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.
The Fountain parking lot was transformed for the VIP evening.
Much about last Saturday night’s VIP performance of Cost of Living at the Fountain was out of the ordinary. Our exclusively invited guests drove up to the Fountain to discover a team of valet parking attendants waiting to park their cars for them. The performance of Martyna Majok’s funny and poignant play starred two fabulous actors with disabilities in lead roles — a first for our theatre. And the classy post-show reception was vibrantly staged in the outdoor parking lot, not in our upstairs cafe, to allow full access for our guests in wheelchairs.
What remained consistent that evening was the excellence of the work on stage and the support of our Fountain Family. The theatre brimmed with many of the generous Fountain donors, underwriters and producers who made our west coast premiere of this Pulitzer Prize winning play possible.
Executive Producers Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel were joined by Producing Underwriters Diana Buckhantz, Lois Tandy, and Miles and Joni Benickes. Other guests included Fountain Board members Karen Kondazian, Dick Motika, Jerrie Whitfield, as well as Marc and Aliza Guren, Cecile Keshishian, actor Alan Mandell, Beth Stoffmacher from the National Arts and Disability Center, and Peter L. Thompkins.
The delicious food was provided by Alligator Pear Catering. Long strands of newly installed lighting twinkled across the Fountain parking lot. The decorated outdoor setting provided a classy and delightful ambience for our invited guests and the Cost of Living company. Although this was the first time we transformed our parking lot into an outdoor soiree, judging by Saturday night’s success it won’t be the last.
Friday night was an exclusive gathering at the Fountain Theatre of special patrons invited to enjoy an early performance of the world stage premiere that they helped make happen. Executive Producers of Citizen: An American Lyric and their guests were welcomed to the Fountain for a preview performance in their honor, followed by a catered reception with the artists upstairs in our cafe. It was a lively evening of thought-provoking theatre, energetic conversation, and invigorating food and drink.
Two months ago, the Executive Producers attended an exclusive reading of Citizen, the new project the Fountain was developing about race in America based on the internationally acclaimed and award-winning book by Claudia Rankine. Even in that early phase of development, those gathered recognized the urgent need for this project to blossom to fruition and offered their financial support. Their contributions were essential in guaranteeing that Citizen would be produced at the highest artistic level possible and reach a wide landscape of audiences. Thanks to the partnership made by our Executive Producers, the Fountain was able to increase its marketing and promotional campaign for Citizen, reach out to more schools and engage more students, and establish a greater range of associations with a diverse variety of organizations for the project.
The Executive Producers of Citizen are Barbara Herman, Susan Stockel, Dorothy and Stanley Wolpert, Diana Buckhantz, Marjorie Goldman, Debra Grieb and John Mickus, Karen Kondazian, Sophie and Leslie MacConnell, Brenda and Brett Marsh, Dick Motika and Jerrie Whitfield, Dr. Ejike and Mrs. Victoria Ndefo, Rita Rothman, Barbara and Barry Shaffer, and Lois Tandy.
Too often, many may view or experience the daily sickness of racism and ask themselves , “What can I do?” The Fountain Theatre and this community of extraordinary and generous people joined together as a family and made the decision to do something. For that, we are proud and will forever be grateful.