The Actors’ Gang Theater presents WE LIVE ON World Premiere
The Actors’ Gang Theater will debut We Live On, a new Hard Times-based play by Studs Terkel, on July 22. With additional text from Tim Robbins and cast and edited by Robbins, the live virtual production will be presented in three parts and will run through September 4. With music by Cameron Dye and David Robbins, this world premiere features 30 tales of the Great Depression, including those of Dolores Huerta, Dorothy Day and Cesar Chavez.
51 years ago, author and regular man columnist Studs Terkel interviewed businessmen, autoworkers, farmers, bums, strip artists, men board, seamstresses and union leaders and asked them what it was like to live through the Great Depression. Their words of survival have a direct link to the challenges facing the entire world during the COVID pandemic.
We Live On, a live virtual production, will run from July 22 to September 4 (premieres July 22, 23 and 24; press openings July 29, 30 and 31). Each part features ten stories and is presented as a complete experience. Audiences around the world can also participate in a pre-recorded online screening every Sunday, between July 25 and September 5, at 9 a.m. (PT) for part one, at 10:30 a.m. (PT) for part two, at 12 p.m. ( PT) for Part Three. This is Actors’s Gang’s first main production since the theater closed in March 2020.
About a year ago, on the 50th anniversary of Hard Times, faced with the inability to assemble, The Actors’ Gang began working via zoom to adapt Terkel’s Hard Times. The production explores 30 different stories – a mix of stories documented by Terkel and original stories drawn from the family histories of the cast members – of courage and determination, a testament to what it takes to survive times without previous, which are now featured on three different performances.
“We started to develop We Live On in April 2020 and it started with a question: how, as artists, do we approach the fear of this time, the loss, the despair, the queues in the food banks, poverty?
We weren’t interested in distracting or avoiding this historic period that we were living through. We wanted material that was stimulating and addressed the challenges of living in desperate times. At the same time, it was essential to tell the stories of the survivors, knowing that the courage and resilience of those who went through the Great Depression could be a source of inspiration and hope for our audience today.
I had the chance to meet Studs Terkel – one of my long-time heroes, a journalist who gave voice to the anonymous, the forgotten – and interviewed him for LACMA before his death. Studs was such an important documentary filmmaker of the human condition, of what it takes to survive in hardship.
Those Hard Times voices that Studs left us, remain resonant and essential today, perhaps more so than when they were recorded in 1970, a reminder of the tenacity, faith and love he To recover from the trauma, the unprecedented isolation and loss of loved ones we have recently experienced.
As actors, I think it’s important to find that kind of material to wrestle with. I am fortunate to have a company of actors who understand not only the importance of reaching the truth on a difficult subject, but also, in this difficult time of being apart, of reaching that truth in community. with each other. It is our hope to create this community around the world with our audiences in an intimate, personal and immediate way. We Live On is a play born out of loss and the confines of lockdown that seeks to create healing and catharsis and hope for a shaken world. ”-Tim Robbins
The Actors’ Gang Theater strives to make its content accessible to all customers. Admission is Pay What You Can, but the theater offers free tickets to patrons who can’t afford to donate. For more information or if you have any questions, need assistance or access to free tickets, please send an email to [email protected]
Some of the stories featured in We Live On include:
Sally Rand, whose fans dance to the accents of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and Chopin’s “C sharp minor”, caused a sensation at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and helped launch a career that spanned over 30 years. (Based on Studs Terkel’s interview with Sally Rand)
Labor activist Cesar Chavez, who was pushed into action by the targeted mistreatment of field workers he witnessed as a child during the Great Depression. (Based on Studs Terkel’s interview with Cesar Chavez)
Louis Banks, who traveled the rails from Arkansas to Los Angeles on top of a boxcar with the dream of becoming a chef and the hope of finding a job in the North. (Based on Studs Terkel’s interview with Louis Banks)
Words by Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance poet, performed by contemporary poet Cyrus Roberts.
Stéphanie Galindo gives voice to the misery of migrant workers and unearths the stories of the 28 formerly anonymous “deportees”. (Original story)
Horace Clayton Jr., who left the comfort of his well-off upbringing for a tour of the south side of Chicago where he was mobilized by the unified and organized labor protests of the black community. (Based on Studs Terkel’s interview with Horace Clayton Jr.)
Lawrence Zuckerman talks to his niece Cady about the long-term effect of his parents’ Russian Jewish immigrant experience during the Great Depression. (Original story)
United Farm Workers activist Dolores Huerta discusses farm workers and immigrant rights.
Ruth Gray Ratner survived a heartbreaking education during the Great Depression and, as she tells Hannah Hartman, has nothing to worry about surviving the pandemic. (Original story)
Dorothy Day, Catholic social activist, and her work with the homeless, the hungry, the poor of New York City throughout the Great Depression (based on Studs Terkel’s interview with Dorothy Day)
The cast of We Live On Part One includes: Jeronimo Spinx (Louis Banks), Guebri VanOver (Dynamite Garland), Mary Eileen O’Donnell (Harry O’Donnell – his father), Josh Latzer (Martin DeVries), Stephanie G. Galindo (Anonymous), Hannah Hartman (Ruth Gray Ratner – her family friend), Jeanette Horn (Evelyn Finn), Vincent Foster (Harry Hartman), Dora Kiss (Julia Walther) and Cihan Sahin (Marshall and Steve).
The cast of We Live On Part Two includes: Ana Ming Bostwick-Singer (Olga & William Bostwick – her grandmother and grandfather), Adam J. Jefferis (Slim Collier), Mariana Da Silva (Dolores Huerta), Patti Tippo (Sally Rand), Gratiela Brancusi (Jane Yoder), Stephanie Pinnock (Elsa Ponselle), Luis Quintana (Jose Yglesias), Jeremie Loncka (Harry & Peter Loncka – his grandfather and great-grandfather), Miroslav Vejnovic ( Ed Paulsen) and Bob Turton (Hank Oettinger).
The cast of We Live On Part Three includes: Stephan Smith (Horace R. Cayton Jr.), Cady Zuckerman (Lawrence Jay Zuckerman), Pedro Shanahan (Bob Stinson), Megan Stogner (Dr. David J. Rossman), Kayla Blake ( William Kealohaonalani) Sniffen – His grandfather), Kathryn Carner (Peggy Terry), Robert Chavez (Cesar Chavez), Adele Robbins (Dorothy Day), Kaili Hollister (Ernest Russell – His great grandfather) and Cyrus Roberts (Langston Hughes).