On June 8, Shakespeare's romantic comedy As You Like It kicks off the season in the newly redesigned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. After 14 seasons of enduring uncomfortable seats and awkward sight lines, California audiences who journey each summer to Will Rogers Park for L.A.'s version of Shakespeare-in-the-Park, can finally look forward to a relaxing time.
Along with As You Like It, running June 8 - Sept. 14, the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum line up for the summer will include: Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams, running (July 6 - Sept. 14); The Robber Bridegroom book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry, music by Robert Waldman , (July 27 - Sept. 13); and close with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Aug. 29 - Sept. 14).
The Theatrical Botanicum was originally created in the 1950's by Will Geer and other artists blacklisted by the McCarthy Era. Actors, actresses, and singers had worked together using donated materials to create the amphitheatre in a canyon on Will Geer's property. Originally the seats were built into the natural slope of the hillside, making them reportedly quite uncomfortable, as well as susceptible to weathering and fire.
In 1983 renovations began with the revamping of the stage, which was raised and extended to cover the creek.
The new amphitheatre, resembling an ancient Greek arena, has stone seating for 299 people. It was structured within the barriers of the natural environment, and the surrounding area has been landscaped with native plants and trees, so that patrons can still enjoy the natural surroundings. The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. Topanga, CA. For season tickets or more information call (310) 455-3723, or refer to the regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By Honey Freilich