Tag Archives: gay

“Hope you close your faggot show.”

Pride Flag

The Pride flag flies over the Fountain Theatre.

by Stephen Sachs

Some days, our building is tagged by graffiti. That’s life in East Hollywood. Some mornings, I arrive at the Fountain front door and discover a freshly sprayed scribbling on our beige stucco facade. It happens. The scrawling is usually small and, most often, gang related. A badass in the hood staking territory. A banger bearing witness. Once inside my office, I let my Technical Director know we’ve been hit.  Then I make myself coffee. The graffiti is soon wiped away. No big deal. 

I rarely decipher the message. Gang slogans are a code I can’t break. And though the phrase is sometimes personal, about “Diablo” or “Beast”, it never directly targets the Fountain. The statement could have been sprayed anywhere, anytime. It has nothing to do with us.

This time, it did. This time, the message was personal. And it wasn’t graffiti.

Last weekend, we were forced to reschedule a performance of our hit play, Daniel’s Husband. A cast member had booked a TV gig and needed to fly up to Vancouver. This is Tinseltown, right? We’ve been to this rodeo before, many times. We know what to do. Our box office staff contacted our audience for that night and set them up for other performances.  As a precaution, we posted a sign on our front door stating that the night’s show had been cancelled. In case someone walked up.

Someone did.

The next morning, we found that a person had scrawled on our sign in black ink: “Hope you close your faggot show.”

Daniel’s Husband is a play about gay marriage. The men in the cast are gay. This hate-note was inscribed on our front wall the final weekend of Pride month, when our city and our nation celebrate equality and inclusion.

Let’s be real. This written slur from an anonymous homophobe is insignificant compared to the gay men and women beaten and killed in this country. I know that. Our nation has a savage history of discriminating “others.” Ask Native Americans.  Blacks. Mexicans. Asians. Jews. Women. Compared to the systemic prejudice our nation has inflicted on these groups, the note is a small thing, a trifle. No question. Still, it hurts, is upsetting. More so because though tiny, what larger truth does it tell? Like in a well-written play, the more specific a thing is the more universal it becomes.  

In thirty years, I can’t remember the Fountain Theatre ever being hit with a message of hate like this. Sure, every so often we’ll get a heated email of complaint from an unhappy theatergoer. The political and socially conscious nature of the plays we produce often trigger passionate responses from our patrons. That’s the point. Our artistic goal is to engage our audiences in the difficult issues of our time. A free exchange of conflicting ideas is what makes a good play and a free democracy.   

This is different. In today’s incendiary political and cultural climate, it’s not too far a leap to imagine that the individual who scrawled that vile message with a pen next time might bring a bomb or a gun.  

“Something rotten is afoot in America,” posts a gay friend of mine on his Facebook page.  In the last month alone, the word “faggot” has been hurled at him three times. “The word no longer has the power to make me want to erase myself, to spare those associated with me embarrassment. But I can’t help worrying how this climate must be affecting those who are younger and more vulnerable, especially transgender Americans who face far more dangerous threats than a nasty cliché.  Is this the America we want?”

No, it is not. But this is who we are.

Others on my friend’s Facebook page chimed in. “This happened to my son,’ says one. “It’s unbelievable what is going on. A disgrace and a return to ignorance and vile barbarism.” Another states simply, “I literally get called a faggot on the streets of LA at least once or twice a week.”

The mournful words of Paul Simon call to me in his achingly beautiful “American Tune.”

“When I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what has gone wrong.”

The number of hate crimes in this country are on the rise. Los Angeles, in particular, reported a decade-high increase in hate crime from 2017 to 2018. Hate crimes targeting Jews and Latinos increased in California in 2018. The trigger for this bigoted hostility is no mystery. Our country’s moral leadership comes from the top.

“Things are polarized in ways we haven’t seen in recent memory,” says Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director and chief executive. “People are on edge in part because they are following their leaders. When leaders at the highest levels use incredibly intemperate language and repeat the rhetoric of extremists, we shouldn’t be surprised when young people — let alone others — imitate what they see.”

Hate crimes are defined as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity,” according to the Hate Crime Statistics Act passed by Congress in 1990. Hate crimes can be committed against people, property or society, and can include vandalism. Minor as it may be, is this gay-slurring note scrawled on our Fountain sign a hate crime? Before scoffing: What if it were a swastika?

For three decades, The Fountain Theatre has produced new plays about racism, women’s rights, gay rights, anti-Semitism, immigration. Whatever the issue, it has sometimes been lamented to us that we’re preaching to the choir. The claim is that issue-driven plays are produced for like-minded people, and those who most need to be changed by our work never see it at all. Clearly, the perpetrator of that homophobic hate-note will never step inside our theatre walls. But beyond our walls, he is out there. Somewhere. In our world, on the street, in our city, he exists. With thousands, maybe millions, like him. We, as artists, must see the world as it is before we can dream of what it can be. 

In the theater, we know what our job is. Our job “… is to hold up, as ’twere, a mirror to nature; to show scorn her image, to show virtue her appearance, and the very age its form and pressure.” Our job is to hold up a vision to America of who we are as a country. The good, the bad, and – yes – the ugly.  That’s what theater is supposed to do. That’s what the Fountain Theatre will continue to do for another thirty years.

And the Pride flag still flies over the Fountain. 

Stephen Sachs is the Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.    

Fountain Theatre shows LA Pride with hit play, workshop, book signing and LGBT new works

FT Pride flagFor 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

The Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings – A Q&A discussion and book signing with author and film producer Tess Ayers. More

Sorority – An evening of new short works by women, trans and queer performing artists in the LA community. June 20, 8pm & 10pm. More

Smash hit ‘Daniel’s Husband’ extends to July 28 at Fountain Theatre

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Tim Cummings, Bill Brochtrup and Jenny O’Hara in Daniel;s Husband.

The Fountain Theatre’s acclaimed Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband by Michael McKeever will extend to July 28. Hailed as Critic’s Choice in the LA Times and highlighted as Ovation Award Recommended, the comedy/drama about a gay couple wrestling with the issue of marriage has earned rave reviews and sold-out houses from the night it first opened May 4.

There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. Which do we follow and when? Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. Michael McKeever’s funny, passionate and poignant play takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot — or not.

Daniel’s Husband is directed by Simon Levy, starring Bill Brochtrup, Tim Cummings, Jose Fernando, Ed Martin, and Jenny O’Hara.

CRITIC’S CHOICEABSORBING… THE ACTORS ARE WONDERFUL… [ACROWD PLEASER” — Los Angeles Times

A PERFECT 10WITTY, REALISTIC, HEART-RENDERING” — Broadway World

GO SEE DANIEL’S HUSBAND’… THESE ARE SOME OF THE FINEST ACTORS IN L.A.” —KCRW 89.9 FM

AS CLOSE TO PERFECT AS ONE MIGHT ENVISION…. WRENCHING, REAL, FLAWLESSLY STAGED, STIRRINGLY PERFORMED” — Cultural Weekly

OUTSTANDING… PERFECTLY SCRIPTED. ACTED AND DIRECTED” — Culver City News

A REMARKABLE SCRIPT… TRUE LIFE, TRUE FRIENDSHIP AND TRUE DESPAIR” —Discover Hollywood

SUPERIOR… AN EXCITING PIECE OF QUALITY THEATRE” — Hollywood Revealed

WOW!… [ALAUGH-OUT-LOUD-THEN-GET-OUT-YOUR-HANKIES STUNNER… NOT-TO-BE-MISSED” — Stage Scene LA

EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, SUPERBLY DIRECTED AND EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED” —Will Call for Theatre

TREMENDOUSLY ENTERTAINING AND WELL-WRITTEN… A TERRIFIC SHOW” — Los Angeles Post

RELEVANT AND AFFECTING” — Stage Raw

ABOUT LOVE… the ABSOLUTE BEAUTY of McKeever’s story rings true” — On Stage Los Angeles

INSISTENTLY MOVING… CRISP AND TIMELY” — People’s World

A FINE PLAY WITH SOMETHING TO SAY… EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED” — San Diego Gay & Lesbian News

TWO THUMBS UP” — Carol’s Reviews

RESONATED LONG AFTER THE FINAL MOMENTS” — Showmag

RELEVANT AND UNIVERSAL” — Stage and Cinema

A VERY FINE PRODUCTION” — Talkin’ Broadway

GUARANTEED TO LEAVE YOU MOVED AND EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED” — Ticket Holders LA

BREATHTAKING… A TRULY EXCEPTIONAL CAST… TIMELY AND PROVOCATIVE” — Billy Masters.

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Slideshow: Fountain Friends gather at Hollywood Hills home to celebrate ‘Daniel’s Husband’

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Jane Anderson reads message from Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs

The beautiful hilltop home of playwright/screenwriter Jane Anderson and author/producer Tess Ayers was the lovely location on April 14 of a special gathering of VIP donors and Fountain Friends supporting our Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband. The funny and poignant new play by Michael McKeever on gay marriage is currently playing at the Fountain Theatre to rave reviews, heralded as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times.

After enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Alligator Pear Catering, the group assembled to hear director Simon Levy speak about his vision for the play.

“There is a commitment to tell these stories on our Fountain stage,” said Jane Anderson, reading a letter from  Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, who was in New York that evening. “Stories of struggle in the gay community as they fight for the most fundamental of all human rights: to be who we are and love whom we choose. In these dark, hateful times, Daniel’s Husband invigorates us with this one simple truth: love is worth fighting for.”

Cast members from Daniel’s Husband then read selections from the play.

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The entertaining event, hosted by Jane Anderson and Tess Ayers, was a delightful success.  Attending were Oscar Arslanian, Bill Brochtrup, Diana Buckhantz, Denis Cagna, Carrie Chassin, Deborah Culver, Tim Cummings, Ken Debie, Jose Fernando, Richard Gallegos, Jackie Goldberg, Barbara Goodhill, Ron Guzman, Jochen Haber, Karen Kondazian, Simon Levy, Ed Martin, Carlos Medina, Jenny O’Hara, Nick Ullett, Don and Suzanne Zachary, Jason and Allison Zelin. 

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Video: Love is worth fighting for in ‘Daniel’s Husband’ at Fountain Theatre

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VIDEO: Actor Jose Fernando makes his LA stage debut in ‘Daniel’s Husband’ at Fountain Theatre

VIDEO: Actor Tim Cummings comes home to the Fountain Theatre for ‘Daniel’s Husband’

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Video: Actor Ed Martin’s return to the Fountain Theatre in new play ‘Daniel’s Husband’ is “perfect”

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Video: Actor Bill Brochtrup is happy to be back at the Fountain in ‘Daniel’s Husband’

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‘Daniel’s Husband’ reunites actors Bill Brochtrup, Tim Cummings at the Fountain Theatre

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Jenny O’Hara, Tim Cummings and Bill Brochtrup.

There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. Which do we follow and when? The Fountain Theatre presents the funny, passionate and poignant Southern California premiere of Daniel’s Husbandthe 2018 off-Broadway hit play by Michael McKeever that was hailed as “compelling” by The New York Times, “emotionally charged” by the Huffington Post and “beautiful and powerful” by the Daily Beast. Opening night is set for May 4, with performances continuing through June 23. Pay-what-you-want previews begin May 1.

A bold commentary on love, commitment and family in our perilous new world, Daniel’s Husband reunites director Simon Levy, who helmed the Fountain’s 2013 award-winning production of The Normal Heart, with the stars of that production, Bill Brochtrup and Tim Cummings. This time, the two play Daniel Bixby and Mitchell Howard — a seemingly perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. When an unexpected turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, they are thrust into a future where love may not be enough.

“When I first read Daniel’s Husband, I fell in love with the love story and was deeply moved by it,” says Levy. “One of the central questions the play asks is, ‘How far will you go to fight for the one you love?’ The characters wrestle with what it means to be committed to someone, to be ‘married’ — and what’s legally and morally lost if we don’t tie the knot. McKeever’s play may be about gay marriage, but it’s a universal story that reminds us to grab those we love and hold them close. Love really is precious; and when we find someone we truly love, we should fight for them with everything we have.”

Also in the cast are Jenny O’Hara (the Fountain’s Bakersfield Mist) as Daniel’s mother, and Ed Martin and Jose Fernando as the couple’s good friends. The creative team includes set and props designer DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Jennifer Edwards, sound designer Peter Bayne and costume designer Michael Mullen. The production stage manager is Jessica MoratayaStephen SachsDeborah Culver and James Bennett produce for the Fountain Theatre.

Daniel’s Husband premiered at South Florida’s Island City Stage in 2015 before going on to enjoy successful off-Broadway runs at New York City’s Primary Stages in 2017 and again at the Westside Theatre in 2018.

“I practically had to carry my best friend out of the theater in New York,” Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty recently noted in a spring arts preview article that highlighted the Fountain’s production.

Michael McKeever’s other plays include 37 Postcards, Suite Surrender, Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors, Stuff and Melt, and have been produced at Florida Stage (Manalapan), Marin Theatre Company (Marin County), Hudson Stage Company (New York), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis) and Caldwell Theatre Company (Boca Raton) among many others. His comedies have played in some of the most prestigious theaters in Europe, including Komödie Dresden (Dresden), Och-Teatr (Warsaw) and Theater in der Josefstadt, Kammerspiele (Vienna). He has been honored with an NEA Residency Grant (New Theatre, Miami) and has been a three-time finalist for Humana Fest’s nationally renowned Heideman Award. He is the recipient of five Carbonell Awards; two Silver Palm Awards; and three Florida Individual Artist Fellowships. He is also an award-winning actor and designer. He is a founding member of the award-winning theatre Zoetic Stage in Miami. He resides in South Florida and is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors’ Equity.

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 hundreds of awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include all-star readings of Ms. Smith Goes to Washington and All the President’s Men at Los Angeles City Hall and the inclusion of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in the Music Center’s Our L.A. Voices festival at Grand Park. The Fountain’s 2018 productions of The Chosen and Arrival & Departure each enjoyed months-long sold out runs and was named a Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice.” The company’s recent West Coast premiere of Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, was named to the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2018” list.

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