Theatricum Botanicum Supports New Plays with 'Botanicum Seedlings' Series, 11/15 & 11/22

With the 2009 Summer Classical Repertory Season at a close, The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum broadens its scope to focus on activities such as its year-round educational programs and ongoing development series for playwrights, "Botanicum Seedlings." The program's Fall Playreadings are Laura Shamas' Trapper Joan on Sunday, November 15 and Twigs and Bone by Tiffany Antone on Sunday, November 22. Readings begin at 1 pm, and admission is free.

"We're so pleased to be staging these new works, and supporting the voices of two very distinctive women playwrights," says Theatricum playwright-in-residence Jennie Webb. "It's gratifying that we're able to do this, especially given the fact that female playwrights are grossly underrepresented in theaters across the country - even those run by women!" she adds. Webb created and runs the program with Seedlings literary manager Julie Retzlaff. Now in its eighth year, Botanicum Seedlings is structured to focus on the needs of writers with scripts at various stages of development.

Opening the Botanicum Seedlings Fall Playreadings on November 15 is a twisting tale of love, trust and female decoys, Laura Shamas' Trapper Joan. At the heart of this sly comedy is a glamorous private investigator who enlists young women to trap philandering partners. But her latest recruit learns that it takes more than just "Cheating Lovers 101" to truly investigate a modern relationship. Trapper Joan ventures into unexpected territory as we follow the hunt and wind up asking ourselves, who's really the target? Award-winning actress Gillian Doyle heads the cast directed by Jules Aaron. Aaron has directed over 250 productions, from The Public Theatre in N.Y. to the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville to numerous world premieres on Los Angeles stages; his acclaimed production of the musical Great Expectations will open the 2010 season at Utah Shakespeare Festival. Playwright Laura Shamas' works have been produced and/or developed at theaters including The Public Theater, Native Earth Performing Arts (Toronto), Williamstown Theatre Festival, West Coast Ensemble, Soho Theatre (London), The Old Globe, The Geva Theater, and the Denver Center Theater Company. The recipient of numerous playwriting honors, Laura's published plays include Lincoln Vacation, Moliere in Love, Re-Sourcing, Up To Date, Lady-Like, Amelia Lives, and The Other Shakespeare. Venus in Orange, co-authored with Paula Cizmar, was a recent collaboration project, produced at the Victory Theater Center in Burbank.

On November 22, Twigs and Bone by Tiffany Antone finds a brittle young woman picking up the pieces of her family's broken past after an other-worldly homecoming. This is a gothic drama with monstrously funny characters who grapple with forces of nature beyond their control. Set in a dark, dank house encrusted with decades of dirt and memories, Twigs and Bone takes an unflinching look at what happens when something long buried gives birth to the impossible. Playwright Tiffany Antone's plays have been read and/or performed in Los Angeles, New York, D.C., and Minneapolis. Ana and the Closet was both a Jerome Finalist and O'Neill Playwrights Conference semi-finalist and presented at The Kennedy Center's Page to Stage Festival in 2009. Her award-winning In the Company of Jane Doe will receive its Los Angeles premiere in January 2010 with the L.A. Theatre Ensemble, and The Good Book is available through Samuel French publishing. Tiffany was a 2008 Hawthornden Fellow, which included a writing residency in Scotland, and a 2009 Sherwood Award Finalist with Center Theatre Group. Julie Retzlaff, who has worked in NY (Ensemble Studio Theatre and Arclight Theatre Company) and CA (Pacific Repertory Theatre) directs Theatricum company members Alan Blumenfeld, Katherine James, and ELisa Richardson.

Initiated in 2002, the Botanicum Seedlings series acts as an adjunct to the Theatricum Botanicum's Summer Repertory Season, mounting spring playreadings as the season opens, and culminating after the season winds down with a fall workshop production or playreadings. Throughout the calendar year, plays are also selected to receive GreenReads, providing an unrehearsed, fresh look at scripts in various stages of development.

The Botanicum Seedlings Fall Playreadings take place Sundays, November 15 and 22 at 1 pm. Admission to the playreadings is free and open to the public; donations to support this series will be gratefully accepted. The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For further information, call (310) 455-2322 or visit

Photo: Alan Blumenfeld and Turbiak

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