Santa Cruz Shakespeare artistic director Mike Ryan at right
Mike Ryan (right, starring in this summer’s production of “RII”) will step down as artistic director at Santa Cruz Shakespeare after the 2023 season to concentrate on acting.
(Via Santa Cruz Shakespeare)
The Here & Now

Santa Cruz Shakespeare announces big new season, change in leadership

The Bard’s “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest” are on the schedule for 2022, as well as a world premiere from Santa Cruz-based playwright Kathryn Chetkovich. And in 2023, artistic director Mike Ryan will step down to focus on acting, to be replaced by actor/director Charles Pasternak.

Before the 2021 season has even ended, Santa Cruz Shakespeare has already announced plans for 2022, as well as a vision for 2023 and beyond.

Santa Cruz’s most prominent theater company on Wednesday announced its 2022 season. And after two seasons of adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new season is a return to big and bold.

SCS will stage two of Shakespeare’s most popular plays in 2022, “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest,” as well as a new play by Santa Cruz-based playwright Kathryn Chetkovich titled “The Formula,” itself inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

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On top of that, SCS announced that it will have new artistic leadership, albeit not until 2023.

Mike Ryan, the actor who established Santa Cruz Shakespeare from the ashes of the defunct company Shakespeare Santa Cruz, will remain as SCS’ artistic director through the 2023 season. Then, he will hand off the reins to actor/director Charles Pasternak, who has played some of Shakespeare’s most prominent leading-man roles locally, including Romeo and Prince Hal.

“Arts organizations and theaters in particular really need new artistic leadership every decade or so,” said Ryan, 49, who will have run the company for 10 years after 2023. “Theater is so dependent on how you reimagine, or re-create, or offer different points of view. Otherwise, it can get stagnant really fast with the same person at the helm.”

Ryan added that he would like to return to acting full time and he has no plans on leaving the area, so that the odds are good that SCS audiences will see him on stage even after his tenure is over. (Ryan is currently starring in SCS’s production of “RII.”)

As for 2022, SCS looks to return to the pre-pandemic normal with three fully cast plays. “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest” are two of Shakespeare’s most performed plays and, said Ryan, “they also speak to our time and the opportunity that COVID has given us to reexamine things.”

The third play will be Chetkovich’s “The Formula,” which was part of SCS’ staged reading series a few years ago. The play was inspired by Shakespeare’s immortal comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Ryan, “because there are people at the start of the play in love with people who are not in love with them.” The Chetkovich play will be a world premiere in the summer of 2022. Tickets for the 2022 season at the Grove at DeLaveaga will go on sale in early 2022. For more information, go to Santa Cruz Shakespeare.