By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
“Is Tim around?” I ask an intern.
The young woman appears a bit flustered, then nods toward the outer lobby, where a paint-spackled Robbins crosses in a tank top, work trousers and sneakers.
I don’t need to say a word. Robbins knows what I want. Our conversation goes like this:
“I just feel that for us to provide any art implies our endorsement of this article,” Robbins says. “If you were just writing about the work that would be great. But the other stuff is nobody’s business outside this theater.”
I argue that a nonprofit theater technically belongs to the community, that a major transfer of power at the Actors’ Gang Theater is indeed a public matter, and reporting it is the duty of a presumably independent press . . .
“Don’t go there,” he fumes. “This [argument] is just about the public’s right to know. If this were happening at another theater, not run by a celebrity, would you be writing this story?”
Probably not on the cover, I concede. “Your celebrity is part of what makes the story so interesting.”
“Well, that’s an issue for me,” he answers.
Through all this, actors are starting to stream in, oblivious to the testiness of our exchange, shaking my hand, embracing me. Robbins stands at a distance, registering a mix of perplexity and annoyance. The situation is growing more ludicrous by the minute.
“I just don’t want to be part of this story.” Robbins continues. “If I go on the record saying what I really feel about the way this place was being run, it could ruin people’s lives. I’m a very powerful, connected person.”
“Yes, I know,” I answer. “But they’vegone on the record. They don’t seem overly concerned. And actually, their remarks are quite benign. What you fear is in the article may not even be there. Perhaps you’re just overreacting.”
Robbins’ face flushes. I’ve clearly hit a nerve, quite unintended. He paces three or four steps, back and forth, breathing deeply.
“Anyway,” I continue, “when you start back with Mephisto,I’d like to see a rehearsal, if that’s all right. You know I’ve said all along that the work is your best argument.”
Robbins stares at the ground, for a moment or two. “For the article?”
“Of coursefor the article.” (I’ve made no secret of why I’ve been here for the past month.)
Robbins continues staring at the ground. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m looking for a scene to close the story,” I say.
“I’m sorry I can’t give you what you need.”
But of course, he just has.
From the theater’s strange shadows, I step back out into the dazzling sunlight.
I can’t pretend that I have no involvement with or affection for Actors’ Gang Theater. Its founder, Tim Robbins, played the lead in a play of mine when we were both UCLA students. In addition, a workshop production of my playMoscow was staged last month by Tracy Young under the Gang’s auspices, during Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theater Projects’ Common Ground Festival, also at UCLA. The proposal for this workshop was submitted to A.S.K. by the Gang’s former managing director, Mark Seldis. The play was proposed to the theater as an auxiliary project. It was never proposed for production at the Actors’ Gang Theater.
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