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John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

An Intimate Theatre Under the Stars

By

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

Photo © 2006 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

The Venue

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre
2580 Cahuenga Blvd E
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 461-3673
www.fordamphitheater.org

The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre is a beautiful outdoor performance venue set into the Cahuenga Pass in the Hollywood Hills opposite the Hollywood Bowl on Cahuenga Boulevard. The 1421-seat theatre has a towering entrance that was remodeled in 2000 to include ramps, dining patios and a waterfall fountain.

The stage is set against a natural backdrop of chaparral and cypress growing up the hillside. For daytime performances, the seating area is usually shaded by a parachute-like awning which is withdrawn for night-time concerts.

It is charmingly intimate compared to the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre with the farthest seat just 96 feet from stage. Dancing in the aisles by performers and audience members is common.

Most performances offer general admission seating. Doors open a couple hours before performances for picnickers. You can bring your own or buy food on site. LA summer nights can be quite cool, so dress warm (fleece is appropriate) or bring a blanket.

Summer Season at the Ford

Summer Season at the Ford is a series of world music, dance and theatre productions staged from May through October each year. The season generally includes a series of low-priced family concerts on Saturday or Sunday mornings that are free for children.

Inside the Ford

Inside the Ford is an 87-seat indoor theatre at the Ford which is used for dramatic performances during the outdoor amphitheatre's off season.

Film Festivals

The Ford has a full-size movie screen and 35 mm projectors and hosts a variety of film festivals each summer.

History

The Ford Amphitheatre is one of the oldest performing arts venues in Los Angeles. Christine Wetherill Stevenson was looking for a place to stage her religious play, The Pilgrimage, and originally purchased the site of the Hollywood Bowl with a friend and other investors for this purpose. The other partners didn't like the idea of being limited to religious productions, so they bought out Wetherill Stevenson, and she purchased a plot of land across the street for her theatre.

The Pilgrimage Play opened in The Pilgrimage Theatre in 1920, before there was even a theatre at the Hollywood Bowl. The original wooden theatre burned down in 1929 and was rebuilt in concrete by the WPA and reopened in 1931. In 1941 the theatre was deeded to the County of Los Angeles. Wetherill Stevenson's play about the life of Jesus played there until the 1960s, with a short break during WWII when the theatre was used to house servicemen. In 1964, a lawsuit brought against the County for using a County facility exclusively for a religious performance put an end to The Pilgrimage Play.

In 1976 the theatre was renamed for former County supervisor John Anson Ford, who was known for supporting the creative arts in LA including the development of the Music Center.

The theatre is currently operated by the LA County Arts Commission. Each summer they give more than 35 local Los Angeles-based arts organizations an opportunity to present public performances.

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