SeedlingsFest — Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga

Theatricum Botanicum’s new play development program, Botanicum Seedlings, continues to inspire growth by reaching out to a mix of emerging and award-winning playwrights for SeedlingsFest, its second festival of new plays where they present two days of new plays by a fresh crop of playwrights.

This Festival of (short) playreadings features two days of plays written on a theme  –  Certified Organic – expressly for this event, giving Theatricum company members and audiences the opportunity to sample fresh new works that are 100% natural and pesticide-free  – and enjoy seasonal gourmet treats and live music as part of the package.

SeedlingsFest takes place Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20, at 1 pm.

Admission is free; donations gratefully accepted.

“It’s very gratifying that Theatricum is able to provide a creative and safe nurturing environment for today’s playwrights,” says Theatricum managing director Delphine Frost. “Through Seedlings, we can also give back to the community by allowing local audiences to see a play at its earliest stages and appreciate first-hand what writers do: provide the food that feeds other artists.”

This year’s group of writers includes playwrights new to Seedlings as well as artists who generally work behind the scenes in Topanga, including Seedlings literary manager Julie Retzlaff and Theatricum playwright-in-residence Jennie Webb.

The Certified Organic plays on both performance dates are:

  • About What Matters by Jennie Webb – A play about priorities, boundaries, the value of certification and letting life get to you when weighing what’s real. Jennie is the author of numerous plays presented throughout the U.S. and internationally. Locally she co-founded the LA Female Playwrights Initiative (LA FPI) and is a member of The Playwrights Union and Rogue Machine Theatre, where her “Yard Sale Signs” premiered last year.
  • A Day in Eden by Barbara Lindsay – A lush garden is the setting for a lifetime of love, loss and recognition, all over in the blink of an eye. Barbara’s first full-length play was the award-winning “Free” which premiered in London in 1991. Since then, her plays and monologues have had over 200 national and international productions. Her short play “Here to Serve You” won the 2008 Goshen Peace Play Prize. She is currently living in Seattle, WA.
  • Between Siddhartha and the Angel by Mary F. Unser – In February, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia falls to earth and in Hemphill, Texas, Rita remembers how to fly. Mary’s plays have been seen at venues including Ensemble Studio Theatre (both NY and LA), The Perishable Theatre, The Blank, Ka-HOOTZ, Carnegie Mellon University, Point of Contention, Snowdance Comedy Festival, Lower East Side International LGBT Festival and the New York International Fringe.
  • Black Tickets by Julie Retzlaff – A retired doctor, confronted by the shortcuts he took in life, sees what lies ahead and considers the price of admission. Julie is also a director and producer who works primarily on new works, in NY (Ensemble Studio Theatre and Arclight Theatre Company) and California (Pacific Repertory Theatre and Seedlings). She is the author of published poetry and prose.
  • Being There by Isabella Russell-Ides – A poetical eco-disaster play in which a water girl answers apocalyptic weather with art, and a bee lady calls 911 when 10,000 bees are enraptured. Isabella is a multi-award-winning playwright based in Dallas, TX. Her plays including “The Early Education of Conrad Eppler,” “Coco & Gigi,” “Leonard’s Car” and “¡CENOTE!” have hit stages in NY and LA, and lots of places in between. She is also a published poet.
  •  The Old Salt by Katherine James – A comedy of tearful goodbyes and colorful introductions that proves true love takes many forms, in or out of uniform. Also a director, actor and the artistic director of Free Association Theatre, Katherine is a frequent Seedlings collaborator. Her  plays were most recently presented as part of The Road Theatre Company’s reading series and at the Dirty Laundry Festival in Prescott, Arizona.
  • Around the Barn by Matt Van Winkle – An offbeat look at the inner workings of a particular relationship that sings a universal song of hopes, dreams and expectations. Matt grew up in Meadville, PA. He plays music with his band and has written several plays. His most recent short work was performed during a Theatre Mab Town Hall.
  • Pop-pop Goes Bowling by Ann-Giselle Spiegler – A play inspired by and set in the Hollywood Bowl about another great venue for live performance: parenthood. An award-winning director for theater, film and music video based in Los Angeles, Ann-Giselle is also an emerging playwright with works performed in LA, NY and NJ. She is currently a member of LA Writer’s Center and resident playwright for the Downtown Artist Collective.


SeedlingsFest: “Certified Organic”
 Botanicum Seedlings Festival of (short) Playreadings

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Topanga, CA  90290

(midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura freeway)

Saturday, November 19, 2011 – 1 pm

Sunday, November 20 – 1 pm

No reservations necessary.

Information: (310) 455-2322 or visit their official site.


  The theater is outdoors; dress warmly, and, in case of inclement weather, please call for alternate performance times.




SeedlingsFest features the work of five directors and an ensemble cast featuring familiar members of Theatricum’s company and some new faces. The “Certified Organic” directors are Jen Bloom, who developed the Performing Arts Program at the L.A. Natural History Museum, is co-artistic director of Santa Monica Rep, and has extensive credits on the East Coast and in Los Angeles; Ella Martin, whose work as a director has been featured by PianoFight LA, California International Theatre Festival and Theatre Mab Town Hall (co-founder and artistic director); Amanda McRaven, a Fulbright scholar whose productions have received critical acclaim in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Virginia (at the American Shakespeare Center) and Wellington, New Zealand; Annie Saunders, who has worked as a director in London at the Charing Cross Theatre, Queen Mary University and Etcetera Theatre and at LA’s Lyric Hyperion, and who recently launched her own site-specific company, Wilderness; and Becca Wolff, whose past theater work includes The Public Theater (NYC), Trinity Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and Yale Repertory Theatre, among other venues, as well as “Usher,” Best Musical of the 2008 NY International Fringe Festival.

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.


Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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