Summertime is upon us and with it comes lots of opportunities to watch theater performances at outdoor venues. Outdoor plays are educational, fun and economical, as well as great opportunities to catch up with friends, enjoy a bit of food and drink and take in the warmth of the season. Shakespeare and other grand authors come back to life in Los Angeles this time of the year, and below you can find the perfect spot to enjoy their everlasting craft.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum
1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Topanga, CA 90290
One of the most beautiful outdoor theaters in Southern California, the Theatricum is terraced into the hillside, where the audience can admire not only the performances but the greenery, the coolness of the mountain and a bit of its wildlife. This summer, the Theatricum celebrates its 40th anniversary, starting June 1, with William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Through September, the Theatricum will also present The Bard’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber’s “The Royal Family,” Ellen Geer’s “Merlin: The Untold Adventures” and “A Celebration of Joyce Carol Oates: ‘Tone Clusters’ and Selected Monologues.”
Pageant Of The Masters
Irvine Bowl Park
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
The Pageant of the Masters will present nightly, between July 7 and Aug. 31, a 90-minute show of “living pictures.” They are re-creations of classical and contemporary art pieces by means of real people that stay very still to look like the original picture. An evening at the Pageant of the Masters includes enjoying the music from a live orchestra, narrations, amazing sets and great lighting, all of it displayed at the Irvine Bowl outdoor amphitheater. Your ticket to the Pageant of the Masters gives you free unlimited access to the Festival of Arts in the same area all summer long – a showcase of paintings, photography, sculpture, crafts and much more.
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Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
4730 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
If you have never been to a performance by the Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC) at Griffith Park, allow yourself plenty of time on your first visit as it is a bit tricky to find the location. There is no theater really to look for, although there is a stage and lots of grass for the audience to sit on near the site of the Old Zoo. The address listed above is for the nearest ranger station. Once you are close by, you need to follow the signs to the “theater.” Visit the website listed for step-by-step directions getting there from different points in Los Angeles. One thing you can be sure of – once you find it, you will not be disappointed. This is one of the best ways to enjoy theater. Starting on June 27, this year’s plays include Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and “As You Like It” and Oliver Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer.”
Shakespeare By The Sea
There are several outdoor venues for this theater experience called “Shakespeare by the Sea.” It is the way the company accomplishes its mission to take the theater experience to under-served communities and to promote literacy throughout. Starting June 6, the organization will perform both Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “King John” at more than 20 locations in Los Angeles, from San Pedro to Chino Hills and many points in between. Look on the website listed above for nearby performances. The events are free and require no reservations because seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
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Dena Burroughs is a freelance writer living in Azusa, CA. She is a CSULA graduate with specialties in Creative Writing and Communications. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.