Category Archives: playwright

Fountain stands for social and political theatre in LA with ‘Building the Wall’ and ‘Citizen’

CITIZEN WALL layout

That Was The Week That Was was a satirical television show in the early 1960’s that brought focus to social and political issues of the day. The Fountain Theatre may look back on this current week, May 1 – May 7 in 2017, and brand it the same name. This week, in an unplanned juncture of synchronicity, the Fountain Theatre has two acclaimed productions running simultaneously in Los Angeles — one at its 78-seat Hollywood home on Fountain Avenue, the other at the 300-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City —  each dramatizing in mesmerizing fashion the urgent issues of race, injustice, and politics.

The Fountain’s National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan was a smash hit the moment it opened in March at the intimate Fountain Theatre, selling out weeks in advance.  Set in the near future, the powerful new drama unfolds as a man awaits sentencing in a federal prison for carrying out the orders of Trump’s national policy to round-up and detain immigrants by the millions.    

 

Meanwhile, across town at the mid-sized Kirk Douglas Theatre, the Fountain’s acclaimed and award-winning encore production of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs, is galvanizing audiences. The centerpiece of Center Theatre Group‘s inaugural Block Party celebrating intimate theatre in Los Angles, Citizen is a searing, poetic riff on race in America based on the best-selling book.   

 

“To have these two important, meaningful productions running concurrently, one in an intimate theatre and the other in a mid-sized venue, is extraordinary,” says Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “It exemplifies who we are, what we do, and why we do it.”

Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan agrees. “Both Citizen and Building the Wall deal with the issue of race and the fundamental question of who is it we mean when we say, ‘We, the people,'” explains Schenkkan. “For more than twenty five years, the Fountain Theatre has been presenting exhilarating, necessary theater, wrestling with the most pressing social and political issues of the day.” 

LA Stage Alliance Executive Director Steven Leigh Morris points out that this week is no anomaly. Morris notes, “That the Fountain Theatre has two productions running simultaneously — one at its home space in East Hollywood and the other at the Kirk Douglas Theatre as part of Center Theatre Group’s Block Party program — is a testament to the rigor and meticulous artistry that has been part of The Fountain tradition for twenty-seven years.”

By all accounts, this is an unforgettable week for the Fountain. We vow to continue our commitment to create, develop and produce meaningful new plays that bring to life urgent issues, week after week, for many years to come. 

Tickets/Info BUILDING THE WALL

Tickets/Info CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC

‘Building the Wall’ to open Off-Broadway

BUILDING THE WALL NYCRobert Schenkkan’s powerful new political thriller Building the Wall, now playing to sold-out houses at the Fountain Theatre, will open Off-Broadway at New World Stages for a limited run May 12 to July 9th.  The New York production will feature Tamara Tunie (“Law & Order: SVU”) and James Badge Dale (“13 hours”, “The Departed”),  directed by Ari Edelson.

“We are thrilled Robert’s play will increase the national conversation on these issues by making its New York debut, ” says Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “I am very proud that the Fountain Theatre has lead the charge by launching the world premiere of this urgent new play.” 

The Fountain Theatre opened the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of Building the Wall on March 18, directed by Michael Michetti and starring Bo Foxworth and Judith Moreland. The production has earned rave reviews and is still playing to sold-out houses. The current run continues to May 21. 

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Judith Moreland and Bo Foxworth in “Building the Wall”, Fountain Theatre

“This announcement comes from the core of our artistic mission at the Fountain,” says Sachs. “We are dedicated to developing and producing new plays that are later seen in theaters across the country and around the world.” Examples include Athol Fugard’s Exits and Entrances, which premiered at the Fountain and opened Off-Broadway at Primary Stages, Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, and Sachs’ own Bakersfield Mist, now being produced worldwide after a 3-month run on London’s West End.

Building the Wall at Fountain Theatre

Fountain Theatre earns 7 Stage Raw Theatre Award nominations

MY MAÑANA COMES

Lawrence Stallings, Pablo Castelblanco, Richard Azurdia, Peter Pasco

It was announced today that the Fountain Theatre has been nominated for seven Stage Raw Theatre Awards for two productions in the 2016 season. Our Los Angeles premiere of My Manana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin and the world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ Dream Catcher were acknowledged with the following nominations:

  • Leading Male Performance – Lawrence Stallings, MY MAÑANA COMES 
  • Supporting Male Performance – Peter Pasco, MY MAÑANA COMES
  • Playwriting  – Elizabeth Irwin, MY MANANA COMES
  • Two Person Performance – Elizabeth Frances & Brian Tichnell, DREAM CATCHER
  • Lighting Design – Jennifer Edwards, MY MAÑANA COMES 
  • Set Design – Michael Navarro, MY MAÑANA COMES 
  • Production Design – Dillon Nelson,  MY MAÑANA COMES

 Full list of nominees.

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Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell in Dream Catcher. 

The Third Annual Stage Raw Theater Awards are May 15 at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street, Downtown. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Tickets: General Admission $25, VIP reception (post-show) $100. VIP Includes: Hosted bar, passed food, trial membership to Stage Raw “Insiders Club” More Info

 

Post-show conversations: “I have a passion to inspire change through theatre”

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Q&A discussion with playwright Robert Schenkkan

Nora King is a California girl who doesn’t surf. She danced in school productions of The Nutcracker but admits she was  “an unbalanced and quite chatty ballerina.” She earned a BFA in Acting from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) then created a non-profit theatre troupe called Acting for Others,  to raise support and awareness for charities through performance.  These days, she now finds herself at the Fountain Theatre as Production Outreach Coordinator for Building the Wall, overseeing the ongoing post-show conversation series Breaking It Down.  

The program Breaking It Down, she says, embodies her dual commitment to theatre and social action. “I have always had a passion to inspire change through theater.”   

Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs agrees. “When the Fountain Theatre made the bold move to reschedule our 2017 season so we could quickly produce the world premiere of this controversial new play Building the Wall, we were sure of one thing. Patrons seeing it will want to talk about it.”

The post-show conversation series Breaking It Down was created to offer an ongoing platform for the dialogue to continue with audiences on a wide variety of topics. The first discussion featured playwright Robert Schenkkan.

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As Production Outreach Coordinator, it was Nora’s job to reach out to a varied list of organizations and schedule dynamic leaders willing to participate in conversations with audience members following performances of Building the Wall. Topics range from immigration to prison systems to women’s rights to stand-up comedy.  

To learn more about the discussion series and the young woman who oversees it, we subjected Nora to her own Q&A.

 How did you get this job at the Fountain?

Funny story. I saw an opening for a position in The Fountain’s cafe. I sent in my resume. And a couple days later I got a call from Stephen Sachs about another position that may be a better fit. And it is a much better fit. My cooking skills are nonexistent. 

What is Breaking It Down? How would you describe it? 

Breaking it Down is a conversation series following performances of Building the Wall. These will be discussions with community leaders, non-profit organizers, socially active performers, etc.

 

Nora King

Nora King

What do you hope to achieve with these post-show conversations?

The goal of Breaking it Down is to activate and inspire the audience. A big theme in Building the Wall is the power and responsibility of the individual. At this point in our country’s history, complacency is extremely dangerous. I want to empower the audience, leaving the theatre ready to influence change.

Has it been hard getting experts to agree to participate in the discussions? Or easier that you thought?

A lot easier than I thought. I was surprised with the eagerness in which people wanted to be involved. Which is very exciting! This also reassures me that there are influential people activated and ready to combat the inhumane policies our government keeps churning out.

Which conversations are you most looking forward to?

After researching each individual and their backgrounds, I am honestly very excited for each conversation. I think they will offer so many different perspectives as well as ways to help. So, all of them!

What role can theatre play in triggering social action?

Theatre has always been a reflection of society. Shakespeare’s histories are basically the People magazine of the time. To say theatre is merely for entertainment, is an ignorant concept. And to say the arts is unnecessary for a nation, is stupid. Sorry to be so blunt. However, the reason I dedicate my life to this art form is because of its influence on society. Theater supplies ethos. We are humans. We need to connect. We need to feel. I believe theatre can supply an up close look at stories you wouldn’t experience otherwise even though, in reality, they might be happening right next to you.

What has your experience been like at the Fountain?

Amazing! Something that drew me to the Fountain Theatre is its commitment to socially provocative work. There is certainly a sense of working towards a shared goal. Everyone is passionate and excited to be there, which is necessary for a theatre to succeed. I feel very honored to be joining The Fountain Family. Thank you Robert and Stephen for bringing this play to life so quickly. I think it is essential for people to see this immediately.   

Breaking it Down ad v2

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PHOTOS: Dazzling opening night of ‘Building the Wall’ at Fountain Theatre

WALL Opening Night 6

An electrifying thrill filled the air Saturday night, March 18, as the Fountain Theatre opened the highly-anticipated world premiere of Building the Wall by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan.  Even before opening, our bold National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere has earned national attention in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets across the country.

The sold-out house Saturday night at the Fountain was packed with patrons, donors, board members, Fountain family and the press. Following the powerful performance, the crowd gathered upstairs in our indoor/outdoor cafe to enjoy a catered reception prepared by our new chef, Baltazar.  Playwright Robert Schenkkan and the cast were surrounded by well-wishers, congratulating them on an unforgettable evening in the theatre. By all accounts, it looks like the Fountain has another hit on its hands.  

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New Video: How Robert Schenkkan’s ‘Building the Wall’ came to the Fountain Theatre and why

Building the Wall (323) 663-1525 More Info/Get Tickets

Meet the three extraordinary women who fortified ‘Building the Wall’ at Fountain Theatre

Much about our world premiere of Robert Schenkkan’s riveting new play, Building the Wall, has been unprecedented. The swiftness we’re bringing this urgent work to the stage, the national attention the timely new play is generating even before opening, the constellation of theaters across the country already interested in producing the play after the Fountain premiere on March 18.

Equally extraordinary is the support the production has received from our own Fountain Family. For the first time in the Fountain’s twenty-seven year history, the majority of the production budget for the entire 10-week run of Building the Wall is secure prior to Opening Night. Thanks to the generous support of three phenomenal women: Karen Kondazian, Barbara Herman and Susan Stockel. The trio share a passion for theatre and a commitment to social action. They now serve Building the Wall as Executive Producers.

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Karen Kondazian

Karen Kondazian is an award-winning actor, author and producer.  She has starred in many productions at the Fountain, has guest starred in over 50 television shows and is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio. Her novel The Whip has received several awards including best historical fiction. 

“I wasn’t able to join the Women’s March,“ explains Karen. “So I protest by supporting extraordinary Art. Robert Schenkkan’s Building the Wall is precisely that. He reveals brilliantly and artfully the nightmare of what might be, then peels away layers until we understand the nightmare of what actually will be, if we do not heed the warning.”

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Barbara Herman

Barbara Herman was born and educated in Los Angeles. She is actively involved in the successful business established with her late husband. Barbara is an enthusiastic supporter of local culture, including the Fountain Theatre, the Broad Stage, and the Women’s Guild at Cedars Sinai.

“The Fountain Theatre stands out,” she says, “for its innovative approach to offering fresh, socially relevant plays. Building the Wall is a most timely effort to help illuminate what we, the public, are facing in today’s political climate. I am honored to support the Fountain Theatre’s world premiere production of this play.”

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Susan Stockel

Susan Stockel was born in New York. She raised her family in California and practiced law. She is now a community activist, world traveler, and lover of the spoken word.

“I am a theatre addict,” she admits. “Good theatre is about telling stories. A strong, well-written and well-acted story binds us to one another and can provide the connection that leads to action. I knew I would support Building the Wall as soon as I read it. This play must be produced now and staged across the country. As Robert Schenkkan has said, ‘We cannot hope to be useful if we can’t respond until 18 months after the fact.’ Yes, we need to move fast. And we have. I am proud to help.”

“The Fountain Theatre deeply thanks Karen, Barbara and Susan for their exceptional generosity and friendship, ” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Their contribution to Building the Wall has given this important world premiere at the Fountain Theatre the strong foundation it needs as we launch it nationwide.”       

With the support of these three remarkable women, the Fountain Theatre is inaugurating a new funding program, the Artistic Directors Circle, offering theater-loving individuals the opportunity to underwrite Fountain Theatre productions throughout the 2017-18 season.  If you’re interested in joining the Circle and learn more about its many benefits, please contact Barbara Goodhill (323) 663-1525 x307 Barbara@fountaintheatre.com

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