Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 28th
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Open Studio

ae_themillNew performance space opens up in town
When Joan Van Antwerp was thinking about creating the second half of her life, she decided to enroll in a theater class at Cabrillo College. As a first-time thespian, she had no idea that her experience in this class would alter the direction of her life. And eventually, she would partner with local entrepreneur and theater aficionado Debbie Quigg to launch a theater arts space that has just opened, called The Mill Works Theatre.

This new space holds court at The Mill Gallery in downtown Santa Cruz, and is open every other Monday night as a works-in-progress venue where theatrical types can gather to put a short piece up on stage, try out a monologue, do a staged reading, and so on. The venue offers what can be hard to find around town—inexpensive performance space.


For a suggested $6 donation, interested performers can show up before 7:30 p.m. and follow the appointed guidelines to ensure getting a chunk of time onstage. And as a bonus, you get a built-in audience consisting of other performers who are waiting for their turn to perform, as well as regular audience members. It’s a groundbreaking idea, with a great price, in a stellar venue.

The venue offers what can be hard to find around town—inexpensive performance space.

The official launch of the space was on  Sept. 28 and the next performance evening is on Monday, Oct. 5. The concept for the Mill Works Theatre was created by Van Antwerp and Quigg, who are long-time friends and theatrical cohorts from the Actors’ Theatre in downtown Santa Cruz. Van Antwerp explains that The Mill Works Theatre was a natural evolution of their shared love for theater at large.

Keep in mind, though, that the whole point of this work-space offering is to showcase works-in-progress, and hence the aesthetics will reflect this concept: “We’re going to use a raw space, no stage, and no raised platform,” Van Antwerp says. But think of those things as positive elements to practice your monologue, scene, or segment of a one-persno show. Per Van Antwerp’s and Quigg’s emcee direction, if you’re an actor performing, you can also receive feedback from the audience if you desire.

The line-up for Oct. 5 will feature monologues, scenes and 10-minute plays by actors including Jeff Dinnell, Jeff Swan, Helene Jara and others.

For those unfamiliar with The Mill Gallery, the space is a contemporary-styled art gallery spearheaded by local artist advocate Kirby Scudder of the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts. The building is owned by Quigg and her husband Joe, who have also recently opened up a bed and breakfast next door to the gallery space, called Pacific Blue Inn.

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