Education and Outreach Historical Highlights


Rubicon Theatre Company is founded by Karyl Lynn Burns and James O'Neil. The first presentation is a concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar at Ventura Concert Theatre with Carl Anderson and Ted Neeley, stars of the Broadway and film production. 3 sold-out performances.


First student matinees begin with Darrow, presented in the former County Courthouse and at Rubicon Theatre. Student Matinee performances of Darrow are offered to area schools. Following the performance, local attorneys and judges moderate thought-provoking post-show discussions with students on the nature of law and justice.

Barbara Meister and Judy Bysshe launch an outreach committee of former educators to support and facilitate student participation at Rubicon.

Rubicon provides first in-school "Shakespeare in the Schools" program with Romeo and Juliet, presented to more than 7,000 students at 10 area high schools. The production marks the first time an indigenous professional non-profit theatre provides an on-campus presentation in Ventura.


Jack Lemmon gives a moving final stage appearance in Rubicon's production of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, playing opposite his wife and fellow actress Felicia Farr. Mr. Lemmon and Ms. Farr dedicate Rubicon's youth conservatory program following their performance.

Rubicon begins to offer youth and adult acting classes throughout the season.

Rubicon presents the Company's first world premiere, the stage adaptation of Murder in the First. Linda Gray directs a cast which includes Joseph Fuqua, Ted Neeley and Larry Hagman.

Stephanie Zimbalist plays Lizzie in Rubicon's production of The Rainmaker. Local Latino students receive a Spanish synopsis, and participate in a bilingual "talkback" during Rubicon's first student matinees.


Emmy Award-winning actress Susan Clark makes her Rubicon debut in the company's first Tennessee Williams play, The Glass Menagerie. James O'Neil directs, earning a reputation as an innovative interpreter of Williams' work.

Access Theatre Founder Rod Lathim directs The Boys Next Door. Rubicon begins audio-described performances for individuals who are visually-impaired.

Yale graduate Joseph Fuqua joins the teaching staff.

Rubicon produces Bardwalk, a celebration of Shakespeare that takes place on Ventura's pier, boardwalk, and city streets, reaching over 20,000 students.

Jenny Sullivan stars alongside John Ritter in the world premiere of her semi-autobiographical play J for J, which is part of a "Special Additions" series which includes David Birney in his own adaptation of Twain's The Diaries of Adam & EveJ for J is later presented at The Court in Los Angeles and in a reading at the John Houseman in New York, hosted by Daryl Roth.


A major revival of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is helmed by original Broadway director Moni Yakim. Amanda McBroom and George Ball, who appeared in the New York production, reprise their roles.

James O'Neil directs a workshop of Beggar's Holiday, a revival of the only musical Duke Ellington ever wrote for Broadway with a new book by Dale Wasserman. The production, starring Carl Anderson, begins Rubicon's "Lost and Found" musical concert series.

Rubicon's Summer Musical Theatre Camp is founded. Students ages 9 to 18 create a production of Once on This Island, Jr. under the direction of new Education Outreach Director Brian McDonald.

Rubicon Young Professionals intern program is launched, with students participating in Master Classes taught by renowned actors.


Outreach Director Brian McDonald works with City of Ventura to provide an acting class for students at E.P. Foster Elementary School during their after-school program. The program culminates in a presentation of a play about the Gold Rush.

Rubicon launches "Plays-in-Progress" - staged readings and discussions of new works.

Summer musical theatre camp continues with a production of School House Rock, Live! The production then tours to several elementary schools on Ventura Avenue.

Jim O'Neil directs the timely Arthur Miller classic All My Sons. Students read the first and second act of the play and write their own version of what they believe will be the third act prior to coming to see the show at Rubicon.

20 local youths appear opposite Stephanie Zimbalist in Rubicon's main stage of Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity, inspired by the life of astronaut Christa McAuliffe. The complex production values include aerial and trapeze performances and large-scale multi-media projections.


Grammy-award winner Kenny Loggins performs a concert at the private ranch of the Bowmans in Ojai, raising funds for education programs.

The Summer Musical Theatre Camp exceeds expectations with a lively production of Honk!. The production features 28 students ages 9-18. The production sells out at every performance including the dress rehearsal which is offered free to the community as part of San Buenaventura Foundation for the Arts year-long event called "Arts Explosion."


Rubicon receives 3 NAACP Theatre Award nominations, and James O'Neil receives the Best Director Award for Driving Miss Daisy. Students matinee performance for this production sell-out.

The entire theatre is converted into an eclectic, hip coffee house for an environmental production of Songs for a New World, which goes on to receive 7 LA Stage Alliance Ovation nominations. Area students are posed as waiting staff of the coffee house to give the full effect of environmental theatre.

40 students out of 75 who auditioned are accepted into the Summer Musical Theatre Camp production of Seussical The Musical. All 7 performances are standing room only.

Rubicon's Production Manager Christina Burck heads the first Technical Theatre Camp in which students learn about the behind-the-scenes elements of theatre. They build sets and props, hang lights and then serve as running crew for Seussical.


Rubicon presents the first Young Playwrights' Festival led by Broadway actor and drama teacher, Clark Sayre. 12 students are mentored by professional playwrights throughout the process of writing an original one-act play. The plays are then directed and performed by professional adult actors for the general public.

Tony-award winning composer Jason Robert Brown performs in a benefit concert at the Tower Club to benefit Rubicon's education outreach programs and to launch the Larry Meister Memorial Musical Fund.

Rubicon's Summer Musical Theatre Camp continues with a production of Bye Bye Birdie with a cast of 36.

The Acting Intensive Summer Program is founded to offer students with an interest in non-musicals a chance to perform. Directed by Brian McDonald, 23 actors ranging in age from 10-23 perform a remarkable production of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer prize-winning play, Our Town.