Tag Archives: Back Stage

Fountain Theatre’s Acclaimed ‘In the Red and Brown Water’ Extends to Feb 24

LA Premiere Held Over to Celebrate Black History Month

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

The Fountain Theatre has extended the Los Angeles premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s lusciously theatrical and boldly original In the Red and Brown Water through the end of February, in honor of Black History Month. Performances will continue through December 16 as previously scheduled, then resume on January 5 for an additional eight weeks through February 24.

Lyrically weaving together elements of urban contemporary realism with West African mysticism, In the Red and Brown Water tells the tale of Oya, who can run faster than anyone—but not fast enough to escape her destiny. Her journey from the promise of youth to the complicated yearnings of womanhood is joyous, raucous, raw and brazenly beautiful.

The Fountain production has been declared “100% Sweet” by Bitter Lemons, a website that aggregates Los Angeles theater reviews, and which, in a rare editorial comment, writes, “Once again, the Fountain Theatre shows that they are the class of Los Angeles theater, big or small… this is simply what theater is meant to be.” The Los Angeles Times raves, “CRITIC’S CHOICE! Beyond the fact that it is sensational, the Fountain Theatre’s production of ‘In the Red and Brown Water’… introduces Los Angeles audiences to a dramatic poet in the process of discovering his singular voice and shows how magnificently one of L.A.’s better small theaters can serve bold new talent.” The LA Weekly agrees, “GO! A visceral fable that rises up from the underbelly of America,” and Back Stage calls In the Red and Brown Water “a production that explodes in sounds, imagesand extraordinary performances.”

It took the Fountain three years to obtain rights to produce McCraney’s play, which first exploded on the theater scene with a production at New York’s Public Theatre in 2009. On his personal Facebook page, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic Charles McNulty posts, “I love [the Fountain Theatre] production — even more than the one at the Public Theater. LA Theater is not to be underestimated!”

In the Red and Brown Water is helmed by multiple award-winning director Shirley Jo FinneyDiarra Kilpatrick stars as Oya in “a lead performance that is so good you wonder if somehow the designers may have concocted some kind of CGI image in front of your eyes instead of a living breathing human being; her movement, range of emotion and depth of passion is so indescribable that it will literally take your breath away.” (Colin Mitchell, Bitter Lemons). The ensemble also includes Dorian Christian BaucumPeggy A.BlowGilbert Glenn BrownJustin Chu CaryStephen MarshallSimone MissickIona MorrisTheodore Perkins and Maya Lynne Robinson.

Performances of In the Red and Brown Water continue through February 24 on Thursdays (through December 13 only),Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 pm (dark December 17 through January 4).  Call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.

Advertisements

Critic’s Rave for Smash Hit ‘In the Red and Brown Water’ at the Fountain Theatre

“Sensational!” – LA Times

Diarra Kilpatrick and company.

RAVE! CRITIC’S CHOICE! “Beyond the fact that it is sensational, the Fountain Theatre’s production of “In the Red and Brown Water” by Tarell Alvin McCraney is important for two reasons: It introduces Los Angeles audiences to a dramatic poet in the process of discovering his singular voice and it shows how magnificently one of L.A.’s better small theaters can serve bold new talent.” – Los Angeles Times

Peggy Blow, Diarra Kilpatrick and company.

RAVE! “Every player scores a memorable impression, above all the luminous lead Diarra Kilpatrick, who can inhabit a simple soul yet express her intensely complicated inner torment … [Director Shirley Jo Finney] indisputably remains at the top of her game.” Hollywood Reporter

RAVE! “A production that explodes in sounds, images, and extraordinary performances.” – Backstage

RAVE! “An astonishing accomplishment! Skilfully aided by director Shirley Jo Finney, the superb cast works poetry, myth, dance, chanting and music into the mix.” Total Theater

RAVE! “Electrifying! … A unique piece full of dancing, singing, haunting story telling and enchanting characters … It is like nothing you have ever seen before and something that is utterly fascinating and highly entertaining.” – ALittleNightMusing 

RAVE! GO! “Compelling! A visceral fable that rises up from the underbelly of America.” – LA Weekly

Diarra Kilpatrick and Gilbert Glenn Brown

RAVE! “Perfection! Finney’s excellent directorial work … The casting is flawless.” – LA Beat

RAVE! “Unforgettable! An excellent cast!” – ArtsinLA

RAVE! “This is the show to see!” – CaribPress

RAVE! “A new, important, and original voice in American theatre … a talented cast … Especially moving … heart-wrenching” – BlogCritics

Diarra Kilpatrick and company.

RAVE! “Diarra Kilpatrick is a breath of fresh air in her daring performance … Gilbert Glenn Brown nearly steals this show (at least as far as the women are concerned) with an explosive and arousing performance … terrific … hilarious … a steady cast anchored by theater veterans Iona Morris and Peggy A. Blow.” – Donloe’s Lowdown

Iona Morris and Diarra Kilpatrick

Simone Missick and Maya Lynne Robinson

Diarra Kilpatrick, Dorian Baucum and company.

Now Playing! (323) 663-1525  More

Actors and the Power of Vulnerability

By Daniel Lehman

Does an ability to “get into character” and portray other people help actors resolve their own internal conflicts offstage? Or will the pursuit of a career that values emotional vulnerability, but at the same time involves frequent rejection, inevitably lead to poor mental health and instability?

Dr. Paula Thomson and Dr. S. Victoria Jaque of California State University, Northridge, endeavored to answer these questions in “Holding a Mirror Up to Nature: Psychological Vulnerability in Actors,” a study published this month in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Over the course of several years, the researchers surveyed a sample of 41 professional actors in Los Angeles; Toronto, Ontario; and Cape Town, South Africa. The actors’ answers were compared with those of a control group of 41 non-actors.

“This study demonstrated that the actor group had greater fantasy proneness and a greater distribution of psychological security as compared with the nonartist control group,” Thomson and Jaque write. “Despite no group differences in type and frequency of trauma and loss, the actor group had more unresolved mourning and elevated dissociation.”

All of the actors surveyed had at least three years of conservatory training, all of which Thomson said was rooted in Stanislavsky’s method. They also had the common link of at least a few months of experience creating and performing “testimonial theater,” an autobiographical medium that is used most often to heal individuals and communities that have undergone major trauma. Subjects were evaluated through a 60- to 90-minute interview session.

“I think in performing artists, there’s an incredible tolerance to accept emotional abuse from people,” Thomson told Back Stage. A former dancer, she is fascinated with the psychology of actors and performing artists. “I was very struck by how aware they were about people’s emotions and how sensitive they were,” she said, “and then how unpredictable they could be.”

Thomson and Jaque speculated that experience embodying different characters in order to act out dramatized conflicts would indirectly give actors greater resolution for their own past experiences. Yet the researchers found that while actors tend to be more emotionally self-aware and secure, they are no better at getting over unresolved trauma or loss than their counterparts in the control group. In fact, the actor group was more likely to respond with confusion, silence, or halting speech when asked about past traumatic events, and they displayed “greater vulnerability for psychological distress.”

Thomson and Jaque could not determine whether an actor’s career choice was determined by his or her mental state or vice versa. The researchers are analyzing the results of a related physiological study — in which actors wore what they call a “life shirt” during interviews, stress tests, and rehearsals and onstage performances — to evaluate whether their physiology shows the same vulnerability as their psychology.

Daniel Lehman writes for Backstage

Recent News from Newspapers is Bad News for LA Theatre

News about print newspapers is now seldom good. And news about newspapers in Los Angeles reducing or cutting theater coverage has now gotten worse. Here it is — the good, the bad, and the ugly:

Back Stage

Last month, Back Stage laid off Dany Margolies, the Los Angeles executive editor and theater editor. Without warning or notice. After eleven years championing the LA theater community, she was told by a young staffer that Back Stage was “restructuring”. Her services were no longer needed. It took her two days to remove more than a decade’s worth of work from her office using the post office tubs they gave her in lieu of storage boxes.

In an open letter to Back Stage readers in October, the new CEO and Chairman,  John Amato, had expressed his excitement about taking over the company, adding “I would like to thank the dedicated, talented, and loyal Back Stage team, whose incredible work has gotten us to where we are today. ”

Three months later he fired Los Angeles theater editor Dany Margolies,  national editor Jaime Painter Young, and other staff members including one in charge of casting notices.

John Amato states the publication is entering a “transformative period” as it moves exclusively to an online digital platform. Print media is fading fast and will soon be gone, going the way of vinyl LP’s.

Of course, if you’ve followed the magazine at all in recent years, the “transformation” at Back Stage is more than about going digital. Back Stage has become another Hollywood Reporter, with more focus and coverage of films, TV shows and movie stars than on the art form it was created to cover in the first place: theater and plays. Back Stage has sold its soul to Hollywood. Someone needs to remind Amato: It’s called Back Stage. Not Back Lot.

Which is why losing Dany Margolies at Back Stage is so painful. LA Theater has lost one of its strongest advocates in that office.

Los Angeles Times

The same week in January that Dany was laid off at Back Stage, it was announced that Lisa Fung, the longtime Online Arts Editor at the Los Angeles Times, had jumped ship to The Wrap,  the entertainment website “covering Hollywood”. Word has it that the new editor making Arts assignments at The Times has meager knowledge of theatre and little familiarity with the many theatre companies in Los Angeles. Not good.

And now the Los Angeles Times has just announced that it will no longer provide online listings for plays, events or venues. It will list only critic’s picks online throughout the week, adding “select listings” and critic’s picks on Sunday. To make it even harder on folks in the LA theater community, the Times now requires that play listings be submitted directly to individual Times reporters and editors, to their personal email addresses. No more “@latimes.com”.  So, if you don’t know Charles McNulty’s personal email address, you’re out of luck. And left out.

LA Weekly

Meanwhile, over at the LA Weekly,  editors decided two weeks ago to reduce the Weekly’s theater coverage even more than it already has in recent years. The Weekly had already eliminated its theater listings. And its former service of running all play reviews for the length of a play’s run.   Now Weekly editors wanted the number of new theater reviews assigned each week to be cut down to six. Six! In a city that averages 20-30 new productions opening each week! It took passionate negotiating by theater writer/editor Steven Leigh Morris to convince the Weekly higher-ups that assigning only six reviews per week was absurd.  A higher number was reached: eight.

Times are tough for print newspapers everywhere. Arts coverage in newspapers is slowly evaporating like an old faded photograph.  The LA Weekly has reduced the size of its print edition and the scope of its theater coverage. Back Stage is going digital.  The Tribune Company, owners of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

We need to understand the impact of technology on the live performing arts.  Technology has emerged as our biggest competitor for leisure time: the average American spends 25.7 hours of leisure watching television or online each week. Internet consumption per person has grown to 14.2 hours per week.  By the time Net-Gen-ers reach their twenties, they will have spent more than 20,000 hours on the Internet and an additional 10,000 hours playing video games.

We are in the middle of a transformation of cultural expression and communication—a realignment that is shaking the newspaper and publishing industries.

So, where’s the good news?

Here: As arts coverage in newspapers declines, theater-related blogs and websites are flourishing like never before. Folks are blogging, posting, tweeting and chatting online about theater — and sending their friends to see plays they “like”. With audiences wielding iPhones, the experience of going to the theater involves more than just seeing a play. Its about sharing the experience with friends.

And Here: More theater is being created and produced in Los Angeles than ever before.  Against all odds, the number of theater artists developing new work in Los Angeles grows. The hopeful urgency of the artists’ need to create and share work with other human beings lives on and still flourishes.

No doubt, these are dark times to be an artist of any kind. In this city, in this country, in this culture.

As theater artists, we can curse the darkness — or light a candle. And in Los Angeles, thousands of theater candles are being lit everywhere, every night, all over this landscape.

Let’s keep our candles burning! Together, we illuminate the world!