Santa Cruz Shakespeare Unveils Summer 2023 Productions

Delve into what lurks just below the surface of a “civilized” society

Santa Cruz, CA (August 23, 2022) — Santa Cruz Shakespeare (SCS), a nationally recognized professional theater company in Santa Cruz County with deep local roots that go back more than 40 years, today announced the selection of three plays for its Summer 2023 repertory season: Taming of the Shrew, King Lear and Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will.  Performances will take place in the Audrey Stanley Grove (The Grove) in DeLaveaga Park.

“Over the past nine years, during my tenure as Artistic Director, we have been confronted with the reality of just how tenuous our democracy is, how eager some factions of our country are to strip away the rights of their fellow citizens, and how authority can be wielded as a weapon,” said Mike Ryan, artistic director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare. “The two Shakespeare plays of our 2023 season plunge us deeply into the middle of the unsettling fragility of our present moment.”

In Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, characters struggle against the roles they have been prescribed, be they by gender, class, or age. And while the results of these struggles provide some of the most hilarious moments in the canon, they also leave us with unsettling questions about the human cost of maintaining the status quo.  SCS will be taking a hard look at what this text has to say in our contemporary moment when women’s rights are under attack.

Shakespeare’s King Lear charts a monarch’s disturbing descent into madness, explores how the craving for power can shatter kingdoms and families, and paints a chilling picture of the plight of humanity in an indifferent universe. King Lear will mark Paul Whitworth’s debut at The Grove in the title role. 

“As always, Santa Cruz Shakespeare will infuse classic Shakespeare plays with our own creative and modern variations and surprises, which both delight and enthrall audiences who might expect traditional renditions of the classics,” said Larry Mabrey, managing director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare. “Our 2023 productions will appeal to people of all backgrounds and interests, whether you’re a Shakespeare enthusiast or not.”

Rounding out the season is Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will. A play that tells the funny and moving story of the two actors who worked to preserve Shakespeare’s legacy with the creation of the First Folio, it is a love letter to William Shakespeare and his plays. Mike Ryan, SCS’s current artistic director, and Charles Pasternak, incoming artistic director, will play the roles of Heminges and Condell, the men who collected Shakespeare’s texts. 

2023 will mark the 400th anniversary of the printing of the First Folio, and this production will be part of a broader celebration of that achievement in conjunction with UCSC’s Shakespeare Workshop. 

Become a member of SCS to support the 2023 season and its various education programs:  the Student Matinee Program (SMAT) which brings high school students from Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey counties to The Grove to experience live theatre; the new Shakespeare and Social Justice Program; study guides for a selection of Shakespeare’s plays to enhance school curricula; and the Undiscovered Shakespeare Zoom reading each year. SCS’s education programs also support the Fringe Show, an all-intern production giving young artists an opportunity to showcase their talents. SCS Members enjoy pre-sales, ticket discounts, early admission, free parking, free drinks and cushioned seats.

About Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Featuring professional actors from around the country and inspired by deep local roots that go back more than 40 years, Santa Cruz Shakespeare stages bold productions of the plays of Shakespeare and other great playwrights that stimulate audiences’ senses and spark their imagination. For more information about SCS, visit, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Leave a Comment