by Sharon Hull, published on August 2, 2019 by Santa Cruz Sentinel
Volunteer for Shakespeare
Are you a theatre fan, especially of Shakespeare? If so, you are well aware that our renowned local company Santa Cruz Shakespeare (SCS) is alive and well, performing each summer season to rave reviews in their new outdoor theater, The Grove in DeLaveaga Park. What you may not know is that this non-profit organization relies on volunteers for many functions, including design, installation and upkeep of the grounds around the theater area.
Volunteer Nancy Lenz took me up to the site to see her pet project, the new wood raised containers that are now filled with California natives and relatives of flowers mentioned in Shakespearean plays. Besides being associated with one or more plays, Lenz chose plants that are drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, bloom from July through August, with flowers that are open both day and night. Now flowering in the planters are a number of daisy family members, several mint varieties including sages and rosemary, as well as Dianthus (pinks), poppies, alyssum and lavender. Roses were mentioned often by Shakespeare but since they are beloved by deer, Lenz initially decided not to include them. Then she learned that our native Rosa californica is less favored by deer than garden roses so future plans now include those small pink-flowering natives along fences and in other planting areas around the grounds.
Lenz noted that Heather Blume, Horticulture Nursery and Garden Curator at Cabrillo College, generously gave donations of the material that now fills the planters.
Rick Wright and Chris Frost, both SCS board members, are responsible for the overall grounds maintenance effort and Peggy Gotthold is in charge of the garden, including the extensive redwood plantings and associated maintenance tasks. I corresponded with Wright who wrote me this: “We’ve had about 50 volunteers this year. Some come for just a day, others come every week. We start reclaiming the theater from Mother Nature around May 1 and work every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until opening in July. Included is everything from planting, weeding, installing irrigation systems, even building the planters and picnic tables.”
I asked if more help is needed and Wright responded, “We’re always looking for more volunteers. While we’re done with the Grove for 2019, those who are interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put them on our list for next year. Volunteers who put in as little as two workdays can qualify for free tickets to the season.” I asked about donations of money and materials; Wright said that SCS has had some wonderful partners but would welcome more. The many redwood trees were chosen as a link from the old UCSC Glen to the new home at the Grove. So far, 115 trees are in the ground and volunteers have laid nearly a mile of trenched irrigation line to support these trees plus flowers and shrubs. Wright acknowledged wonderful support from Janet Webb, CEO at Big Creek Lumber, who’s donated all the redwood for the picnic tables, from Swenson Builders that donates equipment to keep the eucalyptus in check, and from Quality Arbor Care that donates tree maintenance. As a non-profit, donations are essential, both financial and in-kind. They will welcome donations of nursery stock of select, summer flowering plants. Donations of money can be made at www.santacruzshakespeare.org/donate.
Asked if he wanted readers to know anything else, Write wrote “SCS brings truly world-class theater to Santa Cruz and more than half of our income comes from donations. But we also think of ourselves as a part of the fabric of the Santa Cruz community. Donations are always appreciated, but during our season there is nothing we’d appreciate more than attending our performances. This year we have pricing that allows anyone to attend a performance or a free reading and enjoy our beautiful space and view of Monterey bay as well!” I am happily complying by plans to attend a performance in August. I will hope to see many of you there, to check out the gardens as well as to enjoy our own wonderful Shakespeare in The Grove. www.santacruzshakespeare.org.