Theater for everyone, especially those who never had the chance to go to the theater before. With that mission in mind, actor/director Tim Robbins founded The Actors' Gang in 1981. Robbins still serves as The Actors' Gang's founding artistic director, with Cynthia Ettinger as its artistic co-director. They, along with a group of artists, wanted to make theater relevant to society and restore the old idea of stage as a shared sacred space. The Actors’ Gang has presented the work of innovative theater artists including Georges Bigot, Simon Abkarian, Charles Mee, David Schweizer, Bill Rauch and the Cornerstone Theatre Company, Tracy Young, Roger Guenver Smith, Eric Bogosian, and Tenacious D. among many others.
The Actors’ Gang ensemble has included accomplished actors such as Jack Black, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, Helen Hunt, Kate Walsh, Fisher Stevens, Jeremy Piven, Ebbe Roe Smith, Jon Favreau, Brent Hinkley, Kate Mulligan, Lee Arenberg, Kyle Gass and Tim Robbins himself.
Each year, TAG hosts more than 10,000 people at the Ivy Substation theater in Culver City for performances and provides a "pay-what-you-can" performance every Thursday night for the run of every production. The TAG Education Department was founded in 2000 and is dedicated to introducing the joy and transformative power of theater to young people and provides free in-school, after-school and summer theater programs for diverse youth populations in Los Angeles County. And that's why the Hollywood Foreign Press Association wanted to get involved with this unique and worthy organization.
In partnerships with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD), TAG-ED serves 11 middle and high schools (including the three continuation high schools) with arts residencies in Theatre, Social Studies, Language Arts, Visual Art, and History. TAG-ED’s work with these school districts is an attempt to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and serve as a form of creative prevention for students who do not respond to traditional learning methods. TAG-ED participants are students who do not have a stable home life and are often from communities that are disadvantaged. TAG-ED provides free in-school, after-school and summer theater programs for diverse youth and offers a two-week Pre-Teen Summer Camp and an Intensive Teen Conservatory for students specifically interested in deepening their theater skills.
The Actors’ Gang is also involved in the very important TAG Prison Project: the Gang conducts weekly and seven-day intensive programs inside the California prison system, a weekly re-entry program in the community, as well as a program in juvenile facilities, and a soon to be program designed for correctional officers. Says Tim Robbins: “In the last 30 years California has built one University and an astonishing 22 prisons. California has one of the highest recidivism rates within the first three years of inmate release, yet in 2008 the State cut all funding to all Arts in Corrections programs in spite of evidence of the huge impact Arts in Corrections can have. Our goal is to unlock human potential in the interest of effective rehabilitation. The Prison Project wants to foster tolerance and nonviolent expression through theater.”
To learn more about The Actors' Gang and their work, visit: http://theactorsgang.com/