My name is Alice Kors and I am the production half of the interns for The Fountain Theatre this summer. Born and raised in West Los Angeles, I currently attend New York University where I am pursuing a BFA in acting within the Atlantic Acting School. In addition to my love of performance, I someday hope to direct theatre and run a theatre company based out of New York (maybe even The Public Theater or Roundabout???). My personal artistic hero is actor/director/amazing person Mark Rylance—the phenomenal amount of work he has accomplished as an award winning actor and artistic director is both extraordinary and inspiring. Following after his model, and the model of other countless artists I look up to, I strive to someday have the best of both worlds by also becoming an actor/director/potentially amazing person. Also, Mark Rylance has three Tony Awards under his belt, which doesn’t sound too bad, either. I am an avid reader of Shakespeare and classic literature, an (aspiring) writer, and someone who tends to get a bit overly excited about environmental studies, space and science in a general. The Star Wars inspired dreams of becoming either an astronaut or space princess shall never fade. Perhaps I do the Universe-Premiere of Lady Macbeth in a galaxy far, far away. I have been wildly passionate about theatre and the arts since I was a very tiny, young person and I hope to share that love with everyone and anyone. I truly believe that theatre not only has the power to transcend worlds and barriers, but that it reaches people’s honest empathy and compassion in a way that only a live, humanistic art form can. This summer I am over the moon (in case I didn’t have enough space imagery) to be working for The Fountain Theatre: a truly excellent, prestigious and loving community of artists and professionals. I am thrilled to embark on this ten-week artistic expedition and so look forward to working with everyone at this magnificent theatre!
Tim Cummings and Bill Brochtrup in rehearsal for ‘The Normal Heart’ .
by Don Grigware
The Normal Heart hasn’t been done in years. Tell me about the play’s relevance today, from your perspective.
The play mentions gay marriage, which is relevant today: DOMA being struck down, Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional, more and more states are voting to allow for it. The play also brings up the failures of the health care system, and those are relevant today as well. We’ve yet to see what Obamacare results in, ultimately, but I have hope. The play discusses homophobia, bigotry, closeted gays, politics, conspiracy theories, etc. Those are all relevant now.
Suicide among LGBT youth has been tragically high, of course there’s this putrid Putin/ Russia debacle. The gay-bashing rate in NYC is currently on an alarming rise, which includes the murder of Mark Carson on May 18th, shot directly in the head after his assailant hurled anti-gay slurs at him and his companion. Right in the heart of the West Village. To be honest, I don’t think there will ever be a time this play is not relevant. It’s only a matter of who is brave enough to produce it, as it is not an easy play to do.
What about your character and how he affects the issues at hand? What are the challenges in playing him?
Tim Cummings and Bill Brochtrup, ‘The Normal Heart’ at the Fountain Theatre.
Ned Weeks goes from hesitant participant to full-blown activist and loses nearly everything along the way: his family, his friends, his love, his station in life. Ned is a fighter. A warrior. He does not understand why other people cannot fight back the way he does, and ultimately this alienates him from his community. He will do whatever it takes to wake people up and make them pay attention to this epidemic. He wants pride for the gay community, not shame, not hiding. He wants gay men to think with their hearts and minds, not their pecs and cocks.
The challenges in playing him are that his intensity, passion, Jewish intellectualism, rallying, rants about promiscuity, confrontational nature, and bursts of outrage are not things that can be handled delicately. Yet, we are in this intimate space—so it’s about striking a balance. Where can we hold back? Where do we need to go forward full throttle?
Talk a little about Lisa Pelikan and your working with her – now in 2 plays.
Tim Cummings and Lisa Pelikan in ‘The New Electric Ballroom’
A passionate perfectionist, a questioner, a force, a presence, a joy. With those mesmerizing blue eyes, to boot. Definitely an actor’s actor. Oddly enough, she is also making me take off my clothes in this, just like she did in The New Electric Ballroom. Ha.
Your participation in Ballroom was the best. I really enjoyed your performance. Was that harder to do than Heart, or easier since you are Irish and probably have lived through a lot of similar experiences in Ballroom? (Or am I all wet?)
Thanks, Don. That was a fantastic experience. Yes, I am Irish, but I tend to play Jewish men a lot, too, as I am now. I grew up in New York, surrounded by an abundance of Irish, Irish/Italian, and Jewish heritage. It comes naturally, I suppose.
What I loved about Ballroom was the transformational aspect: my character, Patsy, goes from smelly chubby fishmonger to sexy, slick, pop idol—right before the audience’s eyes. No special effects, no cutaways, no magic. Just good old fashioned in-your-face theatre. Brilliant playwriting and storytelling.
Was that harder than The Normal Heart? I don’t think anything will be harder than The Normal Heart. The role of Ned might be bigger than Hamlet. He barely leaves the action. He never stops talking. He rarely calms down. The level of stage skill—physical prowess, emotional intensity, collaborative endurance—required to play Ned assures he will likely never be conveyed by any actor that is incompetent, lazy, or timid. Larry Kramer was clever to have written Ned the way he did.
Tim Cummings and Carmela Corbett in “Eurydice” at South Coast Rep (2012).
Speak about your writing career.
I write novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, and poetry.
I released a collection called Orphans in the summer of 2011. It’s an idiosyncratic assemblage of short stories, poetry, screenplays, plays, and a film treatment. I wanted to put all the different writing forms together in one weirdly prismatic vessel, and unleash it unrepentantly onto the world. So, I did.
I have a full-length novel called Jake Curve that my agent in NYC is working on. It’s a story of a brilliant little boy who loses his identical twin to a mysterious disappearance, and how he contends with the difficulties of his family falling apart. Ultimately it is a story questioning the validity of family, and whether it is okay to leave them behind if you don’t fit in there.
My most recent play, Bully, is an exploration of this pandemic of teenagers committing suicide for being bullied for being gay. It’s a deeply polemical slaughtering of what masculinity is supposed to mean in today’s day and age. It pays homage to William Golding’s seminal masterpiece about savagery versus civilization, Lord of the Flies, probably my favorite book.
Writing or acting, if you had to make a choice?
Yikes! Can’t I conjoin them and be both? We’ll call it wricting! ‘Hi, I’m Tim, and I’m a wrictor.’
Who are your favorite actors?
Argh, this is a hard one—
Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Kate Winslet, Simon Pegg, Edie Falco, Sean Penn, Viola Davis, Richard Jenkins, Kristin Wiig, Gene Wilder, Jack Lemmon, Gene Hackman, Bryan Cranston, Richard Pryor, Benicio del Toro. I like people with passion. Jack Nicholson, he’s another. Gary Oldman. Cate Blanchett.
Also, many of our brilliant LA locals, like Anne Gee Byrd, Jenny O’Hara, John Getz, Hugo Armstrong. Our town is so ridiculously chockablock with talent. And no, not all of it is in the Fame and Fortune industry—it’s right there, in your face, on our small stages.
Your favorite playwrights? Tracy Letts, Maria Irene Fornes, Enda Walsh, Ruth Margraff, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Albee, Chekhov, O’Neill, Shaw.
Any role you haven’t played yet that you are yearning to play?
Jonny ‘Rooster’ Byron (Jerusalem). Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman). Eddie Carbone (A View From The Bridge). George (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Thomas in Enda Walsh’s Misterman. Father Brendan Flynn (Doubt). Medea, in some awesome, twisted, all-male version. A one-man version of The Crucible. I’d also like to do The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh.
As I get older, I get to play increasingly interesting and substantial roles. The best is yet to come, I feel. I don’t fear or ward off age in any capacity. Bring it, I say. Look at Judi Dench, for fu**’s sake. Clint Eastwood. Bette White!
Anything else you care to add?
Looking forward to taking part in The Skylight Theatre Company’s honoring of Terrence McNally in a four-day event at the end of September called Salute. I was very honored to be asked. And, of course, I’m looking forward to The Normal Heart opening, and audiences experiencing it for its beauty and intensity. I hope it encourages conversations, think-tanks, and outrage.
Don Grigware writes his own blog and writes for Broadway World.
The Normal Heart Sept 21 – Nov 3 (323) 663-1525MORE
LOS ANGELES, CA – December 13, 2011 – Bakersfield Mist, the new play by Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs, has been optioned by multiple Tony award-winning producer Sonia Friedmanfor productions in London and New York.
Sonia Friedman Productions has signed an option to produce the play on the West End in London with plans to bring it to New York for a subsequent Off Broadway or Broadway run. The cast and director have not been set.
“I’m thrilled beyond belief and couldn’t be happier,” says Sachs. “With the expert care and pedigree of Sonia Friedman Productions, the play is in very good hands.”
Inspired by a true story, Bakersfield Mist imagines a meeting between foul-mouthed, unemployed, trailer park-dwelling Maude Gutman, who believes the painting she bought in a thrift store for $3 is really an undiscovered masterpiece worth millions, and stuffy New York art expert Lionel Percy who arrives to evaluate the work. The comedy/drama is a fiery and often hilarious debate over class, truth, value, and the meaning of art.
The play had its world premiere at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in June, produced by Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor, where it was supported in part by an award from the National New Play Network. Directed by Sachs and starring husband and wife actors Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, the Fountain production received rave reviews and extended three times. It is now scheduled to close on December 18 following a six-month run and 114 sold-out performances.
Subsequent productions in theaters around the country have received a similarly enthusiastic response from critics and audiences alike.
Negotiations for the option between Sonia Friedman Productions and Sachs’ agent, the Susan Gurman Agency, began last June, just after the opening at the Fountain.
Sonia Friedman is one of London’s most prolific and significant theater producers responsible for some of the most successful theater productions in London and on Broadway including, most recently The Book of Mormon, The Mountaintop (with Samuel Jackson and Angela Bassett), Jerusalem (with Mark Rylance), Legally Blonde: The Musical, Private Lives (with Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross), Master Class (with Tyne Daly), and Betrayal (withKristin Scott Thomas). Friedman is the recipient of 20 Tony Awards as well as dozens of other awards including Olivier, Evening Standard and New York Drama Desk awards. Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) was formed in 2002 and is a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group, the large and highly-regarded network of independent theatres in the UK.