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Our selective list of (almost) 100 actor-driven ensembles that have staying power: 

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Photo by Raul Vega

Action/Reaction Theater Company (818) 786-1045. Impressive track record ranging from ancient Roman comedy to an adaptation of a Jack London story to a new play.

Actors Co-op See article by Steven Mikulan (SM).

Actors’ Gang actorsgang.com Tim Robbins’ UCLA-weaned troupe does politically conscious plays with sleek production values.

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Alliance Repertory Company alliancerepertory.com The company seems to physically rebuild its theater to best serve each production; high acting standard.

Antaeus Company See article by Steven Leigh Morris (SLM).

Ark Theater Company arktheatre.org performs classics with a rock & roll sloppiness; equal parts aggravating and scintillating, always worth watching.

Arroyo Repertory Theater arroyorepertorytheatre.com Founded in 1983, the Pasadena company stages musical theater to classics to adaptations of films.

Attic Theater Center attictheatre.org Production standards of modern plays have been steadily rising.

Bellflower Theater Company bellflowertheater.org Mostly family fare on the outskirts of Long Beach.

Blue Sphere Alliance bluesphrealliance.com Frequently stages festivals of one-acts and solo performances with mixed results; solid production values.

Buffalo Nights Theater Company buffalonights.org The post–Actors’ Gang UCLA-weaned company hosts this year’s L.A. Weekly Theater Awards. So yes, we like them.

Also in this issue:

Company Town: How did sprawling Los Angeles become a mecca for small theater? Nearly 100 self-sustaining companies, many with distinguished reputations, are at work in the city. STEVEN LEIGH MORRIS addresses the question of why L.A. is such fertile ground for ensembles, and profiles some of the best, along with ERIN AUBRY KAPLAN and STEVEN MIKULAN. Plus, MORRIS on Gordon Davidson, who will be designated this year’s Queen of the Angels at the 25th annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards.

Burglars of Hamm burglarsofhamm.com Five clowns whose satires of theater and its conventions are mercilessly funny.

Cal Rep calrep.org Intriguing productions that veer toward the academic.

Camelot Artists Productions (310) 855-1556, Ext. 24. Has a long history of elegantly produced large-cast revivals of modern plays.

Cavern Club Theater at Casita del Campo cavernclubtheater.com Goofball drag and movie parodies.

Celtic Arts Center celticartscenter.com Irish heritage–themed plays, mostly well produced.

Chautauqua Theater Alliance (323) 960-8865. A gypsy theater company with a local history dating back to the 1920s. Now leans toward a TV-style/movie drama aesthetic.

Circle X Theater Company See article by SLM.

Circus Theatricals circustheatricals.com Conventional interpretations of classics that stress the acting.

City Garage See article by SLM.

Classical Theater Lab classicaltheatrelab.org Focuses on readings and workshops of classics.

Coleman and Smith Artistic Company colsac.org This industrious multicultural troupe has fared better with chestnuts than new plays.

Colony Theater Company colonytheatre.org One of the few local small theaters to grow viably to mid-size; solid production values, working to sustain challenging programming amid commercial pressures.

Company of Angels See article by SM..

Company Rep nohoartsdistrict.com/theatre Good actors and ideas, but the company is still finding its way.

Cornerstone Theater Company See article by Erin Aubry Kaplan (EAK).

Culture Clash cultureclash.com A core of three very smart comedians make this troupe one of the nation’s busiest, angriest and funniest Latino companies.

Deaf West Theater deafwest.org Theater by and for the hearing-impaired, and others. Its revival of Big River transferred to the Taper, to Broadway and is returning to the Ahmanson.

Diversity Players geocities.com/diversityplayers Their name says it all. We liked their production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, but found it like so many others.

East L.A. Classics eastlaclassic.org Targets the schools to bring literary-based theater classics (incorporating pop culture and a commedia style) to underserved youth.

Eclectic Company (818) 508-3003. The company’s productions of playwrights from Manuel Puig to Brian Friel have garnered respectful reviews.

Electric Lodge electriclodge.org A laboratory for performing and visual arts in Venice, its experiments have proven unreliable, but that’s what experimentation is about.

Ensemble Studio TheaterThe Los Angeles Project See article by SLM.

Evidence Room evidenceroom.com Its taste ranges from Charles Mee’s whimsical poetry to Edward Bond’s visceral explorations of urban violence. With works sometimes baffling, sometimes penetrating, ER is always fearless, and has largely accomplished its goal of creating a “scene” around its theater.

Fabulous Monsters fabulousmonsters.org With its Burning Man aesthetic, it dresses up Hindu myths in ornate costumes, puppetry, lavish choreography and techno pop. The Monsters are either enchantingly hypnotic or relentless, depending on your mood at the time.

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