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Local playwrights abound: Creativity showcased at Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s festival, now through August 28

Presented by Santa Cruz Shakespeare
Santa Cruz Shakespeare
(Via Santa Cruz Shakespeare)

Every year, Santa Cruz Shakespeare brings compelling, thought-provoking productions by Shakespeare and other great playwrights to its outdoor theater in the Audrey Stanley Grove at DeLaveaga Park. This year, Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s 2022 Summer Season is delivering awe-inspiring talent showcased by four Santa Cruz local and regional playwrights.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare opened its summer festival with the world premiere of The Formula by Santa Cruz playwright Kathryn Chetkovich, a co-production with Blissfield, and it has received rave reviews from critics and audiences.

Picture a hilarious modern day rom-com, infused with a bit of Shakespeare’s comedy of errors from his Midsummer Night’s Dream, and you have a delicious story that makes audiences ponder the societal notion of “the one.” The Formula runs now through August 28.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare ramps up for the final month of the summer festival with the addition of new opportunities for greatness, including The Fringe Show on August 17 and 23.

“Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s fringe production celebrates our acting interns, who come to us from all over the country. It provides our company and our audiences a chance to cheer on the work of these very talented early career artists, while providing them the opportunity to shine and demonstrate the ways that their work has grown over the course of their summer with us.”

— Mike Ryan, Artistic Director of Santa Cruz Shakespeare

This year’s production, Just Deserts by Carol Lashof, is a play chosen for both its classical roots in Greek drama and for its contemporary relevance.

Just Deserts by Carol Lashof, directed by Rebecca Haley Clark
Just Deserts by Carol Lashof, directed by Rebecca Haley Clark
(Santa Cruz Shakespeare)

August 17 and August 23: The Fringe Show

Just Deserts

by Carol Lashof

Fringe: Noun. Theater, British. A theatrical performance that is unconventional or otherwise distinct from the mainstream. (Collins English Dictionary)

In addition to this year’s productions of The Formula, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and The Tempest, Santa Cruz Shakespeare also produces its Fringe Show, an opportunity for interns, including young aspiring actors from around the U.S., to take to the stage to deliver their own production under the guidance of professional mentors. This year’s play is Just Deserts, written by regional playwright Carol Lashof and directed by Rebecca Haley Clark. Just Deserts is a dark comedy about the origins of the Western (in)justice system. The play explores the question: Is trial by jury an improvement over trial by fury?

Since the beginning of time, the three Furies have dedicated their immortal lives to the ancient honorable principle of a slit throat for a slit throat. But when a young man walks into hell seeking help to avenge his father’s death—by killing his mother—they draw the line. And when he ignores their warnings against matricide and then begs for mercy, the order of the universe hangs in the balance.

A production of "Just Deserts" by Carol Lashof, directed by Rebecca Haley Clark.
(Via Santa Cruz Shakespeare)

East Bay playwright Carol Lashof writes plays to change the stories we believe in because it’s the best way she knows to change the world in which we live. Her work has been broadcast on BET (“Gap,” directed by Ryan Coogler) and NPR (“The Story,” directed by Martin Esslin) and staged on five continents, including at The Magic Theatre of San Francisco and Peking University in Beijing. Carol is a Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California and is the co-founder of Those Women Productions in Berkeley.

Director Rebecca Clark, Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Education Programs Manager, makes her SCS directorial debut. A Santa Cruz native, Rebecca received her undergraduate degree in Drama and Comparative Ethnic Studies at Columbia University, a Masters of Classical and Contemporary Text - Directing at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and a Fulbright research grant to study Shakespeare and race studies in Rio de Janeiro.

“I am thrilled that Rebecca Haley Clark is helming the upcoming production of Just Deserts with the talented Santa Cruz Shakespeare interns. A dark comedy about the mythological (and misogynist) origins of the Western justice system, this play feels even more relevant to me now than it did when it premiered eight years ago.”

— Carol Lashof, playwright

The cast of the Fringe Show is made up exclusively of Santa Cruz Shakespeare interns. A critical part of the 2022 summer season, acting interns appear in the three performances, while other interns support the production team. Acting interns include: Cassie Martin, a junior BFA Acting major at Pace University in New York City; Maya Mays, an East Coast-based actor entering her third year at the University of North Carolina School of Arts for Drama; Joshua Lewis, a junior BFA Acting major at Carnegie Mellon University; and Gustavo A. Flores, a Phoenix based actor and alumni of Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production.

The Fringe Show will take place at 7:30 PM on August 17 and August 23 at the Audrey Stanley Grove.

  • Event
    The Fringe Show: Just Deserts by Carol Lashof
    Come enjoy this retelling of the story of Orestes and the Erinyes (The Furies) from Greek myth. It’s a terrific addition to the season, and particularly links to The Tempest with its exploration of themes of vengeance. August 17th and 23rd, 2022 - 7:30 PM

August 2: Staged Reading

Nasty, Brutish and Short

by Ian McRae, directed by Rebecca Haley Clark

The Staged Reading of Ian McRae’s play, Nasty, Brutish, and Short on Aug 2, explored the questions - Whose story is it? And who has a right to tell it? Where does imagination, empathy, and a desire to do right end, and cultural appropriation begin?

Ian McRae is a successful director, actor and playwright with work produced in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

August 9: Staged Reading

Simply The Thing She Is

by Kate Hawley, directed by Mike Ryan

On August 9, Santa Cruz Shakespeare presented their second Staged Reading, Simply The Thing She Is by Kate Hawley. The play begins with eavesdropping on three actresses in the dressing room of a repertory theater company, their down to earth Assistant Stage Manager, and their dresser who surprises everyone. As the play unfolds, the inner lives of these characters are revealed.

Beginning her career as an actor, Kate Hawley has continued her career as a successful playwright, penning plays that have premiered at the Jewel Theatre and Shakespeare Santa Cruz (now known as Santa Cruz Shakespeare).

Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Fringe Play ‘Orlando’ staged by the company’s acting interns.
(Shmuel Thaler Santa Cruz Shakespeare/Sentinel)
  • Event
    Santa Cruz Shakespeare 2022 Summer Season
    Join Santa Cruz Shakespeare now through August 28, to experience the excitement, brilliance and amazing work of our local playwrights. Tickets are now available for all matinee and evening performances of the 2022 Summer Season. See you at The Grove!