Photographer Ed Krieger captured hundreds of L.A. theater productions over the course of 40 years before his death on December 16, 2020. Now, the Fountain Theatre has arranged for his large collection of photos, negatives, slides and digital files to be permanently housed at downtown’s Los Angeles Central Library, where it will be archived as part of the library’s Photography Special Collections.
For decades, through the lens of his camera, Krieger chronicled the production history of local stages. His production stills captured the essence of live performance at such venues as the Fountain Theatre, Skylight Theatre, Boston Court, El Portal, Laguna Playhouse, Rubicon Theatre, Downey Civic Light Opera, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood Bowl and many more. His images appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. American Theatre magazine highlighted Krieger in its 2015 feature on nationally recognized theater photographers.
“The Los Angeles Public Library is honored to be chosen as the custodian of Ed Krieger’s photographic archive documenting almost 40 years of local theater,” says Senior Librarian Christina Rice. “This collection will be an incredible supplement to our theater photos from the Herald Examiner newspaper image archive, and builds on the incredible wealth of materials in our Literature and Fiction Department which chronicles Los Angeles theater productions from the late 19th century to the present. We’re excited to be a go-to source for local theater research.”
Krieger’s children, Will Krieger and Courtnay Krieger, said in a statement, “We thank the Los Angeles Public Library for archiving our father’s work. We are happy to know that his photography will be preserved for the future and shared with others.”
The Fountain Theatre will host “L.A. Theatre Pays Tribute to Ed Krieger,” a virtual memorial for longtime theater photographer Ed Krieger, on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 at 2 p.m. PT. Krieger passed away on Dec. 16, 2020.
“The Los Angeles theater community has lost a dear friend,” says Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs. “For decades, through the lens of his camera, Ed chronicled the production history of local stages throughout Southern California.”
Born in Chicago, Krieger photographed the Southern California theater scene for more than 30 years. His production stills captured the essence of live performance at such venues as the Fountain Theatre, Skylight Theatre, Boston Court, El Portal, Laguna Playhouse, Rubicon Theatre, Downey Civic Light Opera, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood Bowl and many more. His images appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. American Theatre magazine highlighted Krieger in its 2015 feature on nationally recognized theater photographers.
The tribute is scheduled to run 90 minutes and will include a slideshow of Ed’s photos as well as live and pre-recorded testimonials by members of the L.A. theater community.
The Fountain is requesting that organizations who worked with Ed each submit two of their favorite photos.
To register to attend the event and to upload photos and/or testimonials, CLICK HERE
A life in the theatre is filled with photographs. We who act, direct, write, compose, design, produce or publicize theatre make use of countless of photographs, in a career and a lifetime. Production stills, headshots, publicity photos, prints for posters, snapshots for marketing brochures. We post JPEGS of ourselves in plays and musicals on social media, upload pictures of past performances for grant applications, embed digital images into our portfolios. At the Fountain Theatre, in our archive room, we have catalogued a collection of photographs chronicling the history of our organization going back thirty years. Hundreds, probably thousands, of pictures. Black and white and in color. Most of them taken by one remarkable man: Ed Krieger.
I got heartbreaking word last week that Ed had passed away at home on December 16, 2020. He had been fighting health issues for the past year and a half, but remained in good spirits. Ed was an essential member of our Fountain Family for twenty-five years, and a beloved photographer for the Los Angeles theatre community for decades. And he was my friend.
Born in Chicago, Ed graduated from Gage Park High School on the South Side. He studied biology and theater at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. In 1985, he married Heather Blades, a graduate from UC Irvine. They each performed in plays and musicals throughout Southern California, appearing on stage together in 42nd Street and The Pajama Game at Downey Civic Light Opera. They had two children, daughter Courtenay and son Will.
Whenever I gave Ed Krieger a call to shoot photos of a current production at my theatre, I was guaranteed two things. First, I knew I would get high quality stills that captured the theatrical essence and energy of our show, shot in a professional and easy-going manner. Second, I could bank on getting a flurry of theater stories from Ed, usually about the other shows he was shooting (and their companies), his own precarious exploits as a musical actor (auditions he failed, or the ones that he aced), and the blossoming careers of his kids. I loved seeing the joy spread on Ed’s face when he spoke about Courtenay and Will, he was so clearly proud of them.
The photographs of Ed Krieger have played a crucial role in the success of my theatre. For one quarter of a century, Ed pulled up in his van outside our building on Fountain Avenue, lugged his equipment into our theatre, and took millions of pictures of thousands of our theatre artists. Multiply that by fifty, by one hundred, by two hundred other theater companies throughout the Los Angeles area and you get an idea of the immense contribution this man has made to our livelihood, our business, and our art.
I imagine that of the dozens and dozens of Los Angeles theater companies who worked with Ed Krieger over the years, each and every one thought of Ed as their photographer, he was theirs. That is just how you felt about Ed. He was yours. He was like your favorite uncle, the one you loved, the one with the camera, who laughed and joked and told stories while he happily snapped photos of you and your family.
I pray that L.A. Stage Alliance reaches out to Ed’s family at the appropriate time to secure the massive archive of images Ed has captured with his camera, all now stored at his home. In those stacks and stacks of cardboard boxes, in those miles of Kodak film, on those gigabytes of imagery, lies the history of us all. The work we have done, the art we have created, the lives we have changed, the friends we have found, the families we have made, and the city we have chronicled and helped put on the national map. Ed photographed that, for us all.
At the request of the Krieger family, those wishing to honor Ed may make a donation in his name toThe Actors Fund.
Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja and Joel Polis in ‘My Name Is Asher Lev’.
by Renisha Marie
I recently caught Stephen Sachs’ thought-provoking, profound and riveting production of the play, My Name Is Asher Lev, taken from Chaim Potok’s 1972 novel of the same name, adapted for the stage by Aaron Posner.
The play is set in the 1950s, in the Brooklyn home of a Hasidic Jewish family, where a six-year-old boy named Asher Lev discovers an amazing gift bubbling within him. At a young age, the precocious Asher developed within him a strong fixation for art along with a focused, relentless, and positive can-do attitude.
Asher’s gift sends him on an amazing expedition of self-discovery and self-worth. The journey puts him at odds with his family’s expectations and religion, all for the sake of his passion for art.
My Name Is Asher Lev is a moving, challenging and thought-provoking play that crosses the lines of organized religion, ethnicity, and color, presenting for examination, on a universal level, readily identifiable social – human – conflicts. Follow me as we journey though the world of director and playwright Stephen Sachs:
Renisha Marie: Were there any personal parallels that brought you to the story?
Stephen Sachs: My parents were always very supportive of me wanting to be a theatre artist, so I never faced the intense parental conflicts that Asher battles in the play. For me personally, the closest parallel to Asher’s need to be an artist lies with my 18-year-old son, Daniel. He’s an artist. Like Asher, he’s been drawing since he was a little boy and it’s very clear that art is the path he is meant to follow.
Daniel reminds me of Asher in that he, too, has a gift and is passionate and determined to become who he is meant to be.
I wanted to do this play for my son.
Renisha Marie: What mindset did you have to possess in order to come out winning over your adversities?
Stephen Sachs: Whether guiding the Fountain Theatre for twenty-four years or simply surviving as an artist, the mindset that has served me best is when I trust my own artistic instincts and follow my heart. The more one does that, the more you develop an inner voice that speaks the truth to you and the more you learn to listen to it. The times when I’ve gotten myself into artistic trouble are the times when I refused to listen to what that inner voice was whispering.
Renisha Marie: What qualities were you probing for during casting?
Anna Khaja, Joel Polis, Jason Karasev.
Stephen Sachs: The play requires three exceptionally talented actors who must possess a very unique set of acting skills. Two of the actors play a variety of roles and must change character quickly, so you need actors with the technical skill to do that and who also possess the professional craft to be specific with each character and also have a deep emotional well that is truthful and honest. The actor playing Asher has the challenge of serving both as narrator and participant in the story. He must lead us on this journey and hold our attention, all the while being engaging and charming while wrestling with these very deep, profoundly personal struggles over family and self-identity. We must care about him deeply and want him to find his true way.
I’m blessed to have Jason, Joel and Anna — three gifted actors who worked very hard and are utterly dedicated to serving the play at the highest level possible.
Jason Karasev as Asher Lev.
Renisha Marie: What individual qualities did you see in Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja, and Joel Polis that made them stand out above the rest?
Stephen Sachs: I prefer working with actors I already know and trust. Jason was new to me; I had never seen him before. But, when Jason auditioned, there was no question in my mind that he was my Asher. He naturally had everything I was looking for: the right look, the intelligence, humor, charm, the ability to hold the stage as a storyteller, and the complexity and emotional depth as an actor. Anna and Joel are both actors I’ve known and respected for years, although this is the first project we’ve actually worked on together. Anna has a remarkable authenticity as an actress; her river runs deep. Joel has tremendous versatility and a fierce dedication mixed with a delicious sense of humor. Together, the three of them blend marvelously and have developed into an extraordinary, seamless ensemble.
Renisha Marie: What do you love about your work?
Stephen Sachs: What I love most about theatre is when I see how the work we create changes lives. The moments of artistic expression that have given me the most satisfaction are the ones when I see audiences profoundly moved — and somehow changed — by what we’ve just experienced together. It’s hard to pinpoint but you know it, you feel it, when it happens.
A connection happens between the actors on stage and the people in the audience, and between audience members themselves, when we all share in this deeply human experience and are somehow lifted and exalted by it. Moments like that make everything else worthwhile.
If you have a passion of any kind, then My Name Is Asher Lev is the play for you.
Production photos by Ed Krieger. Renisha Marie is a feature writer for Examiner.
My Name Is Asher Lev Now – April 19 (323) 663-1525MORE