The Fountain parking lot was transformed for the VIP evening.
Much about last Saturday night’s VIP performance of Cost of Living at the Fountain was out of the ordinary. Our exclusively invited guests drove up to the Fountain to discover a team of valet parking attendants waiting to park their cars for them. The performance of Martyna Majok’s funny and poignant play starred two fabulous actors with disabilities in lead roles — a first for our theatre. And the classy post-show reception was vibrantly staged in the outdoor parking lot, not in our upstairs cafe, to allow full access for our guests in wheelchairs.
What remained consistent that evening was the excellence of the work on stage and the support of our Fountain Family. The theatre brimmed with many of the generous Fountain donors, underwriters and producers who made our west coast premiere of this Pulitzer Prize winning play possible.
Executive Producers Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel were joined by Producing Underwriters Diana Buckhantz, Lois Tandy, and Miles and Joni Benickes. Other guests included Fountain Board members Karen Kondazian, Dick Motika, Jerrie Whitfield, as well as Marc and Aliza Guren, Cecile Keshishian, actor Alan Mandell, Beth Stoffmacher from the National Arts and Disability Center, and Peter L. Thompkins.
The delicious food was provided by Alligator Pear Catering. Long strands of newly installed lighting twinkled across the Fountain parking lot. The decorated outdoor setting provided a classy and delightful ambience for our invited guests and the Cost of Living company. Although this was the first time we transformed our parking lot into an outdoor soiree, judging by Saturday night’s success it won’t be the last.
Much about our world premiere of Robert Schenkkan’s riveting new play, Building the Wall, has been unprecedented. The swiftness we’re bringing this urgent work to the stage, the national attention the timely new play is generating even before opening, the constellation of theaters across the country already interested in producing the play after the Fountain premiere on March 18.
Equally extraordinary is the support the production has received from our own Fountain Family. For the first time in the Fountain’s twenty-seven year history, the majority of the production budget for the entire 10-week run of Building the Wall is secure prior to Opening Night. Thanks to the generous support of three phenomenal women: Karen Kondazian, Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel. The trio share a passion for theatre and a commitment to social action. They now serve Building the Wall as Executive Producers.
Karen Kondazianis an award-winning actor, author and producer. She has starred in many productions at the Fountain, has guest starred in over 50 television shows and is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio. Her novel The Whiphas received several awards including best historical fiction.
“I wasn’t able to join the Women’s March,“ explains Karen. “So I protest by supporting extraordinary Art. Robert Schenkkan’s Building the Wall is precisely that. He reveals brilliantly and artfully the nightmare of what might be, then peels away layers until we understand the nightmare of what actually will be, if we do not heed the warning.”
Barbara Herman was born and educated in Los Angeles. She is actively involved in the successful business established with her late husband. Barbara is an enthusiastic supporter of local culture, including the Fountain Theatre, the Broad Stage, and the Women’s Guild at Cedars Sinai.
“The Fountain Theatre stands out,” she says, “for its innovative approach to offering fresh, socially relevant plays. Building the Wall is a most timely effort to help illuminate what we, the public, are facing in today’s political climate. I am honored to support the Fountain Theatre’s world premiere production of this play.”
Susan Stockel was born in New York. She raised her family in California and practiced law. She is now a community activist, world traveler, and lover of the spoken word.
“I am a theatre addict,” she admits. “Good theatre is about telling stories. A strong, well-written and well-acted story binds us to one another and can provide the connection that leads to action. I knew I would support Building the Wall as soon as I read it. This play must be produced now and staged across the country. As Robert Schenkkan has said, ‘We cannot hope to be useful if we can’t respond until 18 months after the fact.’ Yes, we need to move fast. And we have. I am proud to help.”
“The Fountain Theatre deeply thanks Karen, Barbara and Susan for their exceptional generosity and friendship, ” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Their contribution to Building the Wall has given this important world premiere at the Fountain Theatre the strong foundation it needs as we launch it nationwide.”
With the support of these three remarkable women, the Fountain Theatre is inaugurating a new funding program, the Artistic Directors Circle, offering theater-loving individuals the opportunity to underwrite Fountain Theatre productions throughout the 2017-18 season. If you’re interested in joining the Circle and learn more about its many benefits, please contact Barbara Goodhill (323) 663-1525 x307 Barbara@fountaintheatre.com
Friday night was an exclusive gathering at the Fountain Theatre of special patrons invited to enjoy an early performance of the world stage premiere that they helped make happen. Executive Producers of Citizen: An American Lyric and their guests were welcomed to the Fountain for a preview performance in their honor, followed by a catered reception with the artists upstairs in our cafe. It was a lively evening of thought-provoking theatre, energetic conversation, and invigorating food and drink.
Two months ago, the Executive Producers attended an exclusive reading of Citizen, the new project the Fountain was developing about race in America based on the internationally acclaimed and award-winning book by Claudia Rankine. Even in that early phase of development, those gathered recognized the urgent need for this project to blossom to fruition and offered their financial support. Their contributions were essential in guaranteeing that Citizen would be produced at the highest artistic level possible and reach a wide landscape of audiences. Thanks to the partnership made by our Executive Producers, the Fountain was able to increase its marketing and promotional campaign for Citizen, reach out to more schools and engage more students, and establish a greater range of associations with a diverse variety of organizations for the project.
The Executive Producers of Citizen are Barbara Herman, Susan Stockel, Dorothy and Stanley Wolpert, Diana Buckhantz, Marjorie Goldman, Debra Grieb and John Mickus, Karen Kondazian, Sophie and Leslie MacConnell, Brenda and Brett Marsh, Dick Motika and Jerrie Whitfield, Dr. Ejike and Mrs. Victoria Ndefo, Rita Rothman, Barbara and Barry Shaffer, and Lois Tandy.
Too often, many may view or experience the daily sickness of racism and ask themselves , “What can I do?” The Fountain Theatre and this community of extraordinary and generous people joined together as a family and made the decision to do something. For that, we are proud and will forever be grateful.