In an attempt to create in Southern California the bucolic summer theater atmosphere that has spelled success for Massachusetts' Williamstown festival and others, Ventura's Rubicon Theatre is announcing ambitious plans for an annual 10-day International Theatre Festival to launch its first season in the theater's seaside hometown in July 2009.
The nonprofit festival, estimated to cost $1 million annually, will present an abbreviated "preview" this summer, July 17-27. That program will include the American premiere of the French production "Imagine-Toi," performed by former Cirque du Soleil clown and mime artist Julien Cottereau, and an Ivory Coast production of Luis Marques' war drama "Eye of the Cyclone." In addition, the festival will offer various workshop presentations and free outreach events.
Organizers say the inaugural festival will be held in traditional theater spaces and in a variety of unusual venues, including tents, warehouses and rodeo arenas.
Karyl Lynn Burns, festival co-founder with James O'Neil, her co-artistic director at the Rubicon Theatre, said the pair sought out actress Linda Purl as festival director because of her experience as a planner of the Colorado Festival of World Theatre. Purl also has appeared in several Rubicon productions.
Purl said that, despite Ventura's distance from Los Angeles, "I would say, perhaps boldly, that we don't see ourselves as separate from L.A. -- 40% of the Rubicon's audience comes from Los Angeles."
The organizers said they were inspired by Ventura's "wonderful ambrosia" of good weather, natural beauty and the seaside charm that attracts tourists.
Purl said ticket prices for the preview festival, which went on sale Tuesday, would average $38, with discounts for students.