Looking for a way to get your children interested in Shakespeare? It’s never too early for kids to gain an appreciation for the Bard’s work, but it isn’t always easy to find productions made for little ones. Tim Robbins and his theatre company, The Actors’ Gang, have the solution: Fractured Shakespeare for Kids.
Now in its fourth year, the family theatre program is currently mounting a production of Cymbeline, but their version is playfully dubbed Cymbeline the Puppet King. The no-cost performances are being held in Culver City’s Media Park, adjacent to the Actors’ Gang’s home at the Ivy Substation, on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00am, through August 31.
In the original text, Cymbeline, King of Britain, takes a new wife who has an arrogant son, Cloten. Cymbeline’s daughter, Imogen, is supposed to marry Cloten, but she has other plans. Imogen marries the man she loves, Posthumus Leonatus, and her father is so angry that he banishes his daughter’s new husband. In typical Shakespeare fashion, a series of scenarios involving mistaken identity, miscommunication, dishonesty, revenge, and the quest for love ensue. In the Gang’s version, it’s all done in a way that appeals to children and mines their imaginations. It’s a good way to show kids that Shakespeare doesn’t have to be confusing or dull, but can be extremely rich and meaningful. Of course, there are puppets popping up all over the stage, a colorful, family-friendly mechanism for making Shakespeare accessible.
The Fractured Shakespeare program is just one way The Actors’ Gang reaches out to young people to inspire and educate. The program doles out paid internships to six students a year from the company’s residencies with La Ballona Elementary School, Culver Middle School and Culver City Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. The interns learn theater vocabulary, technical and production elements, and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through performance. Previous Summer in the Park/Fractured Shakespeare presentations have included Pericles on the High Seas, Titus the Clownicus, and King O’Leary.
Don’t miss the fun at Media City Park. At 45 minutes, the show is custom made to avoid the squirm factor. For more information, call 310.838.GANG.