1981
2022

The Actor's Gang has performed for audiences in Los Angeles and throughout the world, on five continents and in 40 U.S. States

Harlequino On to Freedom - The Actor's Gang

Harlequino On to Freedom

  • 2016

  • Written and Directed by Tim Robbins

Written and directed by Tim Robbins, Harlequino: On to Freedom combines Commedia dell’Arte, Shakespearean tragedy, live music and sophisticated comedy to produce a dialectic on the meaning of freedom.

This new musical celebrates a particular kind of theater created by the Italians 500 years ago, the Commedia dell’Arte, and explores the 16th century actors’ limits of free expression in the authoritarian environment they lived in. As the story evolves, a conflict between a group of rogue actors and a Commedia dell’Arte expert becomes a battle for the soul of the Commedia, questioning the purpose of art, what is funny, and who writes history. Ultimately the musical asks the question: What must the artist risk to live freely in today’s world?

In researching Harlequino: On to Freedom, Robbins discovered an account from the 16th century that tells of a Duke Gonzaga of Mantua who, after watching a Commedia play, ordered three of the actors to be executed. Although no text survives, this incident raises questions about the nature of the relationship between power and society’s truth tellers. “We began to see a connection between those 16th century performers and artists in today’s world. From threats of eliminating the NEA to the radical suppression of art by Caliphates and fundamentalists, these questions have a deep resonance in today’s environment.” says Robbins.

Harlequino: On to Freedom is dedicated to the Nobel prize-winning playwright Dario Fo who offered his support and tutelage to Robbins, a mentorship that continued through the summer of 2016, shortly before Fo’s death at age 90.

Our Cast:

  • Will McFadden – Dr. Phineus Preamble, Max
  • Bob Turton – Dr. Ignatius Afterword, Pulcinella, Inquisidator
  • Joshua Lamont – Harlequino
  • Pierre Adeli – Pantalone, Elk
  • Mary Eileen O'Donnell – Madame Brancantini
  • Lee Margaret Hanson – Isabella, Dumbrina
  • Adam J. Jeffris – Mario, Capitano
  • Sabra Williams – Columbina, Mama Piña
  • Paulette Zubata – Mama Piña, Servant
  • Dora Kiss – Mama Piña and Servant
  • Stephanie Pinnock – Adella, Servant
  • Guebri VanOver – Cadella, Servant
  • Julia Finch – Badella, Servant
  • Cihan Sahin – Father Ambrosia, Servant
  • Adam Bennett – Servant
  • Miroslav Vejnovic – Dr. Baloardo
  • Understudies – Jaime Arze, Ethan Corn, Lance Frantzich, Melanie Green, Chas Harvey, Della Saba, Pedro Shanahan, Jeff Williams
“Abundant slapstick, clever wordplay and original songs, an inventive and informative deep dive into a rich theatrical tradition!”
Critic’s Choice Los Angeles Times