California's Theatricum Botanicum Announces Summer Season

Regional News   California's Theatricum Botanicum Announces Summer Season
The open-air venue will present works by Shakespeare, Jon Robin Baitz, and more.
<i>A Midsummer Night’s Dream</i>
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Ian Flanders

The 2017 summer season of Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum has been announced, and it promises to be a season full of socially conscious classic and contemporary plays. The season runs June through October and consists of five main-stage productions along and several extra events throughout the summer.

The outdoor programming at the Topanga, California venue is designed around the central theme of resistance. According to Artistic Director Ellen Geer, “Each of the plays emphasizes how critical it is to resist and struggle against the forces of inequality and injustice—while also reminding us that there’s humor in being human. The plays range from Renaissance Italy, to ancient Greece, to 1950s and modern-day America, yet each deals with the consequences of miscommunication and of our inability to embrace those who might be different from us.”

The five main-stage plays are scheduled to play in repertory throughout the summer with a company of actors, starting with William Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice. The tragi-comedy, which raises racial and religious questions still relevant today, will be directed by Ellen Geer and will begin June 3.

Theatricum Botanicum’s signature production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream—one of Shakespeare’s most recognizable comedies about the fickleness and transformative power of love—is up next. Directed by Melora Marshall, the production will kick off June 4.

Sir Peter Hall’s stage adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm follows. The show, about the corrupting influence of power features music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell. Performances begin June 18.

Members of the Geer family will then take the stage in Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities. The hilariously explosive play takes a close look at the dynamics of family politics. Mary Jo Duprey returns to directing at the Theatricum (August: Osage County, Imaginary Invalid). The production launches July 8.

The final main-stage production is Alice Childress’ Trouble In Mind. Starring multi NAACP award-winner Earnestine Phillips, Trouble In Mind is an entertainingly funny and yet heart-wrenching view of life in the theater and the racial tension that exists there. Performances are set to begin July 29.

Along with the main-stage, Theatricum will offer three special events this summer: including Re-PETE Celebration 2017: The Songs and Spirit of Pete SeegerThe Rising of the Women, which will perform on April 1. Theatricum’s annual programming of modern dance, juggling, aerial work, and performance art, Momentum Place, will take place May 14. The third annual Family Barn Dance and Bar-B-Q will be held on July 4. For more information about the season and events being offered, visit


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