Inspired by the little-known, larger-than-life true story of Robert Smalls, the first African American hero of the Civil War, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum presents the world premiere of Trouble the Water, freely adapted by Ellen Geer from the 2019 award-winning historical novel by Rebecca Dwight Bruff. Trouble the Water tells the remarkable story of Smalls, born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina, who carried his family and others to freedom by commandeering a Confederate warship into Union waters. Upon delivering the ship—including an arsenal of rebel weaponry—to the Union army, Smalls was declared a hero, awarded $1500, and introduced to Abraham Lincoln, influencing the President to allow Black men to fight for the Union. Smalls went on to be elected to five-terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He helped found the Republican Party of South Carolina and authored state legislation creating the first free and compulsory public school system in the United States. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290 (midway between PCH and the 101/Ventura Freeway); $10-$42 (premium seats available for $60); The amphitheater is terraced into the hillside, so audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Patrons are welcome to arrive early and picnic before a performance. For a complete schedule of repertory performances, call (310) 455-3723 or go to www.theatricum.com.