El Nogalar

Director Laurie Woolery and dramaturg Luis Alfaro team up on an explosive tale of humor and heartache in a changing Mexico. The West Coast premiere of El Nogalar ("The Pecan Orchard") by Tanya Saracho opens at The Fountain Theatre on January 28, with low-priced previews beginning January 21.

When the Galvan family returns home to Mexico after years in the U.S., they must come to terms with encroaching drug cartels, economic upheaval and a new class order. Inspired by The Cherry Orchard, Saracho makes Chekhov's classic story her own, instilling it with a thrilling sense of immediacy. The deeply felt story of changing times and class divide is vividly portrayed using a mix of English, Spanish, Spanglish and Espangles - but audiences will have no trouble understanding Saracho's funny and complex characters.

Dunia (Sabina Zuniga Varela), the Galvan family's housekeeper, watches Maite Galvan (Yetta Gottesman) and her daughters Valeria (Isabelle Ortega) and Anita (Diana Romo) spend their wealth and risk losing their home and beloved pecan orchard to a drug cartel. Despite warnings from Lopez (Justin Huen), Maite disregards her declining fortune as stubbornly as she ignores the sinister capos simmering at her doorstep.

"When I was in school, I felt that Chekhov was the most Latino playwright I came across." explained Saracho in an interview. "I thought, 'I know this dude, his characters. These women are my aunts, my cousins.' "

"This play humanizes what we're reading in the news everyday," says Woolery. "These women are from an old family, wealthy landowners with political connections. But in this new Mexico, class is turned on its ear."

El Nogalar was developed in a staged reading during the Goodman Theatre's Latino Theatre Festival, and premiered at the Goodman in 2011, produced and commissioned by Chicago's Teatro Vista where Saracho is a resident playwright. American Theatre Magazine published the script in the July/August 2011 issue along with an interview with Saracho, who has been dubbed "a major playwriting talent" by the Chicago Tribune and a playwright "of national stature" by The New York Times.

Set design for El Nogalar is by Frederica Nascimento; lighting design is Lonnie Rafael Alcarez; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Garry D. Lennon; props are by Abra Brayman; and the production stage manager is Mitzi Delgado.

Housed in a charming two-story complex in Hollywood, California, The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a nurturing, creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. Activities include a year-round season of fully produced new and established plays; a new play development series; educational outreach programs; and off-site presentations/tours. Fountain Theatre productions have won more than 200 awards for all areas of production, performance, and design. The Fountain Theatre has the distinction of being honored with more nominations and awards than any other intimate theatre in the history of the Ovation awards, and is the only intimate theater to win the Ovation award for Best Production of a Play five times. Fountain projects have been seen in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Florida, New Jersey, Minneapolis and Edinburgh. Recent highlights include a six-and-a-half-month sold out run of Bakersfield Mist, a world premiere comedy/drama by Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs that has been optioned for runs in London and New York; the Fountain's Off-Broadway production of Exits and Entrances in New York; the making of Sweet Nothing in My Ear into a TV movie on CBS; and the multi-award-winning productions of The Ballad of Emmett Till and Opus. The Fountain has been honored with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Los Angeles City Council for demonstrating years of artistic excellence and "enhancing the cultural life of Los Angeles." The Fountain Theatre was recently honored with 7 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and 5 Ovation awards for 2010, including the Ovation for "Best Season."

El Nogalar opens on Saturday, January 28, with performances Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 pm through March 11. Preview performances take place January 21, 22, 26 and 27 on the same schedule. Tickets are $25 on Thursdays and Fridays and $30 on Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (June 11), which is $34 and previews which are $15. On Thursdays and Fridays only, students with ID are $18 and seniors are $23. 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. For reservations and information, call 323 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.