Santa Cruz Shakespeare.
Santa Cruz Shakespeare.
City Life

Santa Cruz County’s two major arts festivals announce lineups . . . and one might even happen in person

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music is planning to stay all-virtual for a second straight year, but Santa Cruz Shakespeare is planning to bring audiences back to its outdoor venue, providing things keep improving on the pandemic front.

In yet another sign of what a post-pandemic thaw might look like come summer, Santa Cruz Shakespeare and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music — the two most prominent fine-arts summer festivals in Santa Cruz County — have both announced their upcoming seasons.

For Cabrillo, its 59th season seeking out the best in cutting-edge orchestral and chamber music will also be its second all-virtual season, presented on-line and free to the public over two weekends beginning July 31.

The Grove at DeLaveaga Park.
(Courtesy Santa Cruz Shakespeare)

SCS, on the hand, is planning a controlled, socially distanced summer season at its outdoor venue The Grove at DeLaveaga Park. The company announced on Monday that their 2021 in-person season is provisional on continued progress in vaccine availability, and with the pending approval of the city and its unions. Otherwise, SCS will be prepared to go all-virtual for its new season.

The Cabrillo Festival, under the direction of conductor and musical director Cristian Macelaru, is planning to make the most of another all-virtual season by presenting performances in sites devastated by last year’s CZU fires. The festival will present a new work by composer Gabriela Lena Frank, with a dance performance by Santa Cruz-based choreographer Molly Katzman.

Also among the highlights of the upcoming festival will be a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust, featuring a video about violins that were played in the concentration camps during World War II. The programs will also feature post-concert artist Q&A sessions, plus panel discussions, and a series of pre-season “Composers in Conversation” dates, the first of which is March 6. All events will be streamed directly through the festival’s website.

The actors and directors at Santa Cruz Shakespeare are taking tentative steps back to normal with a new season at the company’s outdoor venue, reducing capacity of the theater from 425 to 175. The festival, however, will start with a virtual event, an episodic reading of Shakespeare’s “Troilus & Cressida,” beginning in June.

Then, in The Grove, SCS will present two plays: “The Agitators” by Mat Smart, which explores the relationship between two iconic 19th-century figures in American history: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, portrayed respectively by SCS veterans Patty Gallagher and Allen Gilmore.

Also presented in The Grove will be “RII,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” presented, in appropriate pandemic best practices, with just three actors. Ticket details and other information can be found at SCS’s website.