left to the artisan’s imagination. Feathers attached to the dream catcher are meant to assist the flight of positive dreams.
Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day.
Pretty cool, eh? Want to make your own dream catcher? Here’s how:
You’ll experience more about the power of good dreams and bad dreams in our riveting and mesmerizing world premiere of Dream Catcher, directed by Cameron Watson and starring Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell. Don’t miss it!