SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 2017 14 Silicon Valley Siblings Celebrate SCS Andrew Towell and his sister Lisa have been donors to the Festival since its reinvention as Santa Cruz Shakespeare. Lisa was the first to discover the festival, back in 1988 when she came to see the company’s first production of The Comedy of Errors. 2017 will be her 30th season! “I don’t think I have any tradition in my life longer than this one,” she admits with a laugh. Enchanted by the experience, she organized trips with groups of friends through work in Silicon Valley. They would sit in the groundling section and have picnic lunch competitions. Lisa was struck, too, by SSC’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s work. She recalls a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Mark Rucker in 1994. “It was this wacky, zany thing set in a 70’s trailer park, and that way of doing Shakespeare has always felt more authentic to me.” One year, a friend of Lisa’s couldn’t come with her, and so she invited her brother, Andrew. He immediately fell in love with the open-air performances. “It reminded me of the best Grateful Dead shows I saw outdoors at Stanford.” He’s happy that when Santa Cruz Shakespeare moved off of the UCSC campus, SCS found an outdoor home that continues to celebrate the beauty and weather of the area. None of it would have mattered without the high quality of the productions, though. “I don’t know a lot about theatre, but I know quality when I see it,” Andrew says. “There is nothing wrong with doing Shakespeare ‘straight-up’, but there is something really interesting to me about how the Festival interprets it.” “We give to large, national organizations in our philanthropy,” Andrew says, “but we like to find local organizations like SCS that make us feel connected, something that we can share and experience directly.” For the Towells, the blend of the outdoor experience, the quality of the shows, and the tradition of sibling summer bonding is what Santa Cruz Shakespeare is all about. There is nothing wrong with doing Shakespeare ‘straight-up,’ but there is something really interesting to me about how the Festival interprets it. – Andrew Towell Donor spotlight We like to find local organizations like SCS that make us feel connected. – Lisa Towell