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Theatricum Botanicum

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ENTERTAINMENT
October 15, 1999
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum presents a "Free Open House/Potluck," with folk plays, music and a pictorial history of the Topanga Canyon outdoor venue on Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. The event celebrates Theatricum's roots and honors Will Geer's widow, Herta Ware, who is giving the organization title to the land that houses it. The theater is at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga. Information: (310) 455-3723.
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ENTERTAINMENT
September 8, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
We all have a yearning for a coherent narrative in life, maintains Joyce Carol Oates, but that illusory comfort is off the table in her one-act play, “Tone Clusters,” at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum. For anyone familiar with Oates' fiction, it will come as no surprise that the piece is dark, elliptical and uncompromising in its intellectual rigor. Written in 1990, it also proved eerily prescient in depicting the media's ever-increasing voracious and invasive exploitation of tragedy.
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ENTERTAINMENT
July 4, 1986 | RAY LOYND
The outdoor Theatricum Botanicum, nestled in the woods of Topanga Canyon, is such an appropriate setting for "Winter's Tale," with its flowers, its folk songs and mead, that Shakespeare's bucolic atmosphere can seldom have looked sweeter. Director Ellen Geer (who handsomely essays the role of the wrongly scorned queen, Hermione) takes a play that ranges all over place and time and briskly marshals events into a comprehensible two-hour afternoon, including intermission.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 13, 2012 | By Charlotte Stoudt
It's the end of the world as they know it, but the characters of George Bernard Shaw's “Heartbreak House” feel positively giddy. In Ellen Geer's fleet, bouncy staging at Theatricum Botanicum, impending doom is just another excuse for dalliance and a mug of rum. In the rural England of 1914, war seems terribly far away; it is skirmishes of the heart that occupy Shaw's bohemians. No doubt the distant cousins of Albee's George and Martha, Captain Shotover (William Dennis Hunt)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 19, 2005 | Mary Rourke, Times Staff Writer
Herta Ware, an actress who helped to found the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, where she appeared in plays until a few years ago, died Monday at her home in Topanga. She was 88 and died of natural causes, her daughter, Melora Marshall, said. The former wife of actor Will Geer, Ware remained on friendly terms with him and wrote a memoir, "Fantastic Journey, My Life With Will Geer," which she self-published in 2000. She was with Geer when he died in 1978.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 31, 1985 | DENISE HAMILTON, Times Staff Writer
North Hollywood book publisher Dennis Koran said the Los Angeles Actor's Theatre first gave him the idea to put together a book of nine one-act plays by award-winning local playwrights. Now he has the money to do it, thanks to a grant approved earlier this month by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 24, 1999 | RICHARD KAHLENBERG, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
As a member of the repertory company at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, Earnestine Phillips has played the roles of both men and women, whites and blacks, Americans and Europeans. Come Sunday, she takes on the role of Harriet Tubman, heroine of the Underground Railroad who rescued 300 slaves from the South in the Civil War era on an escape route over forest trails connecting a series of safe houses.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 31, 1991 | DAVID WHARTON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Back in the 1940s, Floyd Dixon was playing the circuit with Big Joe Turner. They were playing in warehouses and barns--the kind of places that resonate with the blues. Now, decades later, Dixon has put together an old-time concert that he hopes will preserve a relatively young blues tradition in the airy spaces of Topanga Canyon.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 4, 2007 | F. Kathleen Foley, Special to The Times
The characters in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" do relish a dry martini. Charles Condomine, the novelist-protagonist of the piece, prepares the evening's libations with the intensity of an ancient alchemist. Savoring the result, his second wife, Ruth, gives an ecstatic shudder. "Dry as a bone," she pronounces. That's a thematic manifesto if ever there was one.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 10, 1992 | SUSAN ARMINE, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
The community of Topanga has taken a pounding from Mother Nature this year. Floods, road closures and property damage from the rains have taxed Topangans' nerves, to say the least. Yet the same community spirit that has seen residents sandbagging each other's houses and taking in stranded neighboring families is also evident on happier occasions. One of these is the annual concert of the Topanga Philharmonic, outdoors at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 21, 2011 | Los Angeles Times staff reports
Heidi Helen Davis, an actress, acting teacher and stage director who had a long association with the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, died Thursday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her family announced. She was 60 and had breast cancer. Since 1985, Davis directed more than 20 plays for the outdoor stage at the Theatricum Botanicum, including Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1993), "The Glass Menagerie" (1994) and "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1997)
ENTERTAINMENT
August 7, 2011 | By James C. Taylor, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Before there were trendy lofts, coffeehouses and bacon maple doughnuts on the streets near Los Angeles' skid row — back when graffiti wasn't considered "art" in downtown Los Angeles — Ben Donenberg had the idea that theater could improve the neighborhood. "In New York, no one would normally walk in Central Park after dark because it's dangerous," the then-30-year old impresario told this newspaper in 1987. "You put up a Shakespeare festival and thousands of people flock to the park.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 11, 2009 | F. Kathleen Foley
To see a Moliere play is to be struck anew by the enduring hilarity of the French master. The current production of "The Miser" at the Theatricum Botanicum is a case in point. Even after 300-plus years, Moliere's comedy about a wealthy old skinflint determined to force his son and daughter into loveless marriages while he marries a girl half his age can still elicit appreciative hoots from modern-day audiences. That is, of course, if the play is given the right staging. At the Theatricum, those appreciative hoots regularly resound through the Topanga hillsides.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 21, 2008 | Elina Shatkin, Times Staff Writer
The avant-garde Japanese punk band Boredoms recently recruited 88 drummers to perform the percussion symphony 88BoaDrum at the La Brea Tar Pits, but that would seem to be nothing compared with the 300 children expected to simultaneously pound the skins at Rhythm Child on Sunday at the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. What would possess anyone (anyone who's not Tommy Lee, that is) to encourage a toddler's interest in drums? A firm belief in the musical ability of all children helps Rhythm Child founder Norman Jones take the pain out of percussion.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 30, 2008 | Charlotte Stoudt, Special to The Times
Fame, addiction, fatality: "Long Day's Journey Into Night," now on view at the Theatricum Botanicum, posits the American family as crime scene, echoing back to the Greeks but as modern as Britney's latest rehab lapse. A half-century since its Broadway premiere, Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece still feels like a dare: Just try to look away from the carnage.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 31, 2007 | F. Kathleen Foley, Special to The Times
Nature cooperated with art on the opening night of "Dracula," a new adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic by Ellen Geer, which premiered under a near-full moon at the Theatricum Botanicum while strange animal cries echoed through the Topanga hills and bats swooped over the stage as if on cue.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 11, 1998
Musicians Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Sam Phillips and Joe Henry will take part in "In Other Words," a songwriters' symposium Saturday at 3 p.m. at Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Van Dyke Parks will host the event, which will benefit the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, an arts program founded in 1950 by the late Will Geer ("The Waltons"). Tickets are $30 and $100. Information: (310) 455-3723.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 4, 2007 | F. Kathleen Foley, Special to The Times
The characters in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" do relish a dry martini. Charles Condomine, the novelist-protagonist of the piece, prepares the evening's libations with the intensity of an ancient alchemist. Savoring the result, his second wife, Ruth, gives an ecstatic shudder. "Dry as a bone," she pronounces. That's a thematic manifesto if ever there was one.
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