Philip Solomon, Thomas Silcott “The Painted Rocks at revolver Creek”
The Fountain Theatre has been honored with 23 awards of excellence from StageSceneLA for productions in its 2015-16 season. Fountain productions awarded were the west coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, the world premiere of Dream Catcher by Stephen Sachs, the Los Angeles premiere of My Mañana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin, and the west coast premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll.
Since 2007, Steven Stanley’s StageSceneLA.com has spotlighted the best in Southern California theater via reviews, interviews, and its annual StageSceneLA Awards.
The Fountain has been honored with the following awards this 2015-16 season:
YEAR’S BEST INTIMATE THEATERS The Fountain Theatre
OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION, DRAMA (INTIMATE THEATER) The Painted Rocks At Revolver Creek
OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION, COMEDY-DRAMA (INTIMATE THEATER) My Mañana Comes
Another unforgettable afternoon at the Fountain Theatre. Thirty students from Ramona Elementary School around the corner on Mariposa Street walked over to the Fountain Theatre Friday morning for a special visit that included a lesson on Native American storytelling and the making their own colorful animal masks.
Teacher Eric Arboleda’s 3rd grade class have been studying Native American culture prior to their visit. The Fountain’s current hit production of Dream Catcher offered the perfect invitation for the theatre and Ramona School to partner for the benefit of the young students. The project is made possible through Theatre as a Learning Tool, the Fountain’s educational outreach program that makes art accessible to young people.
The same class from Ramona Elementary School visited the Fountain in November during the run of The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. For that production, the students painted their own stones in bright colors and patterns.
Sarah Boulton guides the class on Native American creation stories.
Friday morning’s visit began with the students gathering in the theatre to see Dream Catcher’s in-the-round dirt setting. Fountain colleague Sarah Boulton guided the students through a lively lesson plan exploring the creation stories from a variety of Native American tribes.
Eric Arboleda and Stephen Sachs
The students were then ushered outside where a long table covered with art supplies waited for them in the parking lot. There they enjoyed an exuberant get-together of mask making, grabbing paper and colored markers and scissors and bright vibrant feathers. It was a joy to watch the kids create their animal masks with such laughter and festive chatter, sharing in this art adventure they would not otherwise experience.
“Reaching out to young people is an important commitment for us. It’s what we do and who we are,” explains Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Offering art and creative expression to students who may otherwise have no access to it. For us, there is no higher calling. Plus the pure fun and joy of it is rejuvenating for all of us.”
The Fountain will expand and enlarge its ongoing partnership with Ramona Elementary School. And, through Theatre as a Learning Tool, will continue to broaden its reach to serve young students throughout Southern California.
Gilbert Glenn Brown and Suanne Spoke in ‘The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek’.
The Fountain Theatre has been honored with 4 Stage Raw Awards for its 2015 productions of The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek and Citizen: An American Lyric.
The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek was the West Coast Premiere of Athol Fugard’s new play about South African artist Nukain Mabuza. The world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric dramatized racism in America.
The Fountain nominees are:
Supporting Female Performance – Suanne Spoke, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek
Leading Male Performance – Thomas Silcott, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek
Adaptation – Stephen Sachs, Citizen: An American Lyric
‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ at the Fountain Theatre
Using multimedia and the written word, Stage Raw is a digital journal dedicated to discovering, discussing and honoring L.A.-based arts and culture. The Stage Raw Theater Awards are dedicated to honoring the swath of innovative works of theater in Los Angeles County, in venues of up-to-99-seats.
The STAGE RAW Celebration is Monday, April 25 at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street (VIP reception 6 p.m.; doors Open at 6:30. Awards Program begins at 7:30pm), General Admission Tickets are $25, VIP Tickets $100, available atstageraw.com.
As the year draws to an end, the Fountain Theatre is delighted to be highlighted on many of the annual “Best of 2015” lists that are starting to appear.
Los Angeles Times theatre critic Charles McNulty selected our west coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek to his Best Theater of 2015, hailing it as “Another in the Fountain Theatre’s series of expertly acted productions of the great South African playwright.”
In addition to the glorious playwriting, acting and directing, our west coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek has earned joyous accolades from critics and audiences alike for its exquisite set. Designed by Jeff McLaughlin, the Fountain stage has been transformed into a South African hillside decorated with exuberant, vibrantly colored rocks. Guess what? Now these rocks can be yours!
Because each of these marvelous hand-painted rocks are truly one-of-kind art pieces, the Fountain is offering them for sale. They are too unique and artful to be ignored when the production ends on December 14th. Each rock is being offered for only $100. All proceeds benefit the Fountain Theatre.
Looking for a unique holiday gift for someone with an artistic soul who would appreciate a present that is out of the ordinary? Or a one-of-a-kind decoration for your garden, yard or patio? An original art piece for your home?
Has been individually hand-painted by artist Clairfoster Josiah Browne.
Is a real rock with a unique size and shape. Each is approximately two feet wide and one foot high.
Is covered with a waterproof sealant.
Your rock will be available December 15th and must be picked up at the Fountain Theatre. Each rock fits easily into the trunk or on the seat of a car.
Is this cool or what? Get this one-of-a-kind holiday gift or unique decoration for your home — and support the Fountain Theatre!
She was sitting with friends in the third row of the center section. Good seats close to the aisle. She was enjoying our world premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. An older woman, she liked going to the theatre and had seen many plays over her long span of theatre-going. She also had a history of heart trouble.
Midway through the first act, audience members nearby noticed that she was becoming restless. She leaned forward like she was trying to stand. Suddenly, as the performance continued on stage, she passed out in her seat, unconscious. As the play unfolded, the woman’s friend dashed out of the theatre and alerted the house manager in the lobby. When paramedics arrived, the performance was stopped and the house lights came up. The stage manager stepped forward and made an announcement to the audience. The actors stood motionless on stage and patrons watched in hushed silence as the emergency team entered the auditorium, put the woman on a stretcher and wheeled her out to the waiting ambulance which then sped away into the night. Meanwhile, inside the theatre, the lights went back down. The performance continued. Shaken and dazed, the actors and audience then took on the shared task of rebuilding the imaginary world they both had created and were inhabiting together.
Emergency incidents like this are jarring and upsetting wherever they occur. And they feel strangely at odds and in sudden conflict with the imagined reality in a theatre when they interrupt a play being performed. Like that jolting moment in a movie theater when the projector suddenly breaks and the movie stops. The screen that one moment ago held glorious vistas of outer space or the intimate electricity of a lover’s kiss — without warning goes blank. The lights come up. You are violently thrust back into real life. You look around, disoriented, no longer on a faraway planet or in a seducer’s bed. You’re in a multiplex.
Over our twenty-five year history, the Fountain Theatre has endured a handful of emergency incidents in the audience and on stage during a performance or immediately after. A patron passing out in the front row, an actress collapsing in the middle of a performance, an actor having a heart attack on his drive home. And, of course, the murder of a director in his apartment prior to coming to rehearsal.
Each of these turmoils remind us of the delicate uncertainty of each of our lives and theatre’s seemingly impossible task to express it. Yet that is its aspiration. Then life intervenes.
Conflict is the engine that drives a good play. We go the theatre to witness human beings struggle to overcome a life-or-death conflict. Its one thing to watch a fictional character battle for survival on stage. Quite another to see it happening to the person sitting next to you in the audience. Drama is meant to erupt on stage, not in the auditorium. In plays, we watch bad things happen to good people to learn an important truth about ourselves. But when bad things happen to good people in the audience, perhaps a deeper and harder truth is enacted. One that no play can equal.
Good theatre, theatre that matters, is not an escape or diversion from the reality of life. It is an art form attempting to explore and shed light on human experience. A good play will try to make sense of what often seems senseless, to give meaning to that which feels meaningless, to illuminate the dark.
Hamlet instructs the band of players that the purpose of theatre is to hold a mirror up to nature. But, as these emergency incidents brazenly remind us, theatre is not real life. It is merely a reflection of the reality that stands before all of us. And when real life intervenes in the theatre, the mirror shatters, the spell is momentarily broken. We are shaken awake from the dream we have entered and are reminded of the precarious fragility of life and the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”
Then the lights dim once again. And the performance goes on.
Stephen Sachs is the Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.
One of the great things about working in a theatre is you get the opportunity to bring people together.
Theater starts the minute the lights go down and the outside world stops. In the darkened theater, the to-do lists and personal hardships fade into a different world that will be yours for the next two hours. In the dark, we are no longer different people but a collective group sharing the same experience. We taste the love Romeo has for Juliet, cry with John Proctor as he asks for forgiveness, and laugh with Eliza Doolittle as she dances all night. Theatre lets us reexperience first kisses, our first heartaches. It evens the playing field so we all can experience the same thing regardless of how different we are. As we experienced it with our last production, Citizen: An American Lyric. In the dark we were the oppressed and the oppressor. We became a collective unit attempting to understand racism.
But Friday, we got to experience a very different type of unifying. Friday we were able to have Eric Arboleda’s third grade class from Ramona Elementary School come to our theatre. And we stopped being actors and children and started becoming one collective unit.
Lexi Lallatin holding photo of Nukain Mabuza to students.
We started the day with a tour of the theatre which ended on the stage set up for our show The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. There, surrounded by intricately designed rocks, sand, and a set we were able to discuss found art- particularly relating to Nukain Mabuza (The subject of the play). The children were able to see through the eyes of someone who lived during the apartheid. They talked about how they would have wanted to “express their emotions”. And once again, it testified to the unifying power of theatre. Where else would third grade children and theatre artists be able to bond over the artistic genius of an untrained artist during apartheid in South Africa? In the end, the kids were able to express themselves independently by painting their own rocks.
Lexi lallatin with Ramona School student on the set of ‘Painted Rocks”.
I speak for the Fountain Theatre when I say that this experience spoke to us on why we do theater. Theatre has the power to unify. To bring together. Every child was different. Some were too shy to speak and others couldn’t wait to tell you every detail of their day. Some spent the whole time making sure their rock was perfect, while others were more eager to get to the doughnut and play “duck, duck, goose”. Every rock came out different. Some were intricate, with dots and swirls. Some were blobs of a color the child swore was “marbled.” But in the end, all of the students were so excited to share and talk about their rocks.
I am so thankful for the wonderful Ramona Elementary School, to Eric Arboleda and his wonderful class, to American Builders Supply in Pacoima who donated the rocks, to Stan’s Doughnuts, and to all the people at the theatre who helped make this possible. This is the epitome of bringing people together. We are so thankful to be part of this community, and we are proud to say this is the type of thing we strive for.
Students from Ramona Elementary School.
Come to the Fountain Theatre and see The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. Be part of the shared experience. See the children’s rocks in our lobby. Hear about Nukain Mabuza. On Friday, as the sun set on our collection of wet rocks drying in the sun, each with its own story behind it, I wondered what Nukain would have thought if he knew all the different people he brought together, on Friday and throughout therun of this play, to pay homage to his memory and his work.
Lexi Lallatin is from Portland, Oregon, and now an intern at the Fountain Theatre.The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creekruns to December 14th.Info/Tickets
Students from our neighborhood Ramona Elementary School on Mariposa Street only had to walk around the corner to experience a unforgettable day of creativity, fun and artistic expression at the Fountain Theatre. The kids joined Fountain staff for ‘Painted Rocks Day’, a community arts event inviting the students to visit the theatre, learn about Outsider Art and rock painting, then choose and paint their own smooth rocks to express their world view and inner selves.
The educational activity was a satellite event of the Fountain Theatre’s west coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, dramatizing the life and vision of South African artist Nuzain Mabuza who painted hundreds of rocks on a hillside in bright colors and patterns to create his visionary “flower garden” .
Led by teacher Eric Arboleda, the twenty-four 3rd graders arrived Friday morning and were given tours of the Fountain Theatre by staff members. The group was shown the remarkable ‘Painted Rocks’ set on the main stage, complete with real dirt, plants and a vibrant collection of painted rocks and boulders.
Fountain intern Lexi Lallatin lead the class in a lesson discussing examples of Outsider Art and how art can be created by ordinary found objects. Lexi shared the story of Nuzain Mabuza and encouraged the students to imagine how they might transform everyday objects in their daily lives into magical art pieces.
The group then moved outside to the Fountain parking lot where a long art table holding rocks, paints and brushes was waiting. The students excitedly dove in and went to work. Each chose their own rock and were told to paint it however they wished, with as many colors and patterns they imagined, to express who they were and their own inner vision.
The results were extraordinary. Simple gray stones were transformed into vibrant talismen of color and bright patterns. The students thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They painted, laughed and chatted excitedly as they worked for one hour. Donuts and juice were served.
The rocks painted by the students will remain on display in the lobby of the Fountain Theatre throughout the run of The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek to December 14th. At that time, the rocks will then be given to the students to take home.
We wish to thank American Builders Supply in Pacoima for donating the rocks for the students to paint, and Stan’s Doughnuts for the snacks. A shout-out to Fountain staff members Lexi Lallatin, James Bennett, Scott Tuomey, and Barbara Goodhill for helping to make the event a joyous success.
‘Painted Rocks Day’ with Ramona Elementary School was created through Theatre As a Learning Tool, the Fountain Theatre’s educational outreach program dedicated to making art accessible to students and young people in Los Angeles.
Gilbert Glenn Brown and Suanne Spoke in ‘The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek’
by Darlene Donloe
The name Gilbert Glenn Brown has become synonymous with “good works” around the L.A. theater world.
A handsome gent with a bright, poetic smile, Brown enjoys a career that has spanned film, television and theater. His theatrical credits are extensive, and the list of directors and actors that he’s shared a stage with reads like a Who’s Who of Los Angeles theater.
On this particular day, as the sun is setting after an extremely warm afternoon, Brown is sitting on the upstairs patio of the Fountain Theater, dapper in a gray cap, blue-and-white rolled up checkered shirt and gray vest. He’s ready to talk about the actor’s life that he’s carved out.
Known for bringing all of himself—and none of himself—to his roles, Brown has delivered a number of stellar performances, playing vivid and memorable characters that have earned him the COLSAC Best Lead Performance Award, two Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards and an LA Weekly Award.
He made women swoon and men suck in their guts delivering an arousing performance as Shango, the neighborhood bad boy in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s original comedy/drama, In The Red and Brown Water, directed by Shirley Jo Finney. He was the intense and absorbing older brother Ogun Size in McCraney’s The Brothers Size, also directed by Finney. Most recently, he was probably the most sensually-charged Polyneices ever to grace a stage in the Ebony Repertory Theatre’s The Gospel At Colonus.
This production marks the Fountain Theatre’s 15-year relationship with the playwright that began in 2000 when Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs directed Fugard’s The Road to Mecca. It was then that Fugard, an Academy Award winner for Tsotsi (Best Foreign Language Film), recipient of the 2011 Tony for lifetime achievement—and a multiple Obie and Tony Award-winner best known for his plays rooted in the scars of South African apartheid—reportedly began to call the Fountain his “artistic home on the West Coast.”
Inspired by the work of real-life outsider artist Nukain Mabuza, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek is set in South Africa in the 1980s. It tells the story of elderly Nukain, a farm worker and self-taught artist who has spent years painting the rocks and boulders at Revolver Creek, transforming them into a garden of flowers.
The play, which also stars Thomas Silcott, Philip Solomon and Suanne Spoke, begins when the final, most challenging unpainted stone and a young boy named Bokkie (Nukain’s assistant) “force Nukain to confront his legacy as both an artist and a black man in 1980s South Africa,” where the horrible injustices of apartheid still prevailed at the time—dividing the country into black and white.
The minute he read the script, Brown jumped at the chance to play Jonathan, the grown-up version of Bokkie, who returns to Revolver Creek to restore the faded rocks as a tribute to Nukain, the friend he loved.
“What I like about Jonathan is the need he feels to come back and stand up for someone he loves,” says Brown. “He comes back to stand up for someone who wasn’t able to stand up and say I’m a man, or say that he mattered.”
Although he’s a “huge fan” of the playwright, this is the first time that Brown has tackled an Athol Fugard play. “I am familiar with his activism,” Brown says, “and using theater as a means of activism. I was groomed, in a sense, to look at issues head on. It’s about telling the truth with the material. I read the play and I was blown away by it because of the honesty of the material.”
“What’s wonderful about Gilbert,” says Simon Levy, who is directing the show, “is that he’s this beautiful combination of sensitivity and danger,” says Levy. “He possesses a deep well of emotion that reveals itself in surprising ways so that the character always feels kinetic and honest.”
“I think I understand where Simon wants to go with this piece,” Brown says. “He’s very clear on making sure that the audience can connect with the story and with the living, breathing human beings—not in a superficial way. It’s a wonderfully written piece.”
Brown is working with a dialect coach to get Jonathan’s South African accent right. “I want to honor the person I’m portraying [and] the people who actually speak that language…and be so connected, that I don’t think it’s an accent, it’s just how I speak.”
Now that Brown has had several weeks to ingest the material, he’s gained more insight into the meaning and intent of Fugard’s words. Comments from a documentary on apartheid that Brown watched as research added to his understanding:
“An activist said apartheid not only jails the people that are oppressed,” Brown recalls, “but also the jailers because they are caught in a cycle. You become dehumanized when you think someone is not as much as you are. Until you can say this happened, and acknowledge that it happened, there will be no movement. The people affected are not going to let it go. I realize now that it’s an opportunity to see each other as human beings.
“That is what the play means to me,” Brown says. “I’m always looking for truth.” Continue reading →