Theatricum Botanicum is a nonprofit arts education organization and an outdoor repertory theatre nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, providing low-cost access to quality arts programming to the underserved areas of Los Angeles.
How do you help people in my community?
Most of our work physically takes place at Theatricum in Topanga, California, but our Classroom Enrichment programs are offered in schools throughout the many communities that comprise greater Los Angeles, from Woodland Hills to San Pedro, Los Angeles to Covina, Pasadena to Compton. This geographical area spans 81 school districts. If you live in one of these communities, it’s possible that someone you know, maybe yourself or your child, have been served by this program, or our School Days field trip program. Whether it’s a school experience or a Sunday afternoon play at the theater, the possibility for transformation doesn’t end with the individual. That’s the unquantifiable but priceless nature of the arts. It is a gift that keeps on giving, individual to community, generation to generation.
Why do you need my support?
Our vision is to continue providing meaningful experiences that make people learn, laugh, sing, cry, think, work together, care about one another, and appreciate community, nature and the arts. No matter the size, your gift represents a conscious decision to help ensure that Theatricum’s theatre, music and education programs remain accessible and vibrant. The money helps us to operate with excellence in mind yet frees us from having to charge exorbitantly high prices that would limit access to only those most able to pay. (Before the automobile, this was called ‘the carriage trade.’) Theatricum is different from other causes for several reasons. Our unique vision comes directly from our founder, Will Geer, and his passion for classical theatre, folk music, community and horticulture. Geer instilled the same passions in his fellow performing artists and his family. Many family members, who are also active in the community, work as part of a committed team of teachers, performers and administrators who deepen and strengthen that vision.
Protecting the natural setting on 12-acres has long been a priority and our rustic, relaxed setting among ancient oaks and sycamores along Topanga Creek is an oasis in the metropolis. Families can picnic, theatre and music goers can enjoy sun and stars, and summer camp kids and School Days students can experience the giddy mix of clean air, sunshine and live ensemble performance. Last year a young man from an underserved Los Angeles community, upon being asked if he enjoyed the theatre, exclaimed ‘it was amazing, I saw Mt. Everest!’ Not quite, but it did unlock his imagination and take him to worlds he had only dreamed of.
Do our programs impact the future? We can say yes, unequivocally, after having witnessed generations of parents and children, actors and theatre professionals, classroom teachers, and our colleagues develop as artists and human beings from having engaged with our programs. Our audiences and students come from all walks of life, some native Angelenos, some fresh from the Midwest or the east coast, others just visiting. The impact of our programs is carried far and wide, especially by students who apply the lessons of stagecraft, elevated language and ensemble work to many aspects of their lives. Many Adult Academy of the Classics students have told us that they were first introduced to the works of Shakespeare while attending a Theatricum School Days field trip performance. They’ve come back 5, 10, 20 years later to delve more deeply into these grand plays that illuminate the human condition. Indeed, Theatricum’s School Programs Director was introduced to Shakespeare this way and went on to earn a Masters Degree in theatre and education. Five of our core artist/educators as well as the current President of our Board of Directors all began taking classes at the Theatricum at the age of 8!
Another unusual aspect of Theatricum is that we invite people of all ages, from all backgrounds, to act on our stage or to take our classes. Our oldest company member appeared onstage for the first time at the age of 88 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was the hit of the show. Our balance of excellence and inclusivity fosters lifelong relationships with the arts.
How can I be sure that you will use my money wisely and won't waste it?
You can be sure that we’ll use your money wisely, because, for thirty years, we’ve been using our money wisely to develop, strengthen and expand our programming into a vibrant mix of entertainment and education. These programs are arranged to serve audiences and thespians of all ages throughout the year, which in turn provides continual cash flow for the organization. The majority of program fees, ticket sales, individual contributions and grants pay for these programs and for maintaining the theatre and educational facilities.
Only 28.5% of Theatricum’s operating budget pays for administrative/overhead and fundraising expenses. Theatricum maintains a wish list of needs that we can send to you, if you want to choose a specific item be funded by your donation. Or, you can choose a specific program to fund.
Can I Volunteer? How?
Yes, please do! Volunteers from the Los Angeles community are vital to our work. Many of our actors, teachers and administrators came to us initially as volunteers! Because we are an outdoor theatre, the ways that you can volunteer are many: gardening, grounds work, spring cleaning, ushering a show, helping with costumes, working the box office, offering a hand in the summer camp office. To volunteer, call or email our Office Manager at 310-455-2322 or email@example.com