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Jason Alexander directs L.A. premiere of Steven Levenson’s
funny, powerful ‘If I Forget’ at Fountain Theatre
LOS ANGELES (REVISED July 27, 2022) — The Fountain Theatre presents a deeply personal play about history, responsibility, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for a new beginning. Tony Award-winning actor Jason Alexander, widely known from TV’s Seinfeld, directs the Los Angeles premiere of If I Forget by Steven Levenson, now through September 10 on the Fountain’s indoor stage.
Levenson, the Tony Award-winning book writer of Dear Evan Hanson, drew from conversations with his own family to write this play that explores the lasting impact of the Holocaust on a Jewish family at the beginning of the 21st century. Set in the years following the dissolution of the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and Palestine, If I Forget is a funny, powerful tale about a family—and a culture—at odds with itself.
“Inevitably, one of the first targets of any authoritarian regime is history itself—what we remember, how we remember, why we remember,” Levenson said in an interview. “The past is never neutral and history is never settled. This play doesn’t attempt to offer any answers, but I hope, in its own small way, it can help to articulate why it is so vital that we continue to ask difficult questions, to grapple with painful, uncomfortable subjects.”
“I am grateful to be able to direct a play as complex and funny and beautiful as this one,” says Alexander. “The questions it asks are so relevant to much of what we are grappling with as a society today.”
Leo Marks, recently seen in This Wonderful Life at Rogue Machine, stars as Michael Fischer, a professor of Jewish studies up for tenure at a prestigious New York university. Michael and his wife Ellen, played by Síle Bermingham (The Ruffian on the Stair at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center), are in Washington D.C. for a family reunion to celebrate his recently widowed father’s 75th birthday, while their daughter, Abby (Caribay Franke), is in Israel on a Birthright tour. There we also meet Michael’s sisters Holly (Valerie Perri, who portrayed Emma Goldman in Ragtime at the Pasadena Playhouse) and Sharon (Samantha Klein, seen in The Last Schwartz at West Coast Jewish Theatre); Holly’s husband, Howard (Jerry Weil, a longtime member of Neo Ensemble Theatre); and her son, Joey (Jacob Zelonky, national Broadway tour of Billy Elliot the Musical). Recently widowed family patriarch Lou Fischer is played by Matt Gottlieb, previously seen at the Fountain in The Normal Heart.
With each family member committed to their own version of family history, the siblings clash over everything from Michael’s controversial book to whether they should sell the family business.
“If I Forget opens up a rich dialogue about memory, aging, the Holocaust, Zionism and freedom of expression,” says Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, who acts as a consultant on the production. “Ever relevant and meaningful for today, it will leave audiences talking long after the curtain falls.”
If I Forget premiered on Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company in 2017 and is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. In its “Critic’s Pick” review, The New York Times called it “intellectually rigorous… speaks to both the head and the heart.” DC Metro proclaimed it “One of the greatest Jewish plays of this century.”
The Fountain’s creative team includes scenic designer Sarah Krainin; lighting designer Donny Jackson, sound designer Cricket S. Myers, costume designer A Jeffrey Schoenberg and prop master Katelyn M. Lopez. The assistant director is Allison Bibicoff. The production stage manager is Shawna Voragen and Lexie Seacrest is assistant stage manager. Simon Levy produces and James Bennett associate produces for the Fountain Theatre. Barbara Herman is executive producer.
Steven Levenson is a playwright and television writer who authored the Tony Award-winning book, Dear Evan Hansen. His other plays include The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin, Days of Rage and The Language of Trees. For television, Levenson co-developed and executive produced the FX limited series Fosse/Verdon and was a writer and producer on Showtime’s Masters of Sex. Other projects include the screenplay for Jonathan Larson’s tick, tick… BOOM!, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. In addition to the Tony, his honors include the Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award, Helen Hayes Award, WGA Award and the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award.
Jason Alexander is best known for his award-winning, nine season stint as the iconic George Costanza of television’s Seinfeld. In addition to his acclaimed career as an actor, he has maintained a diverse and noted career as a director across multiple mediums including television, film and theater. Serving as the artistic director of the Los Angeles based Reprise Theatre Company for five years, he produced 18 fully staged musicals, a dozen concerts and several special events. Other Los Angeles directing credits include acclaimed productions of Sam Shepard’s The God of Hell (Geffen Playhouse), Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound (Odyssey Theater), Karen Zacarias’ Native Garden (Pasadena Playhouse) and most recently the world premiere of The Joy Wheel (Ruskin Theatre). He has directed innovative productions of Sunday in the Park with George, The Fantasticks and a revamped production of Damn Yankees in which he authored a revised libretto, setting the play in the 1980s and featuring predominantly Latino and African American actors. Most recently, he directed a new comedy, Windfall, at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. Jason first became a member of the Director’s Guild of America in 1994 when he directed “The Good Samaritan” episode of the hit sitcom Seinfeld, which earned him a DGA award nomination for Best Direction of a Situation Comedy. Since then, he has worked repeatedly in television as a director, easily moving back and forth between single camera and multi-camera, across comedy and dramatic genres.
The Fountain Theatre is dedicated to presenting outstanding theater that challenges thinking while shining an artistic light on social justice issues and on the diverse voices and cultures within L.A. The company’s most recent production, Detained by France-Luce Benson, was a gripping docudrama based on interviews with longtime U.S. residents held in immigration detention, and with their family members, advocates, attorneys and representatives of ICE. On June 25, a “hyper-staged” reading of Roe by Lisa Loomer will open on the outdoor stage as a “call to action” in the face of the upcoming Supreme Court ruling expected to overturn Roe v Wade. This week, the Fountain was honored with nine Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards for three productions in 2020 and 2021: the L.A. premiere of An Octoroon by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, which inaugurated the company’s outdoor stage last summer; the L.A. premiere of the The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, performed on the indoor stage last fall; and a streamed, online reading of the Fountain’s 2010 production of The Ballad of Emmett Till that reunited the original cast on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of Till’s murder. Eric Garcetti joined with the Los Angeles City Council to commend the Fountain for “achieving a position of leadership in the Los Angeles theatre community… producing meaningful new plays of social and political importance that enrich the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles.” In recognition of providing outstanding productions of meaningful new plays and first-class performances spanning three decades, the Fountain Theatre was honored with the 2020 Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theater, presented by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. In a 2021 end-of-year retrospective, Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty called the Fountain “L.A.’s most enterprising intimate theater [that] continues to punch far above its weight… No L.A. theater has done a better job of asking us to reexamine our lives through the lens of acute contemporary drama this year than the Fountain.” The Fountain has won hundreds of awards for all areas of production, performance and design.
Performances of If I Forget continue through September 10 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. (dark Saturday, Aug. 13; Sunday, Aug. 14; and Monday, Sept. 5). Tickets range from $25–$45; Pay-What-You-Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Patrons are invited to relax before and after the show at the Fountain’s indoor/outdoor café.
Call the theater or check the website prior to each performance to find up-to-date Covid-19 protocols.
For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘If I Forget’
The Fountain Theatre presents a political and deeply personal play about history, responsibility, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for a new beginning. Jason Alexander directs the Los Angeles premiere If I Forget by Tony Award-winning playwright Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen), a powerful, funny and complex tale that explores the lasting impact of the Holocaust on a Jewish family at the beginning of the 21st century.
• Written by Steven Levenson
• Directed by Jason Alexander
• Starring Síle Bermingham, Caribay Franke, Matt Gottlieb, Samantha Klein, Leo Marks, Valerie Perri, Jerry Weil, Jacob Zelonky
• Presented by The Fountain Theatre
Performances continue through September 10
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 29. Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Aug. 26, Sept. 2, Sept. 9
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 30, Aug. 6, Aug. 20, Aug. 27, Sept. 3, Sept. 10 9 (dark Aug. 13)
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 4 (dark Aug. 14)
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 15, Aug. 22, Aug. 29 (dark Sept. 5)
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)
$25 – $45:
• Premium Seating: $45
• Regular Seating: $40
• Seniors 65 or older: $35 (regular seating only)
• Students: $25 (valid ID required)
• Monday nights: Regular seating ($40) and Pay-What-You-Want (subject to availability)
Secure, on-site parking: $5
Call the theater or check the website prior to each performance to find up-to-date Covid-19 protocols.
(323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com
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