The weather being fickle in the benign climate of Southern California it is not always easy to tell the seasons without a calendar in hand.
Depending on how, from where, and what time of day the winds are blowing in Malibu, whether from off shore or through the mountain passes, sometimes it feels like a mild winter in the summer, or a mild summer in winter.
Then there is the arts and entertainment. It also can offer a guide to the seasons, and so I suggest in my weekly commentary on 97.5 KBU and radiomalibu.net
Certainly you know Summer is approaching when the L.A. Phil announces its seasonal program for the Hollywood Bowl and starts an aggressive advertising. It is going to have to be to overcome the pain and impatience driving to and particularly from the bowl. Indeed, exiting from the parking lot can turn the pleasant ambience of an evening of comforting music into a cacophonic nightmare.
Let me suggest a more engaging and certainly more convenient venue: an evening at the Theatricum Bontanicum in nearby Topanga Canyon. Its announcement of its summer program also has become a harbinger of the season. Going on sale this week is an ambitious schedule of five productions.
In keeping with the theatre’s commitment to current political and social issues, they include retellings of Shakespeare’s “Romero and Juliet,” set in present day divided Palestine, his “Titus and Adronicus,” as a cautionary tale of our times; Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Tom” as a contemporary character study; and Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid,” as a commentary on healthcare.
Like the Hollywood Bowl, the Theatricum has become a Southern California institution. Founded in 1973 by the actor activist Will Greer, theTheatricum is not only a theater, but an engaging cultural center, offering year-round classes to actors, hosting live music concerts, and welcoming student excursions from across the county.
Incidentally the name, Theatricum Botanicum is taken from the title of a classic botany textbook, literally meaning, “a garden theatre.” Inspiring Greer no doubt was the theater’s rural setting, and that he and his wife, actress Herta Ware, originally had to supplement their income raising vegetables, fruit, and herbs for sale.
The farm is gone, but the theatre continues. It makes for both a pleasant and provocative summer’s evening.