The Fountain Theatre is pleased to announce that playwright/teaching artist France-Luce Benson has joined the staff as Community Engagement Coordinator. Her duties will include overseeing the Fountain’s educational outreach programs and expanding the theatre’s interaction with audiences and local communities.
“As an artist committed to equanimity in representation and creating art that affects change, it is an honor to be a part of The Fountain Theatre, a company that is truly walking the walk, ” says Benson. “The many theatrical giants who The Fountain has produced over the years have not only influenced my work as a playwright, but they are representative of Los Angeles’ diverse cultural landscape. I am confident that my own cultural background will contribute to the important work The Fountain is doing to promote and inspire social justice.”
France-Luce Benson was named “Someone to Watch ” in 2019 by American Theatre magazine. As a playwright, she is a recipient of a Miranda Foundation grant (DETAINED), Alfred P. Sloan Foundation New Play Commission (DEVIL’S SALT), and a Princess Grace Award runner up (BOAT PEOPLE). Additional honors include: Zoetrope Grand Prize (CAROLINE’S WEDDING); Dramatists Guild Fellow 2016-17, Sam French OOB Festival Winner, NNPN Award for Best Play, and three time Kilroy List Honorable Mention. Residencies include Djerassi, the Camargo Foundation in France, and Instituto Sacatar in Bahia, Brazil. Her plays have had productions, workshops, and readings at Crossroads Theatre New Jersey, City Theatre of Miami, The Playwrights Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, City Theatre of Miami, Loyola Marymount University, Global Black Voices in London, and in New York The Lark, The Billy Holiday Theatre, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre where she is a company member. She’s been published by Samuel French and Routledge Press. She earned an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA in Theatre from Florida International University. Teaching appointments include UCLA Extension, St. Johns University, Columbia University, Girl Be Heard, and P.S. Arts/Inside Out in L.A. She is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, Inc.
France-Luce teaches Story Analysis for Film and Television at UCLA Extension School. As a Dramatist Guild Fund teaching artist, she launched the Traveling Masters Program for NY Public Schools and was a guest lecturer at Columbia University, where she facilitated a playwriting intensive designed for the International Student Fellows of Columbia’s esteemed Human Rights Advocacy Program.
“We’re excited to welcome France-Luce to our Fountain Family,” says Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “She brings expertise, passion and insight to our community programming as the Fountain broadens its services into the future.”
The Fountain Theatre is proud to announce that esteemed teacher, researcher, and consultant Margaret E. Phillips, PhD, has joined its Board of Directors. Her special interests are in cultural influences on organization behavior, management development in multicultural contexts, and organization diagnosis and design for sustainability.
“During my long career as an international business professor, a cross-cultural management researcher, and an organization design consultant, I have spent much of my time exploring challenging topics that incite conversation and ignite social change,” Phillips explains. “Much like the Fountain does every day using the medium of theatre. That is likely why the invitation to join the Fountain’s Board of Directors was so intriguing to me, especially coming at the time of my retirement from academia.”
Her work has been published in books and academic journals and included in compendiums of key contributions to the fields of cross-cultural management and international human resources management. Her book, Crossing Cultures: Insights from Master Teachers is a resource for teachers and trainers with proven methods for developing coping strategies and problem-solving skills in the cross-cultural arena. She co-authored the comprehensive chapter on “Conceptualizing Culture” for the Handbook for International Management Research and “Contextual Influences on Culture Research: Shifting Assumptions for New Workplace Realities” in the International Journal of Cross Cultural Management.
She has served on the governing boards of several organizations, for-profit and not-for-profit, with culturally diverse stakeholders.
“I have been a committed supporter of the Los Angeles theatre community for over 50 years,” she states. “Yet have only recently become a fan of the Fountain after experiencing the performance of Citizen: An American Lyric at Center Theatre Group’s first Block Party, and engaged with the theater after experiencing the powerful Walking the Beat this past summer. Subsequent performances and interactions with the Fountain family have allowed me to see that the values conveyed from the stage are lived in this company. This, and of course the charm and passion of the board colleagues themselves, have enticed me to join with you all as the Fountain moves toward its 30th year and beyond. I am proud and delighted to be along on this journey.”
Maggi Phillips enjoys opening night of Between Riverside and Crazy, 2019.
Dr. Phillips has been a member of the Western Academy of Management, the Academy of Management, the Academy of International Business, the International Organization Network, and the European Group for Organization Studies. She has conducted teaching exchanges and faculty workshops for several of these organizations in multiple international settings, and has made presentations and convened symposia for all, including Designing Culturally Sustainable Organizations for the 2012 EGOS meeting in Helsinki.
Dr. Phillips received her PhD in Management from the Anderson School at UCLA, an MS in Administration from the Merage School at UC Irvine, and a BA in Psychology from UCLA’s College of Letters and Science.
Dr. Phillips’ husband, Professor Mario Gerla, PhD, a pioneer in computer networks who had supervised more than 100 Ph.D. graduates during his long career, passed away in February after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Phillips has two daughters, Marisa and Cristina.
Shortly after Stanley Wolpert met Dorothy Guberman in an American government class at New York City College in 1953, he knew he wanted to marry her. They both knew. They had been thrown together to buy a present for a class professor, yet it was clear very quickly to these two perceptively analytical yet free-minded young people that they were meant to be life partners. They married six weeks later, on June 12th. Their bond continued sixty-five years. Stanley Wolpert passed away last Tuesday, on February 19th. He was ninety-one years old.
I met and knew Stanley through Dorothy, who joined our Fountain Theatre’s Board of Directors and now serves as its President. Stanley and I chatted often at Fountain opening nights and fundraising events. Always gracious, charming and warm-hearted, Stanley was a sharp-eyed gentleman with an easy smile and a comfortable manner that belied his stunning intellect and depth of knowledge. To me, the first few months after meeting him, he was simply “Dorothy’s husband” — a moniker for which I’m sure he’d have been happy to be known. But soon I discovered how formidable he truly was. Yes, Stanley was Dorothy’s husband, her partner, fellow traveler, her best friend. I quickly learned he was also Stanley Wolpert: nationally heralded scholar, author, lecturer and beloved UCLA teaching professor, the foremost historian of India in the United States.
The son of Nathan and Frances Wolpert, Stanley grew up in Brooklyn. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and the New York State Maritime Academy. On his twentieth birthday, while serving as an engineer aboard a U.S. Merchant Marine ship, Stanley set sail to Bombay, India, for the first time. What he experienced there, the first day, would transform him.
Urn with Mahatma Gandhi ashes carried to confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, February 12, 1948.
On the day Stanley arrived in Bombay, Mahatma Gandhi had been killed just two weeks earlier and the nation was overwhelmed by grief. Stanley had never seen anything like it. Standing on a hilltop overlooking the holy Ganges River, he witnessed millions of mourning Indians rush to touch the ship moored at the sandy riverbank on which Gandhi’s ashes were placed to be scattered into the water below. As the ashes touched the water, the sea of countless mourners joined in a great roar of “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai” — victory to Mahatma Gandhi. Some wept. Some stood mute, their hands clasped before their faces. The scene of teeming multitudes deeply impacted the young engineer from Brooklyn.
“That early encounter with India,” wrote Stanley, “Changed the course of my life.”
Returning home to Brooklyn, Stanley abandoned his career in marine engineering for the study of Indian history. He received a B.A. from New York City College in 1953 and was awarded the Pell Medal for academic achievement in History. A fellowship from the Ford Foundation enabled him to pursue Indian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, learning Sanskrit and earning his Ph.D. in 1959. His dissertation, published as Tilak and Gokhale, was selected for the Watumull Prize of the American Historical Association in 1962, recognizing “the best book on the history of India originally published in the United States.”
Stanley Wolpert became a world-renowned historian of India. He began teaching in the Department of History at UCLA in 1959. Over the years, he helped build the ranking of the History Department nationwide. He was appointed Chairman of the Department and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and was honored with UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching and University Service awards. His devotion to teaching earned him the gratitude and affection of thousands of students over the course of his 59-year teaching career.
Every work morning, Stanley would walk from his Westwood home to the UCLA campus. He’d grab a coffee and a bagel at a nearby coffee shop. On campus, he’d stride up the five flights of stairs to his office, balancing coffee and bagel, then plop at his desk to prepare for class, do research and write. Stacks of books littered his office. His advice to young writers was “Read everything.” His classroom was a mecca for history students for nearly six decades. He taught his last seminar at UCLA at 90.
In addition to his national reputation as a teacher and scholar, Stanley was a distinguished author. When Dorothy was asked if Stanley missed New York, she answered that as long as Stanley had his typewriter, he was fine where he was. He published fifteen books, including several highly praised textbooks and four novels, and was Editor in Chief of the Encyclopedia of India. His celebrated novel on the assassination of Gandhi, Nine Hours to Rama, was made into a feature film in 1963 starring José Ferrer. His A New History of India was hailed as “the best textbook on Indian history now available.”
Stanley was a man of impressive achievements. I would wager that he knew, deep in his heart and soul, that his greatest triumph was his marriage and his family. Ever a die-hard New Yorker, Dorothy begrudgingly moved to Los Angeles with Stanley in 1959 so he could pursue his teaching at UCLA. Stanley steadfastly acknowledged her contribution to his research and editor for many of his books. She joined him on numerous trips to India and was with him when he interviewed Jawaharlal Nehru for his book, A Tryst With Destiny. And Dorothy is notable in her own right. A Founding Principal of the Century City law firm of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, Dorothy Wolpert was selected to Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation” in the United States for 2017. In 2018, Dorothy was chosen by her peers for inclusion in the 2019 edition of Best Lawyers in America. Dorothy and Stanley have two sons — Daniel and Adam — and three grandchildren—Sam, Max, and Sabine.
Stanley and Dorothy were partners. In life, work, and public giving. Best friends and soul mates who read books aloud to each other in bed every night. They were, as Gandhi taught, the unity of heart, mind, body and spirit.
A memorial for Stanley Wolpert is planned for the spring.
Stephen Sachs is the Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.
Katy Sullivan, Victor William in “Cost of Living”, Manhattan Theatre Club, 2017.
The National Arts and Disability Center has awarded The Fountain an Arts and Accessibility Grant to support its upcoming West Coast Premiere of Martyna Majok‘s 2018 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cost of Living. The grant will assist in funding the compensation of two actors with disabilities for the production opening October 20th.
“We are grateful to the NADC and the California Arts Council for their support of this important project,” states Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “We are proud to produce this Pulitzer Prize winning new play which features two leading roles for actors with disabilities. It is another example of the Fountain Theatre’s mission of inclusion and our commitment to serving a wide variety of communities in Los Angeles.”
Achingly human and surprisingly funny, Cost of Living is a haunting, rigorously unsentimental play about the forces that bring people together and the realities of facing the world with physical disabilities. Unemployed truck driver Eddie is struggling to rebuild a relationship with his estranged wife Ani, recently wheelchair-bound with a spinal cord injury. Jess, in a job that she desperately needs, is trying to navigate her duties with John, her new boss with cerebral palsy. But, who is really caring for whom? By shattering stereotypes, the play reveals how deeply we all need each other.
Cost of Living debuted at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2017. The Fountain west coast premiere, directed by John Vreeke, will run October 20 to December 16th. Casting is now underway.
The Fountain Theatre continues to expand and broaden its Board of Directors with an elite team of highly-regarded and successful business, arts, legal and financial professionals. The Fountain is honored to welcome Carrie Chassin to the Board.
“I am thrilled to be joining the dedicated members of the Fountain board in advancing the goals of this sparkling gem of Los Angeles, ” says Ms. Chassin. “The fearless productions have often reminded me of the role of drama in ancient Athens : inspiring, educating , entertaining, stimulating, challenging and uplifting. The clarity and talent on display at the Fountain stage have consistently provided me with the most satisfying theatre experience in our city.”
Carrie has spent her professional life engaged in controversial issues and crisis communications on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, environmental groups, industry associations, and Indian tribes. She developed and executed strategies responding to complex legal, legislative, regulatory, public opinion and media challenges. Many of these assignments involved advising CEOs, establishing and mobilizing grassroots organizations, media training, multiple forms of communication and complex negotiations. Her issues included major project siting, product liability, air quality, utility deregulation, labor disputes, water resources and preservation of wild lands and architecturally significant buildings.
“Carrie brings a high level of clear organizational thinking to our Board of Directors,” states Co-Artistic Director Stephen. “She has dedicated her career to passionately defending the rights of people and groups fighting for the public good. She has strongly advocated for issues that make the world a better place.”
Sachs jokes, “Besides, every non-profit theatre organization should have an expert on crisis management on its Board of Directors.”
Carrie retired 6 years ago from her position as Executive Vice President at Winner & Associates, an international issue management firm and Winner & Mandabach Campaigns, a national, full-service ballot measure campaign firm where she managed all aspects of ballot measure and issue campaigns, including strategic planning, public opinion research, advertising, direct mail, digital/social media, phone banks, earned media, and grassroots/outreach activities.
Her successful campaigns in California included park and water bonds, eminent domain, taxes for rapid transit, and the legalization of Indian gaming. She was honored by 88 California tribes as a Great Warrior Woman during that campaign. She also represented the Choctaw Nation in preserving their water rights and in negotiations with the Smithsonian for what is now the annual Choctaw Days festival at the National Museum of the American Indian. Her theater work involved advising the Nederlander organization on their Greek Theatre contract with the City of Los Angeles.
She spent almost a decade at Exxon directing corporate philanthropy to the arts, education and community programs in the Western region. She served as media spokesperson, lobbyist, strategist and on the negotiating team that obtained federal, state and local permits for a $3 billion onshore and offshore oil and gas project in Santa Barbara County. She was also involved in legislative and regulatory issues related to all areas of Exxon’s interests in exploration, production, shipping, pipelines, refining and marketing.
Prior to working in the private sector, she served as a deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude. Carrie has served on the board of directors of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Hillel and the Los Angeles Child Development Center. She was the first Chief Operating Officer of CALSTART, dedicated to the growth of a clean transportation.
Carrie has been married to Jochen Haber for almost 40 years. She swam into him at the Rec Center pool while a graduate student in urban and regional planning at UCLA. They still swim there together. She has one son and 3 grandchildren living in Amsterdam. She is also sculpts, paints, gardens and travels as much as possible.
I grew up in a town that brushed up against a desert where not much grew except for the occasional towering cactus. When I would come across a huge Eulychnia Acida covered in red flowers, it would always catch me by surprise. How could such an arid womb give birth to something so affirming?
Theatre is like a cactus. Not because it can be shockingly painful when experienced – which it can be – but because it often gives the impression of springing up out of nothing. But what I learned living next to a desert is that if you dig down around a cactus you will always find roots that can stretch for miles, connecting it to everything. And boy, does theatre have roots!
While you may see one amazing show, one brilliant performance, if you dig you will find a community of passionate artists who provide lifeblood to the show. Much like the roots of cacti that hold a desert’s topsoil from beneath, a strong healthy theatre community, though often invisible, keeps the fabric of a community in place.
After 3 years in the Theatre School at UCLA I have found a hidden world of amazingly talented souls. I am a rising senior at UCLA, and I love the family of performers, designers, directors, and writers I have accumulated. What I hadn’t realized was just how far these roots extend outside and beyond UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television . I have already run into so many people through the LA County Arts Commission internship community and through working here that I know from the larger theatre world.
Pablo Santiago holds his Stage Raw award
During one of my first days here at The Fountain, as I was making one of my many trips to the kitchen to refill my coffee mug, I slipped past an early design meeting for our upcoming play, Citizen: An American Lyric. I recognized Pablo Santiago, an amazing lighting designer who I have been lucky to work with on a couple shows at UCLA, and found out that he designing the lights for the show. A day or two later James Bennett asked me if I would like to read the script of The Better Part of Forever. It turns the play was written by a classmate of mine, Leland Frankel.
I met Leland my first week at UCLA, have spent many an hour working on group projects with him, and just last month accidentally crashed his graduation party. Leland knows how to throw a great soiree, but he knows how to write an even better play.
I read The Better Part of Forever on my lunch break, which shows you how absorbed I was, as usually I spend that half-hour hopelessly trying to get a hold of my sister on Skype, my only means of reaching her in The Hague. I was so invested in The Better Part of Forever that on my commute to work the next day I found myself vaguely musing over what Jules, one of the two protagonists of the play, would do if asked to join an ice cream sundae eating contest. These random thoughts are usually reserved for bad TV show characters or absorbing books, and it took me a while to locate Jules within the context of Leland’s play.
Rehearsal for ‘The Better Part of Forever’.
Anyway, last week I snuck into one of the rehearsals for The Better Part of Forever and got to catch up with Leland and watch the reading being staged. I am super excited about seeing it on the 12th of July as part of the Fountain’s Rap Dev Series, and so should you! Dig and find the roots that hold up amazing artistic work – you might just stumble upon a flowering cactus.
Don’t miss the staged reading of Leland Frankel’s The Better Part of Forever on July 10 & 12.Get Tickets/More Info
Isabel Espy is the Fountain Theatre’s summer intern from UCLA. We are grateful for the support of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and its Arts Internship program.
My name is Isa and I am so excited to be joining the Fountain Family for the next ten weeks as an intern in development. I am a rising senior acting major at UCLA’s School of Theatre Film and Television, with a minor in society and genetics. I grew up in Chile, where I spent a lot of my time riding horses and dancing ballet on rickety wooden stages. While my home is more than five thousand miles away, the California summer sun reminds me of that of Chile, and spending my summer immersed within the world of performance reestablishes my conviction that art is universal.
Most of my experience with theatre has been in performance, but I am finding that what goes on behind the scenes at a theatre can be almost as exciting as being on stage! Within my first day here at The Fountain, Stephen and Barbara have introduced me to a throng of new and ongoing projects which promise to be both exciting and challenging. There is so much going on, and I hope to get my bearings quickly so that I can delve right in! I was able to sit in on one of the initial table-reads of The Fountain’s newest project: Citizen: An American Lyric— by Claudia Rankine and adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs. I had just finished reading the script the night before, and hearing the words brought to life by the voices of an amazing group of actors was really exhilarating. I am happy I will have a chance to watch the piece flourish over the next couple of weeks, and am looking forward to being a small part of the Fountain team.
Post-show cafe chat last Sunday after the matinee of ‘Heart Song’.
By Bette Billett
On behalf of a very grateful UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, I wish to thank all who made Sunday such a rich experience.The after-show conversation and kudos for HEART SONG are still going on at the UCLA campus. A special thank you to Simon Levy and Stephen Sachs who came in on a Sunday, which we noted with gratitude. Stephen stayed for the entire get together and fielded the “insight into women” questions so agilely and , of course, because he wrote such a wonderful play. Many thanks, too, to the stellar cast. Lastly, thanks to Diana and James, who somehow make the ticketing run so smoothly.
Fond regards from Westwood,
Bette Billet, President UCLA Faculty Women’s Club
Bette Billet (left) with Deborah Lawlor, Tamlyn Tomita and Denise Blasor.