Press "Enter" to skip to content

Theatricum Botanicum’s Season of Socially Conscious Theater

Special To Topanga Journal

We’re lucky to have Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. It is one of the best theater’s in Los Angeles. There’s never a performance that disappoints. We can thank not only the dedicated talent that performs there, but the theater’s artistic director, Ellen Geer, for continuing her father’s legacy.

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

The theater’s beginning’s wind back to the early 1950’s when Will Geer became a victim of McCarthyism and found himself on the Hollywood Blacklist. This Topanga theater was born from the juggernaut of twisted politics spewing from Senator Joseph McCarthy’s lips. Actor Will Geer and his wife, Herta Ware, created a theater as a haven for Blacklisted actors and folk singers on his property here in Topanga. Geer’s friends such as Ford Rainey, John Randolph and Woody Guthrie joined him on the dirt stage for vigorous performances and inspired grassroots activism, while the audiences sat on railroad ties.

“This Topanga theater was born from the juggernaut of twisted politics spewing from Senator Joseph McCarthy’s lips.”

“The Crucible” at Theatricum Photo by Ian Flanders

Theatricum Botanicum is back this season with an exciting summer line-up of socially conscious theater, music and performances. The season includes five plays set to open in rapid succession and perform in repertory throughout the summer together with a host of satellite events. The stage will open June 2 and continue through mid-October. This season’s repertoire includes performances of The Crucible, Coriolanus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Chalk Garden and Haiti.

Coriolanus

To start the season off, Theatricum will begin with an allegory for today’s turbulent times. Shakespeare’s crushing tragedy is one of his more openly political plays. It is a cautionary tale of revenge. Rome, a city where the one-percenters rule, is led by a populist general who has nothing but contempt for the 99 percent. Unable to reconcile his disdain for the common people with his love of country, Coriolanus finds himself driven into the embrace of his sworn enemy. Coriolanus is a hero lacking in political prowess and destroyed by his pride and inability to compromise. The play is set in Rome’s transition from Monarchy to Republic.

The Crucible

McCarthysim, witch hunts, Hollywood blacklists and fake news all come into play in the upcoming Theatricum Botanicum performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

The play is a parable of mass hysteria that draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch hunts of 1692 and McCarthyism, which gripped America in the 1950s. Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer, Will’s daughter, is at the helm, with family members Thad Geer, Willow Geer and Melora Marshall featured in the cast.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

What a classic tale from Shakespeare and our annual audience favorite. The magic of Theatricum’s natural outdoor setting will stand in for the Bard’s enchanted forest, as director Willow Geer conjures up a world of wonder, magic and romance in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Chalk Garden

Long-time Theatricum company member Susan Angelo directs the Geer family revival of Enid Bagnold’s classic The Chalk Garden. This timeless classic that has seen broadway and performed on many stages, even across the pond in London, is brought to our stage here at Theatricum with a dyed in the wool British dowager known as Mrs. St. Maugham, a selfish and eccentric woman who spends her days gardening but is unable to make anything grow. Her teenage daughter, Laurel, is a precocious liar. When enigmatic Miss Madrigal is hired as household companion and manager, the two finally meet their match.

Haiti

The theater will present a revival of Haiti, a historical melodrama about the 1802 overthrow of the colonial Haitian government written by William DuBois for the Federal Theatre Project (FTP). It was subtitled A drama of the black Napoleon. The play was presented in 1938 by the FTP’s Negro Theatre Unit in a radical and controversial production that saw white and black actors performing together onstage at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem. The FTP was part of the Works Progress Administration Federal Theater Project (FTP), and part of the New Deal economic recovery program. Negro Units, also called the Negro Theatre Project, were set up in 23 cities across the US. It only survived from 1935 – 1939 but provided employment and apprenticeships to hundreds of black actors, directors, theater technicians and playwrights. This project was a huge leg up for black talent during the Depression Era. The Lafayette Theater in Harlem was the best known of the FTP program theaters. Two white directors, John Houseman and Orson Welles, headed it in 1935. Three black directors, Edward Perry, Carlton Moss, and H. F. V. Edward, replaced them in 1936.

Other Theater Programming:

In addition to theater, Theatricum will present other special events on its mainstage.

• Wednesday, July 4 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Theatricum’s fourth annual Family Barn Dance and Bar-B-Que;

• Saturday, Oct. 6 at 2 p.m.: The Woody Guthrie Story, the Geer family’s annual tribute to the songwriter, folklorist and labor leader who was also a longtime Theatricum friend.

• Sunday, Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.: Inara George and Friends, the acclaimed singer/songwriter’s annual concert that benefits the theater’s artistic and educational programming.

TICKETS:
https://theatricum.com

Subscribe to our newsletter

Casper Brindle: Finish Fetish and Light & Space

Heather Fuller & Kriss Perras

Using airbrush, auto paints, resin and wood, Casper Brindle creates infinite horizons in evocative suggestions of land and sea.

 

Q&A

TJ: What are the Finish Fetish and Light and Space art movements, and how are you connected to this group of West Coast artists?

Kriss Perras, Publisher & Editor Malibu Arts Journal

By Kriss Perras

BRINDLE: Finish Fetish and Light and Space are art movements that were born in Southern California in the 1960s, in direct response to the culture, environment and geography of the region. Artists of the time, James Turrell, Craig Kauffman, Robert Irwin, to name a few, began working with new materials – light, both natural and artificial, industrial plastics, glass – to engage the viewer’s perception and experience of the work in innovative ways. Growing up in West Los Angeles, and being immersed in the unique light of California definitely influenced my work in the way it influenced the artists working in the 60s and 70s, I imagine. There’s something about the light here that is like no place else. On a technical level, I use similar materials – resin, automotive paints – to capture the effects of light with pure color.

 

TJ: Your paintings seem to be inspired by Rothko. What makes your art uniquely a Casper Brindle?

 

BRINDLE: There are similarities to Rothko’s work, in that color is the primary imagery, and it’s used to elicit emotional responses from the viewer. There is a spiritual or mystical quality to my paintings that I think relates to what Rothko was doing. My work is specific to my own experiences though, and the way I organize the picture plane, as well as the materials I use, are a departure from Rothko and other color-field painters. I use high-end, shimmering automotive paints and acrylics applied in layers of fine airbrush sprays, that shift and transform, sometimes dramatically, as the viewer moves around them. I’ve spent most of my free time in the ocean, staring into infinite horizons and these experiences have affected my work profoundly. I’m endlessly fascinated by refraction, and the spectrum of colors created by the sun traversing the sky as light meets water.

“Finish Fetish and Light and Space are art movements that were born in Southern California in the 1960s, in direct response to the culture, environment and geography of the region. “

TJ: What are your influences and inspirations?

 

BRINDLE: I find inspiration and influence everywhere, consciously and sub-consciously, whether its music, art, architecture, science, literature and beyond. I believe inspiration and influence can come from anywhere.

 

TJ: How did you get involved with working with Light and Space artist Eric Orr?

 

BRINDLE: I was actually introduced to him through my father who is an architect. We all had lunch at Hals, and he was looking for an assistant. I showed him my work and started working for him shortly after.

 

TJ: You recently exhibited at William Turner Gallery. What can you tell us about that show?

 

BRINDLE: In addition to my color-shifting Strata paintings, that exhibition is debuted a new body of work that I’m really excited about. In early 2017, the gallery showed my Aura paintings for the first time, and the new paintings for this 2018 show have evolved from those. I wanted to bring color into these works. The Aura paintings were very reductive, monochrome, white pearl on panel, and explore what effects that would have on the viewer, see how color would transform the reading of the painting. They are done on linen, so even the way the paint interacts with the surface is different. At the center of each piece is an enigmatic, metallic bar from which the color radiates across the picture plane. Though the central forms are simple, they have an otherworldly quality. I’m careful to leave interpretation up to those who view the work, but to me, these pieces have a sort of secular sacredness, something that hopefully transports the viewer and helps them tap into another state of perception.

Subscribe to our newsletter

90th Oscars Nominations Announcement Live Streams January 23

by Heather Fuller

heather.fuller@topanga-journal.com

 

On January 23 at 5:22 am PST Oscars nominations will be announced after having been winnowed down from a huge field of contenders. There will be a live stream available at http://www.oscars.og 

Three hundred forty-one films are eligible for an Academy Award this year. To be eligible for Oscar consideration, feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days. Under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital format. 

Seven films remain in competition for the Make-up and Hair Oscar: Bright, Darkest Hour, Ghost In The Shell, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, I, Tonya, Victoria & Abdul and Wonder. On January 6 members voted to narrow that filed to just three. One hundred and forty-one scores from feature length films are in contention for an Oscar. The five achievements in this category receiving the highest votes will move on for contention in the final leg of the Oscars race.

Seventy original songs are in the race right now. These songs too will be narrowed down to just five.

Ten films are in the running for best Visual Effects: Alien Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Skull Island, Okja, The Shape Of Water, Star Wars The Last Jedi, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. Five of these too will be announced January 23 as the final best visual effects in the contention for the Oscar. 

In the Best Foreign Language Film category, originally ninety two films had been in consideration. That field has been narrowed down to nine as of this date. By January 23, there will be just five. The nine so far as: Chile, A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, director; Germany, In the Fade, Fatih Akin, director; Hungary, On Body and Soul, Ildikó Enyedi, director; Israel, Foxtrot, Samuel Maoz, director; Lebanon, The Insult, Ziad Doueiri, director; Russia, Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, director; Senegal, Félicité, Alain Gomis, director; South Africa, The Wound, John Trengove, director; Sweden, The Square, Ruben Östlund, director.

The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.  The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

90th Oscars March 4, 2018

{youtube}youtu.be/caCdf94Blfw{/youtube}

Hollywood and Music Lost So Many Stars In 2017: In Memoriam

Rose Marie (1923 - 2017)

Over the course of last year we lost so many Hollywood and music stars many of us grew up with watching black and white TV that turned Kodachrome to MTV. We laughed so many times with Mary Tyler Moore who played Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show. She also had her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. We lost Moore in January. Rose Marie, best known as the woman who played TV writer Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke show, only just passed away December 28, 2017. She was 94. Adam West who played Batman, Jim Nabors who played Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, Della Reese from Touched By An Angel and David Cassidy from The Partridge Family, all left us too. Playboy Hugh Hefner died at 91. 

One of the all-time great comedians in history, Jerry Lewis, died at 91. His career spanned decades, like that of Mary Tyler Moore. Another member of the Star Wars family died in 2017. This was Alfie Curtis who played Dr. Evazan in Star Wars: A New Hope. He also portrayed the milkman in the 1980’s film The Elephant Man.

Jordan Feldstein, longtime manager of Maroon 5 and brother of actor Jonah Hill, died December 22, 2017 of cardiac arrest. 

 

Bob Givens, the man who gave us Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd among many other iconic cartoon characters, died December 14, 2017 in Burbank, California. Mel Tillis, who wrote country hits for George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, Kenny Rogers, and who wrote more than 1,000 songs and recorded more than 60 albums, died in November. AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young died unexpectedly at 64 years old in November. 

Malibu Resident Tom Petty too died unexpectedly at 66. 

Bill Paxton, who many know from the 1986 movie Aliens, died early in the year and at a young age, just 61. Rock and roll pioneer Fats Domino died at 89 years old. He gave us so many memories in music playing that piano so effortlessly. 

The legendary comic Don Rickles left us at 90 years old. Those of us who followed James Bond from an early age would know the name Sir Roger Moore. He died about the middle of the year. Richard Anderson, who co-starred simultaneously in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman died in August. 

Malibu resident Glen Campbell lost his long fought battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He left us at 81 years old. 

Pulitzer-winning playwright, actor, author, screenwriter and director Sam Shepard died from complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease at 73. Chuck Berry died at the age of 90. He helped found new genre of music in the 1950’s. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell unexpectedly died at just 52 yers old to the shock of family and fans. He committed suicide, according to the medical examiner.

MARRON 5 What Lovers Do

{youtube}youtu.be/k4e9rVgYOjo{/youtube}

 

Hollywood’s Leading Women Launch Time’s Up Against Sexual Misconduct

Times Up Campaign

In an effort to stamp out inequality and promote safety in the workplace, an unprecedented number of Hollywood’s leading women today formally launched a campaign titled Time’s Up. 

“Earning a living should not come at the cost of anyone’s safety, dignity or morale,” said Shonda Rhimes, (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) about the campaign’s launch.

Part of this effort is the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will assist individuals in the workplace who have experienced sexual misconduct, assault, abuse or harassment find legal representation. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund will be housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center. Participating attorneys will work with the Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equality in an effort to enable more people to come forward and secure legal assistance. 

“Every person should get to work in an environment free from abuse, assault and discrimination. It’s well past time to change the culture of the environment where most of us spend the majority of our day, the work place,” said Rhimes. “51-percent of our population is female, over 30-percent of our population is of color. Those are important, vital, economically powerfully voices that need to be heard at every level. Time’s Up is working to make sure the people walking the corridors of power within the workplace and in politics truly reflect the full mix of America, the real America that looks like and includes all of us.  Look, this isn’t going to be easy but it is right.  And fighting for what is right can seem hard.  But letting what is wrong become normal is not easier, it is just more shameful.”

Behind this formal launch there was already underway an effort to support the campaign. Hollywood’s leading women en masse donated more than $13-million from over 200 donors for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. This money will go toward the costs of lawyers and communications professionals from across the country to provide assistance to those who experience sexual harassment. The founding donors include: Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Shonda Rhimes, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), ICM Partners (ICM), Paradigm Talent Agency, United Talent Agency (UTA) and William Morris Endeavor (WME). 

The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is spearheaded by attorneys Tina Tchen and Roberta Kaplan and top PR professionals. 

“The magnitude of the past few months highlights the fact that sexual harassment against women in the workplace is endemic and t

ouches every industry,” said Tchen. “We are a community of women and men who can no longer stand idly by. This is the first of many concrete actions we will take. And we are thrilled to partner with Fatima Goss Graves and the National Women’s Law Center to assure the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund’s success.”

The Time’s Up team in mid-December saw entertainment industry executives, independent experts and advisors create the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, chaired by Anita Hill. 

“Receiving unanimous support from the entertainment industry’s leaders to form and fund the Commission is an important first step in tackling the broad culture of abuse and power disparity. We all know that safe and inclusive work environments result in stronger and more successful businesses,” said producer Kathleen Kennedy (Star Wars, E.T.). “Our goal is to define a work environment where the basic principles of respect, human decency and equality define the workplace everywhere.”

In addition to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund and the Commission, Time’s Up is working closely with 5050by2020, “believing a shift in power and leadership is imperative to make change.” 

This group advocates for a 50/50 model where women are equally represented at every level, especially in leadership positions and positions of power. 

“5050by2020 has already received commitments for gender parity by 2020 from leaders in the industry, including CAA and ICM,” states the Time’s Up team.

 

TimesUp3.jpg

 image credit: 5050by2020

ON THE WEB:

www.timesupnow.com 

Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/timesup  

Full list of founding donors: https://www.gofundme.com/timesup

Topanga Journal
This site uses cookies. Close

Contact