Tag Archives: Naila Aladdin-Sanders

SLIDESHOW: Production Design Meeting for Our Upcoming LA Premiere of ‘The Brothers Size’

 

Director Shirley Jo Finney shares her vision for 'The Brothers Size'.

Director Shirley Jo Finney shares her vision for ‘The Brothers Size’.

The design and production team for our upcoming Los Angeles Premiere of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney gathered this week to discuss the many design elements needed for the production. It’s going to be a beautiful and powerful production with a fluid, quick-moving mixture of set, lights, music, movement and sound supporting three talented actors. 

Director Shirley Jo Finney spoke to the designers and shared her vision for the play. Producers Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor led the meeting with Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, Associate Producer James Bennett and Technical Director Scott Tuomey. Adding their artistic contributions were set designer Hana S. Kim (via speaker phone!), lighting designer Pablo Santiago, costume designer Naila Aladdin-Sanders, choreographer Ameenah Kaplan, composer/sound designer Peter Bayne, music director Brenda Lee Eager, and production stage manager Terri Roberts

Award-winning director Shirley Jo Finney returns to direct The Brothers Size, the second play in McCraney’s Trilogy, following our acclaimed and award-winning In the Red and Brown WaterThe Brothers Size is a hot-blooded, music-filled drama from one of the country’s most exciting new voices. After a homecoming in the bayous of Louisiana, the Size brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi, try to start fresh. This haunting, funny, and heartbreaking tour de force probes sexuality, coming of age, and the bonds of family as the brothers struggle to discover identity and to unearth a new sense of freedom.

The Los Angeles Premiere at the Fountain theatre stars Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock  and Theo Perkins. 

Enjoy These Snapshots

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Fountain Theatre Earns 10 NAACP Theater Award Nominations for Two Acclaimed Productions

"In the Red and Brown Water"

“In the Red and Brown Water”

The Fountain Theatre has been nominated for ten NAACP Theater Awards for two of its acclaimed productions in its 2012 season: the Los Angeles Premiere of  In The Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney and the United States Premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Blue Iris.

NAACP Theater Award nominations for the Fountain Theatre are:

IN THE RED AND BROWN WATER
  • Best Producer – Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor
  • Best Director – Shirley Jo Finney
  • Best Lead Actress – Diarra Kilpatrick
  • Best Supporting Actress – Iona Morris
  • Best Supporting Actor – Gilbert Glenn Brown
  • Best Choreography – Ameenah Kaplan
  • Best Costumes – Naila Aladdin Sanders
  • Best Lighting – Jose Lopez
THE BLUE IRIS
  • Best Costumes – Naila Aladdin Sanders
  • Best Lighting – Jeff McLaughlin

“We’re very pleased and delighted by these nominations,” beamed Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “And we’re proud that both of our nominated productions were premieres of new plays by two important, acclaimed playwrights — one a rising new voice in the American Theater, the other a master on the international stage.”   

The Los Angeles 2012-13 theater award season is off to another  good start for the Fountain Theatre. It was recently announced that the Fountain also earned 8 Ovation Award nominations including Best Season and Best Production of a Play.

"The Blue Iris"

“The Blue Iris”

The NAACP Theatre Awards is presented by the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Branch. Ron Hasson is Branch President and Tia Boyd is the Executive Producer for the NAACP Theatre Awards Show. The prestigious star-studded gala is produced for the purpose of honoring artists among the best in the field of entertainment.

This year’s awards show will be held on Monday, November 11, 2013, at 6:00 P.M. at the historical Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California, formerly known as the Fox Wilshire Theatre. Here is the full list of all nominations.  

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Final Bow and Closing Party for Acclaimed ‘On the Spectrum’ at the Fountain Theatre

The final bow.

The final bow for ‘On the Spectrum’ at the Fountain Theatre.

The final bow for our acclaimed West Coast Premiere of On the Spectrum finally came last Sunday, April 28th, ending a wonderful run of rave reviews and enchanted audiences. Critics and theatergoers were swept away by the heartfelt vulnerability of the script by Ken LaZebnik, the vision and storytelling of the direction by Jacqueline Schultz, the honest passion of the cast (Jeanie Hackett, Virginia Newcomb, Dan Shaked) and the magic of the design team (set – John Iacovelli, lights – Christopher Stokes, video – Jeff Teeter, sound – Peter Bayne, costumes – Naila Alladin-Sanders, props – Misty Carlisle).

A Fountain shout-out to our fabulous production crew: Production Stage Manager – Corey Womack, Assistant Stage Manager – Terri Roberts, Board Operator Jennifer Seifert, House Manager – Jessica Turner, Tech Director – Scott Tuomey).

Our thanks to The Help Group for their support of this production. On the Spectrum was a deeply rewarding run that opened a window for many of us, allowing us to peer into a world we may not otherwise see.

A post-show closing party was held after the final matinee performance last Sunday. Enjoy some snapshots!   

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Fountain Theatre Honored with 8 LA Weekly Theater Award Nominations

"In the Red and Brown Water" (photo by Ed Krieger)

Diarra Kilpatrick and cast in “In the Red and Brown Water”

The Fountain Theatre has received 8 LA Weekly Theater Award Nominations plus 1 Special Commendation for sound designer Peter Bayne.

The 8 nominations for the Fountain Theatre are:

PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
In the Red and Brown Water, Fountain Theatre
 
ENSEMBLE
The Blue Iris, Fountain Theatre
LEADING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Diarra Kilpatrick,  In the Red and Brown Water
 
SUPPORTING FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Jacqueline Schultz, The Blue Iris
Jacqueline Schultz and Julanne Chidi Hill in "The Blue Iris"

Jacqueline Schultz and Julanne Chidi Hill in “The Blue Iris”

 ADAPTATION
Tarell Alvin McCraney, In the Red and Brown Water
 
COSTUME DESIGN
Naila Aladdin Sanders, In the Red and Brown Water
 
SOUND DESIGN
Peter Bayne, In the Red and Brown Water
Peter Bayne, The Blue Iris
 
SPECIAL COMMENDATIONS
Peter Bayne, composer, In the Red and Brown Water
production photos by Ed Kreiger

The 34th annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards, celebrating the best work on LA’s intimate stages will be at the Avalon on April 8. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Coming Up Next at the Fountain: ‘On the Spectrum’ is Not Your (Neuro)Typical Love Story

SPECTRUM_postcard_front FINAL

Mac has Asperger’s. Iris is autistic. Jacqueline Schultz directs Jeanie Hackett,Virginia Newcomb and Dan Shaked in the West Coast premiere of a funny, touching and unconventional romance. On the Spectrum by Ken LaZebnik opens at The Fountain Theatre on March 16.

Quirky and unexpected, On the Spectrum is a love story with a difference. In LaZebnik’s award-winning play, an online e-chat blossoms into a heartfelt courtship between two exceptional young people with autism.

Schultz is an award-winning actress and a theater director at The Help Group’s Summit View School for students with learning differences. The Help Group is the largest and most innovative nonprofit of its kind in the U.S. serving children with autism, learning differences and other special needs. She was immediately drawn to the project.

“As with all great love stories, there are obstacles,” Schultz says. “Ken’s play is original, charming and moving.”

Many people on the autism spectrum take pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. In On the Spectrum, Mac (Shaked), whose mother (Hackett) provided years of mainstreaming and therapy, passes as “typical.” He connects online with Iris (Newcomb), an activist who proudly champions her autism as a difference, not a disorder.

Dan Shaked and Virginia Newcomb in "On the Spectrum"

Dan Shaked and Virginia Newcomb

Winner of a 2012 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award citation and a 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play award, On the Spectrum was commissioned by Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, where artistic director Jack Reuler directed the premiere as part of the Center of the Margins Festival. Ken LaZebnik has written two other plays about autism: Vestibular Sense, which also premiered at Mixed Blood, was honored with an award from the American Theatre Critic’s Association at the Humana Festival in Louisville; and Theory of Mind, commissioned for young audiences by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, has also been produced in Minnesota, Hawaii and Michigan, and was published by Dramatic Publishing.

Ken LaZebnik’s other plays include a new book for the musical Babes in Arms, Garland Wright’s last production at the Guthrie Theater; the comedy, Sink Eating, which premiered at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles; and an adaptation of The Odyssey which the off-off-Broadway ensemble DearKnows, where he was a founding member, toured for Lincoln Center Institute. Mixed Blood Theatre premiered his baseball play League of Nations, and commissioned and produced both Harlem Renaissance Revue and the one-man play Calvinisms. For film, LaZebnik wrote the screenplay for Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, which starred Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden, and, together with Garrison Keillor, co-wrote director Robert Altman’s last film, A Prairie Home Companion. LaZebnik has a long history of writing for Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” radio show. For television, he has written series as varied as ProvidenceStar Trek: Enterprise, The Paula Poundstone Show and Jack’s Place, and he was a writer/producer on Touched by an Angel for eight years.

Jacqueline Schultz has worked as a theater director/educator with learning disabled students for over 12 years. As a professional actress, Schultz has been seen at the Fountain in the U.S. premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Blue Iris; the Ovation-winning After the Fall; The Road to Mecca; The Night of the Iguana; The Darker Face of the Earth; Fighting Over Beverley (L.A. Weekly Award); Duet for One (Ovation Award nomination, Best Actress); Ashes (Drama-Logue Award); The Golden Gate (Drama-Logue Award); and Orpheus Descending. She reprised her role from the Fountain’s Los Angeles premiere of Lee Blessing’s Going to St. Ives (Best Actress nomination, NAACP Theater Award) for the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Other theater credits include Park Your Car in Harvard YardTo Kill a Mockingbird and Awake and Sing! at International City Theatre; the West Coast premiere of String of Pearls at both the Road Theatre Company and the Santa Barbara Theatre; the world premiere of Open Window at the Pasadena Playhouse; and Sorrows and Rejoicings at the Mark Taper Forum.

Jeanie Hackett

Jeanie Hackett

Jeanie Hackett (Elisabeth) has been seen on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire (Circle in the Square) and Ah, Wilderness (Roundabout); Off-Broadway in new plays at Soho Rep, the Promenade and the Clurman Theater; on L.A. stages in Arms and The Man, How the Other Half Loves, Present Laughter (Pasadena Playhouse); Old Times (South Coast Rep); The Vagina Monologues (Cannon); The Greeks (Odyssey); Phaedra(Getty Villa); The Seagull (Matrix); Kate Crackernuts (24th Street); Light, Pera Palas (Theatre @ Boston Court);Tonight at 8:30The Autumn Garden (Antaeus); and in a variety of roles with L.A. Theatre Works. Regional: Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carre, leading roles in Richard III, Taming of the Shrew, A Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, Cyrano de Bergerac, Uncle Vanya and over a dozen plays at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Film: The Words (with Bradley Cooper and Dennis Quaid), Take Me Home Tonight (Topher Grace), King of California(Michael Douglas) and Post Grad (Michael O’Keefe and Carol Burnett.) TV: Lie to Me, Lincoln Heights, Medium, Criminal Minds, The “L” Word, Charmed, Judging Amy (recurring) and The West Wing, playing Queen Margaret from Shakespeare’s Henry VI. As artistic director of Antaeus from 2003-2011, Jeanie led the company to its multiple award-winning first full season, including the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Cousin Bette, for which she won the Backstage/Garland Award for direction. She is also a former artistic director of The Classical Theater Lab.

Dan Shaked and Virginia Newcomb

Dan Shaked and Virginia Newcomb

Virginia Newcomb (Iris) was last seen at the Fountain Theatre in the West Coast premiere of the rarely-seen Tennessee Williams play, A House Not Meant to Stand. She recently co-starred on stage in The Grapes of Wrath at Knightsbridge Theatre, Sweet Bird of Youth at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre and This Property is Condemned at the Globe Playhouse. She has appeared on TV’s The Office and CSI, and can be seen in the new comedy webseries Bandmates. Virginia stars in the lead role in The Boogeyman, a feature film based on Stephen King’s short story.

Dan Shaked (Mac) is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts drama program and studied at The Lee Strasberg Film/Theater Institute and London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. New York theater credits include Saviana Stanescu’s Waxing West at La MaMa (subsequent Europe tour), the First Irish Theater Festival (PS122), Snow Angel (directed by Lola Cohen) and Stone Cold Dead Serious (Clurman Theater). In Boston, he played the lead in Naomi Wallace’s The Fever Chart for UnderGround Railway Theater. Dan can be seen in the upcoming films The Broken, How To Follow Strangers and Jobs (opposite Ashton Kutcher); the TV movie Gilded Lilys with Blythe Danner; and he was a guest star on ABC’s Body of Proof. He played the lead role in the film Storm up the Sky, which was selected for the Tribeca Film Festival

Set design for On the Spectrum is by John Iacovelli; video design is by Jeffrey Elias Teeter; lighting design is by R. Christopher Stokes; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Naila Aladdin Sanders; prop design is by Misty Carlisle; production stage manager is Corey Womack; assistant stage manager is Terri Roberts; and Simon LevyDeborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs produce.

Housed in a charming two-story complex, the Fountain is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a nurturing, creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 200 awards, and is the only intimate theater to win the Ovation Award for Best Production five times. Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Highlights include In the Red and Brown Water, named “Best in Theater 2012” by the Los Angeles TimesCyrano, an adaptation of the Rostand classic for hearing and deaf actors, by Stephen Sachs; a six-month run of Bakersfield Mist, also by Sachs, optioned for London and New York; the Off-Broadway run of the Fountain’s world premiere production of Athol Fugard’s Exits and Entrances; and the making of Sachs’ Sweet Nothing in My Ear into a TV movie. The Fountain has been honored with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Los Angeles City Council for “enhancing the cultural life of Los Angeles,” and has been named as the recipient of a special award for its “Excellent Season” in 2012 by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

On the Spectrum opens on Saturday, March 16, with performances ThursdaysFridays and Saturdays @ 8 pm andSundays @ 2 pm through April 28. Preview performances take place March 9-15 on the same schedule. Tickets are$34 (reserved seating), except previews which are $15. On Thursdays and Fridays only, seniors over 65 and students with ID are $25The 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.com.

production photos by Ed Krieger

Photos: “On the Spectrum” Design Meeting

Spectrum image 2

Designers and production team members met with director Jacqueline Schultz and playwright Ken LaZebnik to discuss creating the magical world of our upcoming West Coast Premiere of On the Spectrum. Winner of the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and awarded a grant from the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays fund, On the Spectrum is a funny and touching love story between two young people with autism.

The design team includes lighting designer R. Christopher Stokes, set designer John Iacovelli, videographer Jeff Teeter, sound designer Peter Bayne and costume designer Naila Alladin Sanders.

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On the Spectrum (323) 663-1525   More Info 

Next at the Fountain: The LA Premiere of a Boldly Original New Play “In the Red and Brown Water”

Oya can run faster than anyone—but not fast enough to escape her destiny. Shirley Jo Finney directs the long-awaited Los Angeles premiere of In the Red and Brown Water. Lyrically weaving together elements of urban contemporary realism with West African mysticism, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s lusciously theatrical and boldly original new play opens at The Fountain Theatre on October 20.

How far will fast, beautiful Oya go to make a mark in the world? The first of McCraney’s acclaimed “The Brother/Sister Plays,” In the Red and Brown Water is an intoxicating story that charts a young girl’s thrust into womanhood, her family struggle, the two men vying for her heart, and her subsequent fall into the murky waters of life. McCraney mixes the mundane with the mythic, drawing on Yoruban influences while setting the play in a modern urban context—a housing project in the fictional Bayou city of San Pere, Louisiana.

“This production was three years in the making,” says Fountain Theatre artistic director Stephen Sachs. “When ‘The Brother/Sister Plays’ exploded onto the theatrical scene in 2009, it was clear that Tarell was an important and rising new voice. We immediately began our fight for the rights to do this play and refused to give up. The Fountain Theatre is a theater of the heart—and this is where we want the play to live in Los Angeles.”

“I began to investigate how to use ancient myths, stories, to tell urban ones,” McCraney wrote. “I began taking old stories from the canon of the Yoruba and splicing them, placing them down in a mythological housing project in the south. This made the stories feel both old and new, as if they stood on an ancient history but were exploring the here and now.”

Tarrell Alvin McCraney

Lauded by The New York Times as “something rare in the theater, a new, authentically original voice,” and by the Chicago Tribune as “without question, the hottest young playwright in America,” 32-year-old Tarell Alvin McCraney has won numerous awards, including the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Whiting Writing Award, London’s Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright and the National Endowment for the Arts Outstanding New American Play Selection. His plays include Wig Out! (developed at Sundance Theatre Lab, produced in New York by the Vineyard Theatre and in London by the Royal Court) and the trilogy entitled The Brother/Sister Plays, including: The Brothers Size (simultaneously premiered in New York at the Public Theater, in association with the Foundry Theatre, and in London at the Young Vic, where it was nominated for an Olivier Award); In the Red and Brown Water; and Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet. His other plays include Without/Sin and Run, Mourner, Run (adapted from Randall Kenan’s short story), both of which premiered at Yale Cabaret. He holds a B.F.A. in acting from DePaul University, and he graduated from the playwriting program at the Yale School of Drama. He is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s international writer in residence and is currently under commission at Manhattan Theatre Club and Berkeley Rep. His new play, Head of Passes, will have its world premiere in April at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, directed by Tina Landau.

In the Red and Brown Water stars Dorian Christian BaucumPeggy ABlowGilbert Glenn BrownJustin Chu CaryDiarra KilpatrickStephen MarshallSimone MissickIona MorrisTheodore Perkins and Maya Lynne Robinson. Set design is by Frederica Nascimento; lighting design is byJosé Lopez; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Naila Aladdin Sanders; prop design is by Misty Carlisle; choreography is by Ameenah Kaplan; vocal coach is Brenda Lee Eager; dialect coach is JB Blanc; assistant director is Erinn Anova; production stage manager is Shawna Voragen; assistant stage manager is Terri Roberts; and Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor produce.

Shirley Jo Finney with NAACP Theater Award

Shirley Jo Finney previously directed award-winning productions of From the Mississippi DeltaCentral AvenueYellowman and The Ballad of Emmett Till at the Fountain Theatre. Her work has been seen at the McCarter Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Goodman Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, LA Theater Works, Crossroads Theater Company, Actors Theater of Louisville Humana Festival, Mark Taper Forum, American College Theatre Festival, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and, most recently, the State Theater in Pretoria, South Africa, where she helmed a critically acclaimed production of the South African opera, Winnie, based on the life of political icon Winnie Mandela. Ms. Finney has been honored with Ovation, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Back Stage Garland, LA Weekly and NAACP awards. For television, she directed several episodes of Moesha,and she garnered the International Black Filmmakers ‘Best Director’ Award for her short film, Remember Me. In 2007 she received the African American Film Marketplace Award of Achievement for Outstanding Performance and Achievement and leader in Entertainment.

Don’t miss this extraordinary new play at the Fountain.  From the director of our unforgettable smash hit The Ballad of Emmett Till.

In the Red and Brown Water  Oct 20 – Dec 16  (323) 663-1525  More

BroadwayWorld: Fountain and Deaf West Theaters present Premiere of Signed “Cyrano”

Paul Raci (Chris), Erinn Anova (Roxy), and Troy Kotsur (Cyrano).

The Fountain Theatre and Deaf West Theatre present the world premiere of a modern day classic romance, a re-imagined signed/spoken version of “Cyrano de Bergerac.” CYRANO, written by Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs (Bakersfield Mist) and directed by Simon Levy, opens at The Fountain Theatre on April 28, with previews beginning April 20.

In Sachs’ new adaptation, Cyrano is a deaf poet hopelessly in love with Roxy, a beautiful hearing woman. But she doesn’t understand sign language and instead loves Chris, his hearing brother. Can Cyrano express his love to Roxy with his hands? Or must he teach Chris to woo her, to “speak his words” for him? ASL (American Sign Language) becomes the language of love in this new spin on a classic love story.

Troy Kotsur (Cyrano).

“In the original classic, Cyrano feels self-conscious and over-glorifies his enormous nose, but in this modern deaf version, it’s his hands that are the focus,” explains Sachs. “Cyrano’s deafness is channeled through his hands, which swirl and soar to express the most complex human concepts, his inner-most thoughts and feelings, through the beauty of sign language.”

“It’s a mythic story about our hunger for love, the pangs for it,” says Levy. “But the deeper theme is how we communicate with one another. Stephen has written a beautiful adaptation that’s contemporary and fresh, set in a modern city where people communicate via text, Facebook and Twitter. It’s a world of iPhones, Blackberries and tablets. The production marries three forms of communication: ASL, English, and e-language.”

American Sign Language is not English, but a unique language unto itself with its own syntax, sentence structure, slang, humor, subtlety and complexity. It’s the job of ASL masters Tyrone Giordano and Shoshannah Stern to work with the deaf actors to translate the script into ASL, and director Simon Levy works with ASL interpreters in rehearsals. Fight choreographers Brian Danner and Abby Walla must not only create a fight scene between actors Troy Kotsur (Cyrano) and James Royce Edwards, but incorporate the simultaneous sign language with the help of Giordano, Stern and Levy.

A new project such as this has attracted deaf actors from all over the world. Six of the 13-member ensemble are deaf, and many of them have traveled great distances to make their Los Angeles debuts in Cyrano. Auditions were completed using Skype and video submissions.

“Deaf West is the only established theater company in the U.S. that regularly stages new works featuring deaf actors,” notes newly appointed Deaf West Theatre artistic director David Kurs. “Deaf actors from all over the country and the world were anxious to participate.”

Troy Kotsur is Cyrano.

Troy Kotsur (Cyrano), a veteran of Deaf West Theatre (Big River, Pippin, A Streetcar Named Desire, Of Mice and Men), traveled to Los Angeles from his current home in Arizona; Daniel Durant majored in theater at Gallaudet University and comes to L.A. from Maryland; Eddie Buck, who has acted in productions ranging from A Christmas Carol to Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet, joins the cast from Pennsylvania; Maleni Chaitoo (Switched at Birth) recently arrived from New York; and stage, film and TV actress Ipek D. Mehlum comes all the way from Oslo, Norway. Completing the deaf cast is Los Angeles-based actor Bob Hiltermann, who appeared in the Academy Award winning film version of Children of a Lesser God and recurred on All My Children. The cast also includes hearing actors Erinn Anova (Blues For An Alabama Sky, For Colored Girls…, Doubt) as Roxy and Paul Raci (Joseph Jefferson “Best Actor” nomination for Children of a Lesser God in Chicago) as Cyrano’s brother Chris. Hearing ensemble members Al Bernstein, James Babbin, James Royce Edwards, Victor Warren, and Martica De Cardenas also “voice” for the deaf actors.

The set designer for Cyrano is Jeff McLaughlin; lighting designer is Jeremy Pivnick; sound designer is Peter Bayne; video designer is Jeff Teeter; multimedia tech is by Media Fabricators, Inc.; costume designer is Naila Aladdin Sanders; prop designer is Misty Carlisle; fight choreographers are Brian Danner and Abby Walla; production stage manager is Sue Karutz; assistant stage manager is Terri RobertsLaura Hill and Deborah Lawlor produce for The Fountain Theatre, and David Kurs produces for Deaf West Theatre. Cyrano is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Paul Raci (Chris) and Troy Kotsur (Cyrano).

The relationship between The Fountain Theatre and Deaf West Theatre dates back 21 years to the early beginnings of both companies. Excited by the visual theatricality of ASL, Stephen Sachs had already been conducting workshops with deaf actors for a number of years. He and Fountain co-artistic director Deborah Lawlor offered office space in their newly founded theater facility to Ed Waterstreet, an actor with National Theatre of the Deaf who envisioned starting a theater company for deaf actors in Los Angeles. Deaf West Theatre produced its first two productions, The Gin Game and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (the latter directed by Sachs) in the Fountain space. Deaf West Theatre went on to produce 40 plays and four musicals in their own venue and around the country, including the Tony-nominated Big River on Broadway, and to win more than 80 theater awards. The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles with over 200 awards for all areas of production, performance, and design. Fountain projects have been seen in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Florida, New Jersey, Minneapolis and Edinburgh.

Cyrano marks Stephen Sachs’ ninth new play, his third incorporating deaf culture and illuminating the deaf world. His play Sweet Nothing in my Ear (1997, PEN USA Literary Award finalist, Media Access Award winner for Theater Excellence) has been produced in theaters around the country and in 2008 was made into a TV movie for CBS starring Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin and Jeff DanielsOpen Window (2005, Media Access Award winner for Theater Excellence) had its world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse, directed by Eric Simonson. His other plays include Bakersfield Mist (recently optioned for London’s West End and New York), Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (Fountain Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse,Canadian Stage Company, LA Drama Critics Circle award and LA Weekly award nominations for Best Adaptation), Gilgamesh (Theatre @ Boston Court), Central Avenue (PEN USA Literary Award finalist, Back Stage Garland award, Best Play), Mother’s Day, The Golden Gate (Best Play, Drama-Logue), and The Baron in the Trees. Sachs co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Deborah Lawlor in 1990.

Simon Levy was honored with the 2011 Milton Katselas Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. Directing credits at the Fountain include A House Not Meant to Stand; Opus; Photograph 51;The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore; The Gimmick with Dael Orlandersmith (Ovation Award-Solo Performance); Master Class (Ovation Award-Best Production); Daisy in the Dreamtime; Going to St. Ives; The Night of the Iguana; Summer & Smoke (Ovation Award-Best Production); The Last Tycoon, which he wrote and directed, (5 Back Stage West awards, including Best Adaptation and Direction); and Orpheus Descending (6 Drama-Logue awards, including Best Production and Direction). What I Heard About Iraq, which he wrote and directed, was produced worldwide including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Fringe First Award) and the Adelaide Fringe Festival (Fringe Award), was produced by BBC Radio, and received a 30-city UK tour culminating in London.

Troy Kotsur (Cyrano) and Erinn Anova (Roxy).

Cyrano opens on Saturday, April 28, with performances Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 pm through June 10. Preview performances take place April 20-27 on the same schedule with an additional preview performance on Wednesday, April 25 @ 8 pm. Tickets are $30 on Thursdays and Fridays and $34 on Saturdays and Sundays, except previews which are $15. On Thursdays and Fridays only, students with ID are $20 and seniors 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.com.

Photo Credit: Ed Kreiger 

Stage and Cinema: Fountain is “Best Theater” in 2011

by Harvey Perr

BEST THEATER: The Fountain Theatre, which housed the year’s greatest artistic achievement, a gorgeous production of Tennessee Williams’ A House Not Meant to Stand (which proved, once and for all, that Williams was never on the decline and that he could still write a play in his later years that had more life in it than the work of most playwrights working today), and the year’s dandiest commercial entertainment, Stephen Sachs’ Bakersfield Mist.

"Bakersfield Mist"

BEST PLAYS: Bakersfield Mist (Stephen Sachs); Personal Choice:  A House Not Meant to Stand (Tennessee Williams).

"A House Not Meant to Stand"

BEST DIRECTION:  Simon Levy (A House Not Meant to Stand )

BEST PRODUCTION:  A House Not Meant to Stand.

SET DESIGN:  Jeff McLaughlin (A House Not Meant to Stand; Bakersfield Mist)

COSTUME DESIGN:  Naila Aladdin-Sanders (A House Not Meant to Stand )

THE BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR: Although there are probably more actors concentrated in Los Angeles than in any other city of the world, there seems to be an ambivalence here towards the art of stage acting. First-rate actors rarely get singled out and are frequently lumped together with second and third-rate actors, to the advantage of neither. And actors – who are, after all, the life-blood of live theater – can make or break the production of a play, a fact that seems to go unappreciated. There were, for example, some performances this year which, had they been seen in London or New York, would have been considered career-transforming performances, and those performances are the ones I am giving the top place in my list:

Sandy Martin

Sandy Martin was wonderful in Tennessee Williams’ A House Not Meant to Stand ; she brought the play itself with her onto the stage the moment she made her dazed entrance and embraced its poignancy and its wackiness simultaneously.

Of course, the women Williams created were particularly memorable, and, again, in A House Not Meant to Stand , Sandy Martin had some extraordinary support from Lisa Richards and Virginia Newcomb who were hilariously funny and, at the same time, incredibly moving in small but vividly written parts – the former as a woman who refused to grow old and the latter as a girl who hadn’t yet grown up.

Jenny O'Hara

And Jenny O’Hara found a myriad of ways in which to instill dignity into the liveliest piece of trailer trash one is ever likely to come across in Stephen Sachs’ Bakersfield Mist – trailer trash with some ideas on Art that reduces an art curator to dithering.

It was, as they say, a very good year. Here’s to 2012.

Harvey Perr writes for Stage and Cinema.