We made it to the LA area yesterday. It was a long, hot drive through the desert. It’s hard to live in the van when it’s over 90 degrees outside (109 in Vegas); so it has felt good to get near the beach and milder temps…and we head north soon. Tried to connect yesterday with a very interesting Baptist pastor who was recommended by my friend, Joey, but couldn’t work out our schedules. We hope to talk to him before we head north.
This place is amazing and magical. Geer, who many of you will remember as TV’s Grandpa Zebulon Walton, started this outdoor theatre in 1951, after he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He wanted to provide a performance space for fellow victims of McCarthyism. Geer, who had a master’s degree in botany, made sure every plant ever mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings was growing on the grounds. Woody Guthrie stayed here a lot in the mid ‘50s, when he and Geer released “Bound For Glory,” probably my favorite Guthrie album. Our new friend, Martha, lives in Woody’s old cabin. We had a good conversation last night where she said one of the good things about the rise of Trump is more people are waking up to the fact that this is our land, not the government’s or the corporations’. Sounds like she has been imbued with the spirit of her home’s former tenant.
This is a fascinating place, surrounded by amazing people. Our host is Francesca, who we met through our good friend, Kasey. Francesca has been fantastic, helping us figure out LA, and introducing us to the theatre here. The cast was finishing up a rehearsal when we pulled in last night. They are performing “The Merchant of Venice” and “Animal Farm” this weekend. We met Will Geer’s stepdaughter, Melora, who told us each play they stage has a political message. We’re hoping to have a longer conversation about that with her before we leave. We’ll keep you posted.
For now, we are parked along the Pacific Coast Highway (where it’s 20 degrees cooler than high up in the canyon) writing, organizing, and tending to broken latches….
“Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway
Nobody living can make me turn back
This land was made for you and me”