American playwright and director Stephen Sachs was born in 1958 in San Francisco and studied at the Theatre Academy of Los Angeles City College. Starting his career as an actor, he made his debut as a professional stage director in 1987 with his own adaptation of The Baron in the Trees. Sachs co-founded the Fountain Theatre in 1990 with Deborah Lawlor and has guided it as co-artistic director. He has directed and written many of their productions. Over two decades, the Fountain Theatre has won 260 awards for theatre excellence and has been honoured by the Los Angeles City Council for “enhancing the cultural life of the City of Los Angeles.” It is the only small-size theatre which has won the Ovation prize for the best performance (the South California award for theatre excellence) four times.
Stephen Sachs’s plays include The Golden Gate (1991), Sweet Nothing in My Ear (1998), Mother's Day (1999), Central Avenue (2001), Open Window (2005), Bakersfield Mist (2012), Cyrano (2012), Heart Song (2014). His has authors adaptations of The Baron in the Trees (1987), Strindberg’s Miss Julie entitled Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (2007), Gilgamesh (2007).
As a stage director he has worked in the USA, Great Britain, Canada and China. His plays have been produced in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, and have been translated into many languages. His has won several major awards as a director and playwright. He is the only director in Los Angeles who has won the Ovation prize for best director twice, as well the LA Weekly, NAACP Theatre, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Maddy in several Drama-Logue awards. As a playwright he was repeatedly nominated for the most prestigious awards, and has won many. Bakersfield Mist (2012) received the Elliot Norton Award for the best new play. In the London production of Bakersfield Mist, Maude was played by Kathleen Turner.
Maude, an unemployed bartender lives in a trailer park and collects junk people have discarded. One day she buys a painting for three dollars from a thrift store as a birthday present for her friend. She finds the painting extremely ugly and refuses to take it. Maude organizes a garage sale at which an art teacher from a nearby school gets a glimpse of the painting. It is his guess that this could be an unknown painting by the influential American painter, a representative of Abstract Expressionism, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), and consequently worth millions. Maude asks the International Foundation for Art Research for expert opinion. The Foundation appoints an eminent New York art historian, a leading expert in the field of abstract expressionism, Lionel Percy, to provide his objective expert opinion and authenticate the painting. Maude and Lionel’s meeting is a collision of two worlds: an uneducated low-class woman versus a university-educated expert on fakes and frauds from New York downtown. What evolves is a heated a debate on social class, truth and art.
Bakersfield Mist is inspired by true events. This hilarious and thought-provoking comedy-drama asks vital questions of class division and the nature of art: what is it that separates art from non-art, and what makes art true art.
Translator Tina Mahkota
Director Jernej Kobal
Dramaturg Tatjana Doma
Set Designer Urša Vidic
Costume Designer Alan Hranitelj
Composer Miha Petric
Lighting Designer Uroš Gorjanc
Language Consultant Jože Volk
Maude Gutman, unemployed bartender Minca Lorenci
Lionel Percy, art expert Branko Završan
Opening 23 September 2016
Performance duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes. No interval.
"BAKERSFIELD MIST was first presented on stage in the United Kingdom by Nica Burns and Sonia Friedman Productions in association with TC Beech Ltd, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Chris & Kelbe Bensinger, Darren Bagert/Martin Massman/ShadowCatcher Entertainment."
"The World Premiere of BAKERSFIELD MIST was produced by The Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles, directed by Stephen Sachs."