Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Sep 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Big Send-off

ae1An inside look at Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s final production, ‘It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’

Harking back to a time when the entertainment industry relied mainly on radio, this year’s Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) holiday production retells an American classic the same way a 1940s radio station would.

“It was a very common practice in the ’40s to perform a play on the radio,” explains Lydia Bushfield, SSC properties manager and prop master. “While it was being broadcast, an audience could come watch the radio actors while they voiced all the different characters and the live foley [or sound effects], and enjoy the story in person.”       

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”—a rendition of Frank Capra’s holiday film mimicking this practice—runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 8 at the UC Santa Cruz Theater Arts Mainstage. As “A Live Radio Play,” the production centers on radio station personalities, and their manipulation of props and voices to create the characters and ambient sounds of It’s a Wonderful Life.

“It's a really lovely look back into history if you never realized that this is how radio was produced,” says Bushfield. “There are scenes where one actor will do four different characters, one right after the other; it’s an interesting peek into how people were entertained in that day and age.”

The nine-person cast—made up of two trade union actors and seven UCSC students—manages to collectively provide the voices for more than 30 characters, and produce all of the sound effects on one elaborate set.  

“It's a very long process and there are probably around 40 foley props in the show, and they all have to look like they would be in a 1940s radio show,” explains Bushfield. “There are three students in the show that are doing the foley on stage—so we not only have to find the sounds, make them work, and get them stage-ready, but also teach someone else to use them.”                   

Using crafty combinations of everyday items, onstage foley artists can create sounds that would be unsafe or unfeasible to make onstage. For example, the sound of breaking glass is recreated in the production with a set of mini percussionist chimes and a small glass bottle.

ae2make some noise The Clearly Sisters (Rosie Glen-Lambert, Sharon Shao and Julia Finch) create thunderstorm sound effects for SSC’s holiday production of ‘It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.’“It is really friendly because we are all creating together,” says Emily Schneiderman, a UCSC sophomore playing one of the radio personalities. “There are so many levels of mentorship, especially with the professionals and with the other actors.”

While that mentorship exists, a staple of the holiday show every year is allowing students to interface as equals with professional actors, directors and designers.

“I think there’s nothing more valuable than working alongside professionals doing what you want to do,” notes Director Nancy Carlin. “There is only so much you can learn from talking about something in a classroom, and both sides benefit when you put professionals and students together.”

Shakespeare Santa Cruz has been bringing together UCSC students and theater professionals with vibrant holiday shows since 1997. However, “It’s a Wonderful Life” marks the end of an era. Back in August, UCSC’s Dean of the Arts announced that the highly regarded company was too costly to fund with university money. And so, after 30 years of celebrated performances, SSC will close its doors following this last holiday show.

“I don’t think that UC Santa Cruz, in their decision to close SSC, fully considered the impact of the loss of the company on students, local businesses, and the Santa Cruz and regional community at large,” notes Aimee Zygmonski, SSC’s managing and marketing director.

While UCSC does offer other opportunities for students to work with professional artists and directors, many believe that SSC offered something students couldn’t find elsewhere. For one, SSC hired and cast students as staff and interns in both the summer and holiday productions.

“There is a lot that student-run and faculty-run productions can offer,” says Schneiderman. “But being linked to this company makes you feel less like a student and more like a professional. I’m optimistic, I think we will be all right—I mean, we’ll have to be.”   

It is painfully ironic; a company that must close its doors because of a lack of funding is performing a play that centers on the importance of giving over greed for its final production. Some remain hopeful for the future of UCSC and its theater counterparts, but for many, this holiday production is a bittersweet end to a local tradition.

“There will be an empty space where SSC was,” says Carlin. “I hope it gets filled by something similar because the value of students and professionals working in the field together cannot be underestimated. If students can no longer find that on campus, I hope they find it elsewhere.” 


“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” runs Nov. 15-Dec. 8. at the UCSC Mainstage Theater, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20. For more information and tickets, visit santacruztickets.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs