Recent Blog Posts
- Fountain Theatre nominated for two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards
- NEW VIDEO: A backstage look behind the scenes of ‘Hype Man’ at Fountain Theatre
- VIDEO: What is hip hop?
- Celebrity reading of ‘MS. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON’ at LA City Hall is “awe-inspiring”
- Meet the young cast of the West Coast Premiere of ‘Hype Man’ at Fountain Theatre
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Category Archives: Hollywood
What is hip hop? A genre of music? A style of clothes? A way of life? Take a look.
In this West Coast Premiere of HYPE MAN by Idris Goodwin, a hip-hop trio is on the verge of making it big on national TV when a police shooting of a Black teen shakes the band to its core, forcing them to confront questions of race, gender, privilege and when to use their art as an act of social protest. When the Hype Man takes matters into his own hands, the ensuing beef exposes the long-buried rifts of race and privilege that divide them. Will it tear them apart or can they find a way to still breathe together?
Written by Idris Goodwin. Directed by Deena Selenow. Starring Chad Addison, Matthew Hancock, Clarissa Thibeaux. Starts Feb 23.
by Stephen Sachs
I’m used to it by now. I expect it. I wait for it. Whenever I travel anywhere in the country, to any state in our union, whether on a personal vacation with my wife or attending a professional theatre conference in a faraway region, once I share where I’m from and what I do for a living I am asked the same question: is Los Angeles a theatre town?
My guard quickly goes up. I shift into protective mode. Defending my city and my art form. My talking points ready. Did you know that more theatre is produced in Los Angeles, more productions of plays and musicals, than in any other city in the world — more than New York, Chicago or London? Did you know that Los Angeles is home to more working artists than any other major metropolis in the United States, including New York? According to a 2010 report commissioned by the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), Los Angeles hosts the largest pool of artists of any city in the nation. Los Angeles supports more than five times as many performing artists (actors, directors, producers), outpacing New York substantially. These facts always trigger startled looks of surprise.
Now Los Angeles is facing the same skepticism about football. With Super Bowl Sunday approaching this weekend, the nation wants to know: Is Los Angeles a football town? The answer is yes. In fact, Los Angeles is one of only two cities in the nation that has two NFL teams, the Rams and the Chargers. The other metropolis with more than one team? You guessed it. Our theatre rival, New York. Always bent on outshining us, New York has three teams.
While theatre has been performed consistently in Los Angeles since the city was founded in 1781, the Rams’ history with LA has been bumpy and uneven. The franchise began in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams in Ohio. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1946. After the 1994 season, the Rams left LA and moved to St. Louis. They returned to Los Angeles in 2016, suffering through a disappointing season. Then, like a true Hollywood story, magic happened.
In 2017, Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay became the new Rams head coach at the age of 30, making him the youngest in modern NFL history. McVay is a rock star. He is what slick and glamorous basketball coach Pat Riley was to the Lakers in the 1980’s era of Showtime. McVay is young, movie star handsome, charismatic. And a winner. In their first year under McVay, the Rams won their first NFC West title since 2003. This season, the team’s 13–3 record tied for the second-most wins in a single season in franchise history and were the most ever for any NFL team in Los Angeles. On Sunday, they perform on the league’s biggest stage. The Broadway of football. A Los Angeles team hasn’t reached the Super Bowl since 1980.
Is LA a football town? Ask Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald. “It’s a football town now.” The team’s average home attendance in the regular season was more than 72,000 fans per game at the Rams’ temporary home at the LA Coliseum.
Inglewood is now building the team a new state-of-the-art 70,240-seat stadium, scheduled to open in 2020. At a cost of more than $5 billion, it will be the world’s most expensive sports complex. More than three times the size of Disneyland and twice as big as Vatican City. The last time Los Angeles built an arts complex even close to that size was the Music Center downtown in 1964. Although one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States, the 11-acre Music Center is 1/27th the size of the future 298-acre LA Stadium campus. And you thought tickets to Hamilton were expensive? The best seat at Los Angeles’ newest stadium will come with a licensing bill of $100,000 for Rams season-ticket holders, not including the price of each ticket per game.
I hold no illusion that theatre will ever be as popular in Los Angeles as football. More human beings worldwide will watch our LA Rams in this Sunday’s Super Bowl than have seen every performance of every play and musical ever produced in Los Angeles in two hundred years. That’s okay. Something exciting is happening in this town. I can feel it. LA is undergoing a renaissance, blossoming into the city of the future. Money is pouring in, new urban development is underway everywhere, our progressive city laws and lifestyle embrace diversity and inclusion and the hope of opportunity.
For many artists across the country, LA is still the land of dreams. The region’s record in home-growing, attracting and retaining artists is unmatched. Los Angeles is still the nation’s premier place to pursue and maintain an artistic career. Its theatre community is vast, richly varied and thriving.
And the Rams are playing in the Super Bowl. Whatever the outcome this Sunday, Los Angeles comes out a winner.
Stephen Sachs is the Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre and a longtime Rams fan.
Last night, the company of actors, director, design and production team for our upcoming West Coast Premiere of Hype Man gathered together for the exciting first rehearsal. After filling out paperwork and planning schedules, the cast read the script and the award-winning “break beat play” by Idris Goodwin came to life.
Social injustice, racial identity, gender inequity, career ambition and friendship converge — and collide — in Hype Man, directed by Deena Selenow.
Hype man Verb, played by Matthew Hancock (The Brothers Size, I and You at the Fountain, Honky at Rogue Machine, LADCC and Stage Raw awards for Hit the Wall), has been backing up front-man rapper Pinnacle (Chad Addison, seen in Connect, The Perfect Crime, My Plastic Girlfriend and more at Theatre 68) since they were kids. Adding beat maker Peep One (Clarissa Thibeaux of Echo Theater Company’s The Found Dog Ribbon Dance) to their group sparked a flame, and now the interracial trio is flexing serious hip-hop muscle. But when an unarmed black teenager is shot by police, it forces the group to navigate issues of friendship and race.
Opening night is set for a Feb. 23, with performances continuing through April 14.
Sam Waterston (Law & Order, The Newsroom, Gracie and Frankie) will join Scandal co-stars Joshua Malina, Jeff Perry and Bellamy Young for a one-night only, all-star reading of Ms. Smith Goes to Washington at Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
The gender-switched adaptation of Sidney Buchman’s screenplay for the 1939 Jimmy Stewart classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is adapted and directed by Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. The free reading is being presented by the Fountain Theatre in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and with exclusive permission from SONY Pictures. It will be hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and will take place in the John Ferraro Council Chamber. A catered reception will follow in the City Hall Rotunda.
In Sachs’ version, an idealistic, newly elected female senator finds herself fighting corruption in male-dominated Washington. Young will star in the title role, and Waterston has been cast in the pivotal role of Senator Paine.
The full cast includes Joshua Malina, Jeff Perry, Bellamy Young, Sam Waterston, Alan Blumenfeld, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Leith Burke, Tim Cummings, Cameron Dye, Spencer Garrett, Chet Grissom, Morlan Higgins, Aurelia Myers, Jenny O’Hara, Felix Solis, Jack Stehlin, Mark Taylor and Sal Viscuso.
The event is a follow-up to the Fountain’s hugely successful 2018 celebrity reading of All the President’s Men. It is sponsored, in part, by the Feminist Majority Foundation and in association with the League of Women Voters.
Ms. Smith Goes to Washington takes place on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the John Ferraro Council Chamber, Room 340 of Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N Spring St.,Los Angeles, CA 90012. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Admission is free; however, seating is extremely limited. For more information, and to enter the ticket lottery, go to www.mssmith.org. Due to high security at the venue, no walk-ups will be permitted.