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WTF?! Festival October 13 to December 19
October 8, 2009 - By Cassandra Wiseman
The economy is still sluggish, unemployment is still rising, we dont have national healthcare, were a country at war, and the Actors Gang theater companywhich offers community outreach programs, as well as great theateris feeling the pain. WTF* is wrong with this country?
Academy Award-winning actor and Actors' Gang Artistic Director Tim Robbins is mad as hell and isnt about to mince words when it comes to the arts, free speech and America.
The name of this festival came to me after a recent board meeting where I was told that due to the economic downswing and recent reductions in donations, we can no longer afford to produce theatre, he explains. I was told it would be less expensive to do nothing.
The WTF?! Festival is Robbins answer to the board. Were not very good at doing nothing. We have 70 members and we are fired up to go into production on a major piece in January, so in the spirit of rebellion and our history of survival we are going to produce three plays, host great artists and authors, screen free documentaries, have open forums for Veterans, have live music nights with great songwriters, present poetry and dance, screen ridiculously funny movies, host talkbacks with directors and try to raise enough money to survive this crap economy. We are offering a wide variety of events that will fire up new audiences, help them discover The Gang, and support our community outreach.
Opening October 13, the WTF?! Festival promises something for everyone and all proceeds will benefit The Gang's many outreach programs, such as theater residencies in public schools; a free Summer-in-the-Park family theater series; free holiday shows for families; a theater-in-prisons program focused on rehabilitation through the arts; and pay-what-you-can nights for Actors' Gang productions on the main stage.
On October 17 at 8 p.m., Jack Black and Kyle Gass will display the gifts bestowed upon them by Beelzebub as they kick off the WTF?! Arts Festival Saturday Night Benefit Concert series. Saturday nights will also feature The After Gang, an outdoor lounge offering audiences a unique opportunity to hang out before and after the show, have a drink or three, enjoy a few laughs, and meet and mingle with the artists and musicians. The Festival will close on December 19 with Vox Femina, a choral group that will perform and then lead the audience on a caroling expedition throughout Culver City.
The Film Talkback series, curated by Robbins, will offer free documentaries on Tuesday nights opening with Sir! Yes, Sir! This award-winning documentary tells the long suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam and will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker David Zeiger. Other free documentaries slated include Disturbing the Universe (Sundance Film Festival, 2009), followed by a talkback with director Emily Kuntsler; and an Iraq war documentary, The Ground Truth (2006), followed by talkback with director Patricia Foulkrod.
Stoner Movie Nights on Wednesday nights will begin October 14 with comedienne Sarah Silvermans Jesus is Magic, followed by a Q&A with Ms. Silverman herself. Other Wednesday nights include special screenings of George Carlin: Jammin' in NY (1992), which will be followed by a reading of his soon-to-be released memoir by his daughter, Kelly Carlin McCall, and the provocative and outrageously hilarious The Aristocrats (2005), followed by a talkback with director Paul Provenza and members of the cast.
On Thursday and Friday nights there will be a theater and dance series featuring members and friends of The Actors' Gang. The Theater and Dance series opens with a Thursday night performance of The Need to Know: A Veteran's Journey from Fear to Freedom, an award-winning one-woman show written and performed by former Air Force Intelligence Analyst, April Fitzsimmons, that tells the story of her progression from warrior to peace activist. There will be a Veteran's Forum following the show and veterans are free with Military ID at this event!
Friday night, October 2, Death and Giggles, a visit to the absurd world of the afterlife, features former Cirque du Soleil performer, Daisuke Tsuji. Other evenings scheduled include Donna Jo Thorndales show, All Cake, No File, a Johnny Cash Tribute Show with live cooking and live music; and a performance of Mental Head Circus, an intoxicating creation of vaudeville circus from The Terry Beeman Dance Company and the Hoopdawgz.
Other musicians set to perform acoustic sets at The Gang's intimate, 99-seat performance venue for the Festival include Jackson Browne, Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and X's John Doe with Jill Sobule.
On three Tuesdays in November, PEN CENTER USA and The Gang host intimate discussions with, among others, celebrated author Gore Vidal.
The WTF?! Festival takes place Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 8 p.m.; Late Start Fridays at 9 p.m.; and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. All proceeds benefit community outreach programs at The Actors' Gang, located at 9070 Venice Blvd. (near the intersection of Culver and Venice Blvds.) in Culver City. For details, directions, tickets and schedule: wtffestival.theactorsgang.com or call The Actors' Gang Box Office at (310) 838-GANG (4264), ext. 15, or R.S.V.P. email@example.com.
*Editors Note: For those who dont know what the acronym, WTF, stands for, please have the children leave the room and, above all, do not let them read this article: WTF has become common vernacular for what we mustnt say in public or in front of our children: What the fk.