The John Anson Ford Theaters, owned and operated by the county of Los Angeles, are among the oldest performing arts venues still in use in the Los Angeles area. The original amphitheater (named the Pilgrimage Theater) was built in 1920 by Christine Wetherill Stevenson, chosen specifically as the setting for her Pilgrimage Play. The play was performed here regularly for decades, interrupted only by a complete rebuilding after a devastating fire, and by World War II.
The Theater came under county owner ship in 1941, and closed in 1964 due to its religious nature. Afterwards, the theater was used for various purposes, falling gradually into disrepair. After a public renovation led by County Supervisor John Anson Ford, the venue was named after him, and featured intermittent performances of jazz, dance, and Shakespeare. In 1993, it began a regular season, starting with only 12 performances. That has grown to feature over 200 performances annually.
The Ford plays a unique role as a major center for both the traditional and contemporary in L.A. County, featuring a wide variety of performances during its summer season, a winter theater series (presented in an 87-seat theater called “[Inside] the Ford”), as well as interactive family and community events. Additional programs reflect an interest in the cultural diversity of the area, fostering involvement in the arts by members of the local Asian Pacific Islander and Latino communities.
- Public Transportation: Very good (buses 156, 222, and 656 all have stops at the Amphitheatre. You can also take the Red Line to Universal City, and catch the free Ford shuttles to the theatre for evening performances.)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: The Ford’s summer season runs May to October. Summer-season programming includes the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Big!World!Fun! family series ($5 tickets for adults, free for children), world music and dance, and all kinds of American music, classical music, theater, and other performance events. The Ford opens its terraced entryway two hours prior to each performance for picnics (you can bring your own meal or order a box dinner in advance from Ford’s caterers, or purchase from on-site concessions). In addition to its summer slate, the Ford offers Inside: the Ford New Play Series, which runs from November to May each season
- Ticket Prices: Vary based on program. Students pay $12 for single tickets (regular single ticket price is $20). Additionally, students and children (ages 12 and under) pay only $5 for tickets to dance events. J.A.M. Sessions offered for free
- Group Discounts: Discounts available for groups of eight or more
- Subscriptions/Membership: The Summer Season subscription offers a 20% savings when buying tickets for three or more events. Inside subscriptions ($45–$60) offer a 25% savings. Shows available on Goldstar.com.