The Actors' Gang Presents 40th Anniversary Revival Of UBU THE KING

Performances run October 14-November 19.

By: Sep. 27, 2022
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The Actors' Gang Presents 40th Anniversary Revival Of UBU THE KING

In 1896, the bohemian, absinthe-drinking, rebellious writer Alfred Jarry debuted his revolutionary play Ubu the King with a single performance in Paris. The absurd satire shocked audiences, resulting in repeated interruptions throughout the performance and culminating in a riot. This violent reception cemented Alfred Jarry's legacy as a provocative and controversial author.

Eighty-six years later, in 1982, a ragtag bunch of punk rock actors performed a midnight production of the same surreal, scatological masterpiece at a theater tucked away on a grimy stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. It was a huge hit, and the rest is Actors' Gang history.

Now in 2022, for ten performances only October 14 to November 19, The Actors' Gang celebrates its 40thanniversary by presenting a revival of this obscenely funny, deeply offensive, and utterly deranged play. Tickets are available at, and by phone at 310-838-4264.

But this isn't some dusty nostalgia piece. Artistic Director Tim Robbins is directing a lively company of actors-most of whom weren't even born when the Gang first produced Ubu-to reawaken the anarchic spirit that makes chaotic and rough-around-the-edges live theater so captivating. The translation is by Cyril Connolly and Simon Watson Taylor.

"I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our 40th than to return to the play that started it all for The Actors' Gang, said Robbins. "Considering the scatological nature of our public discourse and the absurdity of life in general in these post-pandemic times, I felt that a return to rude, punk rock theater made a lot of sense. I am not sure of the moral, social or artistic implications of doing Ubu the King at this time, but we are having a hell of a lot of fun."

Ubu the King, Alfred Jarry's rude, scatological 1896 masterpiece deeply influenced early 20th Century artists and gave rise to dadaism, absurdism, and expressionism. And now, Ubu the King is the perfect story for these insane times. A hundred years have not dulled the humor in government deception, failed coup d'états, weird sexual proclivities, loud farts, de-brainings, and other pathological peculiarities embodied by this play. At start, Ubu, the Ex-King of Aragon, is convinced by his wife, Ma Ubu, to assassinate the King of Poland and usurp the throne.

Killing Wenceslaus and his entire family are not enough for old Ubu, his greed and insatiable appetite lead him into a spiraling series of events that result in murder, war, and ultimately the restoration of the King's son, Boggerlas, to the throne of Poland. Meanwhile, Ubu and his conspirators sail off to safety at the end of the play facing no consequences for their reign of terror.

The Morgan Library on the occasion of the 2020 exhibit Alfred Jarry: The Carnival of Being, wrote: The subversive works and personality of the French writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) played a crucial role in the transition from the nineteenth-century avant-garde to the emergent modernist movements of the early twentieth century. An inspiration for Dada and Surrealism and a touchstone for the Theatre of the Absurd, Jarry is most renowned for his play Ubu roi and the legend of its sensational premiere in 1896. To his contemporaries, however-figures such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau, Oscar Wilde, and Guillaume Apollinaire-Jarry's prestige extended beyond theater. He applied his genius to poetry, the novel, and operettas; he was a graphic artist, an actor, a puppeteer, a critic, and the inventor of an imaginary science called pataphysics. For Jarry, engagements with technology, popular imagery, and the performance of everyday life could constitute works of art.

Audiences can experience Ubu the King for 10 performances only, on Fridays and Saturdays in October and November. For these late-night performances, doors open at 8:00 PM for pre-show drinks. The show will begin at 9:00 PM, followed by a post-show party at 10:30 PM. You must be 18 or older to attend.

Ubu the King is a rough play full of obscene humor and inappropriate behavior and is not for the faint of heart.

The Actors' Gang was founded in 1981 by a group of punk rock theater artists looking to create a new style of relevant, entertaining theater in Los Angeles. The Actors' Gang mission is to present new, unconventional, and uncompromising plays and dynamic reinterpretations of the classics, to restore the ancient sense of the stage as a shared sacred space, to introduce theater to children, and help them find
their own creative voices, to bring the freedom of self-expression to the incarcerated.

Over the past 40 years, The Actors' Gang has performed for audiences in Los Angeles and worldwide, on five continents and in 40 U.S. States. Our groundbreaking Prison Project is currently in thirteen California prisons, serving incarcerated women, men, and children with rehabilitation programs that significantly reduce recidivism. Each year, thousands of children in Los Angeles public schools discover confidence and creativity with our Education Department through in-school immersion and after-school programs and by participating in classes that encourage acceptance, respect, and team building in fun and impactful ways.

The Actors' Gang Presents 40th Anniversary Revival Of UBU THE KING


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