The Actors’ Gang Theater announces additional free programming as part of its digital season: Axis Mundi – In Conversation with Ariane Mnouchkine and Tim Robbins. The free event, produced in partnership with Fundación Teatro a Mill, will be translated into French and will be streamed Thursday, March 11th at 7 pm PST through Zoom and Facebook Live. The live translation is only available through Zoom.
Mnouchkine’s innovative and groundbreaking work has been profoundly influential to The Actors’ Gang. Her unique and visionary philosophy of theatrical expression was introduced to The Actors’ Gang in 1984 through a workshop led by George Bigot, after the Théâtre du Soleil took the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angeles by storm. The training received in that workshop had a profound effect on the future direction of The Actors’ Gang.
Hosted by The Actors’ Gang’s Artistic Director, Tim Robbins, Axis Mundi is a bi-monthly series of public forums that introduces the audience to creative minds from all around the world. With each conversation, the theater company is bringing together artists who shape cultures and asking vital questions about the future of theater and the arts and what it means to create in pandemic times.
In pre-pandemic times, with the Axis Mundi series, The Actors’ Gang has hosted many special evenings with guests from music, literature, and journalism and was honored to have Jackson Browne, Bill Moyers, Sister Helen Prejean, Gore Vidal, Juan Gonzales, and many others share their wisdom and talent on its stage. Each one of these public forums strives to help the community bridge the gap between isolation and despair to a sense of community and shared hopefulness.
The Actors’ Gang’s additional digital programming includes weekly screenings of 45 Seconds of Laughter, a film by Tim Robbins (every Wednesday, at 12 pm and 7 pm PST), Beginning, Middle, and Workshop with The Actors’ Gang Prison Project Alumni (every other Thursday at 7 pm PST), Bobbo Supreme Radio Play (every Friday at 12 pm and 7 pm PST), and Embedded Live Screenings (every Saturday at 12 pm and 7 pm PST). All digital programming is Pay-What-You-Can except for Axis Mundi events which are free.
Ariane Mnouchkine (Director, Writer)
Ariane Mnouchkine, Philippe Léotard and fellow students of the L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq founded the Theatre du Soleil in 1964 as a collective of theatre artists, occupying a former munitions plant called La Cartoucherie, where the company continues to develop work and perform today. Throughout the years, Ariane Mnouchkine has become one of the world’s most influential directors and is the first female winner of the prestigious International Ibsen Award. It is thanks to Mnouchkine’s unshakeable faith in the power and purpose of theater that the Théâtre du Soleil has been able to celebrate worldwide success for five decades. Aside from creating masterworks including Les Atrides, Les Ephemeres, Mephisto, Richard II and Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, L’Histoire Terrible Mais Inachevee de Norodom Sihanouk, Roi du Cambodge, L’Indiade, Le Dernier Caravanserail, and the film Moliere, Mnouchkine has also fought with great passion for artists who have been subjected to political persecution and for Europe’s forgotten people – the migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers on the fringes of European society. Mnouchkine successfully used demonstrations and interventions, and an international association founded in 1979 (AIDA – Association Internationale de Défense des Artistes victimes de la répression dans le monde), to affect the release of imprisoned artists. Ariane Mnouchkine has received numerous awards in recognition of her life’s work.
Tim Robbins (Artistic Director, The Actors’ Gang)
For the past 40 years, Tim Robbins has served as the Artistic Director for The Actors’ Gang, a theater company he co-founded in 1981 that has over 150 productions and more than 100 awards to its credit. Robbins and The Actors’ Gang’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, George Orwell’s 1984, Harlequino: On to Freedom, Embedded, and The New Colossus have toured in forty US states and throughout the world. In addition, Robbins’ stage adaptation of Sister Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking has been performed in over 150 universities in the U.S. and abroad. Past productions with The Actors’ Gang include: As Playwright/Director: Harlequino: On to Freedom (2017), Break the Whip (2010–11), Embedded (2003–4), Mayhem, the Invasion (1992), Carnage, A Comedy (1988–89), Violence, The Misadventures of Spike Spangle Farmer (1987), and Alagazam (1986). As Director: Johnny Got His Gun (2018), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2012-16), George Orwell’s 1984 (2006–19), Mephisto (2001), The Good Woman of Setzuan (1991), Methusalem, The Eternal Bourgeois (1985), and Ubu the King (1982).
Co-founded by Robbins in 2006, The Actors’ Gang’s groundbreaking Prison Project now provides rehabilitative programming for incarcerated men and women on 15 yards in 13 California prisons, in 3 juvenile detention camps and 2 reentry facilities in the Los Angeles area. Robbins’ advocacy has recently been instrumental in reinstating 8 million dollars into the California State budget for Arts in Corrections. In addition, with Robbins’ support, The Actors’ Gang provides free in school and after school programs for thousands of public-school students in the Los Angeles area. Over the years, The Actors’ Gang has received awards and commendations from the California Legislature, the Governor’s office, the US Department of Justice, and the White House.
As an actor, credits include Dark Waters, Marjorie Prime, The Secret Life of Words, Mystic River, The Shawshank Redemption, Code 46, Catch a Fire, The Player, Bull Durham, Jacob’s Ladder, and The Brink. As a Producer/Writer/Director, credits include Dead Man Walking, Cradle Will Rock, and Bob Roberts. His most recent film, 45 Seconds of Laughter recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. Robbins has won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG Award, Humanitas Award, National Board of Review, the Prix d’Interprétation Masculine at the Cannes Film Festival and French Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
About The Actors’ Gang Theater
The Actors’ Gang was founded in 1981 by a group of young actors looking to build a theater that would present relevant and vibrantly entertaining plays. Over the past 39 years, The Actors’ Gang has toured the U.S. in forty-five states and on five continents, performing across the world from London to Milan, Bucharest, Athens, Madrid, Barcelona, Bogota, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Buenos Aires and recently, to Santiago and Concepcion, in Chile.
The company’s groundbreaking Prison Project is currently in 13 California State prisons, serving incarcerated women, men and children with rehabilitation programs that significantly reduce the recidivism rate. Each year, thousands of children in Los Angeles public schools discover confidence and creativity with our Education Department through in-school immersion and after-school programs, and by participating in classes that encourage acceptance, respect and team building in a fun and impactful way.
The Actors’ Gang ensemble has included accomplished actors such as Jack Black, Lee Arenberg, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, Brent Hinkley, Helen Hunt, Kate Walsh, Kyle Gass, Fisher Stevens, Ned Bellamy, Jeremy Piven, Ebbe Roe Smith, Kate Mulligan, and Tim Robbins. The theater company has presented the work of innovative theater artists including Georges Bigot, Simon Abkarian, Charles Mee, Culture Clash, Bill Rauch and The Cornerstone Theatre Company, Tracy Young, Namaste Theater Company, Roger Guenver Smith, Eric Bogosian, Oskar Eustis, Danny Hoch, Beth Milles, David Schweizer, Brian Kulick, Stefan Haves, Jason Reed, Michael Schlitt and Tenacious D.
Guest artists who have appeared on The Actors’ Gang stage include: Jackson Browne, Sarah Silverman, Ben Gibbard, John Doe, Tom Morello, Jenny Lewis, Wayne Kramer, Paul Provenza, Zooey Deschanel, Serj Tankian, David Crosby, Pink, Felicity Huffman, Jill Sobule, William H. Macy, Phillip Baker Hall, Jeanne Tripplehorn, T.C. Boyle. and the late, beloved, Gore Vidal.
Recent touring productions include The New Colossus, Harlequino: On to Freedom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1984, The Exonerated, Tartuffe, Embedded, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine and The Guys.