Tag Archives: Public Theatre

Fountain Theatre’s audio play Numbered Days, a moving, true love story, launches today

Being Valentine’s Day, treat yourself to being swept away by the love and healing powers of music and the written word in Numbered Days, the true-life love story of two passionate artists who used the power of their artistry to sustain them through their “numbered days” as a couple. Playwright Corey Madden has transformed her poetic memoir into a four-episode audio play produced by the Fountain theatre that launches today.

How can art, and the process of creating it, help us cope with hardship? Numbered Days turns Madden’s poems about the battle with cancer she shared with her beloved husband, composer Bruno Louchouarn, into an audio art piece meant to bring healing to others.

Two-time Emmy®, Peabody and SAG award-winning actor Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) stars as playwright Corey Madden in an audio theater production of Madden’s moving memoir. Veteran actor Tony Amendola (Antaeus Theatre Company, Showtime’s Dexter, ABC’s Once Upon a Time) stars alongside Gunn as Bruno. Jeanne Sakataand Jack Stehlin take on multiple roles. Madden directs, and Jeff Gardener is audio producer, sound designer and Foley artist. Prominently featured throughout is Louchouarn’s glorious music.

“This is not just a play about living with cancer — it’s a play about joie de vivre, artistry, and how to get through the unimaginable. Art created healing for us, and that was nothing short of a miracle.”

Following her husband’s diagnosis, Madden began writing short, free-verse poems as a way to give voice to her anguish.

“I started writing on my iPhone as a way to cope with the stress and uncertainty, but what I discovered was that focusing only on Bruno’s illness and treatment was robbing us both of the very thing I wanted most to preserve — his life,” she explains. “The practice of writing about exactly what was happening in the moment helped me see the grace within daily life. It helped me re-focus on the joy of being alive today. Instead of living in fear, we were both able to experience joy through making art. This is not just a play about living with cancer — it’s a play about joie de vivre, artistry, and how to get through the unimaginable. Art created healing for us, and that was nothing short of a miracle.”

Corey Madden at Cafe Figero, where she and Bruno first met

In addition to writing and directing Numbered Days, Madden’s original works include Rain After Ash and Sol Path, commissioned and produced at Pasadena’s AxS Festival; Day for Night, presented by Santa Monica’s GLOW and featured in Poland’s Transatlantyk Film and Music Festival; Surf Orpheus, produced by UC San Diego and at the Getty Villa, and Rock, Paper, Scissors which was co-written with Laural Meade, premiered at Childsplay and was subsequently produced at Speeltheatre in Holland. Madden is also the director of And So We Walked: An Artist Journey Along the Trail of Tears created and performed by Delanna Studi, which has been produced by Triad Stage and Portland Stage and represented the United States at the Carthage International Theatre Festival in Tunisia in 2019, and will be released by Audible in Spring 2022.  Madden has directed plays, opera and music events, and multi-disciplinary works at the Mark Taper Forum, Public Theatre, Getty Museum, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Court Performing Arts, Trinity Repertory and Actors Theatre of Louisville, among many others. Madden trained at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She received her undergraduate degree in dramatic arts from UNC Chapel Hill and her graduate degrees in creative and cinematic writing from USC’s Professional Writing Program and USC Film. Madden is currently the executive director of the Monterey Museum of Art and was associate artistic director of Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, where she developed and produced more than 300 new plays during her 22-year tenure.

Bruno Louchouarn (1959-2018) composed more than 600 original works including orchestral and chamber music, opera, dance, film, television and theater scores, as well as sound and media installations. His remarkable body of work reflects his wide-ranging interests in music, media and sound, informed by his academic research in cognitive science, artificial intelligence and ethnomusicology. Louchouarn’s musical catalogue reflects the spirit and rhythms of Paris, Mexico City, Los Angeles and Piedmont North Carolina, the places he called home over his six decades of life. During his lifetime, Louchouarn collaborated extensively with dance, theater and visual artists including Suzanne Lacy, Jacques Heim, Herbert Siguenza, Michael John Garces, Juan Felipe Herrera, and his wife, Corey Madden, to create performances in which his moving and layered scores play a leading role. Louchouarn’s collaborations with Susan Jaffe on Metallurgy and Carmina Terra were among his most rewarding creative experiences. Louchouarn’s compositions have been performed at leading arts institutions such as the Kennedy Center, Royce Hall at UCLA, Cal Arts’ REDCAT, the Getty Museum, Juilliard School of Music, University of Southern California, University of Akron, UNC School of the Arts, Chapman School of Music, Occidental College, San Diego Rep, Boston Court, Pasadena Playhouse, Cornerstone Theatre Company and at festivals including Santa Monica’s GLOW, Pasadena’s AxS Festival and Poland’s Transatlantyk Film and Music Festival.

Audio producer, sound designer and Foley artist Jeff Gardener has designed sound and performed as an actor across the country. His credits include the Geffen Playhouse, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Wallis Annenberg Center, A Noise Within, Antaeus Theatre Company, Boston Court Pasadena, Circle X Theatre Company, Echo Theater Company, Rogue Machine, Matrix Theatre, Skylight Theatre, IAMA Theatre Company, The Shakespeare Theatre (DC), Arena Stage, Kennedy Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Jeff can be seen at L.A. Theatre Works, where he regularly performs live sound effects.

All four episodes of Numbered Days are now available for $20 at www.FountainTheatre.com. Listen to it now, wherever you get your podcasts, with someone you love.

From Schenkkan to Shakespeare, the same urgent warning

BUILDING THE WALL prod photo VP 2

Victoria Platt and Bo Foxworth in ‘Building the Wall’

By Stephen Sachs

One play was written more than 400 years ago, the other last October. Both written by playwrights worried about the future of their countries. One author took months to pen his work, the other took one week.  One writer has been dead 400 years, one is very much alive, chronicling the current political crisis of his time with a dire new play now playing on our Fountain stage. Both authors and their plays have been in the news in recent weeks, igniting a firestorm of national conversation on the role of theatre to express political outrage, and its fundamental right and responsibility to do so. The Fountain Theatre is a voice in that debate. 

As many know, The Public Theater’s production this month in New York of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar drew fire from Right-Wing Conservatives for its depiction of the ruler as a petulant Trump-like politician with blondish hair and a sullen Slavic wife.  Outrage from Conservatives targeted the play’s depiction of Caesar’s assassination, missing the larger meaning of the play, as if director Oskar Eustis was advocating the killing of the current president. Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their corporate sponsorship. Right-Wing groups hired demonstrators to picket the venue and harass theatergoers. Protesters heckled the live performances and wildly stormed the stage to stop the play mid-show. The demonstrators’ feeble attempts may have halted a performance momentarily but, in each instance, the show went on. If anything, it drew national focus to the very thing it schemed to suppress. Art cannot be stopped.

Most discouraging to me, the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency that hails itself as providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation, distanced itself from the production by releasing a statement declaring that NEA funds were not used to support this staging of Julius Caesar. An ironic stance for a federal arts agency whose very existence Trump has vowed to destroy.

Julius CaesarBy William Shakespeare Directed by Oskar Eustis Featuring Tina Benko (Calpurnia); Teagle F. Bougere (Casca); Yusef Bulos (Cinna the Poet); Eisa Davis (Decius Brutus); Robert Gilbert (Octavius); Gregg Henry (Caesar); Edward James Hyland (Lep

‘Julius Caesar’ at The Public Theater, NY

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Fountain Theatre has been running our sold-out world premiere of Robert Schenkkan’s new play, Building the Wall. It is a riveting drama set in the near future exposing the vulnerability of one man caught up in the horrific unraveling of Trump’s anti-immigration policies.  Robert and I knew the play would generate some interest from the press. Neither of us anticipated the avalanche that has ensued. We’ve been bombarded by interview requests from everywhere. The play and the Fountain production were featured in national news outlets across the country, like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine. Plus international coverage in the UK and France. “Theatre in the Age of Trump” is now suddenly a hot topic.

untitledThe Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar and the Fountain Theatre’s production of Building the Wall coincided this month.  Newspapers on both coasts featured stories on both productions, with Oskar Eustis and Robert Schenkkan speaking out boldly for not only the right, but the necessity of freedom of speech and unrestricted artistic expression in this country.  The subject of ‘The Politics of Theater’ became a significant Arts cover feature in last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times.     

The Right-Wing protesters who stormed the outdoor Delacorte Theatre in Central Park no doubt never read Julius Caesar and certainly knew little about it. They focused on the killing of the king, unaware of the greater warning the tale foretells: Beware when you get what you want. A tyrant in power mandated to save the republic can lead to the destruction of the very republic he vows to protect. Shakespeare demands us to recognize that more than a ruler is assassinated in this tragedy. It is democracy itself that is murdered.

Julius Caesar and Breaking the Wall expose the same fatal wound within ourselves. Our susceptibility to become what we hate. Rick’s slow and seamless transformation in Building the Wall, from well-meaning Trump follower to death camp superintendent is so nightmarish and appalling because it seems somehow plausible. This is how Schenkkan and Shakespeare caution us. This dark truth is perfectly crystalized by Shakespeare when Cassius warns, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” It is not fate, but weakness of character that forces a person to act against his will.

RS in FT rehearsal March 2017

Playwright Robert Schenkkan in rehearsal, Fountain Theatre

“The danger is always giving over your moral calculus to the state,” Robert Schenkkan has said. Fighting a tyrant does not mean imitating him. Julius Caesar no more advocates the killing of a king than Building the Wall promotes the mass detention and extermination of immigrants. Neither play is about genocide or the murder of a tyrant. Each is about the killing of social and political order, played out in the souls of specific human beings. Building the Wall is a razor-sharp two-character play that takes place in one room. Two people in extreme close up.  

Shakespeare based his play Julius Caesar (some say he stole entire sections of it) from Plutarch’s biography of the ruler. Of his examination Plutarch said, “It is not histories I am writing, but lives.”

Plays, too, are about lives, not ideas. Good plays, plays that matter and live forever, have compelling themes and thought-provoking viewpoints and concepts but they are told through the dramatization of human lives. The power of Building the Wall lies in how it puts a human face on the inhuman. It reveals the dichotomy of opposites alive in one man: the wish to do what is right versus the inability to see, and speak out against, what is wrong.   

For all of us at the Fountain Theatre, Building the Wall is more than a play. It is a defining moment, one of many that help set our compass as a company and as artists. Who are we? Why do we do what we do? What is our service, our responsibility, to the community, to our nation?   

This administration fears artists for the same reason it has banned TV cameras from live press briefings. It is terrified that the American people will see the truth. Our role as theatre artists, like that of a free press, is to be truth-tellers.  And to fight for the freedom to speak it, through art.

I am so proud that the Fountain Theatre took the stand of leadership in launching Robert’s new work, and that it continues to ignite this firestorm of conversation, artistic soul-searching and journalistic examination.  That our world premiere production is not only still running after four sold out months but has been extended through August is a testament to its urgent necessity and the overwhelming will expressed by our audiences to engage. 

When art and politics collide like this on a local and national level, theaters like ours, and the art we create, become indispensable not only to our city, but our nation. 

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