Tag Archives: Native American

VIDEO: 3rd graders enjoy morning mask making at Fountain Theatre

table 1 croppedAnother unforgettable afternoon at the Fountain Theatre. Thirty students from Ramona Elementary School around the corner on Mariposa Street walked over to the Fountain Theatre Friday morning for a special visit that included a lesson on Native American storytelling and the making their own colorful animal masks.

Teacher Eric Arboleda’s 3rd grade class have been studying Native American culture prior to their visit. The Fountain’s current hit production of Dream Catcher offered the perfect invitation for the theatre and Ramona School to partner for the benefit of the young students. The project is made possible through Theatre as a Learning Tool, the Fountain’s educational outreach program that makes art accessible to young people.

The same class from Ramona Elementary School visited the Fountain in November during the run of The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. For that production, the students painted their own stones in bright colors and patterns.   

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Sarah Boulton guides the class on Native American creation stories. 

Friday morning’s visit began with the students gathering in the theatre to see Dream Catcher’s in-the-round dirt setting. Fountain colleague Sarah Boulton guided the students through a lively lesson plan exploring the creation stories from a variety of Native American tribes.

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Eric Arboleda and Stephen Sachs

The students were then ushered outside where a long table covered with art supplies waited for them in the parking lot. There they enjoyed an exuberant get-together of mask making, grabbing paper and colored markers and scissors and bright vibrant feathers. It was a joy to watch the kids create their animal masks with such laughter and festive chatter, sharing in this art adventure they would not otherwise experience.

“Reaching out to young people is an important commitment for us. It’s what we do and who we are,” explains Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Offering art and creative expression to students who may otherwise have no access to it. For us, there is no higher calling. Plus the pure fun and joy of it is rejuvenating for all of us.”

The Fountain will expand and enlarge its ongoing partnership with Ramona Elementary School. And, through Theatre as a Learning Tool, will continue to broaden its reach to serve young students throughout Southern California.

         

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PHOTO SLIDESHOW: ‘Dream Catcher’ enjoys “a great night” with Native Voices at the Fountain

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The Fountain Theatre continued its association with Native Voices at the Autry by hosting a post-show discussion Monday night following the performance of our acclaimed new play Dream Catcher by Stephen Sachs, directed by Cameron Watson.

Inspired by a true story, the powerful and thought-provoking new play dramatizes the passionate confrontation between Roy, a young engineer, and his fiery Mojave Indian lover Opal who claims the billion dollar solar energy plant Roy is helping to design is actually being built on the site of ancient tribal burial grounds.

Native Voices at the Autry is the only Equity theatre company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights. Founded in 1994 by Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Producing Executive Director Jean Bruce Scott, Native Voices became the resident theatre company at the Autry Museum of the American West in 1999.

After the performance of Dream Catcher Monday night, actors Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell and playwright Sachs joined Reinholz and Scott for a Q&A discussion with the audience.  Patrons shared their reactions to the play and examined such issues as cultural diversity, the peril of global warming, and the intersection of science and spirit.

“We had a great night,” exclaims Randy Reinholz, Producing Artistic Director of Native Voices. He hailed Dream Catcher as “Theatre about the important issues of our time.”

“Randy and I both love Fountain Theatre’s commitment to tackling difficult issues,” says Jean Bruce Scott, Producing Executive Director of Native Voices. “The production is wonderful and the cast fantastic. Superb script, acting, direction. Thank you so much for a wonderful night in the theater and for the lively and friendly talkback afterward.”

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Dream Catcher runs to March 21st. More Info/Get Tickets

A new year, a new play, a new seating configuration

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Construction underway for in-the-round seating for ‘Dream Catcher’.

Director Cameron Watson wants Fountain audiences to walk into the theatre and immediately be surprised. To encounter the unexpected. For his mounting of the world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ Dream Catcher, patrons will be startled the moment they step through the lobby door: the seating has been changed to a dynamic in-the-round configuration.

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Cameron Watson

“This play is volatile and exciting,” says Watson. “The muscularity of it got my attention right away.”

Watson doesn’t want audiences to experience the kinetic energy of Dream Catcher in the conventional way. Instead of sitting in the dark and watching the play as an observer, audiences will surround the playing area on all sides and be inside the world of the play with the two characters.

Dream Catcher is set in an empty stretch of the barren Mojave Desert. The construction of a huge solar energy plant in the middle of the desert is threatened to come to a halt when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts are found on the site. Changing the theatre seating to an in-the-round configuration opens up the space to help evoke a feeling of wide expanse. It also creates a sacred circle for the audience, a sense of ritual and ancient storytelling that is central to Mojave Native culture. Even the hoop shape of an actual dream catcher is circular, signifying unity.

“I felt like it needed to be a circular, almost tribal, space,” says Watson. “I felt like it is told in a ring. Communal. That we all need to be part of the experience and commune with the story. Inclusive. The circular space echoes the vastness and isolation of the wide open space and also the circular configuration of the solar field in the desert.”

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The new set is being created by award-winning and longtime Fountain designer Jeff McLaughlin. Changing the audience seating required extra effort for Fountain Technical Director Scott Tuomey and his crew.

This is not the first time the Fountain has experimented with altered seating. In 1993, The Seagull starring Salome Jens was performed in-the-round. Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver had a three-quarter setting in 2010, with the audience seated on three sides.

But this current in-the-round seating for Dream Catcher is unique and has an immediate impact on the total feeling of the space. It is kinetic, energetic and alive.

Which is exactly what Cameron Watson is wanting.

More Info/Get Tickets Now

 

What is a dream catcher?

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In our upcoming world premiere of Stephen Sachs’ new play Dream Catcher, Opal is a young Mojave woman living on the reservation being threatened by the construction of a huge new solar energy plant. She describes to her engineer lover Roy the power of the hoop-shaped object hung over her bed. What is it? A dream catcher.      

Dream catchers are one of the many fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.

The dream catcher has been a part of Native American culture for generations. One element of the Native American dream catcher relates to the tradition of the hoop. Some Natives held the hoop in high esteem because it symbolized strength and unity.

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The legend of the Native American dream catcher varies somewhat from tribe to tribe, but the basic theme was to allow positive dreams to slip through the web and into the sleeper during the night while the negative dreams were caught in the web and would die at morning light. Other tribes have the opposing belief that the web will catch your positive ideas and the negative ones will go through the hole.

The earliest dream catchers, also called “sacred hoops,” were crafted by parents to protect their children from nightmares. Newborn babies were given charms that were woven in the form of webs to protect their dreams so their innocence would not be harmed by the troublemakers of the night. The dream catcher charm would be hung from the hoop on the cradle.

greasygrass-com-dream1Dream catcher hoops were originally made out of red willow and covered with sage, the webbing was made from deer sinew. Modern dream catchers are made with wood or metal wrapped in leather strips, artificial sinew replace the now forbidden use of deer sinew. The decoration of the web along with the shape, size and colors used is left to the artisan’s imagination. Feathers attached to the dream catcher are meant to assist the flight of positive dreams.

Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day.

Pretty cool, eh? Want to make your own dream catcher? Here’s how:

You’ll experience more about the power of good dreams and bad dreams in our riveting and mesmerizing world premiere of Dream Catcher, directed by Cameron Watson and starring Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell.  Don’t miss it!

Dream Catcher Jan 30 – March 21 More Info/Get Tickets 

 

NEW VIDEO: Trailer for world premiere of new play ‘Dream Catcher’ at Fountain Theatre

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Brian Tichnell and Elizabeth Frances

Solar power confronts spirit power in a new drama by Stephen Sachs about climate change, cultural change and the moral consequences of personal choice. Cameron Watson directs Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell in the world premiere of Dream Catcher, opening January 30 at the Fountain Theatre.

Roy is the youngest member on a team of high-level engineers brought in to launch the most important project of his career — the construction of a solar energy plant in the middle of the Mojave Desert — when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts threatens to bring the billion-dollar operation to a halt. The disaster gets deeply personal when the whistle-blower turns out to be Opal, the fiery and unpredictable young Mojave Indian woman with whom Roy has been having an affair.

More Info/Get Tickets

Solar power confronts spirit power in the world premiere of ‘Dream Catcher’ by Stephen Sachs

Mojave station sunriseSolar power confronts spirit power in a new drama by Stephen Sachs about climate change, cultural change and the moral consequences of personal choice. Cameron Watson directs Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell in the world premiere of Dream Catcher, opening January 30 at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

Roy is the youngest member on a team of high-level engineers brought in to launch the most important project of his career — the construction of a solar energy plant in the middle of the Mojave Desert — when the sudden discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts threatens to bring the billion-dollar operation to a halt. The disaster gets deeply personal when the whistle-blower turns out to be Opal, the fiery and unpredictable young Mojave Indian woman with whom Roy has been having an affair.

Inspired by a true event, Sachs wanted to address global warming, climate change and other large issues but weave them into something personal and intimate.

“I’ve always been interested in the battle between science and spirituality, and where they intersect,” he says. “How they are similar, each relying on a kind of faith to explain what we sometimes can’t see. And the paradox of moral certainty. Even when we’re campaigning for something good, sometimes we are forced to discover that we are not who we think we are.”

“This play is messy, complicated, volatile and exciting,” says Watson. “There’s no right or wrong, no bad guy – at least not for the obvious reasons. The muscularity of it got my attention right away. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to be involved, which doesn’t happen often.”

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Cameron Watson has received critical acclaim for directing Antaeus Theatre Company hit productions of Picnic (“Best Plays of 2015,” Time Out Los Angeles, and “Best of Los Angeles Theater 2015, Bitter Lemons) and Top Girls, which The Los Angeles Timesnamed one of the “Ten Best Stage Productions of 2014.” Other credits include the Los Angeles premiere of Cock (Rogue Machine Theatre); All My Sons (The Matrix Theatre Company); Trying, The Savannah Disputation, Grace and Glorie (The Colony Theatre); I Never Sang for My Father (The New American Theatre); I Capture the Castle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); and Rolling with Laughter in London’s West End. He wrote and directed the Miramax feature film Our Very Own, starring Allison Janney in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance. He created the new comedy series Break a Hip, starring Christina Pickles alongside Octavia Spencer, Peri Gilpin, Priscilla Barnes, Jim Rash and Allison Janney.

Elizabeth Frances finalElizabeth Frances has performed at various theaters including the Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Los Angeles Theater Center, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Native Voices and the Kirk Douglas Theater. She has worked with artists such as Travis Preston, Phil Soltanoff (Mad Dog Theater), Jim Findlay (Wooster Group), Shirley Jo Finney and Chris Anthony, and performed in world premiere by writers Randy Reinholz, Marcus Gardley, Josefina Lopez, Carolyn Dunn and Melinda Lopez. Film/TV credits include Ghost Forest,Hunting (Cannes), Her Story (produced by Eve Ensler) and Drunktown’s Finest(Sundance) with executive producer Robert Redford. Elizabeth was featured as one of twelve actors in the ABC Networks’ Talent Showcase. She holds a BFA from CalArts.

Brian TichnellBrian Tichnell’s theater credits include Circle Jerk (REDCAT); Some Cars (Padua Playwrights); Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (L.A. Theatre Works national tour);Peace In Our Time, The Curse of Oedipus and Macbeth (Antaeus Theatre Company); Camino Real (Theatre @ Boston Court); and Hamlet (Oxford Shakespeare Festival). On TV, he recurs as Eric on Silicon Valley and has also been seen in Castle, The Newsroom, Body of Proof and Happy Endings among others. Originally from South Mississippi, Brian attended the University of Mississippi and California Institute of the Arts.

Sachs LA Times feature AUG 2015 croppedStephen Sachs’ plays include Citizen: An American Lyric (adapted from the internationally acclaimed book by Claudia Rankine); Heart Song (Fountain Theatre, Florida Stage); Bakersfield Mist (2012 Elliot Norton Award, Best New Play; produced in London’s West End with Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid, in regional theaters across the US, and translated into other languages and performed worldwide); Cyrano (LA Drama Critics Circle Award, Best Adaptation); Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (Fountain Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Canadian Stage Company, LA Drama Critics Circle award and LA Weekly award nomination for Best Adaptation, and recently published by Dramatist’s Play Service); Gilgamesh (Theatre @ Boston Court); Open Window(Pasadena Playhouse, Media Access Award for Excellence); Central Avenue (PEN USA Literary Award finalist, Back Stage Garland award, Best Play); Sweet Nothing in My Ear(PEN USA Literary Award finalist, Media Access award, NEA grant award); Mother’s Day; The Golden Gate (Best Play, Drama-Logue); and The Baron in the Trees. He wrote the teleplay for Sweet Nothing in My Ear for Hallmark Hall of Fame which aired on CBS starring Marlee Matlin and Jeff Daniels. Sachs co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Deborah Lawlor in 1990.

Consulting with the Fountain on Dream Catcher are Jean Bruce Scott, producing executive director and co-creator of Native Voices at the Autry, and her staff. Set design is by Jeffrey McLaughlin; lighting design is by Luke Moyer; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Terry A. Lewis; props are by Terri Roberts; production stage manager is Emily Lehrer; associate producer is James Bennett; andSimon Levy and Deborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre.

The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 225 awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the 2014 Ovation Award for Best Season and the 2014 BEST Award for overall excellence from the Biller Foundation; the just-closed West Coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, named to Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty’s “Best Theater of 2015” list; and the last seven Fountain productions consecutively highlighted as “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times.

Dream Catcher opens January 30 and runs to March 21.

More Info/Get Tickets (323) 663-1525

PHOTOS: Production team gathers for world premiere of new play ‘Dream Catcher’

DREAM CATCHER Prod Mtg 1The production and design team for our upcoming world premiere of Dream Catcher met at the Fountain yesterday for its first meeting to discuss launching the exciting new play by Stephen Sachs. Solar power confronts spirit power in this riveting new drama about climate change, cultural change and the moral consequences of personal choice. Inspired by a true incident, Dream Catcher opens in January.

Thursday’s production meeting was led by producer Simon Levy. Playwright Sachs and director Cameron Watson shared their vision for the new play with set designer Jeffrey McLaughlin, lighting designer Luke Moyer, sound designer Peter Bayne, costume designer Terri Lewis, and props designer Terri Roberts. Also present were technical director Scott Tuomey, associate producer James Bennett and stage manager Emily Lehrer.

In Dream Catcher, Roy is the youngest member on a team of high-level engineers brought in to launch the most important project of his young career: the construction of a solar energy plant in the middle of the Mojave desert. But Roy suddenly finds himself thrust into the center of a crisis when the discovery of long-buried Native American artifacts threaten to bring the billion-dollar operation to a halt. The disaster gets deeply personal when the whistle-blower turns out to be Opal, the fiery and unpredictable young Mojave Indian woman with whom Roy has been having an affair.

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Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs is the author and/or adaptor of thirteen plays, including such Fountain hits as Citizen: An American Lyric, Heart Song, Cyrano, Bakersfield Mist,  Miss Julie: Freedom Summer, Sweet Nothing in my Ear and Central Avenue.

Cameron Watson recently directed acclaimed productions of Picnic and Top Girls at The Antaeus Company, and Cock at Rogue Machine Theatre.

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