Press Release

Spring has sprung, and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is thrilled to announce its annual summer line-up 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 and performed in repertory throughout the summer, along with a host of satellite events.

Kicking off the season on June 1 will be Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare’s 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.

theatricum botanicumJune 2 will see 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.

Opening June 8 is Moby Dick–Rehearsed, 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 revengeful obsession is to kill the dreaded white mammoth, Moby Dick.

Beginning June 22, Theatricum transfers Henrik Ibsen’s powerful An Enemy of the People 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.

Joining the repertoire on July 13 is The Skin of Our Teeth. The 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.

In addition to the theater’s usual 5-play repertory season, real-life husband and wife Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James will star in D.L Colburn’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning The Gin Game, beginning Aug. 17 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 the L.A. area that stage continuous runs of a single play, Theatricum, using 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.

In addition to theater, Theatricum will present three special events on its mainstage.

  • On 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;
  • on Sunday, May 12 (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; and
  • on Thursday, July 4 from 11 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Theatricum’s fifth annual Family Barn Dance. Additional summer programming includes Under the Oaks, four evenings of music and performance in the intimate S. Mark Taper Foundation Pavilion; Botanicum Seedlings: A Development Series for Playwrights presenting free readings of new plays; comedy improv with Theatricum’s in-house troupe Off The Grid; Family Fundays, offering interactive children’s theater from Creative PlayGround and music from Peter Alsop’s Kids Koncerts; and Theatricum’s annual Halloween celebration, which sees the bucolic Botanicum transformed into the haunted “BOO-tanicum.”

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum 2019 Summer Schedule at-a-glance:

Mainstage Repertory Performances – June 1 through September 29, 2019:

• Saturday, June 1 at 8 p.m. – Twelfth Night (Opening)
• Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Opening)
• Saturday, June 8 at 8 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed (Opening)
• Sunday, June 9 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, June 15 at 4 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Saturday, June 15 at 8 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, June 16 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, June 22 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Saturday, June 22 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People (Opening)
• Sunday, June 23 at 4 p.m.P – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Sunday, June 23 at 8 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, June 29 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Saturday, June 29 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Sunday, June 30 at 4 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Sunday, June 30 at 8 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, July 6 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, July 6 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Sunday, July 7 at 4 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Sunday, July 7 at 8 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Saturday, July 13 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, July 13 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth (Opening)
• Sunday, July 14 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, July 14 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Saturday, July 20 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Saturday, July 20 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Sunday, July 21 at 4 p.m. P – Twelfth Night
• Sunday, July 21 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Sunday, July 28 at 4 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Sunday, July 28 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Thursday, Aug. 1 at 8 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Friday, Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. $ – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. P – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Sunday, Aug. 4 at 4 p.m. P – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Thursday, Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Friday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. $ – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Saturday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Sunday, Aug. 11 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Sunday, Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Thursday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Friday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. P – An Enemy of the People
• Saturday, Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game (Opening)
• Saturday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Aug. 18 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Sunday, Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Thursday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Friday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. $ – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Saturday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Saturday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Sunday, Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Saturday, Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Saturday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Saturday, Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Sunday, Sept. 1 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Monday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day) at 6 p.m. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• Saturday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. P – An Enemy of the People
• Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Saturday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Saturday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Sunday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Sunday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Saturday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Saturday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth
• Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Sunday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Saturday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Saturday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. – An Enemy of the People
• Saturday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. – Twelfth Night
• Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. – The Gin Game
• Sunday, Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. – Moby Dick–Rehearsed
• Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. – The Skin of Our Teeth

P- Prologue (pre-show discussion):begins 1 hour before curtain. (included in ticket price)
$- All Friday night performances are Pay-What-You-Will

Mainstage Special Engagements: 

  • Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m.: Re-PETE Seeger Centennial Celebration 2019: Pete’s Legacy — Audiences are invited to sing along at 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 — Lexi Pearl curates Theatricum’s annual offering of modern dance, aerial acts, juggling and performance art.
  • Thursday, July 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Family Barn Dance — Celebrate the 4th at Theatricum with a family hoe-down: barn dance, live music, pie-eating contest, watermelon seed-spitting contest, cake walk, horseshoes, relay races, dunk bucket, family games, silent auction and more.

Under The Oaks
Featuring music and performance in the intimate S. Mark Taper Foundation Pavilion:

  • Friday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.: Theatricum Unmasked — Theatricum alumni gather to share personal stories from the theater’s over 40-year history.
  • Friday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m.: McDaniel Brothers in Concert — Multi-instrumentalist composers and performers Kellen and Marshall McDaniel will perform their latest genre-defying musical creations.
  • Friday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.: Crazy Ladies — In Katherine Griffith’s fast-paced, provocative solo “symphony of insanity,” the veteran actress plays 17 different “crazy ladies” in a world gone mad.
  • Friday, Sept. 27 from 5 p.m.–11 p.m.: One Act Marathon — Theatricum company members perform readings of one-acts by Shaw, Chekhov, Oates, Ionesco and more.

Botanicum Seedlings: A Development Series for Playwrights
Furthering new works and new voices, presenting free readings of new plays

  • Sunday, July 14 at 11 a.m.
  • Sunday, July 21 at 11 a.m.

Off The Grid
Comedy improv with Theatricum’s in-house troupe:

  • Friday, June 28 at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, July 26 at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m.

Family Fundays
With Creative PlayGround – interactive theater for ages 2 and up:

  • Sunday, June 2 at 11 a.m.: Aesop’s Fables
  • Sunday, June 9 at 11 a.m.: Ferdinand the Bull
  • Sunday, June 16 (Father’s Day) at 11 a.m.: The Legends of King Arthur
  • Sunday, June 23 at 11 a.m.: The Velveteen Rabbit
  • Sunday, June 30 at 11 a.m.: Three Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
  • Saturday, July 20 at 11 a.m.: Three Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
  • Saturday, Aug. 17 at 11 a.m.: The Legends of King Arthur
  • Sunday, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m.: Aesop’s Fables
  • Sunday, Oct 13 at 11 a.m.: Ferdinand the Bull
  • Sunday, Oct 20 at 11 a.m.: The Velveteen Rabbit

Family Fundays
With Peter Alsop’s KIDS KONCERTS:

  • Sunday, Aug. 25 at 10:30 a.m.: The Hollow Trees — Grab your partner for a bluegrass spin around the dance floor, as we stomp and sing with the Hollow Trees.
    Sunday, Sept. 8 at 10:30 a.m.: LoveBug & Me — One of Topanga’s favorites, back again.
  • Sunday, Sept. 22 at 10:30 a.m.: Peter Alsop — Our founder! Funny and smart songs for kids and their parents.
    Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10:30 a.m.: Rhythm Child — drums and rhythmic fun for the whole family.
  • BOO–TANICUM — The bucolic Theatricum transforms into the haunted BOO–tanicum for the theater company’s 4th annual Halloween extravaganza:
    • Saturday, Oct. 26 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The beginnings of the Theatricum Botanicum 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. 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. in Topanga, midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura (101) Freeway. 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.

Advertisements