Tag Archives: Reborning

Fountain Theatre wins 17 StageSceneLA Awards including Top Intimate Theatre

Matthew Hancock and Jennifer Finch in 'I And You'.

Matthew Hancock and Jennifer Finch in ‘I And You’.

Editor Steven Stanley today announced his recipients of the 2014-15 StageSceneLA Theatre Awards. The Fountain Theatre was awarded 16 citations for its 2014-15 productions of I And You, Reborning and Broomstick.  Steven Stanley’s StageSceneLA.com has spotlighted the best in Southern California theater since 2007.

  • The Year’s Top 8 Intimate Theatres – Fountain Theatre
  • The Year’s Top 8 Productions, PLAY –  I And You 
  • Outstanding Drama (Intimate Theater)  Reborning
  • Outstanding Production, Solo Performance Broomstick
  • Ensemble Cast, Drama (Intimate Theatre) Reborning
  • Performance in a Play Jennifer Finch,  Matthew Hancock, I and You
  • Lead Performance, Duo Ensemble, (Intimate Theatre) Jennifer Finch and Matthew Hancock, I and You
  • Performance by a Lead Actress (Intimate Theatre) Joanna Strapp, Reborning
  • Best Solo Performance  Jenny O’Hara, Broomstick
  • Direction of a Drama (Intimate Theatre) Simon Levy, Reborning
  • Direction of a Comedy/Drama, (Intimate Theatre) Robin Larsen, I  and You
  • Direction of a Solo Performance Stephen Sachs, Broomstick
  • Production Design (Intimate Theatre) Broomstick
  • Composer of the Year Peter Bayne, Reborning
  • Scenic & Properties Design of the Year Andrew Hammer (set) and Misty Carlisle (properties) for Broomstick

Click here for the full list of award recipients

To be eligible for a 2014-2015 Scenie, a production must have been one of the nearly 250 reviewed on StageSceneLA between September 1, 2014, and August 31, 2015.

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PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Q&A Talkback Discussion with Real Reborn Artists Highlights ‘Reborning’ Matinee

DSCN1898Are you curious about the people who create those lifelike reborn dolls? Why they do it? How they’re made? We hosted a fascinating Q&A discussion with reborn doll artists Amy Karich and LaJuana Hawkins following last Sunday’s matinee of Reborning by Zayd Dohrn.

Amy Karich is a professional Reborn artist based in Southern California. Her online nursery, Amy’s Dollhouse, can be found at www.amysdollhouse.com.  LaJuana Hawkins is a sculptor of African American figurines who has recently turned her talents to reborning.

In Zayd Dohrn’s play, currently receiving rave reviews in its Los Angeles premiere at the Fountain, a young reborn artist who crafts custom-made dolls tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a new client and, in the process, discovers the path to her own “reborning.” Starring Kristin Carey, Ryan Doucette and Joanna Strapp, and directed by Simon Levy, the Fountain Theatre’s production has been named a “Critic’s Choice” by the Los Angeles Times, which calls it an “exquisitely well-realized production … All the actors are rock-solid — a real heart-stopper.”

Enjoy These Snapshots from the Reborn Artist Q&A 

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Want to Meet Two Real “Reborn” doll artists? Ask Questions? See ‘Reborning’ This Sunday, March 8th

Joanna Strapp in 'Reborning'

Joanna Strapp in ‘Reborning’

Amy Karich and LaJuana Hawkins to Q&A at Fountain Theatre

“Reborn” doll artists Amy Karich and LaJuana Hawkins will lead a discussion at the Fountain Theatre on Sunday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m., following the 2 p.m. matinee performance of Reborning by Zayd Dohrn.

A Reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl doll that has been transformed to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible. Although many consumers collect Reborns as they would regular dolls, others use them to replace a child they once lost or a child that has grown up. The dolls often come with birth or adoption certificates, and their “parents” care for them as they would an infant. Because of their realistic appearance, Reborn dolls have occasionally been mistaken for real babies and rescued from parked cars after being reported to the police by passers-by.

Kristin Carey in "Reborning".

Kristin Carey in “Reborning”.

The doll design process — called Reborning — is elaborate and time-consuming. Creators hand-root each strand of hair onto a doll’s scalp. They replicate dewy newborn skin by adding up to 80 layers of paint to the vinyl molded baby, which then must be baked to be sealed. Some are then perfumed with new-baby smell. Manicured nails and opening of the nose holes, so that the baby can “breathe,” are other details that are added during the process. Reborn heads are often weighted, so that owners have to support the head like one would a real newborn. Electronic devices that mimic a heart beat, or make the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing are common. Reborns might come with an umbilical cord, baby fat, heat packs to make the reborn warm to the touch, or voice boxes that mimic infant sounds. Reborn dolls can be purchased on EBay and on artist websites, often called “nurseries.” Purchases are not called sales, but “adoptions.” There are trade shows for collectors nationwide. Depending on craftsmanship, dolls range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Amy Karich is a professional Reborn artist based in Southern California. Her online nursery, Amy’s Dollhouse, can be found at www.amysdollhouse.com.

LaJuana Hawkins is a sculptor of African American figurines who has recently turned her talents to Reborning.

In Zayd Dohrn’s play, currently receiving its Los Angeles premiere at the Fountain. a young artist who crafts custom-made dolls begins to suspect that a demanding client may be the mother who abandoned her at birth. As she tries to unravel the mystery, she discovers the path to her own “Reborning.” Starring Kristin Carey, Ryan Doucette and Joanna Strapp, and directed bySimon Levy, the Fountain Theatre’s production has been named a “Critic’s Choice” by the Los Angeles Times, which calls it an “exquisitely well-realized production… All the actors are rock-solid — a real heart-stopper.”

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You Won’t Believe What This Art Student Was Hired to Paint for Our LA Premiere of ‘Reborning’

Gabriella Guzman

Gabriella Guzman

[WARNING: This post contains adult content and images]

One of the characters in Zayd Dohrn’s play Reborning has a unique profession. And we don’t mean Kelly (Joanna Strapp), the gal who makes lifelike dolls. We’re talking about her boyfriend, Daizy (Ryan Doucette). He makes … well … how does Kelly politely describe them? “Adult rubber and latex items.”  Dildos. Which Daizy waves about their NY loft in the play. So, when it came time to produce the LA Premiere of this funny and powerful comedy/drama, the Fountain was put in the unique and unusual position of needing to hire someone to paint the dildos so they looked as realistic as the dolls Kelly creates.

And where does one go to find a dildo painter? The Fountain turned to Gabriella Guzman, a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. 

Where are you from? Where did you get your art training? 

Well my Cuban self was born in Virginia (random, right?), but my parents raised me in Miami, which is basically second Cuba. No lie.  I pretty much get empanadas pelted at my face as soon as I step off the plane. I’ve been in public art schools my whole life, but I’m currently studying Illustration & Fine Art at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

How did you get this unique job on this production? 

Apparently [Artistic Director/Producer] Stephen Sachs sat down at the dinner table one night and asked his son, Daniel [who also attends Art Center], if he had any friends who would be good at a penis paint job. Immediately, my name came to his mind. And to this day, I have no idea how to feel about that.

What was your reaction when you were offered this job?

My immediate reaction was to ask Daniel why in the heck he thought of me as the ideal penis painter. But after a while, I realized that this job makes for the greatest story because it’s my first job! After all, how many people can say their first job title was “Dildo Painter”?

Gabriella Guzman hard at work.

Gabriella Guzman hard at work.

Have you ever painted anything like this before?

You know, as twisted as my mind is, I’ve actually never painted penises before. I should do it more often, though, cuz they definitely make great reference for trees or mushrooms or horrific worm demons. Seriously, just add teeth to one of those things and it’s a pelvic nightmare Dali wishes he would’ve painted.

How are the dildos used in the play?

One of the main characters, Daizy, makes photo-realistic penis sculptures for a living. At one point, he walks out on stage with one of the penises hanging out of his pants! I’m happy to say that the audience thinks it’s a real penis most of the time until they notice how big it is (HA! See what I did there?)

Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp, Ryan Doucette

Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp, Ryan Doucette

What’s it like painting a dildo? Did it make you uncomfortable at first? 

Working with the rubber material was challenging at first because any paint I’d put on the surface would immediately crack once the rubber was bent or stretched, but luckily I got a lesson in material methods by a real Special FX Makeup Artist and I was able to use his supplies to produce better results. All in all, painting dildos made me feel like an incredibly unique human being at first, but after a while, I started wishing I was a lesbian just so I’d never have to see another dick again!

Did you tell your friends what you were dong? How did they react? 

Joanna Strapp

Joanna Strapp

As soon as I got the job, my immediate thought was “Omg FACEBOOOOK STATUUUS”, which just shows you where our culture is today. My male friends reacted by offering themselves up as reference, but golly gosh, as much as I loved those offers, I respectfully declined. I remember getting tagged in a lot of posts about phallic sculptures and there were quite a few enlarged stills of pornos messaged to me. Isn’t it great to have supportive friends?

Have you told your parents? What was their reaction?

My mom, being an old fashioned Cuban woman who is too sweet and pure to have heard of such things, reacted pleasantly when I told her I was a dildo painter simply because she had absolutely no idea what a dildo was. I remember her saying “Oh sweetie, how nice. Is that a type of plant?” 

Do you enjoy painting them?

Gabby

Gabby takes her work home.

I feel like there’s no way for me to answer these questions without sounding like I really like penises.

I do.

And painting them ain’t so bad either.

What is involved in painting a dildo? Can you briefly take us through the process? 

You need to paint rubber using a special paint called Skin Illustrator, and the paint has to go on in very thin layers otherwise it’ll rub off or get clunky. It’s kind of like painting with watercolor, only instead of water, you use alcohol. Once the dildos are dry, you spray them with “Green Marble”, a makeup sealer that keeps everything from rubbing off for a good week or so. You drop off your finished dildos, go home, and once you’ve finally forgotten about penises, you get called to come back for a retouch. Rinse and repeat!

Have you ever been involved in a theater or play before?

I’ve never been involved in a play before or been part of any theater work. It was so exciting to see everyone scramble, to discover what it’s like to put a play together. It requires a lot of teamwork, I’ll tell you that much.

How did you feel on Opening Night, seeing your dildos up there on stage?

When Daizy ran out on stage with my dick hanging out of his pants, I punched my friend in the arm out of excitement.

What’s it like being part of the production team at the Fountain? Has it been a good experience?

I absolutely LOVED being a part of the production team at the Fountain! It was so amazing to feel like a functioning adult for a few weeks, with a job and a title! Everyone at the Fountain has been so accepting, kind, and professional. I’m proud to be a member of this family. 

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 You can see Gabriella’s handiwork in the LA Premiere of Reborning at the Fountain Theatre, now playing to March 15th. Get Tickets/More Info

New Video! ‘Reborning’ Cast & Director Chat About Acclaimed LA Premiere at Fountain Theatre

Reborning Now Playing to March 15  (323) 663-1525  MORE

Art and Life Replicate Each Other in LA Premiere of ‘Reborning’ at Fountain Theatre

Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp in 'Reborning'.

Kristin Carey, Joanna Strapp in ‘Reborning’.

by Mindy Farabee

Sometimes art imitates life and sometimes life imitates art. And somewhere in between, sometimes things get curious.

Hollywood’s Fountain Theatre recently opened a play dealing with parenthood, the mystery of creation and the scars of loss. What it’s literally about is reborning, a thriving subculture in which artists spend hundreds of hours creating and collectors spend thousands of dollars buying vinyl dolls meticulously fashioned to resemble real babies.

Reborning began in the United States in the 1990s, when a few enthusiasts started painting over and otherwise altering (or “reborning”) store-bought dolls to make them appear more realistic. Now, however, it has become an international phenomenon. One unassembled, limited-edition kit for making the dolls recently released online sold out in less than three minutes.

The play, Reborning, centers on an artist and the increasingly unnerving relationship she develops with a client. Zayd Dohrn wrote it after the birth of his first child. In stumbling upon the curious art form, Dohrn found a perfect vehicle for exploring the terrifying vulnerability of new life. He also made something of a mess. “I tried my hand at making a couple dolls,” Dohrn says. “It didn’t turn out well.”

The show has previously been produced in New York, San Francisco and Anaheim (at the Chance Theater in 2012), with local reborners employed to create dolls.

The Fountain called Amy Karich, an Orange County stay-at-home mom who sells her reborn creations online. Karich, who also designed dolls for the Chance production, works out of a studio tucked into the tidy rolling hills on the outskirts of Laguna Beach. A slant-roofed add-on to the back of the family home, Karich’s workshop sits on one of those quiet, planned streets with an abundance of two-car garages, stacked rows of matching terracotta-hued roofs and artfully spaced palm trees.

Amy Karich in her studio.

Amy Karich in her studio.

Inside, her studio testifies to a flurry of activity. A paint-drenched sponge lies on her desk amidst jars of paints, brushes and beads. Against the walls sit boxes of eyeballs and a small table of disembodied doll parts. Teething toys, bassinets and pastel blankets dominate the decor.

“I’m not even a baby person,” announces the petite, blond mother of four, with the hint of an ironic smile.

That she’s going on the record at all is a pleasant surprise. The fact that some buyers have suffered miscarriages or found themselves unable to conceive prompted several articles casting them as mildly deranged. “People feel like they’ve been burned in the press,” says Dohrn, to explain why lately the subculture has taken on a slight air of secrecy.

Some clients ask for dolls with particular characteristics, occasionally including a picture. Other clients are more vague. One asked for 13 moles, though Karich could place them where she chose. The dolls aren’t usually used as toys — they’re mainly for display.

Artists become known for certain trademarks, such as color palates, and Karich says her skin tones are a signature of her work. She plucks the head from a nearly completed newborn to illustrate. “I put stork bites on them,” she says, pointing to the pinkish birthmark on the back of its head, which can appear during birth.

“All kinds of traumatic things happen at birth,” she adds. “Newborns … can have pressure marks anywhere. Because sometimes the baby will be resting against the bottom of the tailbone [for instance],” she says, absentmindedly rubbing her lower back.

Zayd Dohrn at the Fountain Theatre

Playwright Zayd Dohrn at the Fountain Theatre

“I love that she said that,” Dohrn says. “When you hear Amy talk, you understand what humans go through [during birth], the adventure they’ve been on and how it shows up on their bodies.”

Karich, whose dolls routinely go for $1,500 apiece, might spend 150 hours creating one. The details she adds reinforce that these aren’t toys but objects meant for display, intended for serious collectors. Artists favor Genesis paints, and stuff glass or zinc beads inside the dolls to give them an authentic heft. (“Some people have been known to use kitty litter,” Karich says, turning up her nose at the idea.)

Karich fishes out handful of handcrafted eyes from beneath a crib. “These are made of mouth-blown glass, produced in Germany. They go for $30 to $40 a pair,” she says. Her newborns also come with detachable magnetic umbilical cords, made by snipping off the finger of a vinyl glove and stuffing it with cloth painted to resemble bloody tissue, before tying it off with a real medical clamp.

“It’s very relaxing to me to be able to create,” she says.

In translating her dolls to the stage, a few adjustments were necessary, such as designing a deeper mottling for the skin to render it more visible to an audience.

There is one aspect of Dohrn’s play that Karich finds not terribly realistic: The reborner allows her client far too much access. Karich doesn’t even give out her phone number, in order to set boundaries on her time. But her clients are nearly all repeat customers. Relationships inevitably form, and personal details are shared — some tragic, but mostly clients just send news about their children.

“Most collectors are mothers and perfectly normal people,” Karich stresses. “Some people could be filling some sort of void with the dolls … but it’s not a void that causes them to treat the dolls like real babies. They are just another group of people, interested in something.”
Mindy Farabee is a writer and critic living in Los Angeles. A former LA Times staff writer, her work has also appeared in publications such as Bookforum, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, The Millions, the Boston Globe, and LA Weekly. This post originally appeared in the LA Weekly

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Production Pix from LA Premiere of ‘Reborning’ at Fountain Theatre

Joanna Strapp in 'Reborning'

Joanna Strapp in ‘Reborning’

The Fountain Theatre’s Los Angeles Premiere of Reborning by Zayd Dohrn opened last weekend to powerful reactions from audiences and critics.  Reviews are starting to trickle in and already the production has been hailed by LA Splash as “another hit for the Fountain Theatre” with “fabulous acting.”

Reborning is a funny and riveting comedy/drama about creating family and the power of healing. Directed by Simon Levy, it stars Kristin Carey, Ryan Doucette and Joanna Strapp and runs to March 15th.  

Enjoy These Production Photos from ‘Reborning’

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Reborning Now – March 15 (323) 663-1525  More/Get Tickets