HUMANITAS Winner Tim Robbins Brings 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' to China


TimRobbinsOn the final night recently of the Actors’ Gang production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” here, theatergoers were treated to an unexpected — and rather meta — performance.

Stepping in for an ill colleague at the last minute to play Peter Quince, the bumbling director of the troupe of Mechanicals who put on a play within the play, was the show’s own director, Tim Robbins. For two and a half hours, Mr. Robbins and 13 other actors performed their minimalist rendition of this fantastical Shakespeare classic before a packed theater of 500 people, most of them Chinese, in the National Center for the Performing Arts, the sleek elliptical structure known as the Egg.

“It would have been nice to have had a rehearsal,” Mr. Robbins said after the show. But if there were hiccups, the audience didn’t seem to have noticed much or even cared.

Most sat riveted throughout, alternating between reading the Chinese subtitles on screens flanking the stage and watching the actors as they performed Shakespeare’s original words in English. Several slapstick scenes elicited roars of laughter, and at the end of the performance, many stayed in the auditorium for the postshow discussion with members of the Actors’ Gang, the Los Angeles theater company that Mr. Robbins, an Oscar-winning movie actor, helped found.

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