Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is back with an exciting summer line-up of socially conscious theater, music and performance. The plays are set to open in rapid succession and perform in repertory throughout the summer together with a host of satellite events in the company’s breathtakingly beautiful outdoor Topanga setting.
William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, co-directed by Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall and featuring David DeSantos in the title role, opens June 2. An allegory for today’s tumultuous times, Shakespeare’s searing tragedy is a cautionary tale of political manipulation and revenge. Rome, a city where the one-percenters rule, is led by a populist general who has nothing but contempt for the common people. Unable to reconcile his disdain for the citizens with his love of country, Coriolanus finds himself driven into the embrace of his sworn enemy.
June 3 sees the return of the Theatricum’s signature production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an annual audience favorite. Theatricum’s magical outdoor setting will once again stand in for the Bard’s enchanted forest, as director Willow Geer conjures up a world of wonder, magic and romance.
Opening June 16 is The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s classic parable of mass hysteria that draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 and the McCarthyism that gripped America in the 1950s. The small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice; a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.
On June 30, long-time Theatricum company member Susan Angelo directs members of the Geer family in a revival of Enid Bagnold’s delightful classic, The Chalk Garden. Dyed-in-the-wool British dowager, Mrs. St. Maugham, is a selfish eccentric who spends her days gardening, but can’t make anything grow. Her teenage granddaughter, Laurel, is a precocious liar. When enigmatic Miss Madrigal is hired as household companion and manager, the two finally meet their match.
Finally, joining the repertoire on July 28, Theatricum presents a very rare revival of Haiti, a historical melodrama about the 1802 overthrow of the colonial Haitian government written by William DuBois for the Federal Theatre Project (FTP). Subtitled “A drama of the black Napoleon,” Haiti was presented in 1938 by the FTP’s Negro Theatre Unit in a radical and controversial production that saw white and black actors performing together onstage at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem.
All five mainstage productions will play in repertory through Sept. 30. Unlike most theaters in the L.A. area that stage continuous runs of a single play, Theatricum, using a company of actors, will perform each of the plays collectively, making it possible to see all five mainstage plays in a single summer weekend.
Theatricum will also present four special events on its mainstage. On May 13 (Mother’s Day) at 2 p.m. MOMentum Place, Theatricum’s yearly offering of modern dance, aerial acts, juggling and performance art curated by Lexi Pearl celebrates its 20th year.
On Fourth of July, from 11 a.m.–5 p.m., join Theatricum’s fourth annual Family Barn Dance and Bar-B-Que.
Oct. 6 at 2 p.m., see the Geer family’s annual tribute, The Woody Guthrie Story, honoring the songwriter, folklorist and labor leader who was also a longtime Theatricum friend.
Oct. 7, at 4 p.m, Inara George and Friends, the acclaimed singer/ songwriter performs in a benefit for the Theatricum’s educational programming.
ADDITIONAL SUMMER PROGRAMMING
“Under the Oaks” presents four evenings of music and performance in the intimate S. Mark Taper Foundation Pavilion; “Off The Grid”, presents comedy improv with Theatricum’s in-house troupe; “Family Fundays” with interactive children’s theater from “Creative PlayGround” and music from Peter Alsop’s “Kids Koncerts”; Theme Dinner Buffets in the idyllic Theatricum gardens; and, finally, Theatricum’s annual Halloween celebration, the “BOOtanicum.”
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. Theatricum 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.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290. Dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Patrons are welcome to arrive early and picnic before a performance.
For a full schedule of theater, music, and family entertainment, and to purchase tickets, subscriptions, and group discounts: (310) 455–3723; theatricum.com.