Our 2023 Season – A Summer of Legacy

What lurks just below the surface of a “civilized” society?  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 own country are to strip away the rights of their fellow citizens, and how authority can be wielded as a weapon.  The two Shakespeare plays of our 2023 season plunge us deeply into the middle of the unsettling fragility of our present moment. 

In The Taming of the Shrew, characters struggle against the roles they have been prescribed, be they 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. 

King Lear charts a monarch’s disturbing descent into madness, explores how the craving for power can shatter both 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. 

Rounding out the season is Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will.  A play that tells the funny and moving story the two actors who worked to preserve Shakespeare’s legacy with the creation of the First Folio, it is a love letter to the Bard of Avon and his plays.  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. 

It brings me great pleasure to announce that incoming artistic director Charles Pasternak and I will be playing the roles of Condell and Heminges, the men who collected Shakespeare’s texts, as we co-lead the company in my final season at the helm. Come join us in The Grove to see what the excitement is all about!

– Mike Ryan

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BOW23

The Book of Will, by Lauren Gunderson

Directed by Laura Gordon

A love letter to William Shakespeare, this moving and joyful comedy tells the story of the two actors, friends of Shakespeare’s, who worked to preserve his plays and legacy seven years after his death.  This beat-the-clock race to collect all of Shakespeare’s plays into one book delights audiences with a tale full of color characters, and provides a glimpse into a little known story about how his work survives and thrives to this day.  SCS’s production of The Book of Will is part of a year-long celebration honoring the 400th anniversary of the printing of the First Folio and stars out-going Artistic Director Mike Ryan, and in-coming Artistic Director Charles Pasternak.

The Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare

Directed by Robynn Rodriguez

One of Shakespeare’s most raucous comedies, in The Taming of the Shrew characters struggle against the roles they have been prescribed by gender, class, or age.  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.  Thorny, funny, and deeply human, Kate and Petruchio are two of Shakespeare’s most fascinating characters.  Out of place because of their honesty in a world of deception, can these two broken people find happiness where they least expect it?

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King Lear, by William Shakespeare

Directed by Paul Mullins

A play that explores how the craving for power can shatter both kingdoms and families, King Lear paints a chilling picture of the plight of humanity in an indifferent universe and charts a monarch’s disturbing descent into madness. Featuring some of the most powerful and harrowing verse that Shakespeare wrote at the height of his powers, this powerful tale will star former Shakespeare Santa Cruz Artistic Director and Royal Shakespeare Company actor Paul Whitworth in a not-to-be-missed tour-de-force performance.

Fringe Show

Exit Pursued By A Bear by Lauren Gunderson

Directed by Rebecca Haley Clark

Staged Readings

Two new plays TBD read by members of our company.

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