Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Mar 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

On With the Show

ae ShakespeareSantaCruzShakespeare Play On breathes new life into Shakespeare Santa Cruz

For the past three decades, Shakespeare’s robust and witty dialogue could be heard echoing throughout The Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen outdoor theater at UC Santa Cruz on any given summer evening. Amidst food-scattered picnic blankets, the community sat rapt by the onstage antics of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” or  the drama of “Romeo and Juliet.”

But on Aug. 26, 2013, UC Santa Cruz announced that, due to worsening budget challenges to the university and the professional repertory company being deeply in debt, Shakespeare Santa Cruz would be forced to end its 32-year run.

The seemingly sudden decision unleashed a backlash of shock and outrage in a community that deeply values the arts. “Members of our community said, ‘This can’t happen,’” says Aimee Zygmonski, the former managing and marketing director for SSC. “People said, ‘There’s no way that there can’t be a Shakespeare Festival in Santa Cruz.’”

This outpouring of dismay triggered ideas among Shakespeare Santa Cruz board members and the rest of the company—ideas about how to preserve the tradition of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, yet maintain the autonomy of an independent theater company no longer under the thumb of the university system.

And thus, Shakespeare Play On was born. The newly formed nonprofit theater company—led by longtime SSC veterans Marco Barricelli and Mike Ryan, and a star-studded Advisory Board, including Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Sir Patrick Stewart and Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis—launched a massive fundraising effort in December 2013 to bring Shakespeare back to Santa Cruz.

“The goal of the campaign was to raise $885,000,” says Ryan, co-artistic director of Shakespeare Play On. “The reason why we needed that specific amount of money is that we wanted to completely forward fund the entire season.”

Ryan explains that most theaters spend a great deal of money on creating a production, and then try to make the money back with ticket sales. “The problem with that model is that if you ever have a bad summer or a show that  ae2 ShakespeareSantaCruzThanks to the enterprising efforts of several Santa Cruzans, Shakespeare Santa Cruz gets a second life as Shakespeare Play On. Pictured above: a scene from SSC’s “Twelfth Night.” Photos courtesy SSC.tanks and doesn’t sell very well, you end up financially in the hole,” he says. “Everything that is donated to the festival from here on and any tickets that we sell for the season of 2014 will become the budget for 2015. It’s a way of making this festival run perpetually.” 

Over the course of just two months, the fundraising goal was met and then vastly exceeded. The campaign raised a total of $1.1 million from donors as far away as New Jersey and Hawaii.

As a result, Shakespeare Play On proudly announced on Feb. 3 that there will be a two-play season in the summer of 2014. The company has already begun the process of hiring designers, directors and actors.

“I think that the outpouring of money and emotional support for something like this really shows how important [Shakespeare Santa Cruz] was to people,” says Zygmonski, now managing director for Shakespeare Play On. “The loss of it was not something they were willing to have. They weren’t willing to agree with it.”

Although Shakespeare Play On will retain the traditions that were set in place by Shakespeare Santa Cruz, a few important differences do exist. This new company will be a separate entity from the university, thus freeing it up from the bureaucratic red tape it was previously wrapped in.

Other changes include a slight shifting in the dates of the new season, the ability to receive donations and gifts without interference from the university, and a degree of financial independence and accountability, now that the budget is entirely separate from UCSC.

But Ryan makes it clear that what will remain unchanged are the high standards set in place over the past 32 years. “I think what people will find with the new company, is that those of us who are running the ship want to maintain the artistic integrity and legacy of Shakespeare Santa Cruz,” he says. 

Moving forward, Shakespeare Play On has visions of an expanded season, bringing back the holiday pantomimes that were so popular, and doing co-productions with local theater companies. But for now, the organization is taking it one step at a time—a move that Ryan and the entire community hopes will ensure the longevity of Shakespeare Play On.

Although the 2014 summer season schedule is yet to be released, Ryan shares that the performances will be true to old Shakespeare Santa Cruz form. Shakespeare Play On is even working with the university to obtain the use of the Festival Glen for performances at the beloved outdoor theater.

Perhaps those picnic blankets need not be put away after all. 


Be the first to know when the 2014 Shakespeare Play On summer season is announced at shakespeareplayon.net.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Perhaps Patrick Stewart
written by Mark Nockleby, February 20, 2014
can help get any licensing rights necessary for Shakespeare Play On to produce Hamlet in the original Klingon.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals