by Ashley Steed~
Neighborhood: East Hollywood/Los Feliz
Seat capacity: 74
When founded: 1997
Parking: We have a dedicated lot behind the theatre that we charge a small fee for on show nights. There is also ample street parking around the theatre.
Handicap accessible: The theatre is indeed handicap accessible, though space is at a bit of a premium in the theatre and we would love to expand our accessibility.
Restrooms: There are two restrooms behind the seating banks to the north or the space.
Amenities: Air Conditioning in both the dressing room and theatre areas.
Lobby: Compared to the rest of the theatre, the lobby is a good size but it does tend to fill up fairly quickly.
Concessions: We offer a full compliment of chips and candy, sodas and water, and the occasional homemade cake/pie/baked good. We also offer beer and wine, and heartily encourage our patrons to bring everything into the theatre.
- Cafecito Organico: 710 N. Heliotrope Dr. Great place for coffee.
- Pizza Paul’s: 4330 Melrose Avenue. They have pizza, pasta and hearty sandwiches (plan on 20 minutes for wait time, usually).
- Pure Luck Vegan: 707 N. Heliotrope Dr. Expectation-shattering snacks and microbrews.
- Scoops: 712 N. Heliotrope Dr. The most delicious, mind-boggling combinations of ice cream you have ever had.
What’s on: Our current show is Watson: The Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes, written and directed by company member Jaime Robledo. Described as “The story of a good man trapped in the shadow of a great man, Watson is a funny, moving and theatrically innovative take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s heroes and villains,” it is alternately whimsical, ribald and heartwarming. As of this writing we are entering our second week of the run and have already received a “GO” from Steven Leigh Morris of the LA Weekly, as well as garnering the respect of dedicated Sherlock Holmes aficionados. The play currently runs Friday and Saturday at 8pm until December 18th, with two Thursday shows on 11/18 and 12/2, also at 8pm and there is an Actor’s Fund Benefit on the 28th with a Q&A afterwards.
Now in their fourteenth season, Sacred Fools has produced over 100 productions, ranging from a re-imagining of the classics to membership-produced new works. Last year’s Land of Tigers and Hamlet, Shut Up both had rave reviews and awards. And the 2008 smash hit Louis and Keely Live at the Sahara garnered Ovation, LA Drama Critics Circle, LA Weekly and Garland awards. The company is dedicated to pure collaboration, which is probably why artists and audiences alike are drawn to this diverse and ever-evolving company. LA Theatre Review asked one of the Artistic Directors, Michael Holmes, a few questions about what makes the Sacred Fools tick.
LATR: In your own words what is the company’s mission?
Michael Holmes: Sacred Fools is committed to creating new, exciting theatre that broadens an audience’s expectations of what theatre is capable of, seeking always to enlighten, entertain and invigorate. Our goal is to show that theatre allows for unique artistic expression different from any other media. We are especially keen to develop pieces generated by our assembled members, and are most proud of the world premiere pieces that have emerged over the past 14 years. Though we have been known to put our inimitable twist on classics from time to time, always with a spirit of playfulness and an acerbic sense of humor.
LATR: Where did the name come from?
MH: I had to defer to John Sylvain, the founder of our company about this, and I think he sums it up best:
“Jon Kellam came up with the name. (He also came up with the name of the long defunct Wolfskill Theater and Zoo District so he’s a theater naming machine.) The name Sacred Fools refers to the Heyoka of the Lakota. Heyokas are the most important of the Medicine People of the Lakota. That was what Jon was thinking when he came up with the name. It’s interesting to note that we didn’t know that when we chose the name. I thought it was a reference to the role of the Fool in Medieval culture and I thought it was a great juxtaposition of the serious and the silly that described both the theater and the people who make it. It’s also interesting to note that almost nobody who is associated with Sacred Fools knows what the name means.”
LATR: When did the company start?
MH: Our officially recognized “birthday” is April 1st, 1997.
LATR: How/Why did it start?
MH: The theater started in a Santa Monica apartment. John Sylvain gathered a group of friends and colleagues together and proposed starting a new theater company. The main value of Sacred Fools was, and remains, the interrelation of community, theater and creativity. Theater creates community and the community creates theater. That was the reason for its founding and is the reason for its continued existence and success
LATR: How has the company evolved?
MH: We’ve certainly gotten more ambitious in terms of production, for one, with productions such as Savin’ Up for Saturday Night and Forbidden Zone: Live in the 6th Dimension prime examples of this from our last season. Just when we think we’ve found the craziest set piece or the largest number of people to cram onstage or the wildest script ever, the next one comes along and it’s bigger and wilder and better than the last. I don’t think we’ve seen the outer edge of what Sacred Fools is capable of yet, and that’s really saying something. Not to say we don’t enjoy subtlety from time to time, though, as the upcoming Puzzler and our take on Endgame certainly prove. Our membership has swelled considerably from that first meeting in that Santa Monica apartment, and we currently boast 75 members, not to mention an ever-growing throng of associate artists that come and play with us on a regular basis. And we don’t want to stop there.
LATR: What makes this company special?
MH: We let people do things that other places won’t. We embrace the big, loud and scary. We help each other succeed, and we pick each other up when we fail. We’re not just going to do Neil Simon because it’s going to be a moneymaker, but if we felt that it could be done in the Sacred Fools way we’d do it because it was fun. Complacency is a death sentence for theatre in today’s marketplace, and we want to continue to build up our bag of tricks to keep going for a very long time.
LATR: What awards/recognitions has the theatre/company received?
MH: In our 14 years we have received 59 awards, including LA Weeklies, Ovation Awards, the LA Drama Critics Circle and the Garland Awards. We have been recognized time and again for direction, writing, and numerous aspects of design as well as for the performances in our shows. Some of our most recent award winners include the surprise hit Hamlet Shut Up, Land of the Tigers, and the unstoppable Louis & Keely Live at The Sahara.
LATR: What is the company’s target/niche audience?
MH: Well, they are adventurers in a sense. I would say that our target audience member is someone who appreciates the spectacle and wonder that theatre can offer and is willing to take a chance on material they are not previously familiar with. I guess you could also say they’re not afraid to get a little dirty. Our productions tend to leave an impression, and they’re not always for everyone, but we have a very strong fan base that continues to expand with every show we do.
LATR: What is the most important thing that theatregoers should know about the company?
MH: We want you to have fun and leave with your mind blown, then tell your friends so we can do the same thing to them!
LATR: When the company is not in production, what does it do?
MH: We have recently been expanding the rental of the theatre space and would like to do so, but we are more often than not in some state of production or another.
LATR: Is it a membership company? If so, is it dues paying?
MH: We are a membership company, but we encourage anyone who is interested to come out and audition and just hang out to foster a sense of community. Basically, the active members suggest nominees who have proved themselves to be an asset to the company in one way or another quarterly, a vote is held and those nominees are offered membership based on the outcome of the vote. We also have the good fortune of not having to charge our members dues, which I can tell you certainly helps keep good folks around.
LATR: Are there any education or community programs?
MH: Currently no, but it is something that we have been discussing for quite some time. As previously stated, there is symbiosis between the theatre and its community, and we would love to develop that relationship.
LATR: Does the company offer/hold workshops, classes, etc?
MH: This is another area we are looking to develop. This past summer we offered a Children’s Musical Workshop and we are speaking internally about more events like this or others that we hope to offer down the road.
LATR: Anything you’d like to add?
MH: Over the three years that I have been a member, I have seen Sacred Fools grow and blossom in ways I couldn’t have possibly imagined and am confident that this is a trend that will continue. The company and administrative staff has supported me to grow as an artist, and I am incredibly grateful to them for that, and I know that is a sentiment echoed by a large number of me peers. It’s my home away from home.