Tim Robbins cutting-edge theatre troupe, the Actor's Gang, will be flying high this season with their premiere of Euphoria, developed by writer, director and Gang member Tracy Young. Euphoria opens at the Actor's Gang Theatre in Hollywood Oct. 18, running through Nov. 16.
The play with music, originally titledStrange Medicine, chronicles the use of different drugs throughout history, and their relation to the cultures and societies that either celebrated or shunned them. Mind altering substances on the play's itinerary range from alcohol, LSD, and cocaine, to cigarettes, sugar, and television. Historical figures mix with fictional characters as the stories surrounding each substance unfold.
The play, which was partially produced this past June at the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Common Grounds Festival, employs 16 actors; nine actors who are not Gang members round out the cast.
Creator/ Director Young, who has been a Gang member since 1988, received an 1994 Ovation award for her direction of the most successful Gang production ever, Hysteria. She collaborated with Gang member Laurence O'Keefe and Kyle Gass to write songs for Euphoria.
Mark Seldis, the Gang's Artistic Director,is very enthusiatic about Euphoria, which he hopes the Gang will develop further if it is well received. According to Seldis, Young was inspired to do a theatrical piece about drugs after reading Terrence McKenna's Food of the Gods; the Search for the Origianl Tree, a book that takes a world view and historical perspective of the shamanic aspects of drugs. Young then conducted vast research on drugs through books and first-person accounts. She brought her research to the actors, to enhance their creative process. Of course, "everyone brings their own experiences to the play as well" says Seldis. Seldis also notes that it is a key time politically to do a play about drugs. "Every time drugs are mentioned in a politcal context these days, it is pretty shallow, one-dimesional...[The message is:] Don't even talk about them." Seldis feels that Euphoria is neither pro-drug, nor anti-drug, yet recommends that audiences "see the play before you vote."
Euphoria will run Thu-Sun 8pm at the Actor's Gang Theatre in Hollywood. Tickets are $12-15. For tickets and more information, call (213) 466-1767.
-- By Blair Glaser