Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Clowning Around In Sherwood Forest

Daniel Hopkins, Julia Davis, Kevin Klein, Alexis Jones, Raymond Lee in Robin Hood.
What happens when you take the classic story of Robin Hood—that famous, English outlaw who robbed from the rich to give to the poor—and add four clowns, two musicians and a lot of merriment?  We hope you’ll join us to find out, as South Coast Repertory presents Greg Banks’ imaginative new adaptation of Robin Hood for our Theatre for Young Audiences series November 2 – 18.

Robin Hood costume design
by Leah Piehl
With this production of Robin Hood, SCR is thrilled to introduce our TYA audience to the Los Angeles-based Four Clowns troupe—four actors and two musicians—who will play more than 20 characters.  The clowns use physical comedy, mime, improvisation and jokes to dramatize Banks’ Robin Hood—a high-energy look at the timeless tale of Robin and his band of Merry Men, with swashbuckling adventures and triumph against great odds.  We’ll see Robin fight against the evil King John and Sheriff of Nottingham, woo the beautiful Maid Marian, and strive to help the poor—as he teaches lessons about friendship, loyalty and the importance of helping those less fortunate than yourself.

Playwright Greg Banks has skillfully refreshed the tale of Robin Hood with interactive opportunities that invite the audience into the world of the play so that they can be part of the action, including jokes, fight scenes, jumps, tree climbing, flips, gags and maybe even the occasional red nose.

“Whether they’re reacting to a gag or a pratfall, you hear immediately how kids feel about something” says director Jeremy Aluma.. “Children bring out some great creativity in us as performers and that’s wonderful.”

The cast includes clowns Amir Levi, Raymond Lee, Alexis Jones, Kevin Klein and musicians Daniel Hopkins and Julia Davis.  The design team includes Fred Kinney, sets; Leah Piehl, costumes; Jeremy Pivnick, lights; Brian Danner, fight director; and Jennifer Ellen Butler, stage manager.

Set design by Fred Kinney.
Four Clowns won the coveted Best of Physical Theatre award at the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival three times in a row in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The troupe also earned top nods at the Minnesota and San Francisco Fringe festivals and became Ovation Recommended in Los Angeles. In February 2012, Four Clowns took part in South Coast Repertory’s Studio SCR Series, a program that partners with SoCal's most intriguing arts groups and presents a series of eclectic, contemporary theatre works.

Although Four Clowns’ work for adults has been edgy and sometimes risqué, this will be their second show for young audiences—and they’ve shown themselves to be quite adept at channeling their inner child.

The Four Clowns’ rollicking, fun and funny take on Robin Hood is not to be missed!

About the Playwright Greg Banks

Greg Banks
Playwright and director Greg Banks was commissioned to write Robin Hood by The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, where he directed the play’s premiere in 2011.  Since then, Robin Hood has been performed for children at theaters across the country including Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company and Seattle Children’s Theatre.

His work as a writer, actor and director has taken him all over the world from Singapore to Seattle. In the United Kingdom, he has directed for many companies including The Unicorn Children's Theatre London (The Wizard of Oz), The Birmingham Stage Company (Kenoukes Kingdom), The Bristol Old Vic (Endgame), Polka Children's Theatre, Traveling Light (Tir Na N'og; winner of the Samuel Beckett award), Plymouth Theatre, and Royal Theatre (Why the Whales Came).

He is a frequent collaborator at many U.S. theaters including Minneapolis’ The Children’s Theatre Company, Seattle Children's Theatre and The New York State Theatre (Tempest, King of Shadows). He wrote and directed an adaptation of Pinnochio for Taurus Voice, and Salaam for Fair Game Theatre. Other projects include a Native Canadian adaptation of his production of Tir Na N'og, Treasure Island for The Birmingham Stage, and his own adaptation of Huck Finn for The Children's Theatre Company. In addition to Robin Hood, Banks has directed Sleeping Beauty, Antigone, and John Glore’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time for CTC.


  1. What would you say is the appropriate age of kids to attend this performance? Mine are 4 and 5 1/2. We're e-media free at home, so our kids really relish live performance, but it also means they haven't been exposed to the violence of contemporary TV/video games/DVDs. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Abby,

      The show is ideally suited for 3rd – 6th graders. However, there is nothing in it that would be inappropriate or confusing for younger kids. There are some fight scenes, but they aren't violent in any realistic way. A little boy's father does pass on at the beginning of the show.

      Hope this helps you make an informed decision on bringing your kids to "Robin Hood."

      Let us know if we can answer any other questions.