Tag Archives: giving

How one woman shows us that our lives do not end

by Stephen Sachs

Lois Tandy may have been in her nineties, but she could be shrewd and mischievous. In the many years I knew her, and Lois was a Fountain friend and supporter for over a decade, every encounter was a delightful mix of droll repartee and honest affection. We enjoyed each other’s company.      

Lois passed away one year ago this month, on December 4, 2021. Not long after, I was moved to learn that she had bequeathed some money from her estate to the Fountain Theatre. I had no idea she had arranged to make this gift. But I was not surprised.

By Los Angeles standards, Lois was not supremely wealthy. She lived alone in a modest three-bedroom house at the end of a street in Alta Dena. She dressed simply, wore little jewelry, and even less makeup. She had money in the bank, a comfortable sum. The marvelous thing about Lois was that she didn’t wait until the end of her life to give it away. She gave while she was living. She donated her time and her money to many.         

She volunteered everywhere and showed up for everything, particularly if it had to do with politics, human rights, animals, the environment, or the arts. Lois was a docent at the Huntington Library and gave tours of its sumptuous gardens. She often volunteered at the Gene Autry Museum. She gave her money to the World Wildlife Fund and the Audubon Society. To Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. To the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the L.A. Chamber Orchestra. And to the Fountain Theatre.

None of us like to think about the end of our lives. I sure don’t. But the older I get, the more I’m reminded. I’m now getting marketing postcards from Pierce Brothers Mortuary and Forest Lawn. My wife and I have made our will and laid out our financial planning. As John Lennon sang, “you don’t take nothing with you but your soul.” But I think maybe you don’t even take that. I think your soul stays behind, too. In the people you love, the causes you help, and the lives you change. I believe there’s some measure of Lois’ soul in every play she supported at the Fountain, in the heart of each student in the arts education programs she helped fund. To me, that’s a legacy. That is immortality. Maybe, the kind we only get.

Stephen Sachs is the Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

For information on how you can leave a bequest to The Fountain, please contact our development department at 323-663-1525 X 307.

Coming out of our caves to be together again

by Stephen Sachs

When I was eighteen, I saw Anthony Hopkins onstage as Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus at the Huntington Hartford Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood. A section of the audience was seated on the stage. I sat there, just a few feet away from Hopkins’ colossal, jaw-dropping performance. It remains seared in my soul to this day. I would not have had that struck-by-lightning experience if I were sitting thirty feet away.

1976 – An “Equus” photo from the Richard Wojcik collection on Vintage Los Angeles

You never need to worry about that at the Fountain. We believe closeness, to art and to people, is everything. After two years of forced separation, you and I are back together and going strong. Now with two busy theaters, inside and outdoors, we are leading the way with new plays, music and dance concerts, and life-changing arts education programs for young people.

Yes, our theatre seats inside are outdated (more on that in a moment). Still, it sure feels good to sit collectively at the Fountain once again, just a few feet from the stage, being transported by an urgent, meaningful story expressed by actual human beings. Not on a screen.

That means coming out of our caves. Like Elijah. When he isolated himself in a mountain to retreat from the world, a Divine Voice said to him, “What are you doing in here, Elijah? Get out!” As Joan Didion urged, our task in the world isn’t to suffer in it, not to just pass through it, but to live in it. To live recklessly, take chances. To jump into the deep end of life and swim in it.

Like an embrace, theatre is a collaborative act. It takes away the aloneness of the world. It repairs. Think about it. What happens when you hold someone close? You feel them. The in-out of their breathing, the beat of their heart on your chest. That is what good intimate theatre does.

The Fountain’s heart keeps beating strong because of large and small donations from people like you. Private giving like yours is essential. Your year-end contribution of $100 or more today will help lift us into the coming year as we march forward into 2023. So, what’s coming? A smart comedy from Broadway, a summer musical outdoors, a thought-provoking drama in the fall. Plus chamber music, jazz, and flamenco. And here’s the kicker: we are installing NEW SEATS indoors! Brand-new comfy chairs, which you’re going to love.

Like a hug, we can’t do it alone. We need you to give of yourself. As a nonprofit, 80% of our income comes from contributions from good people like you. Seize the moment. Jump back into life. Support what you see on our stage, in a classroom, and/or be part of our history by having your name engraved on a plaque on a seat. Click here to find out how.

Wherever you wish to direct your giving, whatever the amount, your donation and friendship are priceless.

Onward!

Stephen Sachs is the Founding Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

The gift in the darkness box

by Stephen Sachs

I’ve been thinking about a poem by Mary Oliver. The entire poem is only two lines. That’s all it needs. It goes like this:

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”

2020 has been a deep box of darkness. Our task is to learn to view sorrows as gifts. That’s a hard one. The poem encourages us to do something when sorrows come, challenges us not to sit back and do nothing about them. That is what I have learned from this year.

It is hard to receive boxes of darkness. At the bottom of my box, I have found the gift of gratitude. For things big and small. As this dreadful year comes to its close, it has brought me this gift born of darkness: To be without the intimacy of the Fountain Theatre for one year makes me grateful for it even more. I hope you feel the same. While our holiday gatherings may be smaller or grid-boxed on Zoom, our hearts will surely be filled with gratitude.

With vaccinations now underway, our boxes of darkness soon will lighten. I honestly believe that the Fountain Theatre will play an essential role in the healing of our community. As we look ahead to 2021, the Fountain has ambitious plans to move forward, both online and onstage. Creating productions that illuminate what it means to be alive at this time in the world and providing impactful arts education programs for students in underserved schools across Los Angeles. All COVID-safe.

Here’s a snapshot: Our new online platform, Fountain Stream will debut a 2021 season of plays and inter-active community programs. Using innovative video technologies, we will go beyond Zoom, to give you intimate high-quality theatre that makes you think and feel. We have expanded Fountain for Youth, our arts education initiatives, with Fountain Voices, an extraordinary in-school playwriting program designed by France-Luce Benson. Our ground-breaking cops/kids residency, Walking the Beat, will return in a glorious new digital format. And, most ambitious of all, we are hopeful that in the spring of 2021, we will launch our biggest adventure next year: a thrilling Outdoor Stage in our parking lot. Live theatre under the stars! Completely COVID-compliant. Stay tuned.

But for now, the Fountain — like every theater throughout Los Angeles and across the nation — remains closed. I don’t have to tell you things are hard. For the Fountain, our earned income has ground to a halt. The Fountain’s budget has dropped by over 50%. Our building remains non-operational, still standing proud on Fountain Avenue thanks to grants, federal loans, contributions, and the private giving by you, our Fountain Family. 

If you have already made a year-end donation to our campaign, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are the gift in our darkness box. Your love, friendship and support are the light that shines the way through these uncertain times. If you haven’t yet contributed, please consider doing so. Your generous holiday gift will help make the coming year possible. I am asking you to turn the sorrows of this year into a gift of gratitude. Out of darkness, light! 

Onward,

Stephen Sachs is the Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

Actor Sam Mandel from our smash hit “The Chosen’ has a special message just for you