Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

The Actors' Gang Presents UBU THE KING This Month

Performances resume Friday, January 27.

The Actors' Gang Presents UBU THE KING This Month

Ed Rampell in his People's World review of The Actors' Gang Ubu the King said, "With any luck, Ubu will be extended into 2023. I have a feeling we'll be needing a good laugh in the year to come." The Actors' Gang, happy to oblige, is bringing back its smash hit, sold-old revival of Ubu starting Friday, January 27

Tickets are available at www.TheActorsGang.com, and by phone at 310-838-4264.

Last October, The Actors' Gang celebrated its 40th anniversary by presenting this revival of Ubu, their very first production. "An obscenely funny, deeply offensive, and utterly deranged play," said Rampell. 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.

Terry Morgan said in Stage Raw, "Staged with panache and full of rude fun ... director Tim Robbins brings plenty of clever and effective ideas to play, including a comically oversized sword, a regularly updated body-count chalkboard, a battle represented by MacNure knocking over army men toys, and an impressive array of performer-engendered bathroom noises. He stages the show with panache ... it's still a satisfying kick in the pants to conformity, and that's always a good thing."

In The Argonaut, Bridgette Redman, said the Ubu the King is a "a raucous, down-and-dirty comedy -- the iconic French play that has gone down in history as the predecessor to modernism, Dadism, Surrealism and the Theater of the Absurd."

Travis Holder said in Ticketholders LA, "Highly Recommended ...Ubu the King has lost none of its power or punch, offered once again in the guise of delectably scandalous and boisterously unconstrained humor that no one can ace better than these folks, making this one of the most irrepressible and enjoyable evenings out this busy season."

The Actors' Gang 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 on Fridays and Saturdays January 27 to February 25. Doors open at 8:00 PM for pre-show drinks. The show will begin at 9:00 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. Please also note that strobe lighting effects are used during this performance. Patrons that may suffer from epilepsy & other visual light stimulation effects are advised to contact the Front of House staff prior to entering the theater.

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.



Review: INCIDENT AT OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP at Theatre Forty Photo
After spending 90 minutes with the O’Shea family, we can thank whatever gods we pray to that we A. did not grow up in the early 1970s, B. that we do have the Internet and C. that this loving but dysfunctional family is not our own.

The Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Academy Spring Session Begins Next Week Photo
Enrollment ends on February 4 for the 2023 spring session of The Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Academy (YPA). All classes, which begin on February 6 and run through April 12, are conducted live online.

Filharmonie Brno Performs an All-Czech Program With Dvořák, Janáček, and M Photo
The pastoral landscape and folklore of Eastern Europe and America are brought to life through the music of three of the greatest Czech composers – Dvořák, Janáček, and Martinů – performed by the Czech Republic’s own Filharmonie Brno under the baton of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies.

Cal Performances at UC Berkeley Presents the U.S. Premiere of SIBYL Photo
As part of its Illuminations series, which this season addresses the complex and changing relationship between technology and creative expression, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley presents the eagerly anticipated U.S. premiere of William Kentridge’s hit multi-disciplinary theatrical production SIBYL, a meditation on the ultimately unknowable nature of the future (March 17–19)


More Hot Stories For You


The Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Academy Spring Session Begins Next WeekThe Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Academy Spring Session Begins Next Week
February 3, 2023

Enrollment ends on February 4 for the 2023 spring session of The Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Academy (YPA). All classes, which begin on February 6 and run through April 12, are conducted live online.

Filharmonie Brno Performs an All-Czech Program With Dvořák, Janáček, and MartinůFilharmonie Brno Performs an All-Czech Program With Dvořák, Janáček, and Martinů
February 3, 2023

The pastoral landscape and folklore of Eastern Europe and America are brought to life through the music of three of the greatest Czech composers – Dvořák, Janáček, and Martinů – performed by the Czech Republic’s own Filharmonie Brno under the baton of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies.

Cal Performances at UC Berkeley Presents the U.S. Premiere of SIBYLCal Performances at UC Berkeley Presents the U.S. Premiere of SIBYL
February 3, 2023

As part of its Illuminations series, which this season addresses the complex and changing relationship between technology and creative expression, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley presents the eagerly anticipated U.S. premiere of William Kentridge’s hit multi-disciplinary theatrical production SIBYL, a meditation on the ultimately unknowable nature of the future (March 17–19)

Pageant of the Masters Honors Harlem Renaissance in Upcoming Production, ART COLONY: IN THE COMPANY OF ARTISTSPageant of the Masters Honors Harlem Renaissance in Upcoming Production, ART COLONY: IN THE COMPANY OF ARTISTS
February 2, 2023

This summer, the Pageant of the Masters celebrates 90 years of tableaux vivants (“living pictures”) with the production Art Colony: In the Company of Artists. Audiences can expect a diverse theatrical celebration of artists from around the world that have embraced communities where they could live and work, and take inspiration from one another. One of the art colonies featured in this year's Pageant is New York's Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement that celebrated art and African American culture in the 1920s and 30s.

Larry Cedar Stars In Franz Kafka's THE TRIAL At Good Naked DiaryLarry Cedar Stars In Franz Kafka's THE TRIAL At Good Naked Diary
February 2, 2023

Good Naked Gallery presents THE TRIAL, a group exhibition featuring works by Nick Aguayo, Rachel Domm, Barry Hazard, Katie Hector, Natalja Kent, John Kilduff, Jeremy Shockley, and Joey Weiss.