On and off the screen, Academy Award winner Tim Robbins has played many roles—actor, director, producer, writer, and activist. He created memorable film characters, from Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham to Andy in The Shawshank Redemption. He also is involved in helping incarcerated men and women envision new roles in their own lives through theatre.
In a wide ranging interview, Robbins talks about his career in film from both sides of the camera and his lifelong commitment to the arts both as an integral means of communications and a vehicle for confronting social issues. Robbins, the founding artistic director of the 35-year-old Los Angeles theatre company the Actors’ Gang, is creative director of its Prison Project, which works with inmates, including juveniles, in California state prisons. Classes and workshops bring together inmates from different races—and different gangs—in a setting where emotions are otherwise discouraged.
In honor of his commitment to education, as well as his richness of ideas and originality, Tim Robbins is the recipient of Smithsonian Associates’ 15th annual Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award. Previous award recipients are Yo-Yo Ma, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Eric Kandel, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Jules Feiffer, Ted Turner, Lisa Randall, Meryl Streep, Greg Mortenson, Johnetta Cole, Mark Morris, Bill Drayton, Shirley Tilghman, and Azar Nafisi.
The Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award is made possible by the Creativity Collaboration, a joint project of Smithsonian Associates and the Creativity Foundation.
Take a look at a brief documentary from the California Arts Council that shows how the Actors’ Gang Prison Project offers inmates opportunities to develop changed attitudes and new problem-solving skills.