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The Actors’ Gang, the critically acclaimed Los Angeles based ensemble Theatre Company, will be heading overseas bringing William Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Academy Award winner Tim Robbins, to international audiences. The production will put on six performances in Beijing, China, June 10th – 15th at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, four performances in Shanghai, China, June 19th – 21st at the Daguan Theatre, Zendai Himalayas Art Center and four to six performances in Italy, June 28th – July 6th at the prestigious Spoleto Festival.
The Actors’ Gang is only the second American theatre company to perform at China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and is the only American company to participate in the NCPA’s 2014 Shakespeare Festival. The NCPA is China’s largest and most prestigious performing arts center in the country. The China tour is produced by Ping Pong Productions, a Beijing-based cultural exchange production company. The Actors’ Gang production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, joins the Berliner Ensemble production of Peter Pan directed byRobert Wilson as the featured productions at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. The Italy tour is produced by the Change Performing Arts Company, a Milan-based independent production company.
For over 33 years, Robbins has served as the Artistic Director of The Actors’ Gang. In addition to over a hundred and fifty productions produced at The Actors’ Gang Los Angeles base of operations, the award winning company has toured extensively throughout the United States and to five continents throughout the world with productions such as Embedded, George Orwells’ 1984, The Exonerated, The Guys, Tartuffe, Carnage, and The Trial of Catonsville Nine. The Actors’ Gang has toured in London, Madrid, Barcelona, Athens, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Melbourne as well as throughout the United States and Mexico.
The Actors’ Gang is one of the only true theatrical ensembles in the United States that tours internationally. Ensemble members train together regularly and develop pieces through a rigorous workshop process. The actors in the company, in addition to their training and performance schedule also are educators in the LAUSD school system and dedicated participants in The Actors’ Gang Prison Project. With few U.S. companies touring internationally, the company considers it an honor to bring Shakespeare to China and to perform at the distinguished Spoleto Festival in Italy.
“On behalf of The Actors’ Gang, we’re extremely proud to bring our production of William Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to audiences around the world,” said Director, Tim Robbins. “For decades I have had the privilege of working with so many talented artists as part of this theatre company, and whenever we go on tour it is a rare and great pleasure to share our passion for theater with artists and audiences throughout the world. We always learn something new, are inspired by other theater artists we meet at festivals and come back to LA richer for the experience. I expect Beijing and Spoleto will be as inspirational, if not more so, than our previous tours.”
William Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a surreal world of fairies, spells, incantations, lovers bewitched by magic, the Fairy Queen making love to an ass, the world in disorder made right by the mischief of the night. Fourteen actors from The Actors’ Gang working with director Tim Robbins and the company’s Co-Artistic Director, Cynthia Ettinger illuminate Shakespeare’s forest with original music, kinesthetic movement and a fervent approach to the surreality and magic of the language of the play. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be presented with minimal costumes, props and scenery, relying mainly on Shakespeare’s extraordinary text and the creative imagination of its players to realize this magical world.
In its extended run at The Actors’ Gang in Los Angeles, The Huffington Post said, “The trust that the actors displayed for Tim Robbins‘ intense vision, the commitment that they made to their roles, and the love and respect that they showed for each other, the language, the play, Shakespeare, the theater in general and their theater in particular, were magical, riveting, and inspiring.”
Tim Robbins ranks among contemporary cinema’s most acclaimed and provocative voices; a multifaceted talent, who has acted in, written, directed and produced films including Mystic River, Catch a Fire, Dead Man Walking, The Shawshank Redemption, The Player, Bob Roberts, Bull Durham, Jacobs Ladder, Hudsucker Proxy, The Secret Life of Words and Cradle Will Rock.
In addition Robbins has worked consistently in the theater for the past 33 years as an actor, director, playwright and artistic director of The Actors’ Gang. Robbins has also been instrumental in the development and expansion of education and outreach programs at The Actors’ Gang, arts programs that have reached thousands of children currently without school funding for theater programs. In addition Robbins and several other Actors’ Gang members regularly conduct theater workshops with incarcerated men and women in an effort to fill the gap in arts rehabilitation programs in the California corrections system.
For 33 years, The Actors’ Gang has received international acclaim for presenting over 150 new, unconventional and uncompromising plays and dynamic reinterpretations of the classics in Los Angeles, throughout the United States, and on five continents. Guided by Founding Artistic Director, Tim Robbins, and Co-Artistic Director, Cynthia Ettinger, the company was founded in 1981 by a group of likeminded artists looking to create theater relevant to the society we live in and restore the ancient sense of the stage as a shared sacred space.
The Actors’ Gang has presented the work of innovative theater artists including Georges Bigot and Simon Abkarian of the Theatre du Soleil, Bill Rauch and the Cornerstone Theatre Company,Culture Clash, Oskar Eustis, Tracy Young, Charles Mee, Ellen McLaughlin, Roger Guenver Smith, Eric Bogosian, David Schweizer, Danny Hoch, Beth Milles, Brian Kulick, Stefan Haves, Namaste Theater Company, Jason Reed, Michael Schlitt, and Tenacious D.
The Actors’ Gang ensemble has included accomplished actors such as Jack Black, John Cusack,John C. Reilly, Helen Hunt, Jeremy Piven, Jon Favreau, Kate Walsh, Fisher Stevens, Ebbe Roe Smith, Brent Hinkley, Kate Mulligan, Lee Arenberg, Kyle Gass and Tim Robbins.
The Actors’ Gang began touring its productions throughout the world in 1989, representing the US at the Edinburgh Festival with Carnage, a Comedy before moving to the Public Theater in New York. Since then, the company has toured in Europe, Asia, Australia, Central and South America and throughout the US with productions such as 1984, The Trial of the Catonsville 9, Tartuffe, The Guys, The Exonerated and Embedded. In 2004, The Actors’ Gang performed its anti-Iraq war satire Embedded to four months of sold-out houses at New York’s Public Theater and then went on to a successful run at the Riverside Theater in London. In 2001 Bat Boy: The Musical, developed at The Actors’ Gang, won the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics awards for best new musical Off-Broadway.
The Gang has received many prestigious awards in Los Angeles for its productions including theMargaret Hartford Award for Continued Excellence, and has received numerous commendations and honors for it social outreach, education programs and prison work.