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Save Shakespeare Santa Cruz!

posted by Megan Wygant on Fri, Dec 19, 2008
in General theatre talk

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This week, Shakespeare Santa Cruz sent out an urgent plea for help: by next Monday (Dec 22), they need to raise $300,000 -- or shelve the 2009 summer season, and likely close the company for good.

It's been the hot topic of conversation at Berkeley Rep for the past week. How much have they raised? How close are they? Will they make it?

Michelle Morain - HH 
Heartbreak House. Costumes by Anna R. Oliver; set by Annie Smart,
both Bay Area designers. (photo by

I don't know about you, but I like living in a region where the theatre community is healthy and strong. I love that on any given night, if I'm in the mood for live theatre, I can find something worth seeing -- whether it's here at Berkeley Rep, a short walk up the street to Impact Theatre or Shotgun Players, a BART ride away at A.C.T. or other San Francisco companies... Or, on warm summer nights, a drive over to my childhood stomping grounds in Santa Cruz with a picnic basket and plans to reunite with the rest of my high school's one-time Shakespeare Club. (What can I say? Once a drama nerd, always a drama nerd.)

Schematics for prop currently under construction for
In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), designed by Annie Smart

I say this not as someone whose livelihood is also in theatre, but as someone who is a resident of the Bay Area. As a supporter of the arts, I believe that more theatres out there producing good work means that there are more chances for people to attend theatre. More chances for first-time playgoers to give this live theatre thing a try, and discover that--guess what--you can't have this experience anywhere else. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but more theatres means more theatregoers, meaning more audiences for all the arts in the area. And that is a very, very good thing.

 Mike Fink 
Scenic intern Mike Fink works on an inlaid ottoman for
The Arabian Nights (photo by brtpropshop)

Of course, as someone who does work in the arts, I'm proud to live in a place where we have enough professional theatres to support a highly-skilled, hugely talented pool of craft artisans. I'm not sure if you realize that the Bay Area is the locus of an incredible pool of theatrical gifts, from actors like Dan Hiatt to craftspeople like Bruce Busby, Sarah Lowe, Janet Conery, Kitty Muntzel and Lisa Lazar, just to name a few (and our scenic art intern, Mike Fink, above). These are people who have worked at theatres throughout the country, but they've chosen to settle in the Bay Area--and a huge part of the attraction is that there are enough theatres here to ensure they will always be able to find a job doing the work they have been trained to do.

We attract some of the nation's best artisans because we have a theatrical community which can support them. One theatre going under won't definitively destroy that (although many of the people here at Berkeley Rep are watching the outcome of this week's race because their summer jobs are on the line), but this sense of community is possibly the best example of why so many of us feel so strongly that Shakespeare Santa Cruz must win this fight.

As of this morning, Shakespeare Santa Cruz has raised $255,851. They're close, but time is running out. If you can help, please do.


My sentiments exactly! I contributed earlier this week and am keeping my fingers crossed that Shakespeare Santa Cruz makes the deadline.

Lynn Eve Komaromi | Fri, Dec 19, 2008

My sentiments exactly! I contributed earlier this week and am keeping my fingers crossed that Shakespeare Santa Cruz makes the deadline.

Lynn Eve Komaromi | Fri, Dec 19, 2008

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