Theatricum Botanicum Launches Antelope Valley Theatre Project

Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum has announced the Antelope VAlley Theatre Project, an immersive theater program that will expand the company's reach to the Lancaster/Palmdale area with support from The James Irvine Foundation Exploring Engagement Fund.

"Theatricum has been working to build a relationship with communities in the Antelope Valley for some years," explains project director Elizabeth Tobias. "We are always searching for a way to translate the education programming we do with kids in schools into programming for adults that will similarly inspire and engage them with the arts."

The Antelope VAlley Theatre Project is a three-pronged program that includes bringing professional performances to the region; engaging local residents through acting classes and workshops; and presenting a culminating Community Theater Festival.

Theatricum Botanicum's professional repertory company will offer free admission to public performances of its award-winning production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at three area venues, including the Lancaster Performing Arts Center (Sunday, Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. - reservations required: 661-723-5950); Jackie Robinson Park in Sun Village (Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.); and the Antelope Valley College Performing Arts Theatre (Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.).

In addition, community members will be offered the opportunity to participate in one of six different workshops during the months of October, November and December at no charge, including technique workshops for adults in Elizabethan Dance, Fencing and Stage Combat; Classical Acting residencies for adults;Writing and Performing residencies for adults; and a multi-generational residency for families titled Families Act the Classics, during which family groups (each group must include at least one child and one adult) will be directed by Theatricum directors in their own performance of an edited version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Workshops will take place at various locations throughout the Antelope Valley including Antelope Valley College; Living Stone Cathedral; Jackie Robinson Park; Piute and Lowtree Wellness Homes in Lancaster; and Legacy Commons Senior Center and various community centers in Palmdale.

The third and final component will be a culminating Community Theater Festival at the Antelope Valley College Performing Arts Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15, where class participants will present final demonstrations of their work and the multi-generational Dream will perform twice for the public.

Working with Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer, education director Susan Angelo and company member Earnestine Phillips, Tobias has spent over 8 months laying the groundwork for the project by organizing community outreach meetings with local community leaders, public officials and the general public.

"The bulk of our work so far has been forming partnerships," she says. "We want to make sure the project is carefully integrated into any enrichment programming already taking place in the area so we can reach as many people as possible. We are planting the seeds for what we hope will blossom into a long-lasting, more permanent theater program that develops organically from the amazing support of The James Irvine Foundation, our own expertise and enrichment/development of the community's existing programs and passion."

The mission of Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is to educate and entertain audiences by presenting classics, socially relevant plays and education programs. By passing on a sense of history, great works of art inform the present generation and inspire the future. Theatricum was founded by actor/botanist Will Geer who brought artists, musicians and audiences together to share Shakespeare, poetry and folk music in the natural setting of rustic Topanga Canyon. This tradition continues today with a company of dedicated artists presenting professional plays and concerts in Theatricum's 299-seat main stage theater and 88-seat S. Mark Taper Pavilion for over 20,000 patrons each season. Over 12,000 K-12 students, and 300 private students of all ages from the greater LA area participate in programs designed to ignite a love of language and inspire learning through performance. For over 35 years, Theatricum has been a valued cultural destination and a provider of meaningful enrichment to Southern California and its families.

Photo by Miriam Geer

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