Our theater was founded by actor Will Geer. He was well-known for his work on the New York stage, in film, and on radio. By the mid-1950’s, he had relocated permanently to California Read more...
Our theater was founded by actor Will Geer. He was well-known for his work on the New York stage, in film, and on radio. By the mid-1950’s, he had relocated permanently to California and had established a successful Hollywood career. His future looked bright. But after being called to testify before the Senator McCarthy in the U.S. Congress , he suddenly found himself blacklisted by the major studios with no viable means of income.
He relocating to an acreage in Topanga and established a theater for similarly blacklisted actors and folk singers on the property. Because he held a degree in botany (one of his life long interests) the theater was named for a landmark botany text book, Theatricum Botanicum, quite literally mean “a garden theater.”
In the years to come, Will cultivated not only theater, but a bountiful garden that enabled him and his wife, actress Herta Ware, to earn a living from the sale of vegetables, fruit, and herbs. With the success of television’s “The Waltons ” in 1973, he discovered renewed popularity with his portrayal of Walton family patriarch, Zebulon Walton. Now he re-gathered his family (many of whom were working actors in regional theaters across the country) and together they formed an acting company that has lasted for 45 years! We have hosted folk plays, and concerts featuring such well-known artists as Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Della Reese, Burl Ives, and many more.
After his death in 1978, the family (led by their mother, Herta Ware) and a small troupe of dedicated actors tirelessly dedicated their energies to transform Will's theater into a professional repertory theater, with educational programs and musical events incorporated into its programming.
Today, under the creative supervision of Artistic Director Ellen (Will’s daughter), our theater has blossomed into a vital creative force that has been recognized internationally for its interpretation of Shakespeare’s work. In addition to an annual summer season of 5 repertory plays, we offer year-round classes to actors of all ages, we host live music concerts, nurture budding playwrights, and successfully reach schools and students across the Greater Los Angeles County with the aim of making live theater bloom for generations to come.