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Actor’s Gang To Present ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’


Actor’s Gang To Present ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’

By Fred Altieri

Special to the Observer

The late afternoon rays of midsummer 2013 filter through the heart of Culver City, directing long shadows cast by studio buildings set upon a boulevard’s dissecting edge.

These veiled glances silently measure eccentric motion and amplified sounds created by restless souls, designer machines and construction scenes. They say… this is where dreams are made.

Further east one finds a post office, a City Hall flanked by a police station, one block removed from a fire station, where lives can become distinguished or perhaps extinguished. Just north, the once-forgotten street lights of Watseka, Cardiff, Main and Canfield suddenly reignite, flaming the arts, the eats, the drinks, the movers and shakers swaying to the rhythm of their mobile devices and promised culture and sensuality, the first and last beat.

Yet a stone’s throw away, municipal triangulation reveals the city’s hidden gem, breathing and exposed on a bare stage in the iconic Ivy Substation. The allure to reach its front door after the evening twilight through the adjacent, shady and often lonesome park deserves attention.

The Actors’ Gang 2013 summer invitation to experience the company’s workshop production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” couldn’t be more direct by the Bard’s own words:

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:”

The workshop has been running every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night beginning at 8 p.m. since June 29 and has been extended by popular demand through Saturday, August 17.

Each production night offering is unique: Thursday’s are Pay-What-You-Can show nights, Friday’s entertain a very engaging Q&A session with the cast and crew following the workshop and Saturday’s culminate the week’s effort with a damn good look.

The Actors’ Gang has politely requested that the workshop not be reviewed as the play is in the company’s development process. But what makes this production relevant is it’s quite rare anywhere for such work to be unfolded and shared with the public while it is in this phase.

The Friday night Q&A session allows the audience a glimpse of The Actors’ Gang workshop process. The exchanges are open, still intimate. The audience listens and reflects upon a few facets from the many conveyed.

The following responses came from cast members.

Development: “The way we develop new pieces is we workshop first and then assess. We’re trying to get out of the paradigm of rehearsing for six to eight weeks, do it for six to eight weeks and then it’s over. We find that when we revisit stuff, the time that we spend just dreaming on it allows us a new reality.”

On role playing: “During the rehearsal for this, a lot of us were playing all the roles. People would play five, six different roles and make discoveries on different nights…”

And stealing: “… and then steal from each other in a really polite, generous way. Stealing is a way to give homage here. It’s flattery.”

The play: “Let’s see what happens if we do it with 12 people.” And that’s really all that it was. So everything else happened organically because of the play. It came out of the play rather than us trying to put our thing on top of the play.”

The Actors’ Gang: “One of the most beautiful things that I noticed about this company is that pretty much you are a person. Everybody checks their ego at the door and it’s all about work. It’s all about serving the stage and the story.

And finally: “We all wanted to laugh and love. We’ve been working on this play off and on in Sunday workshops for about three years. We’ve been wanting to tell this story. It seemed like a good time.”

The production is directed by Tim Robbins and developed in workshop by The Actors’ Gang cast: Pierre Adeli, Sabra Williams, Will McFadden, Lee Hanson, Adam Jefferis, Hannah Chodos, Molly O’Neill, Alejandro Ruiz, Cihan Sahim, Pedro Shanahan, Monica Quinn, Jillian Yim, Bob Turton, Mary Eileen O’Donnell, Adam Ferguson and musicians: David Robbins and Erin Wigger.

Cynthia Ettinger is the assistant director, lighting design is by Bosco Flanagan, Alayha Aquarian is the stage manager and the original music is composed by David Robbins.


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