As we approach a new season with Santa Cruz Shakespeare in the Summer of 2016, we bid farewell to the festival setting that entertained us for many years at UCSC, and prepare to welcome a revived version of it in its new home at Upper DeLaveaga Park. The lease is signed, the ground is broken, and the anticipation is building. Since early April, SCS and local contractors have been working round the clock to have the site up, running, and ready for professional theater in 12 weeks.
Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s annual, family-friendly festival has been a cultural tradition enjoyed by several generations of locals and visitors from near and far. It exemplifies the bold creativity and community spirit this area is known for through the art of bringing stories to life in surprising and memorable ways. The festival faced extinction when its affiliation with UCSC recently ended. However, under the persevering leadership of SCS’s Artistic Director, Mike Ryan, patrons have rallied to help revitalize it. This year will mark its 35th year of productions, and its third year separated from UCSC as an independent non-profit organization. Just around the corner, the completion of an innovative, outdoor theater at DeLaveaga Park will launch a new and exciting era of live performances.
One of the most beloved features of SCS’s previous productions was the staging set in the natural environment of the Festival Glen. The tree-encircled, sun and moon-dappled scenery may have been distinctly Santa Cruz, but the dramatic ambience transported the actors and audience into realms beyond. SCS has consciously designed a Festival Grove at DeLaveaga Park to restore the magic of this vibrant atmosphere, accommodate guests, and enhance the experience through improved conditions. Plans are underway to secure the new space as a permanent home offering increased comfort, easy access, and further opportunities to more closely engage with the festival culture and community.
SCS is praised and progressive for its diversity, talent, risk-taking, and extensive playlist. The festival offers artistic interpretations both traditional and contemporary in nature. It stages a rotating repertoire primarily inspired by Shakespeare’s classic legacy, but also includes a range of work by other playwrights from the past and present. The auspicious opening of the Festival Grove will be celebrated with the presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, two of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. The festival will also feature a “Fringe Show” for three performances only – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, as adapted by the award-winning playwright, Sarah Ruhl.
The community waits on the edge of its proverbial seat for the curtain to go up on a refreshingly different venue, recharged services, and renewed enchantment at DeLaveaga Park. In the mean time, there is ongoing opportunity to support the development of the Grove and enjoy exclusive benefits as a SCS member. As it evolves, we can be sure that the artistry, versatility, and visual feast of the festival will continue to create the same unique experience and powerful storytelling we love and look forward to each year.
Tickets for the 2016 Summer season will be available May 2nd for members, and May 16th for the general public.