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Arts and Entertainment

The Actors' Gang Continues to Bring Theatre to the Mini-Masses

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Photo courtesy the Actors' Gang.

For over twenty years, when Culver City-based theatre collective The Actors’ Gang has spoken, Los Angeles theatergoers have listened, and with good reason. The shows that are produced in the tiny Ivy Substation are often on par or well above the other high-gloss production shows you can pay twice as much money for around town. Not that their works are expansive (or expensive) shows with all sorts of modern theatrical trickery; in fact, the Gang just lets their acting do all the talking for them. And, again, we listen.

So what happens when you take the already bare-bones ideology of the Ivy Substation and boil it down even more, by throwing an outdoor show at Media Park next door? How does your cast react to traffic noise and heat and farcical material in front of a squirming group of tots? Well, the answer is; they perform extremely well.

Cymbeline the Puppet King marks the 4th year The Actors’ Gang has brought free, live, children-friendly theatre to Media Park, and they shouldn’t quit any time soon. By performing what largely amounts to cultural community service, the Gang is not only maintaining a dedication to the Culver City that has embraced them for so long, they’re also ensuring a place for their own future. Simply put, turning rambunctious theatre-watchers into serious theatre-goers later on in life doesn’t take flashy ad campaigns or clever coupons, it just takes immersion; and Cymbeline does exactly that. With a fun, fast-paced take on a Shakespearian classic that clocks in at just under an hour, parents shouldn’t feel nervous about bringing their children out the park - most kids remained playfully attentive the whole time, so you know it’s working.

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On the small, wooden, in-the-round stage the Gang performers don costumes and exaggeration, making some of the more delicate themes (nothing you wouldn’t find in a classic fairy tale, don’t worry) seem lighthearted, with a tilt for the good guy always winning in the end. And while the hyperbolic acting would run dry in any longer format, or for a more attuned audience, here it is well-timed and actually needed. As the actors pepper their scenes with some small audience interactions, the kids stay engaged and the parents get to take a breather on the grass while laughing along at a few moments of higher-intelligence wit. The Actors’ Gang is once again doing a real service to the greater Los Angeles area with their summer series, including this year’s Cymbeline the Puppet King.

Cymbeline the Puppet King
Presented by The Actors’ Gang
Media Park, Culver City
Shows run every Saturday and Sunday at 11am, last about an hour, and are completely free