Spring has sprung, and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is thrilled to announce its annual summer lineup of theater, music, and performance in its unique and stunning outdoor setting in Topanga. The Summer 2019 Season will include six plays opening in rapid succession, beginning June 1, and performed in repertory through September 29
A host of satellite events warm up the main stage earlier in the season, so mark your calendars now.
Saturday, April 6, at 1 p.m.—“The Re-PETE Seeger Centennial Celebration 2019: Pete’s Legacy,” a tribute to late singer/songwriter and activist Pete Seeger on the occasion of his centennial.
Sunday, May 12 (Mother’s Day) at 2 p.m.—”MOMentum Place” gives a loving nod to mothers everywhere at Theatricum’s yearly offering of modern dance, aerial acts, juggling, and performance art curated by Lexi Pearl. Tickets: Performance only, $35 advance purchase, $40 at the door; Students with valid ID, $15; Children 12 and under, $10. There is a catered Brunch from 12-1:30 p.m. for an additional $30. Performance begins at 2 p.m.
Thursday, July 4, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.—Theatricum’s Fifth Annual Family Barn Dance.
SUMMER REPERTORY SEASON
June 1, William Shakespeare opens the repertory season of six plays with Twelfth Night, a delightful comedy of mistaken identities, gender bending, twins lost at sea, love unrequited, and love triumphant. Original music by Marshall McDaniel will lend the Bard’s beloved words a refreshing new sound.
June 2 sees the return of Theatricum’s signature production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an annual audience favorite. Theatricum’s magical outdoor setting is once again transformed into the Bard’s enchanted forest, conjuring up a world of wonder, magic, and romance.
June 8, Moby Dick–Rehearsed takes the stage. A seldom-produced whale of a tale by the great Orson Welles, in which an acting troupe works between performances to create a play from Herman Melville’s epic novel. Join the voyage under the helm of Captain Ahab, the brooding, one-legged fanatic whose vengeful obsession is to kill the dreaded white mammoth, Moby Dick.
June 22, An Enemy of the People transfers Henrik Ibsen’s powerful play to a small town in South Carolina in the 1980s. Powerful people have difficult choices to make in Ellen Geer’s free adaptation of this classic—and extraordinarily timely—struggle between the interests of the individual and the welfare of society in the face of environmental disaster.
On July 13 The Skin of Our Teeth joins the repertoire, a story of humankind told through the lives of the Antrobus family. Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a whirlwind of modernity and antiquity, an inspiring piece of Americana that uses humor, history, and mythology to highlight humanity’s drive to carry on.
Beginning August 17, in addition to the theater’s usual five-play repertory season, real-life husband and wife, Alan Blumenfeld and Kathrine James, will star in D.L Colburn’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning The Gin Game, in Theatricum’s intimate S. Mark Taper Pavilion. The irascible Martin Weller and self-righteous Fonsia Dorsey share a mutual love of gin rummy, but as they play, they reveal secrets that get used against each other and the game becomes a metaphor for their lives. Presented in partnership with the Sierra Madre Playhouse.
All six productions will play in repertory through Sept. 29. Unlike most theaters in L.A. that stage continuous runs of a single play, a company of actors will perform each of the plays in repertory, making it possible to see all six plays in a single summer weekend.
For information, tickets, subscriptions, group discounts, and a full schedule of theater, music, and family entertainment: (310) 455-3723; or theatricum.com.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga. The amphitheaters are terraced into the hillside, so audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Patrons are welcome to arrive early and picnic before a performance.
About Theatricum Botanicum—Its beginnings can be traced to the early 1950s when Will Geer, a victim of the McCarthy era Hollywood blacklist (before he became known as the beloved Grandpa on The Waltons), opened a theater for blacklisted actors and folk singers on his property in Topanga. Friends such as Ford Rainey, John Randolph, and Woody Guthrie joined him on the dirt stage for vigorous performances and inspired grassroots activism, while the audiences sat on railroad ties. Today, two outdoor amphitheaters are situated in the natural canyon ravine, where audiences are able to relax and enjoy the wilderness during an afternoon or evening’s performance. Theatricum’s main stage amphitheater sports a new and improved sun shade for increased audience comfort, installed with support from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Ralph M. Parson’s Foundation. The theater is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Margaret Harford Award for “sustained excellence,” which is the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s highest honor.