Fountain Family Spotlight: Ruth Tavlin Lives Her Dream at the Fountain Theatre

Ruth Tavlin

by Ruth Tavlin

When I was young, I dreamed of running away and joining a theatre company when I grew up. Now that I’ve “grown up,” I realized that I don’t have to run away. I can live that dream right here at the Fountain Theatre.

That realization came at the memorial service for Diana Gibson. I decided to step up and volunteer, to carry on Diana’s tradition and help build relationships and support for my favorite theatre, the Fountain!

For me, The Fountain Theatre is a unique and important place.

No other theatre in Los Angeles demonstrates the same commitment in its work to presenting socially conscious and relevant work that gives voice to groups of people who are not widely represented. The Fountain is accessible and responsive to the work of renowned playwrights like Athol Fugard. Where else can you see a production of The Blue Iris and then have the opportunity to talk with him after the show? Where else can you see the work of a new playwright like Tarell Alvin McCraney and meet him after the show?

I want more young people to experience the life of the theatre. Not only by coming to see plays, but also by learning about the process of creating a production. I support this theatre because it has a commitment to under-represented groups of people and reaches out to people of all ages and gives them the opportunity to see creative, relevant, dynamic, progressive productions.

I want to be part of a community with these values. Don’t you?

 

Deborah Lawlor in NY at Festival Celebrating 1960’s Legendary Dancer and Friend Fred Herko

Deborah Lawlor reads a poem at the Freddy conference.

Deborah Lawlor reads a poem at the Freddy conference.

Fountain Producing Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor is in New York this week attending a week-long festival of events celebrating the life of Fred Herko, a dancer and legendary figure in New York’s 1960s avant-garde.  The program is curated by Herko biographer Gerard Forde to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Herko’s death on October 27th, 1964. Herko was a founding member of the experimental Judson Dance Theater and a figure in the Andy Warhol underground scene. When the 28-year-old dancer,  high on speed, leaped naked out a friend’s fifth-floor apartment window dancing to Mozart and fell to his death in 1964, his life and death became legend.

Deborah Lawlor knew Fred Herko well. As a young dancer newly arrived in New York City in the 1960’s, she entered the East Village avant-garde dance scene and grew to know and love the charismatic Herko, sharing an apartment with him. Lawlor is now creating a theatre/dance piece called Freddie, dramatizing his blazing Icarus-like trajectory. Funded with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Freddie is scheduled to be presented by the Fountain Theatre in the fall 2015.

Fred Herko biographer Gerard Forde and Deborah Lawlor

Fred Herko biographer Gerard Forde and Deborah Lawlor

Even today, no one is sure if Fred Herko intended to kill himself when he jumped out of the window of his friend Johnny Dodd’s Greenwich Village apartment in 1964.

In the coming days there will be a memorial tribute at Judson Memorial Church, featuring contemporaries like the poet John Giorno, and the dancer Gus Solomons Jr who will perform a dance poem in Herko’s memory. A separate symposium will correct, says Forde, “the mythology and misreadings” around the dark-haired, handsome Herko. There will be an exhibition of pictures of Herko performing, and three of Warhol’s films that starred Herko will also be shown.  Continue reading

Special Performance of Hit Play ‘Broomstick’ Halloween Night at the Fountain Theatre

Wickedly Entertaining Tale About a Witch Features “Tour de Force” Performance by Jenny O’Hara

Jenny O'Hara in 'Broomstick' at the Fountain Theatre.

Jenny O’Hara in ‘Broomstick’ at the Fountain Theatre.

Trick or Treat! What better way to spend Halloween Night than with an old friend who is waiting to have you for dinner? Just be warned … this old friend has been known to toss more than just seasoned meat and vegetables into her boiling cauldron — eh, pot.

“It’s hard to imagine a better show to see 
this Halloween season.”  Stage and Cinema

BSK_A362_copyThis Halloween  Night! Catch the early 6pm performance of the critically acclaimed solo play Broomstick starring Stage/Film/TV actress Jenny O’Hara. The performance is a funny and sinister 80 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to go out and party/trick or treat.

Written by John Biguenet and directed by Stephen Sachs,  Broomstick has earned rave reviews everywhere, including hailed as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times. It’s the perfect Halloween event.

Make your Halloween Night a special evening you’ll never forget.

Friday, October 31, at 6pm.   Get tickets now.

You don’t want to disappoint  an old lady, do you? Specially not one with the power to cast magic spells …

Broomstick  Now Playing to Nov 30  (323) 663-1525  MORE

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Fountain Stars Shine at Ovation Award Nominee Reception

The cast of 'My Name is Asher Lev': Joel Polis, Anna Khaja and Jason Karasev.

The cast of ‘My Name is Asher Lev': Joel Polis, Anna Khaja and Jason Karasev.

Fountain actors enjoyed a lively evening of camaraderie and celebration at the Ovation Award Nominee Reception Monday night hosted by LA Stage Alliance and held at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The reception toasts all theatre artists nominated for Ovation Awards this year, honoring excellence in the LA theatre community. Award Night is Nov 2nd.

The Fountain Theatre has received six 2014 Ovation Award nominations this year:

  • Best Season - The Normal Heart, My Name is Asher Lev, The Brothers Size
  • Best Production of a PlayMy Name is Asher Lev
  • Best Lead Actress in a Play – Anna Khaja, My Name is Asher Lev
  • Best Acting Ensemble for a Play – Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja, Joel Polis, My Name is Asher Lev
  • Best Acting Ensemble for a Play – Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock, Theodore Perkins,  The Brothers Size
  • Best Choreography – Ameenah Kaplan, The Brothers Size 

Two Fountain productions have earned nominations for Best Acting Ensemble in a Play, and the casts from both My Name is Asher Lev and The Brothers Size were at the Nominee Reception enjoying themselves. An exuberant evening to celebrate LA theatre and experience the joy and goodwill of artistic community. 

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This year’s Ovation Awards ceremony will be held at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse on November 2 at 7:00 PM. Full list of all Ovation Award nominees

 

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Opening Night Party for the West Coast Premiere of ‘Broomstick’

Jenny O'Hara in 'Broomstick' at the Fountain Theatre

Jenny O’Hara in ‘Broomstick’ at the Fountain Theatre

The Fountain enjoyed a night of magic last Saturday, Oct 18th, with the opening night of the funny and sinister solo play Broomstick starring the bewitching Jenny O’Hara. The performance was wonderful and mesmerizing, followed by a lively catered reception upstairs in the cafe. Written by John Biguenet and directed by Stephen Sachs, Broomstick is a delightful play about an eccentric old lady who lives in the deep, dark woods who folks in town believe is a witch. A treat for the Halloween season, Broomstick runs to Nov 30th.

After the opening night performance, a party was held in our upstairs cafe highlighted with food, drink and hearty cheers of celebration.  Joining actress Jenny O’Hara at the party were the Fountain production and artistic team, director Stephen Sachs, producers Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor, associate producer James Bennett, designers Andrew Hammer (set) and Jessica Edwards (lighting), dialect coach Tyler Seiple, Jenny’s daughter Sophie Ullett, friends Jane Anderson and Tess Ayers, actress Jacqueline Schultz, and Fountain subscribers and audience members. A great time was had by all.  

Enjoy These Snapshots from the Opening Night Party  

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Broomstick  Now Playing to Nov 30th  (323) 663-1525   MORE  

Playwright John Biguenet on the Magic of Language in ‘Broomstick’

Jenny OHara in Broomstick at the Fountain Theatre

Jenny OHara in ‘Broomstick’ at the Fountain Theatre

Wickedly Entertaining West Coast Premiere Stars Jenny O’Hara at the Fountain Theatre

John Biguenet’s new play, Broomstick, opening at the Fountain Theatre this Saturday in its west coast premiere, features a witch who might be in the habit of cooking children or perhaps giving enemies “a little push or two” down a well to their death. Where does Biguenet’s delightfully dark side come from? It started when the New Orleans writer was a child himself, growing up without air-conditioning in a working-class patch of Gentilly.

“If you grew up in New Orleans, like I did, you know that there is darkness in the world – and that some things can only be seen in darkness. Daylight obscures so much. I had to plunge into that darkness to write a play that’s both terrifying and comic.”

“Like a lot of New Orleans locals, I’m obsessed with old things and with the past that clings to everything here, ” he confesses. “Put all that together, and you end up haunted. I’m not the only New Orleans writer to feel it. Ghosts and witches are a natural subject here. “

Playwright John Biguenet

Playwright John Biguenet

Biguenet began working on Broomstick in 2009, while he was finishing his Hurricane Katrina trilogy (which will be published by LSU Press in 2015). In the plays Rising Water (2006). Shotgun (2009) and Mold (2013), he recounted the flooding, its physical damages and the toll it took on individuals. But in Broomstick, the powerful force is language and the magical spell it can cast.  

“My witch can’t turn a tree into a fireball – special effects don’t interest me, anyway – but I could give her the power of language. Theater is all about language, and, when you think about it, language also is the source of a witch’s power. She can cast spells. She can curse us. When she cackles it raises the hair on your neck. And she can seduce with her stories.”
Jenny O'Hara

Jenny O’Hara

Biguenet adds to the magic with a trick of his own: The entire play is actually a poem, written in rhymed iambic couplets. 

Biguenet first experimented with verse in his Katrina plays. Using poetic devices helped him – a storm victim himself – as he struggled to establish emotional distance on his material.

“Broomstick” takes those subtle verse experiments to another level, however.

“I hid the rhymes in ‘Broomstick,'” Biguenet said. “In previous productions, it often took 10 or 15 minutes for audiences to realize what was happening. The effects of rhyme and meter came over listeners slowly, almost subliminally, wrapped in sentences full of pauses and exclamations. I wanted it to sound natural – and to sounds like a fairy tale, too. I wanted a mystery worthy of a real witch.”

In Broomstick, the witch’s story is in part a confession. But it’s full of her wisdom, and Biguenet thought an older woman would serve as a remarkably free observer of the world.

But the witch is more folk storyteller than philosopher, and not at all passive. She’s frightening when chopping carrots with a cleaver as she recounts a tale of another old woman reputed to have claimed a few fingers. The language in the play is poetic, rhythmic and beguiling like a spell and at times vivid like a horror story.

Jenny O'Hara in 'Broomstick' (rehearsal photo by Ed Krieger)

Jenny O’Hara in ‘Broomstick’ (rehearsal photo by Ed Krieger)

Broomstick won a National New Play Network award and is opening in several cities this season as part of a NNPN Rolling World Premiere. It opens this Saturday night at The Fountain Theatre, starring Stage/Film/TV veteran Jenny O’Hara.

The play is perfectly suited to the fall season of ghosts, haunted houses, black cats and pumpkins.

“I’d be happy for it to be the Halloween play,” Biguenet says.”After a show at the world premiere at New Jersey Repertory Company, a woman from the audience told me she was a witch and that it was a very accurate portrayal,” Biguenet says. “She wanted to reserve 20 tickets so she could bring her coven the next week.”

Of the upcoming opening at the Fountain Theatre, he beams, “I’m sure it will be a great production.”

photos by Ed Krieger

Broomstick Now Playing to Nov 30  (323) 663-1525  Get Tickets

Fountain Theatre Earns 6 Ovation Award Nominations Including Best Season and Best Production of a Play

"My Name is Asher Lev"

Anna Khaja, Joel Polis and Jason Karasev in “My Name is Asher Lev”

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to announce that it has received six 2014 Ovation Award nominations, including in the prestigious categories of Best Season and Best Production of a Play. Fountain productions eligible for the 2013-14 Ovation voting season were our riveting revival of The Normal Heart, and our acclaimed Los Angeles premieres of  My Name is Asher Lev and The Brothers Size.  The Ovation Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, November 2 at 7pm at the historic San Gabriel Mission Playhouse in San Gabriel.

Often hailed as LA’s version of the Tony Awards, the peer-judged Ovation Awards recognize excellence in theatrical performance, production and design in the Greater Los Angeles area.  For the 2013-2014 voting season, there are a grand total of 195 nominations for 78 productions, presented by 49 companies. There were 318 total productions registered from 137 companies. 

Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock, Theodore Perkins in 'The Brothers Size'.

Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock, Theodore Perkins in ‘The Brothers Size’.

The LA Times has referred to the Ovation Awards as the “highest-profile contest for local theatre.”

The Fountain Theatre has been honored with the following 2014 Ovation Award nominations:

  • Best Season - The Normal Heart, My Name is Asher Lev, The Brothers Size
  • Best Production of a PlayMy Name is Asher Lev
  • Best Lead Actress in a Play – Anna Khaja, My Name is Asher Lev
  • Best Acting Ensemble for a Play – Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja, Joel Polis, My Name is Asher Lev
  • Best Acting Ensemble for a Play – Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock, Theodore Perkins,  The Brothers Size
  • Best Choreography – Ameenah Kaplan, The Brothers Size 

The preeminent Best Season category honors a company’s overall excellence throughout an entire season. Over the years, The Fountain has dominated the Best Season nominations category. This year now marks the 5th time that The Fountain Theatre has been nominated for Best Season since the category was created 6 years ago, winning the award in 2011. The Fountain has also won the Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play 5 times. 

Stephen O'Mahoney, Tim Cummings

Stephen O’Mahoney, Tim Cummings in ‘The Normal Heart’.

For a full list of all the nominees click here.