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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment December 10, 2018

10/23/2018 1:14:00 PM
Actor wins performance accolades
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By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Nathan Woodworth of Sisters drew accolades from L.A. Times theater critic Daryl H. Miller for a "riveting" performance in the Actors' Gang's presentation of "Johnny Got His Gun."

The theater company's artistic director is renowned actor Tim Robbins, who directs the play.

"Johnny Got His Gun" is based on the powerful and bleak anti-war novel of the same title, written by Dalton Trumbo and published in 1939. Many high school literature classes assign the novel.

The story focuses on an American World War I soldier who awakens in a hospital devastatingly wounded - with no arms, legs or face. He is a prisoner in his own body - with a perfectly functioning mind.

The Times review notes that, "In Robbins' version, most of the text is ... spoken by a single actor, the riveting Nathan Woodworth, but he is surrounded by eight others. They are like neurons firing in his mind, multiplying out through space. They echo the soldier's thoughts, mirror his emotions and occasionally become the people in his memories...

"Woodworth and the actor-neurons work with such precision and surging excitement here that you want to stand and cheer them on."

Woodworth is gratified by the strong response to the work.

"I didn't even know the reviewer was in the house," he said with a chuckle. "I'm glad I did well."

The play has drawn celebrity attendees from Jack Black to Jackson Browne, and left audiences profoundly moved, often to tears.

The young Sisters actor acknowledged that the play involves horrific circumstances - but he is tapping into emotions that push back on the darkness.

"The character is always trying to find a place of joy and a place of peace, he said. "It's really fighting for life."

And, he says, strange as it may seem to say it, he's having fun.

"I always have a big smile on my face afterward, and people come up and say 'Are you OK?"" he said.

"It's like playing the blues," he reflected.

The blues may come from a place of pain, from being down and out, from loss.

However, "when you're playing the blues, you're having fun because you're jammin'," he said.

Woodworth is grateful for Robbins' confidence in his work and for the opportunity to perform work that has stood the test of time and has such a powerful effect on audiences.

"It's really been an amazing experience," Woodworth said. "It's like doing Shakespeare - it's such an honor just to speak these words and I hope I do them justice."

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