Fountain Theatre Celebrates its First 25 Years as a Vital, Intimate L.A. Stage

la-2436084-stephen-sachs-kaf350-c-jpg-20150821From the L.A. Times, by Charles McNulty

“I was working at the time at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills,” Sachs recalled. “I was there for almost two years, and we were doing ‘Love Letters,’ which was running forever, when I got this call out of the blue from Deborah Lawlor, who said that she wanted to start a company.

“Deborah and I had worked together on a project when she was an independent theater producer in L.A.,” Sachs continued. “But she was in New York and had got in a very serious car accident. When she was lying in the hospital, she said to herself, ‘If I survive this, I’m going to do what I always wanted to do, which is to have a theater of my own.’ Thank God she survived. And she called me — I remember that phone call so well — and said, ‘I want to start a theater. Will you run it with me?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

The Fountain occupies an easy-to-miss building on a nondescript stretch of Fountain Avenue, the street made famous by the practical advice Bette Davis reputedly offered young actors with their sights set on Hollywood: “Always take Fountain.”

Inside, with its folksy upstairs café and single unit men’s room with delicate plumbing, it looks more like a private home in need of a gut renovation than a prominent theater and dance hub. (The Fountain, in addition to being one of the top five small theaters in L.A., is also the foremost presenter of Flamenco in the area.)

The moment Sachs and Lawlor walked into the building, they knew they found their theater. “There’s the wonderful relationship of the stage with the audience that’s intimate and embracing. We just felt that this was home,” Sachs said. “We bought the building in 1990. We own the building outright. Smartest thing we’ve ever done.”

Stephen Sachs will be honored on October 3rd at a special event commemorating the theatre’s 25th anniversary.

Read the full article here.

Urban Stages to Present Oren Safdie’s UNSEAMLY

Urban Stages to Present Oren Safdie's New Play UNSEAMLYInspired by a variety of sexual harassment allegations brought against well-known clothing companies, Unseamly follows a young woman seeking legal advice to initiate charges of sexual harassment against her former boss, the CEO of an international clothing company known for its risqué billboards. In Unseamly, female sexuality confronts male corporate power.

“Sexual harassment and power plays in corporate America, sadly are not uncommon. Oren has crafted an edgy, cutting play that explores the truth and manipulation in corporate America. The play asks just how far one will go to get to the top? Although it’s controversial, it’s a very smart and important play to see and Urban Stages is proud to bring this play to the stage.” – Urban Stages Founding Artistic Director, Frances Hill.

For ticketing information: Unseamly will begin performances on October 8; Opening night is set for October 14 through November 1 at Urban Stages (259 West 30 Street) Tickets will be $55 ($35 during previews) and are available at UrbanStages.org.

Stephen Sachs’ BAKERSFIELD MIST – Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh

Review from The Public Reviews:

Bakersfield Mist Review from Edinburgh ImageHaving bought a canvas in a thrift store for $3 (and narrowly avoided filling it with bullet holes on a drunken bender) Maude (Hazel Eadie) now believes her ‘ugly’ painting is a hitherto unknown work by iconic modern artist Jackson Pollock. In her rundown trailer in the Californian heat, art expert Lionel (Ian Aldred) has come to view the painting and offer his professional assessment of its authenticity…

There are a few twists in the tale to keep the story moving, and the performers manage the changes in tone effectively, seeming most at ease when playing the comedy of Sachs’ text but also bringing genuine tension to some moments of high drama. Eadie and Aldred bring depth and authenticity to what could be played as clumsy archetypes of white trash and art snob, with Kara Johnston’s broadly confident direction helping bring Maude’s trash filled trailer to life.

Like Yasmina Reza’s Art and Alan Bennett’s A Question of Attribution, art is here used for an exploration of character, so don’t be surprised if by the end of the play you’ve learned more about Maude and Lionel than the canvas itself.

Stephen Sachs’ Fountain Theatre Tackles Racism in ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’

“Recent events have placed the topic of racism firmly in focus once again.  The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles is addressing this issue with the new play ‘Citizen: An American Lyric,’ playing through Sept. 14.

“The production was adapted by Fountain Theatre’s co-artistic director Stephen Sachs from the acclaimed Claudia Rankine book of the same name”…  “Her book, ‘Citizen: An American Lyric,’ was a winner of the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry and a finalist for criticism.

“Sachs had spent more than a year looking for the right production ‘to add the Fountain Theatre’s voice to the national conversation about race,’ because he felt the company could contribute something artistically to the discussion. After reading reviews of Rankine’s book he bought it, and as he read through its pages, Sachs quickly realized that ‘her’s was the voice that I had been looking for.’

“Sachs chose to use only Rankine’s words in his script and approach the process of turning it into a play by thinking of it as a piece of music in terms of solos, duets, trios and an ensemble. The result is an examination of race and racism through vignettes and snapshots employing prose, poetry, movement, music and the visual image”…  “Sachs hopes that after seeing ‘Citizen: An American Lyric,’ audience members will question their own responses to race and racism.”

Read the full story here.

Review of Bonnie J Monte’s The Guardsman at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

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‘“What did we just see?” Whether you formulate those words as a question or exclaim them, you could not be blamed for any bewilderment, everyone’s reaction to the Saturday, July 11, performance of “The Guardsman” by The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. The Company scored a huge hit with its world premiere adaptation of Ferenc Molnár’s 1910 play, a stupefyingly perplexing, confusing and agonizing work that, perhaps until now, has wrongly been presented as romantic comedy. Artistic Director Bonnie J Monte’s printed notes aptly warn: “[I]t poses terribly disturbing questions at the same time that it provokes gales of laughter.”’

Read the full review of Bonnie J Monte’s The Guardsman here.