Tag Archives: Tyler Seiple

Next at the Fountain: Powerful world premiere ‘Runaway Home’ is a poetic mother-daughter tale set in New Orleans

RUNAWAY HOME title image

Sometimes what you’re searching for is right where you started. The Fountain Theatre presents a powerful, funny and deeply moving mother-daughter story by Jeremy J. Kamps. Multiple award-winning Shirley Jo Finney returns to the Fountain to direct the world premiere of Runaway Home for a Sept. 16 opening.

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the unhealed wounds of New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward continue to fester. Camille Spirlin (ABC’s American Koko, Fox TV’s Rosewood, Nickelodeon’s Marvin Marvin) stars as 14-year-old runaway Kali. Rhyming, stealing and scamming her way through the still-destroyed neighborhood, she embarks on a journey to pick through the wreckage of what used to be her life. While the rest of the country’s attention drifts, the neighborhood’s residents are left to repair the damage from the inside out. As their attempts at renewal leave a path of destruction in their wake, Kali bears witness to what the floodwaters left behind. Also in the cast are Leith Burke (Citizen: An American Lyric at the Fountain,Neighbors at the Matrix), Jeris Lee Poindexter (The Darker Face of the Earth, Central Avenue, Gem of the Ocean at the Fountain),Armando Rey (Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown at Macha Theatre), Maya Lynne Robinson (In the Red and Brown Water at the Fountain – LADCC Award, Best Ensemble), Brian Tichnell (Dream Catcher at the Fountain, HBOs Silicon Valley, L.A. Theatre Works’ national tour of The Graduate) and Karen Malina White (Citizen: An American Lyric and The Ballad of Emmett Till – Best Ensemble LADCC and Ovation Awards – at the Fountain, currently in As You Like It at Antaeus).

“This play couldn’t be more timely,” says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “Hurricane Katrina may have ceased in 2005, but the storm of racism, poverty and class inequality rages on in our country to this day. We need look no further than Flint, Michigan, to see systemic government prejudice against citizens of color and the poor. But as Jeremy’s play so beautifully demonstrates, the bonds of family and community will weather any storm.”

When Kamps traveled to New Orleans two years after Katrina to volunteer “gutting and mucking” (stripping homes to the studs to remove mold), he had been teaching middle school in Connecticut. He already had an idea in his head about a runaway girl who collects other people’s garbage, finding meaning in the meaningless.

“Kali’s world paralleled the displacement, hope for renewal, fracture and resilience I was seeing in the social-political reality of the Lower 9th Ward,” he explains. “Whenever a character’s inner life and experience are so congruent with an important social issue, that’s the story I want to write.”

While in New Orleans, Kamps met Antoine, a man in his ‘70s who had just returned to what had been his family’s home for generations. Antoine was going from house to house trying to trace relatives, friends, acquaintances and neighbors, to find out what had happened to them in the years since the storm. “His friendship helped me honor the stories of this community in a truthful way — to see the past, present and future of the Lower 9th through their eyes,” says the playwright.

According to Finney, “Because the media painted them as poor and impoverished, most people don’t realize that the residents of the Lower 9th were working class homeowners. Those homes had been in families for generations. Members of the community were expecting government funds so they could rebuild, but because of red tape and bureaucracy, the money never came, or it took so long that people had to end up using it for rent or just to eat.”

“The mother-daughter relationship becomes the pivotal heart space in this story about this community,” she continues. “The play is very funny because Kali is so spirited, but the rage, helplessness and loss that Kali and her mother share are the core of the play. That is the challenge they both struggle with to find their way back to each other and home. What happens to people when they aren’t seen, when they don’t feel safe? How do you begin to rebuild your life when nobody cares?”

Jeremy Kamps’s plays have received awards and recognition including the William Saroyan Human Rights Award Finalist (2016); Page 73 Semi-Finalist (2017); Ruby Lloyd Apsey Award (Gutting); The Goldberg Prize; Woodward International Playwriting (What It Means To Disappear Here); Hudson Valley Writers Center and the NYU Festival of New Works (Water Hyacinth). His play Breitwisch Farm will be produced by Esperance Theater Company in NYC later this year. Recent productions include Gutting, presented by the National Black Theatre of Harlem and What It Means To Disappear Here (Ugly Rhino, NYC). His work has been produced/developed with Esperance Theater Company, Company Cypher at the National Black Theatre of Harlem, Ugly Rhino, Dixon Place, Hudson Valley Shakespeare, The Amoralists and New York Theatre Workshop. His fiction has been published in The Madison Review and The Little Patuxent; has been honored with the H.E. Francis Award, the Howard/John Reid Fiction Prize and was a Lamar York Prize finalist; and has been recognized in Glimmertrain, Inkwell, The Caribbean Writer and New Millenium. He is a member of the Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater. Also an educator and activist, Jeremy has lived and worked for lengthy periods of time in Latin America, India and East Africa, where he focused on support and empowerment for former child soldiers, displaced peoples and child rights. He recently received the Theatre Communications Group “On the Road” grant to return to Kenya where he conducted drama workshops as part of his research for a new play on flower farms. He has facilitated drama and writing workshops around the world and for all ages. He has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Shirley Jo Finney has previously directed acclaimed Fountain productions of Citizen: An American Lyric (selected for CTG’s first annual Block Party at the Kirk Douglas Theatre) The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water (for which she earned her second Ovation award), Heart Song, The Ballad of Emmett TillYellowman, Central Avenue and From the Mississippi Delta.  Her work has been seen at the McCarter Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Goodman Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, L.A. Theatre Works, Crossroads Theater Company, Actors Theater of Louisville Humana Festival, Mark Taper Forum, American College Theatre Festival, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the State Theater in Pretoria, South Africa, where she helmed a critically acclaimed production of the South African opera, Winnie, based on the life of political icon Winnie Mandela. For television, she directed several episodes of Moesha, and she garnered the International Black Filmmakers ‘Best Director’ Award for her short film, Remember Me.She is the recipient of the African American Film Marketplace Award of Achievement for Outstanding Performance and Achievement and leader in Entertainment.

The creative team for Runaway Home includes scenic designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz, lighting designer Jennifer Edwards, composer/sound designer Peter Bayne, costume designer Naila Aladdin Sanders, props designer DeAnne Millais, choreographer TylerJanet Roston and dialect coach Tyler Seiple. The production stage manager is Jessaica Shields; associate producer is James Bennett; and Stephen SachsSimon 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 inclusion of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in Center Theatre Group’s upcoming Block Party at the Kirk Douglas Theatre; and the naming of seven Fountain productions in a row as “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times. The Fountain’s most recent production, the world premiere of Building the Wall by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, ran for five months and was named “L.A. hottest ticket” by the Los Angeles Times.

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PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Opening Night Party for the West Coast Premiere of ‘Broomstick’

Jenny O'Hara in 'Broomstick' at the Fountain Theatre

Jenny O’Hara in ‘Broomstick’ at the Fountain Theatre

The Fountain enjoyed a night of magic last Saturday, Oct 18th, with the opening night of the funny and sinister solo play Broomstick starring the bewitching Jenny O’Hara. The performance was wonderful and mesmerizing, followed by a lively catered reception upstairs in the cafe. Written by John Biguenet and directed by Stephen Sachs, Broomstick is a delightful play about an eccentric old lady who lives in the deep, dark woods who folks in town believe is a witch. A treat for the Halloween season, Broomstick runs to Nov 30th.

After the opening night performance, a party was held in our upstairs cafe highlighted with food, drink and hearty cheers of celebration.  Joining actress Jenny O’Hara at the party were the Fountain production and artistic team, director Stephen Sachs, producers Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor, associate producer James Bennett, designers Andrew Hammer (set) and Jessica Edwards (lighting), dialect coach Tyler Seiple, Jenny’s daughter Sophie Ullett, friends Jane Anderson and Tess Ayers, actress Jacqueline Schultz, and Fountain subscribers and audience members. A great time was had by all.  

Enjoy These Snapshots from the Opening Night Party  

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Broomstick  Now Playing to Nov 30th  (323) 663-1525   MORE  

Jenny O’Hara Stars in the Wickedly Entertaining West Coast Premiere of ‘Broomstick’ at the Fountain Theatre

BROOMSTICK postcard front

Is She Really A Witch? Whatever Happens, She’ll Put a Spell On You …

Trick or Treat. Director Stephen Sachs and actress Jenny O’Hara (Bakersfield Mist) reunite for the wickedly entertaining, spine-chilling West Coast premiere of Broomstick by John Biguenet. A funny, poignant and “spell” binding tale about the magic of the human heart, Broomstick opens at the Fountain Theatre on Oct. 11.

Set in Appalachia and written entirely in verse, Biguenet’s charming and mesmerizing solo play introduces us to a wacky, bizarre old woman living in an odd little shack deep in the woods… who just may happen to be a witch. Creepily funny and frightening, she takes us back to our childhoods when, in our innocence, we first wrestled with good and evil. As she unveils her life, we journey with her down a shadowy path somewhere between our material world and the realm of fantasy. But this is no Hansel and Gretel fairytale; in Broomstick, justice is meted out swiftly and harshly.

“In the course of this crazy old lady’s attempt to explain and justify herself to an unexpected visitor, certain truths come out,” says Sachs. “It’s up to the audience to decide how much is fact and how much is imagined – and to what extent all of our realties are influenced by what is in our heads and in our hearts.”

Jenny O'Hara in 'Broomstick'

Jenny O’Hara in ‘Broomstick’

Broomstick was first produced in a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere by New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch, NJ), Montana Repertory Theatre (Missoula, MT) and Southern Rep (New Orleans, LA) with support from the National New Play Network’s Continued Life of New Plays Fund. “Broomstick doesn’t settle for just entertaining… the show shocks with moments of unexpected insight… Biguenet’s writing [is] so skillful that you might not even realize the play was written in verse until you’re already fifteen or twenty minutes into it,” wrote the TriCity News.

Jenny O'Hara

Jenny O’Hara

Jenny O’Hara was last seen at the Fountain in the long-running Bakersfield Mist, written and directed by Sachs. She has starred on Broadway in the female version of The Odd Couple, The Iceman Cometh, Promises, Promises, The Kid and The Fig Leaves Are Falling. Regional and L.A. credits include 4000 Miles and Our Mother’s Brief Affair (South Coast Rep), Seder, Little Egypt The Musical and The Bold Girls (Matrix), The Body Of Bourne (Taper), Lanford Wilson’s Sympathetic Magic; the LADCC-nominated Book Of Days at Theatre Tribe, and the Drama-Logue award-winning The Fox. TV credits include Big Love; King of Queens; Costello; Life’s Work; My Sister Sam; NCIS; The Closer; House; Cold Case; CSI; Nip/Tuck; Grey’s Anatomy; Ghost Whisperer; Six Feet Under; The Practice; and If These Walls Could Talk 2. Films include M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil; Heartbeat; Ridley Scott’s The Matchstick Men; Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River; Forty Shades of Blue; Two Weeks; Jonathan Toomey; How To Make Love To A Woman; Hit List; Extract; Angie; andCareer Opportunities. She is a founding member of EST (Ensemble Studio Theatre) in N.Y.C. and L.A., and is also a member of the Matrix and Theatre Tribe Companies.

Stephen Sachs is a multi-award winning director and playwright. His play, Bakersfield Mist, which he directed at the Fountain starring Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, recently completed a successful run in London’s West End with Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid. Other directing credits include the Los Angeles premiere of My Name Is Asher Lev; Completeness by Itamar Moses, starring Jason Ritter; Warren Leight’s Side Man starring Christine Lahti and Tony-winner Frank Wood; a three-city tour in China directing Top Secret for LA Theatre Works; the L.A. premiere of Conor McPherson’s Shining City (LA Weekly Award); the world premiere of Miss Julie: Freedom Summer at the Fountain, Canadian Stage Company (Toronto), Vancouver Playhouse and Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Euripides’ Hippolytos at the Getty Villa in Malibu, Gilgamesh at Theatre @ Boston Court, West Coast premiere of String of Pearls at the Road Theatre, Arthur Miller’s After the Fall (4 Ovation awards including Best Production and Best Director), Sweet Nothing in My Ear (Fountain Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis), and many others. Sachs has a special relationship with Athol Fugard, who calls the Fountain his “artistic home on the West Coast,” and has directed the premieres of six of the master playwright’s works including the U.S. premieres of The Blue Iris and The Train Driver (LA Weekly Award, Best Director); West Coast premiere of Coming Home (Best Director, LA Weekly award); U.S. premiere of Victory (NAACP Award, Best Director); world premiere of  Exits and Entrancesat the Fountain (Ovation and LA Drama Critics Circle awards, Best Director) and Off-Broadway at Primary Stages in New York (NY Outer Critics Circle nomination Best New Play); and L.A. premiere of Road to Mecca. Sachs has twice won the LA Ovation Award for Best Director of a Play and has been twice nominated for the SDC Zelda Fichandler Award, recognizing an outstanding director who is making a unique and exceptional contribution to theatre in their region. He co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Deborah Lawlor in 1990.

John Biguenet made his mark as a fiction writer around 2000 when Ecco (an imprint of HarperCollins) published his story collection, “The Torturer’s Apprentice,” and a novel, “Oyster.” In the past decade, he has focused on theater, producing a string of plays including a Katrina-themed trilogy about the flooding of New Orleans —Rising Water (2007), Shotgun (2009) and Mold (2013) — that has been the subject of articles in American Theatre, The American Scholar and elsewhere. He was awarded a Marquette Fellowship for the writing of Night Train, his new play, which he developed on a Studio Attachment at the National Theatre in London and which premiered at New Jersey Rep Theatre in 2011. In 2008, Biguenet was named Theatre Person of the Year at the Big Easy Theatre Awards, the region’s major professional theater awards. He received the Louisiana Writer Award in 2012. Having served twice as president of the American Literary Translators Association and as writer-in-residence at various universities, he is currently the Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Set design for Broomstick is by Andrew Hammer; lighting design is by Jennifer Edwards; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Shon LeBlanc; prop design and set dressing are by Misty Carlisle; dialect coach is Tyler Seiple; associate producer is James Bennett; and the production stage manager is Terri Roberts.

Jenny O'Hara

Jenny O’Hara

Broomstick opens on Saturday, Oct. 11 and continues through Nov. 30, with performances Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., except Friday, Oct. 31, when audience members are invited to “trick or treat” at the Fountain with an early curtain at 6 p.m. – come in costume! Preview performances take place Oct. 4 through Oct. 10.  For reservations and information, call 323-663-1525 or click here.

rehearsal photos: Ed Krieger

First Rehearsal for West Coast Premiere of ‘Broomstick’ starring Jenny O’Hara

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Director Stephen Sachs shares his vision with the company.

Wicked Fun in New Play About a Mountain Witch  

Do you believe witches can be real? We had a delightful one with us at the Fountain this Saturday for the first meet & greet rehearsal for our upcoming West Coast premiere of the new play Broomstick by John Biguenet, starring stage/film/TV veteran Jenny O’Hara.  In this funny and poignant new solo play directed by Stephen Sachs, Jenny O’Hara plays an eccentric old woman who may, in fact, be a witch.  

Set in Appalachia and written entirely in verse, this charming and mesmerizing solo play is about a wacky old lady living in a odd little shack who just may happen to be a witch. Jenny O’Hara (Bakersfield Mist) returns to the Fountain in this funny, poignant and spell-binding tale of the magic of the human heart.  

'Broomstick' set design by Andrew Hammer

‘Broomstick’ set design by Andrew Hammer

Jenny O'Hara

Jenny O’Hara

First rehearsal was this Saturday, August 23, and a good time was had by all. Director Stephen Sachs spoke about his vision for the play and producer Simon Levy guided the company through the production paperwork. Also present at the first reading were co-artistic director Deborah Lawlor, associate producer James Bennett, designers Andrew Hammer and Misty Carlisle, dialect coach Tyler Seiple, technical director Scott Tuomey, stage manager Terri Roberts, box office manager Jessica Brout, intern William Sachs, and publicist Lucy Pollak. Once the opening business was done, actress Jenny O’Hara read the script marvelously. Jenny, of course, is well known and loved by Fountain audiences for her memorable performance in the smash hit Bakersfield Mist, and recently earned rave reviews in 4,000 Miles at South Coast Repertory.   

Preview performances of Broomstick start October 2nd. The West Coast Premiere opens at the Fountain Theatre on October 11 and runs to Nov 30. More info and order tickets.   
 

Enjoy These Snapshots of the First Rehearsal

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