FLB: I love the title of your book. Do you really avoid books with “journey” in the title?
STREETER: I do kinda side-eye them. It’s become such a cliché word that doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to mean. I know that it’s meaningful to a lot of people, but I wanted readers to know that my book wasn’t offering some candy-colored look at grief that was some standard they were supposed to live up to. There is no template.
FLB: Who is this book for?
STREETER: Everyone who ever lost someone or loves someone who did and wants to know how to talk to them. Also humans who like words J And Shelia E. references.
FLB: Are you working on a follow up book?
STREETER: Yes! One chapter down. So many to go.
FLB: What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
STREETER: Turning 50 and starting the next part of my life in the city I love (Baltimore). Also the vaccine. So I can go sit on an island somewhere safely and dream. Also? A less-sucky world.
FLB: What has been keeping you sane?
STREETER: Yoga. My faith. My funny kid and family. Walking past beautiful old buildings and wondering who lived there. Fried tofu.
FLB: What gives you hope?
STREETER: That humanity can learn. We have to. We can do hard stuff.
For many folks throughout Los Angeles, June means the end of school, the pageantry of graduation ceremonies and the long awaited start of summer. For the more than 600,000 LGBT citizens in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, June is LA Pride Month, when the city bursts into rainbow colors and Angelenos everywhere celebrate equality and inclusion with festivals, parades and special events saluting the LGBTQ+ community.
The Fountain Theatre embraces Pride Month with a busy June that highlights several LGBTQ+ events, including the acclaimed run of a hit play about gay marriage, a discussion and book signing by a lesbian author, a workshop production of a new play by a gay playwright centered on a transgender character, and an evening of short dramatic works by women, trans and queer performing artists in the LA community.
LA Pride Events at the Fountain Theatre
Daniel’s Husband – The acclaimed Southern California Premiere of Michael McKeever’s funny and poignant new play on gay marriage is a bonafide smash hit, earning rave reviews everywhere and sold-out houses nightly. Extended to July 28. More
Body Beautiful – A workshop production of Leigh Curran’s new play on love, aging and gender confusion. June 5-6, 12-13 @ 8pm. More
Friendship, faith and fatherhood. Jonathan Arkin, Alan Blumenfeld, Dor Gvirtsman and Sam Mandel star in TheChosen, the award-winning stage adaptation by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok of Potok’s beloved novel. Simon Levy directs for a January 20 opening at the Fountain Theatre, where performances continue through March 25. The Fountain celebrates the novel’s 50th anniversary (last April) with the West Coast premiere of Posner’s new, streamlined version.
Set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn against the backdrop of World War II, the revelation of the Holocaust and the desperate struggle of Zionism, The Chosen is a moving coming-of-age story about two observant Jewish boys who live only five blocks, yet seemingly worlds, apart. When Danny, son of an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic tzaddik, injures the more traditionally Orthodox Reuven during a baseball game between their rival yeshivas, their two universes collide and a unique friendship is born.
“This powerful story shows how essential it is to consider the views of those who are different from us,” says Levy. “It’s an antidote to the toxicity of our times. Potok beautifully depicts what it means to bridge chasms — between modernity and tradition, the secular and the sacred, Zionism and Hasidism, adolescence and adulthood, friendship and family, fathers and sons, the head and the heart, and the struggle to choose for ourselves, to fight for what we believe in and who we want to be.”
According to Posner, “Through the story of two remarkable boys and their remarkable fathers, Potok asks us to contemplate a world where we chose to fill our lives with greater meaning… and where complexity, understanding, compassion and reconciliation are among our highest values.”
In 1967, Potok burst upon the literary scene with The Chosen, his first novel, sometimes referred to as a “Jewish Catcher in the Rye.” A best-seller, it was nominated for the National Book Award and through the years has become a must-read both in and out of the classroom. In 1992, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, it was republished as a young reader’s classic. A film starring Rod Steiger was released in 1981, and a short-lived off-Broadway musical debuted in 1988. Before his death in 2002, Potok collaborated with Posner on the stage version, which debuted in 1999 at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia, where Posner was a co-founder and resident director. Now, nearly 20 years later, Posner has rewritten the script to create a new version, which premiered last month at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT.
In an interview with the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, Posner explained that he has made a number of changes to the script. “I think it’s now a more dynamic, more streamlined play,” he said. “I’m really very excited about this new version. I think it’s going to be stronger in every way. I love the old version, too but I’m hoping this is even better.”
The creative team for The Chosen includes scenic and props designer DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Donny Jackson, video designer Yee Eun Nam; composer and sound designer Peter Bayne, costume designer Michele Young, hair and makeup designer Linda Michaels and dialect coach Andrea Caban. Rabbi Jim Kaufmanconsults. The production stage manager is Miranda Stewart; technical director is Scott Tuomey; associate producer is James Bennett; and Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 225 awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the inclusion of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in Center Theatre Group’s Block Party at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The Fountain’s most recent production, the world premiere of Building the Wall by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, ran for five months and was named “L.A. hottest ticket” by the Los Angeles Times.
See the woman in the upper right corner of this photo?
On Monday, Donald Trump spent an hour in Springfield, Illinois, speaking to a crowd of supporters. And one defiant woman sitting directly behind him. She was obviously paid to be there. They didn’t pay her to listen.
The woman spent much of the rally chatting with the companion next to her, texting and checking her phone, determined to read the paperback book in her hand. And guess which book she was brazenly reading?
The Fountain will present a free reading of its new stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine‘s acclaimed, award-winning book Citizen: An American Lyric, this Sunday, May 31 at 7pm at the Fountain Theatre. This will be an exclusive first-time reading of the script that is currently in development, adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs and directed by Shirley Jo Finney. The world premiere full production is planned for this summer.
Citizen: An American Lyric is a provocative meditation on race fusing prose, poetry, and the visual image. A lyric poem, snapshots, vignettes, on the acts of everyday racism. Remarks, glances, implied judgments. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV — everywhere, all the time. Those did-that-really-just-happen-did-they-really-just say-that slurs that happen every day and enrage in the moment and later steep poisonously in the mind. And, of course, those larger incidents that become national or international firestorms. As Rankine writes, “This is how you are a citizen.”
Born in Jamaica, Claudia Rankine earned her BA in English from Williams College and her MFA in poetry from Columbia University. She is the author of five collections of poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric(Graywolf Press, 2014); Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2004); PLOT (Grove Press, 2001); The End of the Alphabet (Grove Press, 1998); and Nothing in Nature is Private (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1995), which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. Her honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowments for the Arts. In 2005, Rankine was awarded the Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets. She is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College.
Citizen: An American Lyric has earned international critical praise and has been honored with the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the NAACP Image Award, and is a PEN Award finalist.
The actors featured in Sunday’s script reading include Bernard K. Addison, Chris Butler, Tina Lifford, Simone Missick, Linda Park, Amy Pietz and Larry Poindexter.
Author Claudia Rankine will be in attendance at the reading.
The stage reading on Sunday, May 31 at 7pm, is free of charge. Seating is limited. Click here to reserve your seat, or call (323) 663-1525.