Monday, March 12, 2012

The Fountain in the Rough

ON THE east side of Hollywood, amongst rundown houses and a homeless person or two sits a gem of a theater, which I only recently discovered. The Fountain Theatre resides in what appears to be an old converted apartment building. If it wasn’t for the white Christmas lights dangling off the front of the building, or the giant neon sign saying “The Fountain” on the side of the building, one would probably drive by it three or four times before noticing it. Even with those signifiers it is hard to tell it is a theater until you go inside, on the lower level that is.

Arriving much too early to be admitted to the theatre I was directed up a narrow stairway, which much resembles the stairway in my grandmother’s seventy-year-old house in Connecticut. Once at the top I turned left and was greeted by three sets of doors. I later learned one was to a hallway, which housed the upstairs restroom, the middle one went to the kitchen and the one to the left was the lounge. The lounge was quaint and I immediately liked the place. The walls were plastered with poster and reviews from performances over the last twenty-two years, which is how long this theatre has been running. The bar offered drinks of all sorts and as I sat there passing the time, a man who turned out to be the Technical Director of the theater brought in more drinks and the biggest chocolate cake, making it seem as if he just got back from Costco or other surplus store.

Before going back down the stairs, I decided to head to the restroom, which also resembled that of my grandmother’s, complete with a claw foot tub and shower. Giggling to myself at the oddity that is this theatre I made my way down the steps, got outside, made a u-turn and walked into the other door that led to a small lobby. The first thing you notice when walking in is the theatre’s trophy shelf that is awe-inspiring. When I walked in to the small theatre I was blown away. The set-up was cozy and made to the point where no one in the audience should have a bad seat. There is only a small aisle between the end of the stage and the first row of seats, so everything is very cozy. In fact, in the particular play I saw, El Nogalar, they use that aisle as an extension of the stage and have it covered with wood chips, resembling the family’s orchard.

This theater is one I hope to frequent often and I am so glad I found it. Los Angeles is full of these little gems and it is often the whole-in-the-wall locations that bring the most joy and intrigue when visited.

-- Mickala Jauregui 
 Image via the Fountain Theatre on Facebook

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