Tag Archives: theater

West Coast premiere of The Lifespan of a Fact
explores truth in journalism at the Fountain

What happens when telling the truth gets in the way of a good story? The Fountain Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of the Broadway hit play, The Lifespan of a Fact, by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell. Simon Levy directs for a February 18 opening, with performances continuing through April 2 on the Fountain’s indoor stage. Previews begin February 15.

Based on the nonfiction book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal, this highly entertaining, very funny new play follows Fingal (Jonah Robinson), a young intern at an elite New York magazine. Fingal’s first assignment from his editor (Inger Tudor) is to fact-check an essay written by a highly celebrated and cantankerous author (Ron Bottitta as John D’Agata). What Jim finds turns his world upside down. Thought-provoking, with zinging one-liners, The Lifespan of a Fact explodes into a hilarious slugfest between “facts” and “truth,” making it hard to imagine a play ever being more timely.

“The play urges us to take a harder look at the content we read and the stories we’re told — even from sources we trust,” says Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs.

“What I love about this play is that it’s based on a true story and that it tackles the concepts of ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ in a theatrical context through three wonderfully contrasting, funny and compulsive/obsessive characters,” says Levy. “When you’re writing a nonfiction piece about a real person, are ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ negotiable? Or is it okay to make stuff up for the sake of a good story?”

D’Agata and Fingal’s book received critical attention from multiple publications, including NPR, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. It was subsequently named a “Top 10 Most Crucial Book” by the editors of Slate, a “Best Book of the Year” by the Huffington Post, and an “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review. The stage adaptation, which opened on Broadway in 2018 starring Daniel Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, and Cherry Jones, was called “terrifically engaging” by The New York Times in its “Critic’s Pick” review.

The Fountain’s creative team includes scenic designer Joel Daavid, lighting designer Alison Brummer, sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett, costume designer Michael Mullen, video designer Nicholas Santiago and properties designer Joyce Hutter. The production stage manager is Hannah Raymond. Stephen Sachs and James Bennett produce for the Fountain Theatre.

2022: What a year at the Fountain. See for yourself.

2022 was filled with acclaimed productions of plays, jazz concerts, and arts education programs. Take a look!

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.

Fountain Theatre gives women a voice with free readings of ‘My Body, No Choice’ Nov 2 & 3

Performance on Nov. 3 will be live-streamed

Following last summer’s triumphant readings of Lisa Loomer’s Roe and with the midterm elections upon us, The Fountain Theatre once again jumps into action to give women a voice. The Fountain joins 20 theaters and universities across the U.S. to present two evenings of My Body, No Choice, staged readings of monologues commissioned by Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage. Eight of America’s most exciting female playwrights share what choice means to them through the telling of fiction and non-fiction stories rooted in personal experience.

Written by Lee Cataluna, Fatima Dyfan, Lisa Loomer, Dael Orlandersmith, Sarah Ruhl, Mary Hall Surface, V (formerly Eve Ensler), and “Anonymous.” Directed by Judith Moreland. Starring Veralyn Jones, Tamika Katon-Donegal, Jenny O’Hara, Amy Pietz, Pam Trotter.

Reserve your FREE seats now.

Back by popular demand, Fountain Theatre’s hit production ‘If I Forget’ extends to Dec. 18 

The Fountain Theatre’s hit production of If I Forget, written by Tony Award-winning playwright Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hanson) and directed by Tony Award-winning actor Jason Alexander (widely known from TV’s Seinfeld), has extended through December 18, re-opening at the end of October following a brief hiatus. At once deeply personal and political, If I Forget is a funny and complex tale that explores the lasting impact of the Holocaust on a Jewish family at the beginning of the 21st century. The widely acclaimed original cast returns to portray three adult siblings and their families who reunite to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday, with Richard Fancy taking over the role of patriarch Lou Fischer, a role he previously played in the 2018 Washington D.C. production. In addition to Fancy’s extensive stage career (Singin’ in the Rain on Broadway; Julia at 59e59th off-Broadway; lead roles in All My Sons and Death of a Salesman at Pacific Resident Theatre), Fancy is remembered for his role as Mr. Lippman on Seinfeld, where he worked alongside Mr. Alexander.

STAGE RAW TOP 10… ensconces themes relating to Jewish history and heritage into a funny, poignant domestic comedy.” — Stage Raw

UNFORGETTABLE… provocative, engaging, funny, poignant, mesmerizing… Definitely a must see!” —LA Theatrix

REMARKABLE… a richly real script and uniformly excellent acting combine in a riveting theater-going experience.” — Larchmont Buzz

DON’T MISS THIS ONEGO!— Performing Arts Live

RIVETING, NUANCED PERFORMANCES… crisp dialogue packed with opposing ideas… pathos and humor.” — Santa Monica Mirror

POWERFUL… will keep viewers talking long after the curtain drops.” — Splash magazines

WOW!… HILARIOUS AND HARROWING… one superb performance after another.” — Stage Scene LA

MEMORABLE COMPELLING AND RELEVANT… deep and intense think-pieces presented at the pace of screwball comedy.” — The Hollywood Times

URGENTLY IMPORTANT, BRILLIANTLY LYRICAL AND THEATRICAL… best mounting of a new American play I’ve seen done in 14 years.” — Ticket Holders LA

ANOTHER TRIUMPH FOR THE VENERABLE FOUNTAIN THEATRE… a play you won’t forget.” — Discover Hollywood

Get tickets.

Fountain Theatre earns 9 L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award nominations for excellence in 2020/21

The Fountain Theatre earned nine award nominations from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for excellence in 2020/21, it was announced yesterday. The Fountain’s Los Angeles premiere of An Octoroon on its Outdoor Stage, its groundbreaking livestream presentation of The Ballad of Emmett Till, and the L.A. debut of The Children were chosen for recognition.

LADCC nominations for the Fountain Theatre for 2020-2021:

  • Lead Performance – Matthew Hancock – An Octoroon
  • Featured Performance – Rob Nagle – An Octoroon
  • Writing Adaptation – Branden Jacobs-Jenkins – An Octoroon
  • Set Design – Frederica Nascimento – An Octoroon
  • Costume Design – Naila Aladdin-Sanders – An Octoroon
  • Fight Direction – Jen Albert – An Octoroon
  • Props – Michael Allen Angel – An Octoroon
  • Streaming Design & CGI – The Ballad of Emmett Till – Andrew Schmedake
  • Ensemble Performance – Ron Bottitta, Elizabeth Elias Huffman, Lily Knight – The Children

Out of an abundance of COVID caution, there will be no in-person ceremony. Instead, the award recipients will be named in a future press release in the upcoming weeks.

Congratulations to all of the nominees! Click here for the complete list.

Lisa Loomer’s play tells “shocking” true story behind Roe v. Wade

More info

Last chance! The Fountain Theatre’s hit world premiere production, Detained, to close on May 15

The cast of Detained. Photo by Jenny Webb.

After a long list of rave reviews and a successful run of nearly three months, the Fountain Theatre’s world premiere production of the gripping docudrama, Detained, comes to an end on Sunday, May 15th. The final performances of Detained are May 9 and 14 at 8pm, and May 15 at 2pm. Special $10 tickets are available on a limited, first come/first-served basis.

Originally commissioned by immigration attorney Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and written by The Lillys 2021 Lorraine Hansberry Award-winning playwright France-Luce Benson, Detained explores the heartbreak and fierce determination of families fighting to stay together while mass deportation and harsh U.S. immigration legislation become ever more dedicated to keeping them apart. It is both a devastating, in-depth look at everyday people caught in the punishing web of harsh immigration policies, and a celebration of the courage and conviction of those struggling against an often coldblooded institution that seems to have lost sight of its former humanity.

Former cast member Michael Uribes was unable to continue with the show, so Jose Fernando (Daniel’s Husband) has temporarily relinquished his duties as Fountain Theatre House Manager to join the cast of Detained. “It feels great to be switching gears and joining the Detained family in this capacity,” he said. “As someone who immigrated to this country, and has friends and family affected by the politics surrounding immigration, this show is very real to me. It allows me an opportunity to give a voice to our lived experiences.”

Jose Fernando joins the ensemble cast of Detained

Fernando, along with company members Liana Aráuz, Camila Betancourt Ascencio, Christine Avila, Will Dixon, Jan Munroe, Theo Perkins and Marlo Su, bring to life a variety of characters based on real-life U.S. detainees, their families and supporters, and ICE representatives – all of whom were interviewed by Benson. These characters include a teenage foodie aspiring “chef-lebrity,” a U.S. Veteran, and a mother of two who works as a roofer in New York City.

“This play is a living document, and I’m constantly updating it,” Benson says. “People think that now that Biden is president, things are better. But thousands of people are still facing deportation every day. Many of these people have been living in this country for decades. They own houses, run businesses, pay taxes, have families.”

“No theatre complex in LA has been as staunchly dedicated to social relevance and fighting for equality and justice than the Fountain.”

Ticket Holders LA

The Los Angeles Times notes that, “In familiarizing theatergoers with the immense toll these policies take on individuals and their loved ones, the play reminds us that human rights abuses are more than a talking point… The message of the play comes through loud and clear in (director Mark) Valdez’s staging.” Ticket Holders LA proclaims that, “no theatre complex in LA has been as staunchly dedicated to social relevance and fighting for equality and justice than the Fountain.” TotalTheater.com calls Detained, “Brave and shocking… masterfully directed…” and declares, “The people whose stories are memorialized here remind all of us that we have the power to dismantle a corrupt, inhuman system.” And Showmag.com decrees, “it’s enough to make a person want to run for office… meticulous performance values… every element coalesces into a smooth, almost magazine style of presentation… the play performs an important function to awaken all of us to a system that has grown out of control.” Click here for more reviews and for a list of organizations where you can take action.

Good seats still remain for the final performances of Detained. And to celebrate the last days of the show that People’s World calls “deeply affecting” and “yet another triumph in (the Fountain’s) long line of work,” a limited number of special $10 tickets have been made available with the promo code “Final2.” Don’t miss out — act now!

Please note: All Covid protocols are followed. Proof of both vaccination and booster (if eligible) are required for admission. Masks are strongly encouraged. Snug, surgical-grade respirator masks (N-95/KN-95/KF-94) that cover both mouth and nose are preferred, but blue surgical masks are acceptable. Cloth masks are no longer approved.

For reservations and information call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.fountaintheatre.com.

NOW CASTING: L.A. Premiere of “If I Forget” on Fountain Theatre Outdoor Stage directed by Jason Alexander

The Fountain Theatre is now casting the Los Angeles Premiere of Steven Levenson’s funny and poignant play, IF I FORGET, directed by Jason Alexander (TV’s Seinfeld). Steven Levenson is the author of TICK, TICK… BOOM!, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, and FOSSE/VERDON. IF I FORGET will be performed on the Fountain Theatre’s Outdoor Stage in East Hollywood.

Storyline:
Los Angeles Premiere. A funny and powerful tale of a family and a culture at odds with itself. In the final months before 9/11, liberal Jewish studies professor Michael Fischer reunites with his two sisters to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday. Each committed to their own version of family history, they clash over everything from Michael’s controversial book, to whether they should sell the family business. Secrets and long-held resentments bubble to the surface as the three negotiate – with biting humor and razor-sharp insight – just what they’re willing to sacrifice for a chance at a new beginning.

Producer/Theatre Company: The Fountain Theatre
Artistic Director: Stephen Sachs
Director: Jason Alexander
Writer: Steven Levenson
Casting Director: Simon Levy, Jose Fernando
Lead Producers: Simon Levy, James Bennett
Auditions: April 18-19, 2022
Rehearsals: June 13 – July 19, 2022
Previews: July 20 – 22, 2022
Opens/Closes: July 23, 2022 – September 10, 2022

LOU FISCHER
65 to 75 years old, male. (to play 75) Smart, sensitive, caring. He is capable of deep feeling but can be distant as is typical of men of his generation. Holds disturbing secrets from the war. A Jewish WWII veteran, proud of his family and Jewish heritage. Suffers a debilitating stroke during the course of the play. A man of quiet dignity. An untapped well.

MICHAEL FISCHER
45 to 50 years old, male. Lou’s son. A Jewish Studies professor who happens to be an atheist. A cynical, avowed liberal whose intellect and passions coupled with his ego and neurosis often cloud his better judgment and his better angels. Proud, defiant, stubborn and yet fearful and ultimately a bit lost. He struggles to make his heart as potent as his mind. A brilliant, if tortured, soul.

HOLLY FISCHER
45 to 52 years old, female. Lou’s oldest daughter and Michael’s older sister. (should read slightly older than him). Her dress and manner reflect a lifestyle that connotes a degree of financial success and social influence. She thinks highly of herself and freely speaks her mind, oftentimes at the expense of others. Though brash and biting, she means well and genuinely cares for her family. She is driven, fierce – but the bark is far worse than the bite.

SHARON FISCHER
38 to 40 years old, female. Lou’s youngest daughter. Sweet to the point of almost seeming simple. A natural giver, reflected in being a kindergarten teacher and Lou’s primary caregiver. She is also a bit high strung and desperate to have a family of her own at this later stage of her life. She harbors unspoken resentment toward her siblings for making her the de facto nanny and nurse. Though fragile and brittle, she spends much of the play struggling to assert herself and fight for the things she wants and believes in.

ELLEN MANNING
40 to 43 years old, female. Michael’s wife. Not Jewish. Kind, calm, and the voice of reason when tensions arise between Michael and his siblings. She is supportive of her husband’s career and beliefs though keenly aware and nervous of their offensiveness. She determinedly suppresses her fear and anxiety about her daughter’s mental illness. She is a woman very much on the edge and holding on with all the grace she can muster.

HOWARD KILBERG
50 to 55 years old, male. Holly’s husband. Jewish. A corporate lawyer. Successful and affable but a bit of a dolt. He is socially awkward, never sure of where he stands in anyone’s esteem. He is mild-mannered, even kindly but uncomfortable in his skin. And he harbors a secret that he greatly fears will ruin his life if revealed.

JOEY OREN
16 to 20 years old, male. (to play 16) Holly’s son. A smart and socially awkward teen. Has some behavioral issues; not violent, just acts out to get attention. He acts indifferent toward his family but can’t help revealing genuine concern during trying times. Takes refuge in gaming. An awkward kid, probably somewhere on the spectrum.

Please submit electronically via Breakdown Express/Actors Access or email casting@fountaintheatre.com. First round of auditions will be self-tape of Sides, which will be made available by the casting coordinator. Then there will be an in-person audition at the theatre. Then a callback.