Tag Archives: UC San Diego

Jessica’s Journal: My First Grant

Jessica Broutt

by Jessica Broutt

As the development intern at the Fountain Theatre, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was asked to write a grant.  Sure, I had done research. Written a few letters of intent. But last week marked the first time I was really on my own.

With everyone else in the office getting ready for previews of our newest play, the US Premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Blue Iris, I was spending my week looking at old grants,  a new project proposal, and a very tricky computer program I like to call Adobe.

Now, the first thing you have to understand about filling out a grant is that the most challenging part is figuring out how to use the required computer software.  After downloading the latest version of Adobe, I spent quite a few hours filling in tiny little boxes.  While this was annoying and terrifying, seeing as how I never trusted my hard work to be saved upon every return visit, it was nothing compared to writing the narratives.

In the narrative part of the grant, it gives the organization an opportunity to talk about its artistic mission, the history of its organization, what new project they propose to embark on if they do receive the grant.  This was the difficult part. As much as I love this theatre and feel at home here, I haven’t been around long enough to know a lot about its history.  However, my ten weeks here  has been enough time for me to see the type of patrons who come here, the kind of theatre we produce, and our artistic mission in practice.  I spent days not only trying to articulate how I saw our theatre, but reading up on how we had described our organization in previous grants.  And while there was a lot of regurgitating of previous data, there was also a lot of room for me to explain why I felt we deserved this grant and why this proposal was right for the organization to which we were applying.

I know the idea of sitting down and writing a grant may seem tedious and awful.  I assume that most creative types would rather do just about anything else than sit at a desk for hours on end, proving that your non-profit arts organization is worthy of funding.  But just like I love hearing the mundane details of other people’s lives or re-reading books, I can now add grant-writing to my list of strange fascinations.

It’s kind of wonderful to be a part of the creation of a grant at The Fountain. Think about it. I was able to have this amazing experience as an intern at the Fountain because someone else wrote a grant for it. Now I can pay it forward by writing a grant of my own and ensure that the Fountain gets more funding. Seems too good to be true.

I have spent 10 weeks learning about every part of this theatre. There is no better final exam than writing my own grant, showing what I have learned.

I felt so emotionally attached to this grant. In fact, when it was finally finished, I felt it necessary to hand deliver it despite the assurance from Stephen that it “just had to be postmarked by the 17th”. The idea of putting our possible grant money in the hands of the US Postal Service made me cringe. I have never been more happy to drive to Downtown L.A. in my life.

As I rode the elevator at the Department of Cultural Affairs and approached the desk to hand in my grant, I felt a little sad. But mostly wonderful.  I came out with a weight literally lifted out of my arms, and a new passion for grant-writing.  Filling in those little boxes may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but the prospect of doing something as wonderful for The Fountain as it has done for me made it well worth it.

Jessica Broutt is our summer intern from UC San Diego. Our thanks for the support of the Arts Internship Program at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

Intern Journal: A Perfect Fit

by Jessica Broutt

The more time I spend at the Fountain, I’m not entirely convinced being an intern here is an internship experience that most college students are having.

This summer, when I heard about the L. A. County Arts Internships (which any college student interested in the arts should apply to), I was determined to get one. I didn’t care if I was working at a ballet, or a theater, or an art school. I just wanted to be near the arts. I wrote cover letter after cover letter, hoping for the best.  But when I saw The Fountain’s description for an intern, I kept thinking, “This is the one. I’m perfect for this.”

I was interviewed and, much to my surprise and delight, hired. I still didn’t really know what it was going to be like. I pictured myself maybe doing some copying and coffee-making (prerequisite skills all interns are expected to have).  Or I imagined myself writing grants and sitting on the sidelines as an already assembled team worked. I didn’t ever think I would really be a part of this theatre.  A summer is hardly long enough to get a decent tan, let alone feel at home in a new place. Yet, in seven weeks I feel just as much a part of this team as I’ve ever felt as part of anything.

Simon Levy, Deborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs

I realized I was really a part of the team at our first staff meeting. The Fountain staff consists of just enough people to fit around a kitchen table.  It feels like less of a staff and more like of a family. Stephen would bring up each matter of business, and it seemed like everyone had something to say about it. These people valued my opinion and wanted to know how I felt about things. And just like everyone else at The Fountain,  with many different job titles and responsibilities,  I learned that I was no different as the Development Intern. Yes, I have definitely learned a lot about grant-writing and what being on the development side of things means. But that is just one of the many experiences I’ve had here. I have compiled press packets, organized auditions, worked the box office, read scripts, and even written a few blog posts. For a good portion of my time here I was doing something I had never done before. Maybe that’s what an intern is supposed to do. Experience a little bit of everything.

So far, this internship has been more than internship. I always thought of internship as trying on an outfit. You try something on for a few weeks and see if it fits. If it doesn’t, you move on to the next outfit. But if it fits,  you can stop looking.

As a writing major, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with myself. There’s no clear job I know I’ll have. But this internship has given me some direction. It has shown me what working in a theatre is really like and made me realize it’s something that I want to do.

I know it’s only week seven. I’m only half-way through college. I could change my mind. But I’m fairly certain that it’s a good fit. And while other interns may be spending their summers finding the perfect cream-to-sugar ratio, I’ve been really spoiled working here and being a part of The Fountain.

I may just be their summer intern. But ever since that first staff meeting, I’ve really felt like a part of the family.

Jessica Broutt is a summer intern from UC San Diego. Funded by the LA County Arts Internship Program.

Deaf Character in his Newest Book Brings ‘Hugo’ Author to ‘Cyrano’

David Serlin, actor Eddie Buck, author/illustrator Brian Selznick at the Fountain Theatre following the performance of ‘Cyrano’.

Award-winning author and illustrator Brian Selznick was at The Fountain Theatre this weekend to see our smash hit production of Cyrano. Selznick is the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was made into the Oscar-winning film Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese.

What was Selznick’s special interest in seeing our signed/spoken version of Cyrano? One of the main characters in his most recent book, Wonderstruck, is partially deaf.

In a Q&A with Publisher’s Weekly, Selznick talked about his book and deafness:

Where did the idea come from to include deaf characters?

I started what became Wonderstruck while I was still working on Hugo. I had been thinking about Deaf culture after seeing this really, really good documentary, Through Deaf Eyes, which is about the history of Deaf culture. There was a line about how the deaf are a “people of the eye.” Most of the ways they communicate is visually. To me, that was the perfect reason to tell a story about a deaf person through illustrations. I had met deaf people who told me the thing they liked most about Hugo was the silence. Even when you’re reading words, you hear those words in your head but telling a story through pictures, there’s a feeling of silence about that and they really liked that.

Carol Padden and Tom Humphries from the University of California-San Diego, two of the leading Deaf scholars in the country, read my manuscript again and again and again to help me fine-tune the experience of the Deaf culture to make sure it was true to deaf people in general and to these two characters I was writing about. They were incredibly generous with their time and there was no way I could have written the book without them.

There’s also a line in the acknowledgments about being deaf in a hearing family and having to look for one’s culture outside of one’s biological family. This made me think about being gay in a heterosexual family.

Brian Selznick

Yep. That’s exactly the parallel I was thinking about. In Through Deaf Eyes, there was a young man raised by hearing parents. His parents were great, incredibly supportive, but it wasn’t until he got to college that he became aware he was part of a larger culture that had its own history he could share and be proud of. Growing up gay, there’s this exact parallel. And you don’t have to be deaf or gay to feel like you don’t belong to your own family. So many people have the experience of feeling that the family they were born into is not a good fit: An artist who is born into a family of non–artists, or a kid who is not interested in sports who is born into a family of athletes — there are a million parallels for that situation. You have the family you’re born into but you have this need to meet other people who are uniquely like you. One of the things that people told me they were most moved by in Hugo was how he creates a new family for himself. That’s a truth for so many people. You leave your family and create a family for yourself that’s often a better fit. Wonderstruck is a more direct way of exploring that same theme.

Cyrano    Now to July 29    (323) 663-1525     More Info

Our Intern Sees ‘Cyrano’: My First Play at the Fountain Theatre

by Jessica Broutt

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to see a show before, but I actually was anxious to see my first show at The Fountain Theatre.  More than anything I wanted to love Cyrano.  I wanted to tell people that the theatre I was interning at had this amazing show and that everyone  just had to see it. And after watching last night’s performance, I can confidently do exactly that.

Though I had done a little research on the show itself, I really was not sure what to expect. And while I had peeked into the theatre before, being there just before a show was a completely different experience.  People were speaking English and signing in American Sign Language, and laughing, excited to be there.  The theatre filled up fast, and everyone seemed eager for the show to start.

When it did, I was delighted by how intimate it felt.  While this should have been no surprise to me, since it is an 80-seat theatre, there was something about the way the stage was set and my proximity to it that made me feel like I was really a part of it all.

Troy Kotsur and Paul Raci are brothers in “Cyrano”

As the play started, I immediately wondered how I would feel about seeing a signed/spoken adaptation.  Would it be distracting?  Make the show difficult to understand?  Well,  I shouldn’t have worried. The second Troy Kotsur, the actor playing Cyrano, came on stage everything else seemed to melt away. I soon became engrossed in the story of Cyrano, a deaf man falling in love with a hearing woman. The unorthodox love story trumped everything else. The way this show was put together just worked so well.  Sometimes Troy would be signing, and Paul Raci, who played his brother Chris, would be interpreting.  Other times, both characters on stage where signing and there were two interpreters on the sidelines translating.  I thought this would be distracting, but it wasn’t.  Their voices came out as the voices of Chris and Cyrano to the point where I almost forgot they were there. It all just seemed to fit.

Troy Kotsure and Erinn Anova

More than that, it seemed like everyone who saw the play was enjoying it immensely but in different ways.  For instance, sometimes the actress playing Roxy (Erinn Anova) would laugh, this really charming laugh, and the hearing audience laughed too.  Other times the actor playing Cyrano would sign something which the hearing audience might miss, but really struck a chord with the deaf viewers.  And then there were those moments in the play, (which I won’t give away for those yet to see it), that are so completely universal, we all laughed together.  It was an unforgettable experience.

I encourage anyone who has yet to see Cyrano to attend as soon as possible.  It is a very rare and wonderful experience to see a play with such a well-written story be carried out with both a remarkable cast and well-placed technology weaved throughout.  Not only does it fit into our modern world perfectly, acknowledging the growing role of social media, but it gives a voice to a world most viewers don’t typically see, a world they should come experience immediately!

Jessica Broutt is our summer intern at the Fountain Theatre  from UC San Diego.

Meet Our New Intern, Jessica Broutt

I’m Jessica, the new development intern for the Fountain Theatre. During the academic year, I’m a student at UC San Diego and major in Literature/Writing, but this summer I get the pleasure of being back home in Los Angeles and working at the Fountain.

Though my focus at college is primarily writing and reading, I have always been involved with theatre, since so far, it is the great love of my life. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I was part of a children’s theatre company, called CARA productions, and saw as many stage shows as I could afford all throughout Los Angeles. Now residing in La Jolla, not much has changed. I have a lot more reading to do, but I am still able to see some of the great performance art San Diego has to offer, and even have the privilege of being a script reader at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. I also spend my time going to the beach, checking out the amazing galleries of downtown, and have become very familiar with the UC San Diego Library.

When I found out I was going to be interning for The Fountain this summer, words cannot describe how excited I was to be part of such an amazing team. Working with a theatre that puts out thought-provoking and unique work would have been exciting no matter what I was doing, but being their development intern is probably the best job I could have asked for. As an arts major at a public university, I have always felt that this area does not get the kind of attention it deserves. In this way, having the opportunity to help The Fountain with fundraising, grant writing, and whatever else is needed, really sparked my interests. I know I will learn a lot from working at this theatre and cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!