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.
Twenty months ago, the Fountain Theatre was forced to close in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Downstairs our stage was dark. Upstairs the café was empty. It was an unimaginable time.
All of that has changed now. The success of preventatives (vaccines, masks, etc.) have allowed theatres to finally re-open with safety measures in place, and so last week the Fountain flung open its brand new double front doors to accept audiences back to our beloved indoor stage. There, on Andrew Hammer’s picturesque set for a British seaside cottage — beautifully lit by Christian Mejia, detailed by props designer Shen Heckel and sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett, and costumed by Naila Aladdin Sanders — we introduced Lucy Kirkwood’s 2018 Tony-nominated play, The Children, to Los Angeles theatre-goers. Twenty months is a long time…and when the pre-show recording welcomed everyone back, the audience erupted in spontaneous cheers and applause!
The Children, directed by Simon Levy, is set in the afterworld of a life-threatening, and wholly preventable, environmental disaster. Also an unimaginable time. Long-married Hazel (Lily Knight) and Robin (Ron Bottitta), both retired nuclear engineers who worked at the local power plant, have moved to this isolated cottage following an explosion at their former workplace. Their pick-up-the-pieces quiet coastal life is upended, however, by the arrival of Rose (Elizabeth Elias Huffman), an old friend and fellow co-worker, who arrives with secrets and surprises that bring even more upheaval and fireworks.
Saturday, November 6th, was the official Opening Night for The Children. Following a thrilling performance, folks headed upstairs to our charming café for a tasty reception courtesy of Butler Pantry Catering. The entire building was filled with joyous embraces, vibrant conversation, and laughter and gratitude for being back together again.
Please enjoy these photos from our LA premiere production of The Children and the Opening Night reception. For information and to make reservations, CLICK HERE.
Terri Roberts is a freelance writer and the Coordinator of Fountain Friends, the Fountain Theatre’s volunteer program. She also manages the Fountain Theatre Café.
What is our responsibility to the future? What legacy do we want to leave? The Los Angeles premiere of The Children, written by Lucy Kirkwoodand directed bySimon Levy, asks those questions and more in its Los Angeles premiere at the Fountain Theatre. Performances begin on the Fountain’s indoor stage (with all health and safety guidelines strictly adhered to) on Saturday, Nov. 6. The run continues through Jan. 23.
Kirkwood’s funny and astonishing Tony-nominated play is a taut and disquieting thriller about responsibility, reparation and what one generation owes the next. With the outside world in chaos following a devastating environmental disaster, two retired nuclear engineers live a quiet life in a remote cottage on the lonely British coast — until a surprise visit from a former colleague upends the couple’s equilibrium and trust.
The cast includes Ron Bottitta(Hir, Faith Healer,Arsenic and Old Lace, The Arsonists at the Odyssey Theatre; Superior Donuts, Yes, Prime Minister at the Geffen; Oppenheimer, Honky, Razorback at Rogue Machine Theatre, where he also hosts the company’s Rant and Rave spoken word series);Elizabeth Elias Huffman (artistic director of Chain Reaction Theatre in Pittsburgh, most recently seen on stage in The Oldest Profession by Paula Vogel at Portland’s Profile Theatre); and Lily Knight (Ovation, LADCC and Stage Raw award nominee for A Small Fire at the Echo Theater Company; A Delicate Balance at the Odyssey; Three Days in the Country, The Crucible, Peace in Our Time, The Autumn Garden at Antaeus, where she is a member).
“What I love about the play,” says Levy, “is that it tackles these enormously important contemporary issues about our responsibility to the planet, to each other, to future generations, and grounds them in funny, complex, identifiable characters grappling with a moral dilemma that, quite frankly, all of us are confronting, right now, in real time.”
“The nuclear disaster the town is struggling to survive could be anything — it could be COVID, or climate change,” says Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs. “The moral dilemma is: what world are we leaving to our children?”
The Children premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2016, then transferred to the Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway the following year. In 2019, The Guardian placed The Children on its list of “greatest theatrical works since 2000.” London’s The Independent called millennial playwright Kirkwood “the most rewarding dramatist of her generation.”
Proof of vaccination and mask-wearing will be required of all patrons. Admittance limited to ages 12+. All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance.