Founded in 2014 as a newly independent theatre company, SCS continues a 40-year tradition of staging bold productions of the plays of Shakespeare and other great playwrights. Throughout our history, hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, have been enthralled, engaged, and energized by what we bring to the community.

Inspired by Shakespeare, we create and strengthen our community by bringing audiences and theatre artists together to celebrate stories about our collective humanity. Matching a fearless aesthetic with transparent financial responsibility, SCS is passionate about theatre that is inclusive, inquisitive, and that engages with the contemporary moment.


In a true repertory company, actors play parts in most (or all) of the productions offered in any given season. Once each of the shows opens, it enters a schedule of rotating performances, so productions of multiple plays can be seen in a single week.



SCS believes in equitable wages and therefore hires members of entertainment trade unions providing salaries, pension, and health benefits for their members. For admittance into these unions, these artists must be highly regarded in their respective fields, and maintain their status by garnering regular works with other professional theatre companies. Non-union employees receive industry standard living-wage compensation for their work.



SCS engages with students and community members through many education programs, including professional internships, student matinees, free youth tickets, educational newsletters, lesson plans for teachers, symposia, and in-school visits.

In Memory of Our Founder

Audrey Stanley
All of us at Santa Cruz Shakespeare mourn the death of Audrey Stanley, visionary founder, mentor, artist, and beloved friend.  Though we are deeply saddened by her loss, we celebrate her astonishing life and the rich legacies she leaves behind.
As the first woman to direct a Shakespeare play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1975, the first PhD in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley, and the first professor appointed to Theatre Arts at UCSC, she shattered barriers.  She also, however, was a tireless builder and creator, instrumental in establishing theatre departments, touring companies, and, of course, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the much-loved summer festival whose artistic tradition we continue to this day.
Audrey’s insistence on a Shakespeare company that thrived on the bridge between scholarship and art, a passion for community engagement, and a bold contemporary aesthetic launched a true repertory festival whose productions, both on and off campus, have reached over half a million audience members in more than forty years. We find comfort in the fact that, like Shakespeare, Audrey Stanley’s life and work will continue to touch and shape the lives of those she knew as well as the lives of countless theatre goers to come.
Her immortal effect on all of us is well-expressed in Sonnet 18 by the poet to whom she dedicated so much of her life:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Join the Excitement at Santa Cruz Shakespeare!

Join the Excitement at Santa Cruz Shakespeare!

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