IN THE NEWS: Shakespeare Takes Leave of its Iconic Setting

POSTED: 08/26/15, 2:51 PM PDT

By Wallace Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel

William Shakespeare never laid eyes on a redwood tree. But for generations of theater lovers in Santa Cruz, Shakespeare and the redwoods are as natural a pairing as wine and cheese, chips and salsa, coffee and, well, anything.

The orientation of stage and audience that Shakespeare fans have known for decades was established only after a trial-and-error period of other arrangements. Photo by Jana Marcus.

The orientation of stage and audience that Shakespeare fans have known for decades was established only after a trial-and-error period of other arrangements. Photo by Jana Marcus.

But this weekend, that long tradition ends. Santa Cruz Shakespeare, the next-generation spin-off of the defunct Shakespeare Santa Cruz, will close shop on its summer season after Sunday night’s final performance and leave the beautiful Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen for good.

If all goes according to plan, Santa Cruz Shakespeare will emerge next summer in a new home, in upper DeLaveaga Park, amidst shady pines and eucalyptus.

Why is Shakespeare leaving the UC Santa Cruz campus after 33 years of excellence? That’s a complicated question, but it marks the last move in a two-year-long divorce between the theater company and the university. After many years of underwriting budget shortfalls, the UCSC Arts Division shuttered Shakespeare Santa Cruz in 2013. The company regrouped under a new name – Santa Cruz Shakespeare – and signed a two-year lease for the Glen to produce its first two seasons in 2015 and ’15.

That means this weekend is the Glen’s last hurrah, at least with Santa Cruz Shakespeare. As of Thursday, there are only two performances left of each play in SCS’s 2015 season, Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Macbeth,” and David Ives’s “The Liar.”

The Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen is named for the two women most responsible for developing it as a site for live theater. The first is Karen Sinsheimer, who died just four weeks ago. The wife of UCSC Chancellor Emeritus Robert Sinsheimer, Karen was Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s first board president.

Audrey Stanley, Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

Audrey Stanley, Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

The second name is a nod to Audrey Stanley, SSC’s founding artistic director. “She was a delightful person,” said Stanley of Sinsheimer. “I felt that we were horses racing in different directions, not having time to stop and nibble each other’s ears.”

Sinsheimer and Stanley are credited with establishing a Shakespeare Festival at UCSC in the early 1980s, Sinsheimer largely through her talent at fundraising and organizing, and Stanley with her theater expertise and her association with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was during the company’s inaugural season in 1982 that the RSC’s Tony Church played the title role in “King Lear.”

The story of the Glen, however, is centered on the other play produced during the ’82 season, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Stanley believed the play, because of its fanciful setting and imagery, should be performed outdoors.

“Three people laid claim to having discovered the Glen,” said Stanley, who had instructed her set designer Norvid Roos and others to go out and find a suitable place to perform “Midsummer.”…

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