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Arts and Entertainment

Why We Love L.A. Summers: Revel in Classic Outdoor Theatre

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Summer has arrived, and we're ready to celebrate all that screams 'tis the season in Los Angeles. From sand to summit, from sips to snacks -- we love L.A. summers.

Los Angeles has a plethora of summery outdoor theatre available all over the city. No matter where you are or what your budget is, there are outdoor theatre events that will surely suit your taste. Convening in nature to watch a play is an experience like no other that connects you to our earliest theatrical roots, not only in the open theatres of ancient Greece, but perhaps even earlier during a time when prehistoric humans would gather together out of doors for some dramatic storytelling. Outdoor theatre is a chance to snuggle up with a blanket, feel the grass between your toes, and nibble at picnic snacks all while having your mind blown by fantastic local performers. Here, we've rounded up some of the best outdoor theatre events that Los Angeles has to offer:

Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Nestled among the lush semi-arid greenery of Topanga Canyon sits the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. This rustic, woodsy, utterly peaceful spot is the perfect setting for summer outdoor theatre. Will Geer, a victim of McCarthy era blacklisting, opened his Theatricum Botanicum theatre in the 1950s as a way to earn an independent living. Today, it is used to bring classic plays to Los Angeles audiences looking for a nice summery one-night theatrical escape in the mountains. The 2012 season features George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House, William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Deborah Brevoort's The Women of Lockerbie, and David Gow's Cherry Docs. Plays can be seen all summer at Theatricum Botanicum. Tickets are $15 to $33. Performance dates and ticketing are availble online.

The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles will be performing Shakespeare's romantic classic As You Like It in the Japanese Garden on the Veterans Administration West Los Angeles Healthcare Center Campus in July. A healthcare center may sound like an unlikely place to see a play, but it is hard to resist seeing a classic performance among the delicate plantings of the Japanese Garden. For this performance, patrons are encouraged to bring blankets and a picnic to enjoy as they sit under the stars watching a Shakespeare masterpiece. As You Like It runs at the Japanese Garden on the Veterans Administration West Los Angeles Healthcare Center Campus from July 10 to July 29. Tickets are $25, but free for active military, veterans, and their guests. Tickets are additional information are available online.

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Shakespeare by the Sea
Shakespeare by the Sea offers free outdoor theatre all over Los Angeles at tons of locations. In fact, this theatre group performs in so many different outdoorsy spots, it would be impossible to list them all here. While this skilled bunch gives wonderful, beautifully staged shows no matter where they are, we especially love seeing them when they are actually "by the sea" at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro. Nothing beats feeling that cool South Bay ocean breeze, the warm sun, and the soft grass of the park beneath you feet as you watch a FREE play. This summer, the folks at Shakespeare by the Sea will be performing Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet throughout June, July, and August. Detailed schedules are available online.

The Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
The Independent Shakespeare Company offers Angelenos another set of free outdoor events. This talented group of Shakespearean bards performs in an awesome location -- the spooky Old Zoo section of Griffith Park. This haunting setting elevates Shakespeare's more ethereal characters to a whole new level. This year, this free theatre festival runs from June to September with The Winter's Tale, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and one of Shakespeare's funniest works, The Comedy of Errors. Theatre goers can bring blankets and a picnic to these events and perhaps do some irresistible abandoned zoo exploring before the show. The Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival is free. Schedules and detailed performance information is available online.