No 'Fooling' Around

Matt Ritchey

Writer, Non-Registered Critics

Sacred Fools, the much-beloved and much-awarded pedigreed theatre company, is moving into its 20th Season, with January 2017 marking the one year Anniversary of its residence on Theatre Row. For the two decades before, Sacred Fools had been working in a theatre in East Hollywood, but they jumped at the chance to lease a larger space at the end of last year and hit the ground running in January.

“It was madness,” says Managing Director Padraic Duffy about the fast changeover. “It was exhausting but also invigorating. We're running a professional business here with still a volunteer staff and we're in that transition where we're demanding a lot of ourselves to make this happen.”

From right to left Mark Hamilton Costello as Arthur Taylor Marr as John Jessica Sherman as Alice Photo by Ben Rock

From right to left Mark Hamilton Costello as Arthur Taylor Marr as John Jessica Sherman as Alice Photo by Ben Rock

It's paying off. Since January, Sacred Fools has not only refurbished the theatre spaces that once housed the Asylum and the Elephant, but they've mounted four new plays - PAST TIME, A GULAG MOUSE, SKULLDUGGERY, and MOM'S DEAD (now playing until December 10th), worked with outside rentals, and became a central part of the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.

“It went really well - we met a lot of wonderful artists, it's financially a boon to the space and you feel like a steward of the theatre - it's been such a center for Hollywood Theatre Row and Fringe and we all just loved keeping the doors open for Fringe. We did 40 productions in the space and probably had room for another 20. We'll probably be able to increase how many shows we have in here.”

In addition to the four theatre spaces, they're in the process of turning one of the smaller front theatre into a bar, complete with small cabaret stage. It's a separate business and co-tenant but they're working closely with Sacred Fools.

Traditional Sacred Fools worked hasn't slowed down since the move either, with the late-night series SERIAL KILLERS continuing on the MainStage on Saturdays and just passing its 300th show! The company also has a one-week Summer Camp for kids as part of their Education program and are working on a Diversity Initiative “with company members and friends of the company to get artists of color and female playwrights and actresses and inject our democracy with this perspectives.”

“A lot of places have struggled in the past and we're trying to turn outward in a lot of ways. It's Come One Come All, “ says Padraic. “We are really trying to engage our community right now. Our company meetings are open to the public and we've been trying to make sure people know that. In a community where tickets prices keep going up, we are trying to figure out how to lower our ticket prices and be a place where the community can come and be here a lot and afford to see shows and be involved.”

The choices of shows to include in the seasons has changed a bit this year, as well. The company of almost 112 Members and countless Associate Members used to have an eight-week window of suggesting shows to the Artistic Directors who would then read and decide the season, but this year, the non-dues paying group is taking year-round submissions. And still, all show auditions are open to the community.

And while he doesn't know the exact story behind the company name (which was nearly named “The Candy Store” when it first started), Padraic thinks it's the perfect moniker. “I just think it really fits what we do, “ he says. “Oftentimes when someone says describe your company thats where I start. We pride ourselves on being foolish but we take it really seriously. That's both sides of our character.”

MOM'S DEAD is now playing.

Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
plus Thursdays, Dec. 1 & 8 @ 8pm
Understudy performance Sun, Dec. 4 @ 7pm
Tickets: $20

Matt Ritchey is a director, writer, actor, and acting coach. He holds a BFA in Acting from NYU’S Tisch School of the Arts, a Certificate in Shakespeare from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and is a recent graduate and Associate Producer at Director’s Lab West. His original play Blackboxing (writer/performer) won "Best Cabaret/Variety" at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Recent directing credits include the new drama American Conspiracy (“Encore Producer’s Award” at Fringe 2018, “Best Director” nom by The TVolution), Angel’s Flight (“Best Cabaret/Variety” at Fringe 2016, “Best Director” nom by Rogue Shakespeare Company), Martha Washington Killed a Redcoat (nominated for “Best Comedy” and “Short and Sweet” Awards), We Are Traffic, This Is Our Youth, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

As a film director, his short Poker Night won "Best Comedy Short" at the Culver City Film Festival and was nominated for Connect Film Festival's "Apollo Award" for "a compelling exploration of masculinity" in filmmaking.