NEW VIDEO: Try A Little Tenderness with ‘The Brothers Size’ at the Fountain Theatre

Enjoy this new video clip from our smash hit Los Angeles Premiere of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Directed by Shirley Jo Finney and starring Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock and Theodore Perkins, this powerful and heartfelt play about brotherly love has earned rave reviews everywhere and has now been extended to September 14.

In this unforgettable moment of music from the play, the two brothers take a break from their often heated and combustible relationship to … share a little tenderness.

The Brothers Size Now Playing to Sept 14 (323) 663-1525  MORE

   

Passionate Star Power Lights Up ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ on Aug 9

Mizuho Sato (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

Mizuho Sato (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

by Ernest Kearney

Those who frequent my site will be well aquainted with my boundless enthusiasm for the “Forever Flamenco!” series presented monthly at the Fountain Theatre. If you’d care to see from where this passion first arose, then your chance is coming. “Forever Flamenco!”, the once a year“Juerga”, returns to the Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 9th.

For those never exposed to flamenco this is an opportunity of the rarest sort. Imagine attending a single night at the theatre and being treated to the talents of Olivier, Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Or imagine going to a concert and seeing on the same stage Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, The Stones, Kurt Cobain, Lady GaGa and Chuck Berry.

This is what “Forever Flamenco! at the Ford” offers: a gathering of the greatest artists across the generations.

Manuel_Gutierrez

Manuel Gutierrez (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

Among those featured this year will be Manuel Gutiérrez, who began dancing flamenco at the age of four and was winning flamenco dance competitions by eight. Gutiérrez is the soul of “coraje” or spontaneity and to watch him perform is to realize that nothing expresses the masculine vigor in dance as flamenco does. You come to believe that when he dances the world must tremble under his feet.

Yaelisa is a dancer who can stake out a small portion of the stage and through her “cierre” (dance steps) bring forth a “desgarro”, “wildness” that is a tempest of tempo.

Mizuho Sato is a Japanese-born dancer and a testament to the global appeal of flamenco. When she comes on stage be prepared for magic.

Jason McGuire, “El Rubio”, does not “play” the guitar – he dominates it, and performs with the dynamism you’d expect of “The Big Bang”.

Yaelisa_Jason_Two

Yaelisa and Jason McGuire

Cantaor Antonio de Jerez is a talent one feels grateful for having seen. When singing, one hears the history of Spain in his voice.

Nowhere can you find grace more infused with power, nor the sorrow of the human condition expressed with greater perfection than in the music and dance of flamenco. All art forms evolved outward from ancient origins, and, sadly, in that process which serves to define their artistry that primal potency, the intensity of their source, is lost.

Not so with flamenco. It has held onto its dark and tragic history, and that pain which breathes life into the cante jondo, the grand song, is as profound today as it was three centuries ago.

Roberto Amaral

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

This year’s audience is also gathering to pay homage to one of flamenco’s most esteemed figures Roberto Amaral. In a career spanning half a century, Amaral has excelled in every facet of flamenco – dancer, singer, choreographer, composer and teacher.

He has performed with the greats of flamenco such as José Greco and José Antonio as well as Santana, Jethro Tull and David Bowie.

The Ford’s open air stage, with the stars on display above, makes it the perfect venue for an evening profuse with this city’s rich history, for The flamenco baile (dance) and cante (song) were part of California dating back to the 1700’s and the ranchos of the Spanish crown. The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre was originally built in 1920, by author and playwright Christine Wetherill Stevenson who saw the rugged beauty of the Cahuenga Pass as the ideal setting for her “The Pilgrimage Play”, a work on the life of Jesus “transcribed from the Scriptures”.

The play was performed there yearly until the original wooden structure was destroyed by fire in 1929. In 1931 the structure was rebuilt, designed in the style of “ancient Judaic architecture”. Though “The Pilgrimage Play” performances were ended in 1964, the Ford Amphitheatre continues to resemble the gates of ancient Jerusalem.

Antonio Triana

Antonio Triana

The LA Weekly has hailed this event as “the rarest of treats…for both connoisseur and novice”, and I couldn’t agree more. But where they call the Fountain Theatre’s Forever Flamenco! series “L.A.’s most significant venue for flamenco”, I say rather, it is flamenco’s most significant venue in all of North America. With the Ford show, the most diverse and cosmopolitan audience in the world is given the opportunity of experiencing not just the star of flamenco, but its legends.

Forever Flamenco at the Ford SAT AUG 9th (323) 461-3673

Young Audiences Enjoy Student Night at the Fountain Theatre

 Students gather in the Fountain Cafe before the performance.

Students gather in the Fountain Cafe before the performance.

Students See ‘The Brothers Size’ with Q&A and Party After

Was that fun, or what? Last night was our first Student Night at the Fountain. And judging from the energy it created, it won’t be our last. Created and launched by our two fab interns Alice Kors and Gabby Lamm, Student Night targeted young audiences to encourage them to see our acclaimed LA Premiere of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney.  The evening also included a Q&A discussion with the cast and director followed by a party upstairs in the cafe.

For many students, this was their first visit to the Fountain Theatre. For one student, it was the first play she had ever seen. “It was wonderful,” she beamed. “Theatre is better than TV! Now I want to see more.”

Our interns Alice and Gabby worked very hard creating, producing and hosting the event. Their enthusiastic labor paid off last night and well into the future: Student Night will now become a regular ongoing program at the Fountain.  

Directed by Shirley Jo Finney and starring Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock and Theodore Perkins, our Los Angeles premiere of The Brothers Size is earning rave reviews everywhere. It is highlighted as Critic’s Choice in the LA Times and is “Ovation Recommended’.  This powerful, joyous and deeply moving production has been extended to September 14.

Enjoy These Snapshots from Student Night

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‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Dancers Take Center Stage in New Episode of TV’s ‘Eye on LA’

On location at The Ford for the TV shoot.

On location at The Ford for the TV shoot.

TV Episode to air Sat July 26 at 6:30pm on KABC-TV

Lights! Camera! Action! Two dancers from our upcoming Forever Flamenco at the Ford  will be featured on an upcoming TV episode of Eye On LA. Flamenco dancers Alexandra Zermeno and Ryan Zermeno taped the episode on the outdoor stage at the Ford Amphitheater on Friday, July 11, with Eye on LA host and senior producer Tina Malave.  The Forever Flamenco at the Ford episode of Eye on LA airs Saturday, July 26th, at 6:30pm on ABC channel 7 in Los Angeles. 

The popular TV program highlights new and exciting things to see and do in Los Angeles.  This new recently-shot TV segment highlights our thrilling Forever Flamenco at the Ford on Saturday, Aug 9th, celebrating flamenco in Los Angeles and honoring LA flamenco pioneer Roberto Amaral.   

Alexandra and Ryan Zermeno had a great time shooting the TV episode on stage at the Ford. Emmy-winning TV host Tina Malave was charming with a playful zest for fun, dressed in flamenco dance attire. Alexandra showed Tina some basic dance steps and hand/arm movements. Tina did her best with her own enthusiastic flair and good-natured spirit.  Fun was had by all. Alexandra and Ryan were able to share with Tina their excitement about appearing on stage with the all-star flamenco line-up at the Ford on Aug 9th.  

Forever Flamenco at the Ford is the most prestigious flamenco event of the year in Los Angeles. International, national and local artists come to the Ford to perform in this magical one-night event. And audiences flock in from all over the region to savor the passion of the art form and the beauty of the gorgeous outdoor venue on a warm summer night.

Last year’s Flamenco Gala sold out. This year’s event is already selling fast. Get tickets at FordTheatres.org or call 323-GO-1-FORD (323-461-3673.  For VIP Tickets (the best seats in the best section, includes private catered reception) call the Fountain Theatre at (323) 663-1525 or go to FountainTheatre.com  

Photos from the ‘Eye on LA’ TV Shoot

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Fountain Interns Launch New Student Night for ‘The Brothers Size’ This Thursday July 24

Student Night

Fountain Theatre summer interns Alice Kors and Gabby Lamm have launched Student Night, a new Fountain program aimed at attracting young audiences.  The first Student Night will be this Thursday, July 24th at 8pm for the Fountain’s acclaimed Los Angeles premiere of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

“Are you a theatre-loving student?” ask Kors and Lamm. “Do you like cheap theatre tickets, talkbacks with actors and producers, and supporting small independent theatres? Come check out this one-night-only offer: hal-price tickets to see The Fountain Theatre’s production of The Brothers Size. For only $17, you can come see the show, meet the actors and producers, mingle with other students and attend a reception in The Fountain Cafe right above the theatre. “

Gilbert Glenn brown  and Matthew Hancock (photo by Ed Krieger)

Gilbert Glenn Brown and Matthew Hancock (photo by Ed Krieger)

The Brothers Size is …

CRITIC’S CHOICE! “Dazzling!” Los Angeles Times

“The best theater I’ve seen this year!” Eye Spy LA

“Seamless physicality and dramatic urgency.” LA Weekly

“Joyous! Exuberantly theatrical!” Broadway World 

“Excellent! Compelling!” Stage and Cinema 

The theatre hopes that Student Night at the Fountain becomes a permanent ongoing program at the Fountain. It is planned to continue for future productions long after Alice and Gabby have completed their summer internships here and have returned to their respective colleges. A nice legacy created by two intelligent and ambitious summer interns eager to invite more young people to the Fountain. 

Gabby Lamm and Alice Kors

Gabby Lamm and Alice Kors

Student Night TH JULY 24 8pm * For more information or to order tickets without a service charge, please call (323) 663-1525, or email student interns Alice Kors (alice@fountaintheatre.com) and Gabby Lamm (gabby@fountaintheatre.com)

Longtime Fountain Theatre Subscriptions Director Diana Gibson Passes Away at 69

Diana Gibson

Diana Gibson in the Fountain Theatre lobby, February 2014

Producer, writer, director, actress and longtime subscriptions director at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, Diana Moore Gibson passed away on Thursday, July 17 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from multiple complications following pneumonia. She was 69. Born Nov. 11, 1944 in Des Moines, Iowa, Diana moved to Los Angeles to attend USC, where she earned MFAs in both Painting and Drama and was the recipient of the prestigious Cole Porter Award.

She was a member of and performed with the USC-USA Festival Theatre Company, for which she wrote and directed two folk-rock musicals that went on to tour internationally: The Word, based on the Old Testament, was performed at the Jeanetta Cochran Theatre in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and Words and Pictures, about the history of art, toured to nine American Houses in Germany, the Cambridge Arts Theatre in England and the Edinburgh Fringe. She also wrote the musical Cinderelle, an adaptation of the Cinderella story, which was directed by Jack Bender at USC and at the Los Angeles Performing Arts Festival at Barnsdall Park, and Baby Steps, a collection of one-acts that was directed by Kevin Tighe at Hollywood’s MET Theatre in 1983.

Ms. Gibson joined Ted Schmitt at the Cast Theatre in Hollywood in 1986, where she served as associate artistic director until 1989, then as artistic director from 1989-1999. Highlights of her decade-long tenure include Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award winning world premieres of David Steen’s Avenue A and Melody Jones by Dan Gerrity and Jeremy Lawrence, and ten acclaimed world premieres by playwright Justin Tanner.

In 1999, Diana joined the Fountain Theatre as subscriptions director, a position she claimed to enjoy “more than any of those [previous positions].” She frequently referred to Fountain staff and subscribers as “a magical group of people.” A continual presence in the Fountain lobby, she knew the majority of the Fountain’s 1500 subscribers, “her members,” by name, and remembered the names of their spouses and children as well. Known for her gruff, straight-talking manner and acerbic sense of humor, she often said how much she enjoyed chatting with subscribers, both on the phone and in the Fountain lobby.

She is survived by her sister Julie Gibson Josephson, brother-in-law Steve Josephson and niece Kira Moore Josephson.

The Fountain Theatre has established the Diana Gibson Subscriber Fund, to provide Fountain subscriptions to low-income students and seniors.

A memorial to honor Diana’s life and accomplishments will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Fountain Theatre. For more information and to RSVP, email info@fountaintheatre.com  or call (323) 663-1525.

When Theatre is Poor in Cash But Rich in Spirit, Passion and Imagination

window moonby Daniel Talbott

I’m laying in our bed. It’s almost two in the morning, my back’s been out for the past week, and I’m trying to gather my thoughts.

Here’s some of what’s running through my head. I believe that theater at its heart is a peasant’s art form. It’s an art form of the dirt, the ocean, fire, air, and animals. It grows out of the elements and the very active nature of life, as well as the hearts, imaginations, and even magic of the group of folks who are coming together and making it. It’s universal. And when it’s at its best, theater is free in the most perfect and truest sense of the word, no matter how much or how little was spent on it.

Money is not a bad thing. We all have to live and feed our families, and there’s also some extraordinary theatricality that can be bought. There are theaters that want to create work in a certain way, and within a certain model of growth, and they need a particular type of financial support in order to do that. There’s incredible theater being made on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, regionally, and everywhere in between. We all have our dream shows, productions that absolutely would require a large budget to fulfill our intended vision. I have about five of them in my head as I type this, including a Twelfth Night with an entire theater of sand, water tanks, and real sharks.

Daniel Talbott

Daniel Talbott

But in the end, what makes a theater artist is action; it’s the work. Theater is in the doing and the creation of theater. I don’t believe you can ever sit around waiting and complaining about why you or I can’t do these “dream” shows, or why you or I don’t have enough money to be making work. If one day the money’s there, great, let’s do them (and hopefully they won’t be a total disaster). But if the money is never there, and there’s a good chance it won’t be, we’ll all hopefully have worked on hundreds of other shows in the time in between, even if we never raise another cent for our companies.

I’ve seen gorgeous, alive, ferociously vital theater that cost millions, and also equally as extraordinary theater that cost a subway swipe downtown and a few days of a talented group of folks’ time. What I’m trying to say is that you can make theater anywhere, and anytime, and there’s nothing stopping any of us except our own limitations about what professional theater should or should not be. What makes us theater artists is not whether or not we work at a theater with a million dollar plus budget, but that we’re working and making theater, and through our work and work ethic, creating theater professionally.

I’ve talked about walking into La MaMa on a day when I was heartsick and broken down. I watched a clip of a documentary by the wonderful Robert Patrick about the Caffe Cino. I did not know much about the Cino at the time and I sat in that beautiful, alive, raging theater, and I was reminded that all you really need to create theater is action, space (or as Robert might say, “a floor’”), courage, a play, heart, and someone to show it to or share it with.

Caffe Cino, 1960's. Fountain Theatre's Deborah Lawlor sitting far right.

Caffe Cino, 1960’s. Fountain Theatre’s Deborah Lawlor sitting far right.

The Caffe Cino is legend in the theater. If you’ve ever been to what’s there now—the restaurant called Po on Cornelia Street—you’ll know exactly how beautifully tiny it was. Yet giants jumped, hollered, roamed, pushed, fought, fucked, whispered, and then fell out the door late at night there. Giants like Robert Patrick, Doric Wilson, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Harry Koutoukas, and John Guare, to name a few of many. And how did these giants figure out the secret password and then squeeze through the door and into that profanity-strewn, sacred, glitter canon of a space? They simply asked if they could put on a play. And if Joe liked you, or thought you were the right astrological sign, you were given a few nights, and the Caffe Cino became your Olivier.

Joe CinoI’ve been told that Joe Cino never really read the plays that were being considered for the Caffe Cino, and I love that. He chose them based on any number of other considerations, but for me what it all boils down to is that he trusted. He trusted the artists to have their own unique voice and take on the world, even when those were not his voice or take, or taste. He trusted them to do their work and get the show up. He trusted.

I think great theater doesn’t happen without honesty and trust, without belief. I also think theater doesn’t happen without failure. Without that wonderful sense of getting thrown off a horse onto hard dirt and getting back up, laughing about it, and no matter how broken or sore you are, getting back on the fucking horse again.

The New York Times reprinted a reminiscence from Harry Koutoukas about the early days of the Cino: “We used to get together a play in a weekend, rehearse on a rooftop, rummage through the garbage for our props and, if we needed extra cash, we hustled our bodies in the streets. We men, that is—we didn’t think we should ask the women to do it.”

You can always create theater. Whether you’re on Broadway or in a LORT B house, or struggling your heart out in a small back room in Queens. Theater is theater, and we’re all equal on the boards. I don’t think anyone would call the work that Lanford Wilson or John Guare did at the Caffe Cino insignificant or unprofessional, simply because they weren’t paid and the budgets were tiny (if there were any at all).

Tons of money or none at all, the work on each play is always different but also the same, and in the pure theater, there’s no tier system, no one is better than anyone else. There’s just the story, the “unworthy spirits”—your collaborators, exploded imagination, and physical action in space. No amount of money will make your heart bigger, your fight hotter, or your imagination the size of a solar system and beyond. Belief in yourself and others will lead you down that path much further and more surely.

Somehow Joe Cino, I think innately, understood that. He understood how beautifully simple great theater is and can be. He created a home and space for it. Nowadays if you can’t afford the rent on your own Cino, build one in your bathtub. Or on your roof, or under a lamppost on a corner in Harlem, or in the flatbed of your grandma’s truck. Build it. Trust. Open your heart and start working with others, and they will come. Theater is always possible; it’s infinite in its possibility. The commercial, institutional theater is wonderful, but those theaters are only a few of the restaurants in this wonderful city of many. If you’re starving, and for whatever reason those restaurants won’t let you in, you are starving—find a restaurant that will let you in, or learn to grow your own food and make your own dishes, and invite everyone over to eat together.

“Give everything. Expect nothing. Move on.”—Harold Pinter

Daniel Talbott is an actor, director, playwright, producer, a literary manager of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and the artistic director of the Lucille Lortel and NYIT Award-winning Rising Phoenix Rep. This post originally appeared on Howlround.