A scene from Santa Cruz Shakespeare's "Book of Will."
The publishers of the first folio of Shakespeare’s plays share the book with Shakespeare’s widow in Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s “Book of Will.” (From left, Mike Ryan, Allie Pratt, Amy Kim Waschke and Charles Pasternak.)
(Via RR Jones)
City Life

Santa Cruz Shakespeare takes a bow for 2023 season; next stop, a big 2024

It’s the final weekend to see “The Taming of the Shrew,” “King Lear” and Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will” in the Grove at DeLaveaga, but an expanded five-production season is in the works for Santa Cruz Shakespeare next year.

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It’s the final weekend for Santa Cruz Shakespeare at the Grove at DeLaveaga, with performances of “The Taming of the Shrew,” “King Lear” and Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will” running through Sunday.

If you missed the news, SCS earlier this week announced it will be an even bigger presence in the Santa Cruz performing arts scene in 2024, with five — yep, five — new productions next year: Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “As You Like It,” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” in the summer, followed by a special September production of “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams, and then, at the holiday season, the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.” That’s right, it’s a Shakespeare festival where most of the productions are not Shakespeare.

Certainly in an era when theater is struggling, to go big like this is a huge risk, particularly for a new artistic director, Charles Pasternak. But the productions are crowd-pleasers. Pasternak is bringing back popular artistic director Mike Ryan as an actor in “Hamlet” and “A Christmas Carol,” and audience support in 2022 and so far this year suggests that SCS might be able to buck the trend of theater contraction. Either way, it’s invigorating and inspiring to see a company embrace boldness like this. Insert your favorite Shakespeare quote about boldness and courage here.