Shakespeare Santa Cruz

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Coordinates: 37°00′N 122°04′W / 37.00°N 122.06°W / 37.00; -122.06

Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Shakespeare Santa Cruz logo.png
Location(s) University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, California
Artistic director Marco Barricelli
Foundation 1981
Founded by Audrey Stanley
Date(s) mid-July through August

Shakespeare Santa Cruz was an annual professional theatre festival in Santa Cruz, California, which ran from 1981 to 2013. After losing the financial support of the University of California, Santa Cruz, the company was relaunched through crowdfunding as Santa Cruz Shakespeare.


Shakespeare Santa Cruz was founded in 1981 and performed annually on the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz.[1] Plays by Shakespeare and other great dramatists were performed indoors on the UCSC Theater Arts Mainstage and outdoors in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. Bringing in professional actors, directors and designers from throughout the country, the Company's season ran from July to early September and presented three or four plays that ran concurrently in repertory six days a week (no performance on Mondays). With a mission to “cultivate the imagination, wit, daring, and vision that the greatest playwrights demand of artists and audiences alike,"[2] SSC sought to present a festival of theatre which showcased contemporary approaches to directing, designing and acting. Attendance grew from 7,716 people in 1982 to 31,013 in 1992.[3] Since its founding, the company's artistic directors have been Audrey Stanley (1982–86), Michael Edwards (1987–92), Danny Scheie (1993–95), Risa Brainin, Paul Whitworth (1996–2007), and Marco Barricelli (2008–2013).[4] Some of the rising theatre stars who have worked at SSC are: David Aaron Baker, Bryan Cranston, Maria Dizzia, Caitlin FitzGerald, Dan Donohue, Peter Jacobson, Reg Rogers, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

In 1997, Artistic Director Paul Whitworth introduced the SSC annual Winter Holiday season. In keeping with the tradition of Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s fresh take on the classics, the holiday shows were original musicals written for SSC by playwright Kate Hawley with music composed by Gregg Coffin, Craig Bohmler and Adam Wernick. A fusion of the traditions of the British pantomime and the American musical, Cinderella, Gretel and Hansel, The Princess and the Pea and Sleeping Beauty were based on traditional fairy tales and appeal to audiences of all ages. The winter season performed in November and December.

In addition to the summer repertory season and the holiday show, Shakespeare Santa Cruz had two performance programs which sought to engage student actors with Shakespearean and other classical texts---the summer Fringe show and the Shakespeare to Go program. The Fringe show was an opportunity for the summer Company's acting interns to perform their own production in the Glen two nights each summer. Past productions included Lysistrata, The Antipodes, Fools in the Forest, and The Mock-Tempest. Shakespeare to Go was an educational engagement program—and recipient of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding—featuring University of California Santa Cruz Theater Arts students who toured local schools in the spring performing one-hour versions of one of the full-length plays to be featured in the summer repertory season. Additionally, Shakespeare to Go presented a limited number of free public performances.

The festival was responsible for supporting itself, but had recently run deficits which were paid by the University of California.[5] In 2008, with California's budget crisis having resulted in reduced funding, the university could no longer afford to cover these debts.[5] An agreement was reached that if the theater could raise $300,000, it could continue operation.[5] Within 10 days of the agreement's announcement, over $400,000 was raised.[5] Claiming continuing financial problems, however, the UCSC Arts Division dean announced several years later that Shakespeare Santa Cruz would end after its 2013 holiday production.[6]

Following this announcement, the theater company began a campaign to raise money to become an independent company. By February 2014, they raised over $1 million (USD) through crowdfunding to continue on without the financial support of the university.[7] In March 2014, the new company changed its name to Santa Cruz Shakespeare.[8]

Season history[edit]


  1. ^ a b Teachout, Terry (2008-08-15). "Greasepaint under the Redwoods". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  2. ^ "Our Mission". Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  3. ^ Wood, Daniel B. (31 August 1993). "A Shakespeare Makeover in Santa Cruz". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  4. ^ "Bay Area Theater Artistic Director Timeline". San Francisco Chronicle. 2008-02-24. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c d Taylor, Kate (2009-02-11). "Drama, Live and on the Financial Edge". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  6. ^ UCSC to end Shakespeare Santa Cruz after holiday production
  7. ^ Baine, Wallace (2 February 2014). "Shakespeare Santa Cruz raises $1.1M, exceeding fundraising goal". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Baine, Wallace (4 March 2014). "New name, new season for Shakespeare Santa Cruz". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Rappaport, Scott (19 March 2013). "Shakespeare Santa Cruz announces lineup for 2013 season". University of California, Santa Cruz Newscenter. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 

External links[edit]