The world premiere of a funny, touching and thought-provoking new comedy about art by Stephen Sachs is next up at the multiple award-winning Fountain Theatre. Starring veteran actors Jenny O'Hara and Nick Ullett and directed by Sachs, Bakersfield Mist opens on June 11, the first in a series of productions set to take place at regional theaters across the U.S. as part of a National New Play Network rolling world premiere.
Bakersfield Mist is a lively comedy inspired by true events. Maude Gutman, an unemployed, chain-smoking ex-bartender living in a run down California trailer park, believes the painting she bought in a thrift store for $3 is really an undiscovered masterpiece worth millions. When stuffy New York art expert Lionel Percy arrives to evaluate the work, a fiery battle erupts over class, truth, value, and the meaning of art.
"Writing this play was such delicious fun," says Sachs. "I was excited by the idea of a bawdy, colorful, foul-mouthed character who clashes with a sophisticated know-it-all art expert as she fights to convince him that the painting she found in a junk shop is authentic. She's fighting to make real her own dream for meaning and validation, for deeply personal reasons. I was struck by the very personal nature of what we hold dear and consider valuable, and why. The intimate meaning of art. A painting's value and its worth can be two different things."
The Fountain Theatre production of Bakersfield Mist is supported in part by the National New Play Network's flagship program, the Continued Life of New Plays Fund, which is a cooperative venture designed to ensure that new plays see future productions beyond the initial world premiere. Partnerships of three theaters receive funds in support of multiple productions of the same new play. Following the world premiere production at The Fountain, Bakersfield Mist is already slated for seven other productions across the country including at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre in Wellfleet, MA; Florida Stage in West Palm Beach, FL; New Jersey Repertory in Long Branch, NJ; the Prop Thtr in Chicago; New Repertory Theatre in Waterford, MA; Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis; and the Invisible Theatre in Tucson, AZ. Recent readings featuring O'Hara and Ullett and directed by Sachs were audience favorites at the National New Play Network's Showcase of New Plays in Denver, and at Orlando Shakespeare Theater's "PlayFest" festival of new plays, where Bakersfield Mist was named "Best of the Fest" by City's Best.
Set design for Bakersfield Mist is by Jeff McLaughlin; lighting design is by Ken Booth; costume design is by Shon LeBlanc; sound design is by Peter Bayne; fight choreography is by Doug Lowry; prop design is by Misty Carlisle; and the production stage manager is Terri Roberts. Bakersfield Mist is produced by Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor and is a presentation of The Fountain Theatre and the National New Play Network.
Stephen Sachs is a multi-award winning playwright and director. As a playwright, Sachs is the author of 8 plays produced around the country: Bakersfield Mist (NNPN Rolling World premiere at 8 theaters nationwide), Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (Fountain Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Canadian Stage Company, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award and LA Weekly award nominations for Best Adaptation), Gilgamesh (Theatre @ Boston Court), Open Window (Pasadena Playhouse, Media Access award for Theater 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 n My Ear for HallMark Hall of Fame which aired on CBS starring Marlee Matlin and Jeff Daniels. As a director, Sachs recently directed the U.S. premiere of The Train Driver by Athol Fugard and Warren Leight's Side Man, starring Christine Lahti and Tony-winner Frank Wood, for LA Theatre Works. Sachs was nominated for the SDC Foundation's 2009 Zelda Fichandler Award, honoring outstanding stage directors in the Western United States. Other directing credits include: the Los Angeles premiere of Conor McPherson's Shining City ("Best of 2009",Los Angeles Times; Best Production, LA Weekly award); the West Coast premiere of Athol Fugard's Coming Home (Best Director, LA Weekly award); the U.S. premiere of Athol Fugard's Victory ("Best of 2008" Los Angeles Times, NAACP award for Best Director); the world premiere of Miss Julie: Freedom Summer at the Fountain and the Canadian Stage Company (Toronto) and the Vancouver Playhouse; the world premiere of Fugard's Exits and Entrances at the Fountain (3 Ovation awards including Best Director, 5 LA Drama Critics Circle awards including Best Production and Best Director) and Off-Broadway at Primary Stages in New York (NY Outer Critics Circle nomination Best New Play), and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland; Euripides' Hippolytos at the Getty Villa in Malibu, Gilgamesh at Theatre @ Boston Court, West Coast premiere of String of Pearls at The Road Theatre, the L.A. premiere of Fugard's The Road to Mecca, 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), the L.A. premiere of Steven Dietz's Lonely Planet, The Seagull (starring Philip Bakert Hall and Salome Jens), The Boys in the Band, and many others. Sachs co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Deborah Lawlor in 1990.