Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum 40th Anniversary Fundraiser

On May 4th, 2013, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum celebrated its 40th Anniversary by having a fund drive and open house. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is a repertory theatre that has offered thought provoking classics, socially relevant modern plays and educational programs in the natural outdoor sanctuary of Topanga Canyon, California since the early 1970’s.

Will Geer circa 1970's

Enthusiastic visitors received guided tours with costumed characters that highlighted the Shakespearean gardens where Will Geer’s ashes remain and even got a peak at a company rehearsal with Artistic Director Ellen Geer, daughter of Will Geer.

Costumed Actors performing during event

There were theatre games like stage combat, Elizabethan dance, fencing, and juggling while Academy teachers and students showcased the upcoming theatrical presentations of the 2013 season that includes 5 Repertory Season Plays: Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew (June 1- Sept 29 2013) and A Midsummer Nights Dream (June 2-Sept 28 2013.) Ferber and Kaufman’s The Royal Family (June 22- Sept 28 2013), Merlin: The Untold Adventures (July 20-Sept 29 2013) and A Celebration of Joyce Carol Oates (Sept 5-Oct 12 2013). 

Keeping with the goal of raising $ 400,000, the company is deepening its roots by having its long time members share their vibrant recollections, songs and stories with the community in an event on Friday, July 12th called Theatricum Unmasked: 40 Years of Drama and also on Saturday, Nov 9th at 5pm with a powerful celebrity reading of The Exonerated at Topanga’s magical Mermaid Tavern. For more info, please visit: www.theatricum.com or call 310-455-2322

 Also in attendance were Hollywood film producers Clinton H. Wallace (Blue Dream) and Christy Oldham (Barracuda).

Clinton H. Wallace with Will Geer statue

Katherine James, Christy Oldham and Ellen Geer

 In 1973, Will Geer, the actor best known for his role as Zeb Walton, the grandpa in the long-running 1970’s television series, The Waltons, founded the theatre company with his family. Topanga is an artistic and bohemian community nestled in the beautiful earthy canyon between the 101 freeway and the Pacific Coast Highway.

 Born in 1902, Geer pursued a college major in botany through a Master's degree at Columbia, but ultimately gave in to his need to perform. Starting with touring company tent shows and river boats, his six-decade career included Broadway, movies, and television. He was also a political agitator and folksinger. He toured U.S. government work camps in the 1930s, singing with Woody Guthrie and Burl Ives. He was also blacklisted during the McCarthy era for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Affairs. In 1951, he formed the "Theatricum Botanicum,"  where he not only coached actors but also encouraged outdoor philosophical discussion and, of course, folksinging. At his deathbed, his family sang "This Land Is Your Land" and recited Robert Frost poems.

Will Geer's Shakespeare Garden

  ELLEN GEER has been Artistic Director for the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum since 1978.  She has produced and directed over 40 productions including the works of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Chekhov, Thornton Wilder and the classics of Greek literature. In addition, she has also worked in film and television (Harold and Maude, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and has received numerous awards for her work at Theatricum and in the community including a Los AngelesCounty “Woman of the Year” award.

 “To elevate, educate and entertain audiences of all ages by presenting thought-provoking classics, socially relevant plays, and education programs in a beautiful, natural outdoor sanctuary for the arts. By passing on a sense of history to young people and adults alike, great works of art inform their present and inspire their future. A true renaissance theatre, we offer (at affordable prices) a diversity of programming from Shakespeare to poetry to folk music to the development of future playwrights – all to help understand the world we live in and to embrace our shared humanity.” –Will Geer

 To pledge a tax-deductible donation by sponsoring a production or event, please call 310-455-2322 or visit www.theatricum.com for more giving opportunities. Follow on social media:  twitter.com/theatricum and facebook.com/theatricum


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