Thornton Wilder's THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH Celebrates Human Indestructibility Outdoors at Theatricum

Thornton Wilder's THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH Celebrates Human Indestructibility Outdoors at Theatricum

The Skin of Our Teeth, the Pulitzer Prize-winning tribute to the indestructibility of the human race by Thornton Wilder, opens on the beautiful outdoor stage at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum on Saturday,July 13, where performances continue through Sept. 29.

The Skin of Our Teeth is a satirical testimonial to the dogged determination of human beings to hang in there against all odds. Wilder masterfully looks ahead to the future of humanity, while at the same time compounding its entire history. A seemingly average American family - Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus (Mark Lewis and Melora Marshall), their son and daughter (William Holbrook and Gabrielle Beauvais) and the maid, Sabina (Willow Geer) - must learn to navigate the Ice Age, Biblical times, the invention of the wheel, ancient Greece, the Great War, even a beauty pageant in Atlantic City. Their experiences represent the range of human potential - for genius, love, envy, betrayal, destruction and, most importantly, survival. As they continue to live and rebuild in the face of adversity, they are proof, as Mr. Antrobus says, that "living is struggle."

"This play is about us, today," notes director Ellen Geer. "The Antrobuses are refugees of the Ice Age (climate change), of Noah's Flood (record-breaking, weather-related calamities and fires), and of war (which never seems to cease). Wilder said of his play, 'It is most potent in times of crisis.' Theatricum is mounting it for the third time - so I guess we are at another time of crisis, and plan to survive and land on our feet, just like the Antrobus family."

The Theatricum cast also features company members Jonathan Blandino as the announcer and Earnestine Phillips as the fortune teller. The ensemble includes Dylan Booth, John Brahan, Matthew Domenico, Colin Guthrie, Margaret Kelly, Edison Lobos, Shane McDermott, Matthew Pardue, Dante Ryan, Gina Shansey, Sky Wahl,Isaac Wilkins and Woan Ni Wooi. Costume design is by Holly Hawk, lighting design is by Zach Moore, sound design is by Grant Escandón, the prop masters are Danté Carr and Sydney Russell, and creature creation is by Puppet Time. Kim Cameron is the production stage manager.

Written in 1942, largely in response to U.S. involvement in WWII, Wilder's play was meant partly to assuage our fears of worldwide destruction brought on by war. It opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre and was an immediate smash hit, winning the 1943 Pulitzer Prize (Wilder's third, after The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town). Directed by Elia Kazan, it starred Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Tallulah Bankhead and Montgomery Clift. Just as he did several years earlier with Our Town, Wilder again stretched the bounds of theatrical convention. Elia Kazan wrote in his autobiography A Life, "Many of the audience were mystified... but [that] reaction became part of the talk that made the play immediately famous."

Thornton Wilder liked to tell the story about how cab drivers said they prospered during the original Broadway run of The Skin of Our Teethbecause of all the baffled theatergoers fleeing at intermission. Between its nebulous chronology, simultaneous activity in multiple places, and mix of narration, dialogue and asides, The Skin of Our Teeth has always been a challenge.

The Skin of Our Teeth will perform in repertory on Theatricum's main stage alongside four other productions: Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream; Orson Welles' Moby Dick-Rehearsed, adapted from the novel by Herman Melville; and a free adaptation, by Ellen Geer, of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. All five productions continue through Sept. 29. A sixth production is set to open on the smaller stage in the theater's intimate S. Mark Taper Pavilion on Aug. 17: The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn - another Pulitzer Prize winner - will star long-time Theatricum company members and real life husband-and-wife team Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James in a co-production with the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

Unlike most theaters in the L.A. area that stage continuous runs of a single play, Theatricum, using a company of actors, will perform each of the plays in repertory, making it possible to see all six plays in a single summer weekend.

The Skin of Our Teeth opens on Saturday, July 13 at 8 p.m. and continues through Sept. 29. Tickets range from $10 - $42; children 4 and under are free. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or visit

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From This Author Sarah Hookey

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