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Home / Life! / Entertainment / Theatricum’s summer season kicks off with 2 Shakespeare classics

Theatricum’s summer season kicks off with 2 Shakespeare classics

by Staff
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Celebrated for expansive productions by William Shakespeare that fill the outdoor stage and spill over into the surrounding hillside in Topanga, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum opens its 2024 summer repertory season with two productions by the Bard. Opening first on Saturday, “The Winter’s Tale” is a sweeping romance of passion and forgiveness. The very next day, Sunday, marks the opening of Theatricum’s signature production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 

Containing one of Shakespeare’s most famous stage directions (“Exit, pursued by a bear”), “The Winter’s Tale” is a tragedy in its first third and a comic pastoral in its second, then finally resolves itself in romance. In a jealous rage, King Leontes falsely accuses his wife, Hermione, of adultery with his best friend, King Polixenes. Their baby daughter, Perdita, cast out to die, is adopted by an old shepherd and secretly grows up in Polixenes’ kingdom as a shepherdess. When Polixenes discovers that his son has fallen in love with Perdita, he forbids their marriage and the lovers flee. Through the inadvertent help of a comic pickpocket, a clown and two shepherdesses, the lovers and their parents are reunited, and old wounds are healed through the forgiving power of love. 

“Out of a winter plagued by jealousy and torment emerges the glorious rebirth of spring in high humor of the countryside,” says Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer, who directs. “One of the Bard’s final plays,’The Winter’s Tale’ concludes in one of the most extraordinarily written scenes of magical redemption, in which Time ensures that the past is only a prologue to the reconciled future.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens the very next day with a Sunday matinee. Theatricum audiences insist on its return every summer. Once again, the venue’s wooded stage will morph into the enchanted woods of Athens, where mortal lovers chase and are chased, players prepare, and fairies make magical mischief.

Max Lawrence and Christopher Glenn Gilstrap in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” | Photo by Ian Flanders

This year, associate artistic director Willow Geer directs.

“I’ve had the privilege of being a part of this glorious play for decades,” she says. “As I age and grow and experience so many different types of love and relationships, I am constantly in awe of the timelessness of Shakespeare and his unwavering ability to illuminate and explore the human heart so eloquently. In this year’s Dream, we endeavor to immerse the audience in the whimsical world of fairy enchantment, Greek mythology and mortal folly, inviting all to revel in and relate to the joyous tapestry of human connection woven throughout this delightful comedy.”

“The Winter’s Tale” opens on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and continues to run in repertory through Sept. 30; a prologue (pre-show) discussion will take place on Saturday, Aug. 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., with performances continuing through Sept. 23; a prologue discussion is set for Thursday, Aug. 29 from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. (Topanga Canyon Boulevard is currently closed between the theater and PCH; until further notice, exit the 101 at Topanga Canyon Boulevard South to access Theatricum from the Valley.) The amphitheater is terraced into the hillside, so audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Patrons are welcome to arrive early to picnic in the gardens before a performance.

Tickets to performances range from $15 to $48. Premium seating is available for $60. Children 4 and under are free. Pay What You Will ticket pricing is available on the following dates: The Winter’s Tale on Friday, July 19 and Monday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Monday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. (available online the week of the performance or cash at the door). 

For more information and to purchase tickets, call (310) 455-3723 or visit theatricum.com.

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