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Actors' Gang looks back to view today's troubled world

January 27, 2009 |  8:54 pm

Our_town_2With the world economy in free fall, a number of Los Angeles area theaters are struggling to keep their actors employed and are turning to discounted tickets and other strategems to entice playgoers.

The ever-resourceful Actors' Gang also intends to take on the recession through it programming. Elizabeth Doran, managing director of the Culver City-based company, said the Gang will present Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Our Town" this spring.

Although Wilder's classic was first performed 71 years ago, Doran said, it speaks forcefully to our present moment. Grover's Corners, a seemingly stable and insular community that's likely on the verge of radical change, could be seen in Wilder's day as a stand-in for all America.

In many ways, it still can. "Economic crisis and economic change is actually a big part of what Thornton Wilder was talking about," Doran said.

"One of the big points of ‘Our Town’ is what’s going to happen when corporations come in and turn us into Wal-Mart. I think that is still an important question for America: What’s going to happen when these corporations come in and take away our community?"

Culture Monster is eager to see what Tim Robbins and company make of that question, among others. Meanwhile, any theaters out there up for revising Thornton's other masterpiece, the Depression-era "The Skin of Our Teeth?"

-- Reed Johnson

1938 first edition cover from the Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division