The Actors’ Gang-actors, anarchists or punk rockers?

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While theater troupes may be easy to come across in Los Angeles, finding one that has punk rock roots may not be.

Twenty-five years ago, a UCLA theater student by the name of Tim Robbins was experimenting with just that combination.

Along with fellow classmates in UCLA’s theater department, Robbins wanted more from the program. The students took it upon themselves to create something in response to their interests and soon formed the Actors’ Gang.

“This group of people was very much into anarchy and punk rock music,” said Shana Sosin, Actors’ Gang company member and the sole female cast in Michael Gene Sullivan’s adaptation of “1984.” “That’s the foundation of the company.”

Currently, the Actors’ Gang is in Utah on its first national tour of “1984,” showcasing its skillful marriage of anarchistic, punk rock ideals to the art of acting.

“What we’re trying to bring to the places where we are touring is an essence of the Actors’ Gang,” Sosin said.

While anarchy and punk rock remain woven throughout the Gang’s work, another element that distinguishes the troupe is its adoption of the commedia dell’arte style, characterized in part by masks, stock character archetypes and audience involvement by means of direct address.

In this, the actors focus on four basic emotional states-happiness, sadness, anger and fear, Sosin said.

The Actors’ Gang, which often visits junior and senior high schools without arts programs in addition to regularly teaching classes at prisons, is concluding a one-week residency at the U.

One of the workshops held by the Gang centered on discovering and utilizing the four states of commedia dell’arte and was given to acting students.

“It’s so beautiful to watch,” Sosin said of the students becoming involved in the style.

“The state work allows that flow of energy to happen, or that flow of emotion to happen,” she said.

For many of the students-both young and older-that Sosin has seen in doing state-work workshops, they have never tapped so fully into a basic emotion because of society’s pressure to not show extreme fear, anger or love, Sosin said.

“They’re allowing this to happen for the first time, some of these people,” she said.

The Gang will hold a community workshop Saturday titled, “Creating Political Theater,” a craft the company has been refining since its inception.

“When we teach in these political theater classes, we are not spreading our propaganda. We are going in with a positive message about being able to make a change in these communities-in your community,” Sosin said.

“I expect to see these people (from classes and workshops) in the next 10 years to be doing something. I expect someone to show up in L.A. and say, ‘We met in Utah, you did a class?’ I’m expecting it because I know (change is) happening.”

“Creating Political Theater” is a community workshop with the Actors’ Gang. Gang artists will share experiences of, tools for and key elements in shaping political themes into theater. Students participate in sample group and individual exercises to stimulate and guide the creative process. For this workshop, each participant should have a pen and notebook and come dressed in comfortable clothes they can move in.

The workshop is located in the rehearsal room at Kingsbury Hall on Saturday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The event is free, but reservations are required. Call Robin at 581-6261 for more information.