1981: Actors’ Gang founded by UCLA students,
including Tim Robbins, from about 10 members of
an acting class and/or the Theater Department softball team. The troupe also includes Richard Olivier (the son of Joan Plowright and Sir Laurence Olivier), among Robbins’ peers at UCLA. The first off-campus production Ubu the King premieres at the Pilot II Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard, funded
from Robbins earnings as a waiter and
Early to mid-’80s: Tim Robbins becomes bi-coastal and eventually relocates to New York. He administers the theater from across the continent via videotaped rehearsals and phone calls. In his absence, Mike Schlitt becomes the head of the troupe, and an
intermediary between Robbins and the company.
1985: Methusalem (Wallenboyd Theater)
1986: Violence (Wallenboyd Theater), Battery
(Second Stage Theater)
1987: Carnage (Museum of Contemporary Art)
1988: Carnage and Freaks (Tiffany Theater).
Mark Seldis starts working with the company.
1989: Seldis co-produces The Big Show at
San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts and
Santa Monica’s Powerhouse Theater. Carnage travels to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the New York Public Theater, where it is savaged by the critics.
1990: The Good Woman of Setzuan (Odyssey Theater)
1991: Robbins asks Seldis to serve as the Gang’s
1992: Blood! Love! Madness!, Woyzeck, Klub,
Hysteria (all at the Second Stage Theater)
— “a seminal year”
1993: Robbins opens the L.A. office of his film
studio, Havoc. He offers Seldis and Bob White each
a three-year contract to run the office as well as the Actors’ Gang. Robbins also pays out $350,000 for the $500,000 cost of the lease and conversion of a vacant warehouse on Santa Monica Boulevard into a
1994: The new theater space is baptized with
1996: Tracy Young’s Euphoria and Beth Milles’
production of The Imaginary Invalid. Robbins closes
the L.A. office of Havoc, announces his resignation
as artistic director of the Gang and cuts his financial
contributions to an average per year of $45,000 of the $300,000 operating budget, in a desire to see “self sufficiency occur.” Seldis continues on as unsalaried general manager. With mega–fund-raising efforts, the
Gang remains in the black.
1997: Bat Boy: The Musical (will move on to become an Off-Broadway hit in 2001)
1998: Salome (directed by David Schweizer),
MedeaMacbethCinderella (co-directed by Young
and Bill Rausch). The theater’s artistic committee
allocates Seldis a salary from the theater’s operating fund. Production manager Don Luce is the only
other salaried employee.
2000: Dreamplay (workshop), XXX Love Act, How
To Steal an Election. As a four-year lease comes up for renewal, Robbins announces his intention to return to the theater, and runs into questioning by the company.
2001: Bypassing the company, Robbins convenes
a board of directors meeting at the Hotel W. A 6-3 vote, and Robbins’ $200,000 check, installs Robbins as CEO and reinstalls him as artistic director. He jettisons a 2000-2001 season that had been decided by a company-wide vote in exchange for a season of his choosing, starting with his own production of Mephisto, to open in late August, and Georges
Bigot’s staging of The Seagull, tentatively
slated to open in October.