Lockerbie Tragedy — the Aftermath

In the charming, rustic open-air Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, I was deeply touched by the story of the aftermath of the 1988 crash of Pam Am 103 over Lockerbie Scotland, the first of what would become many senseless acts of terrorism.  Inspired by a true story, The Women of Lockerbie, by Deborah Brevoort, set in the wild moors of rural Scotland, tells the of the tragedy and of the triumph of love over hate as the American and Scottish women whose lives were devastated by the tragedy cope in different ways.  Brevoort composed the play appropriately in the form of a Greek tragedy and if catharsis was her aim, this audience member gasped and cried through most of the performance.  The playwright explained “These women show us a way out from the terrible after-effects of terror.  It’s about people who refuse to be broken, about how helping others is a way out of sorrow.”

The outdoor amphitheatre in which the play was presented was born out of a dark time in our history — that of the McCarthy Era Blacklisting.  Back in the early 1950s, Will Geer, one of its victims, opened a theater for blacklisted actors and folk singers on his vast property in Topanga. In 1973, when The Waltons became a popular television show which cast Geer as Grandpa, he gathered his family together to form a nonprofit corporation, The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.  The theater, which began as a performance space on his property housed workshop performances of Shakespeare, folk plays, memorials for several actors, concerts by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthtri, Della Reese and Burl Ives, among others.  Upon Greer’s death in 1978, the family and a small band of players formed a professional repertory theatre. Each summer, patrons flock to the site, often picnicking beneath the shade of the huge oak trees before the call to “take your seats.”  Performances of Shakespeare always appear of the summer schedule along with other classics and new works.

Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

1419 N. Topanga Canyon Boulevard



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