Fountain Theatre staff gathered yesterday at Hollywood’s Off Vine restaurant to celebrate the 25th birthday of the organization. The Fountain Theatre was founded on April 1st, 1990, when Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor joined forces to assume ownership of a charming Spanish-style theatre building on Fountain Avenue in East Hollywood that had been a rental house for more than forty years. Sachs and Lawlor had other plans.
“Deborah and I wanted to create an artistic home where theatre and dance artists could develop new work in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment,” says Sachs. “We were looking for the right venue. It had to be special, warm, magical. And feel like home.”
“When I first walked into the Fountain and stood on the stage, I knew,” adds Lawlor. “The relationship of the audience to the stage, the gentle curve of the seating on three sides. The way the audience seating embraced the stage. It felt so intimate and inviting.”
They acquired the building. The upstairs office rooms were empty. No furniture. No desks. No chairs. No phones. Laughs Lawlor, “We sat on the floor in the empty office and looked at each other and said, ‘Now what?'”
They opened the doors to the new Fountain Theatre on April Fool’s Day, “the perfect day to launch a new theatre company.”
Over the next quarter of a century that followed, the Fountain Theatre has risen to become one of the most highly respected and well-honored theaters in Los Angeles. The Fountain has engaged thousands of artists and served hundreds of thousands of audience members. It has created new plays that have been performed in regional theaters across the nation, Off-Broadway, London’s West End, the Edinburgh Festival, translated into other languages and produced around the world, and made into a movie for television. It has produced the premieres of new plays by nationally acclaimed playwrights and was instrumental in launching and hosting the creation of Deaf West Theatre. Over 25 years, the Fountain has also blossomed into becoming the foremost presenter of flamenco in Los Angeles, producing over 650 concerts in its intimate venue and eight summer seasons at the 1200-seat outdoor Ford Theatre . And it holds the distinction of being honored with more nominations and winning more Ovation awards than any other intimate theatre in Los Angeles, winning the preeminent Best Season Award twice in six years.
Celebrating at the Fountain’s birthday lunch on the outdoor patio at Off Vine were Co-Founders/Co-Artistic Directors Stephen Sachs and Deborah Lawlor, Producing Director Simon Levy, Technical Director Scott Tuomey, Associate Producer James Bennett, Director of Development Barbara Goodhill, book keeper Licia Jaccard, Board member Dorothy Wolpert and actress Jacqueline Schultz.
For Sachs and Lawlor, acknowledging the long list of achievements over the Fountain’s 25-year history is deeply gratifying.
“Most important, we are a creative home. We are the artistic home to a large and ever-growing family of artists and audience members who care deeply about the sacred and transcendent experience of sharing live theatre in an intimate relationship with each other. Human beings gathering together in a space, bringing stories to life that illuminate what it means to be a human being. This is what we do. It has been our honor and privilege to serve Los Angeles these past 25 years.”
Onward and Upward for 25 more!