‘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.

Fountain Theatre Awarded Grant to Create, Develop and Produce a New Play in 2015

Simon Levy, Stephen Sachs, Barbara Goodhill and Deborah Lawlor

Fountain Team: Simon Levy, Stephen Sachs, Barbara Goodhill and Deborah Lawlor

The Fountain Theatre has been awarded a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs in the amount of $6,840 for the purpose of creating, developing and producing a new play in 2014-15. 

Since its founding in 1980, the acclaimed Fountain Theatre has been dedicated to creating and producing new plays that reflect the cultural diversity of Los Angeles and the nation. In twenty-four years of public service, the Fountain Theatre has presented over 100 productions of plays including 32 world premieres and 43 U.S./Regional premieres. 

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell hailed the grant. “Thank you for your administrative diligence and artistic vision in providing Los Angeles residents with affordable, unique, and exciting opportunities.”  

“We deeply appreciate the years of ongoing support provided to the Fountain by the City of Los Angeles, ” beamed Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Mayor Eric Garcetti was our former Councilmember and he remains a good friend of the Fountain.”  

Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

The grant from the City of Los Angeles will support the creation and production of a new play at the Fountain Theatre in 2015. The coming year also happens to be the Fountain’s 25th Anniversary Season.  

Acclaimed LA Premiere of ‘The Brothers Size’ Extends at Fountain Theatre

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

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

Critic’s Choice “Dazzling” Los Angeles Times

The Fountain Theatre has been granted the rights to extend its Los Angeles premiere production of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney, initially announced as a limited engagement, through Sept. 14.

Directed by Shirley Jo Finneyand starring Gilbert Glenn BrownMatthew Hancock andTheodore PerkinsThe Brothers Size (like the other plays in McCraney’s “Brother/Sister Plays” trilogy) is an exuberantly theatrical drama that weaves together the pulsing rhythms of the Louisiana bayou with African Yoruba mythology to create a stylized story of love and heartache.

“The critical and audience reaction has been so strong, we eagerly wanted to get special permission to keep the production running,” says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “With the West Coast premiere of McCraney’s Choir Boy scheduled to begin previews at the Geffen Playhouse on Sept. 16, we hope to give Los Angeles audiences a little more time to savor this earlier play and this important young playwright’s truly unique voice.”

In The Brothers Size, recently paroled Oshoosi Size seeks to jumpstart his life, but working in an auto repair shop for his brother Ogun was not what he had in mind. When his old friend Elegba rolls up, offering a different direction, Oshoosi quickly finds himself torn between his brother, his loyalties and his dreams. The character names invoke Yoruba orishas, or deities: Ogun is the god of iron-working and. Oshoosi is the divine hunter associated with the human struggle for survival – cunning, intelligent and cautious. Elegba is the guardian of the crossroads of life, but is also well known for being the orisha of chaos and trickery who leads mortals into temptation.

In its “Critic’s Choice” review, the Los Angeles Times writes, “Shirley Jo Finney’s vibrant direction, the vivid choreography and songs, and the remarkable three-man cast make this intimate production richly theatrical.” The Hollywood Reporter raves, “Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney boasts a rare talent: an utterly distinctive voice. He sounds like no one else, his cadences hearty and beautiful. I am in love with his voice, and in all likelihood you will feel the same way.” The LA Weekly praises the “Gorgeous drift into song” and “intoxicating choreography,” concluding that “The muscular ensemble doesn’t let up for a moment. This is sure to be one of the season’s memorable productions.” And Eye Spy LA calls The Brothers Size “Impactful and stunning… one of those rare gems of contemporary playwriting that gives hope to the future of the craft… leaving one breathless and clamoring for more.”

Performances of The Brothers Size continue through Sept. 14 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. andSundays at 2 p.m. (dark Aug. 8-10 and Aug. 29-31) with additional Thursday performances at 8 p.m. during the month of July. Tickets are $34 (reserved seating); on Thursdays and Fridays only, students with ID are $25.The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call 323-663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.comChoir Boy runs Sept 16 – Oct 26 at the Geffen Playhouse: www.geffenplayhouse.com

Making Theater is a Spiritual Endeavor

Caridad Svich

Caridad Svich

Writing is a part of you. Like breathing. It is essential to your life. And you can’t imagine life without it. 

by Caridad Svich 

One)

The charge of the new underlines each act of writing for the theater. The ghosts of the past hover over the signs struck on the intangible pages on the screen. Strike. Strike. The fingers tap into the keyboard the breath of a new theater about to be born. Indebted to nothing but itself and the ghosts of the past that call upon the writer’s duty to bear witness.

In the act of writing, the political body of the text imagines itself in a room with the bodies of the public that will make possible the exchange of life that a theater piece demands: the exchange of a performance unbartered and given over to the ineffable presence of the moment.

Words are mere signs in a theater space. They dart and dance and wound the air with their weight, meaning and sound. Text is carved upon the invisible spaces of the theater, the spaces rendered body by actors and elements of design. The kinesthetic beauty of theater making allows for a rare intimacy of engagement with the public—one that pushes past comfort and into a suspended state of transformation.

Writ upon the theater walls are the ghost signs of past words, utterings, and inhalations of breath by former text builders and theatermakers. Each ghost sign is part of the present moment. Each moment performed is thus haunted. Spectral acts mark the spectral space that knows no boundaries beyond that of the imagination. Writing for the theater is an act of resistance. It is also an act of folly, daring, and one that asks of its makers and emancipated spectators alike to consider potentialities of being beyond the quotidian and sometimes, yes, beyond nation and state. Making theater is a spiritual endeavor. Its religion is not organized, but rather assembled from kinships with theater tribes across time.

Two)
One of my best friends in theater is named Euripides. Another is named García Lorca. And yet another is named Calderón de la Barca. These makers from the past are as much kin to me in the art of writing as are my peers in the field and those with whom I share an aesthetic lean. I distinguish them of course one from the other, but when I write, I feel as if they are all with me, depending on the play being made, and with me too are conversations about writing and of facing the curious challenges of writing a play—of making something that you know will always be unfinished, that will always be tested in front of an audience, and only serve as a rough score for performance.

In making a play, the writer obsesses over every detail, every line, and every action that the play puts in motion. Yet, the score is never exact. We know this when we write. The paradox of making theater, in building text, is that you are always somehow at its mercy, and yet judged by its merits. How does a writer become? Continue reading