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April 12, 2004

Shakespeare Santa Cruz unveils new season

By Scott Rappaport

Comedy is the operative word for the new summer season just announced by Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC).

The acclaimed UCSC company will present one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, The Taming of the Shrew, in a rare double bill with John Fletcher’s 1611 sequel, The Tamer Tamed. SSC will also serve up three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee’s 1962 dark comedy Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with the ancient Greek comic play Lysistrata rounding out the summer season as the festival’s first-ever fringe production. The festival runs on campus from July 21 to August 29.

The 2004 season marks the return of artistic director Paul Whitworth after a prolific two-year sabbatical that included acting, directing, and research. Whitworth received rave reviews last December in the San Francisco Chronicle for his direction of the world premiere of Irish novelist Edna O’Brien’s play Triptych at the Magic Theater. He said that he was delighted to be back at the helm of SSC for an innovative new season of theater.

“I’ve chosen four comedies—but very different comedies,” Whitworth noted. “Comedies usually end with marriage—these four plays plunge right into the thick of it. Today, the definition of marriage is being debated on the front page of every newspaper. Is it a contract to unite property? A ‘marriage of true minds’? A license for sex? A context for procreation? A sacrament? Liberty—or lifelong bondage? One thing is certain: Getting wed for life takes less time than watching a play, but the drama goes on forever.”

The Taming of the Shrew and its companion piece, The Tamer Tamed, will both be presented in the outdoor Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. The former will be directed by Tim Ocel, returning for his fourth season at SSC, and the latter by Danny Scheie, chair of UCSC’s Theater Arts Department and former artistic director of SSC from 1993 to 1995. The productions will be performed in full repertory.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a coproduction with Syracuse Stage, will be performed in the Mainstage Theater. A modern American classic, the play will be directed by SSC associate artistic director Michael Edwards, with Paul Whitworth starring in the role of George. Edwards also serves as an associate director of Syracuse Stage, and this play will move to upstate New York for a four-week run after it closes in Santa Cruz.

Lysistrata, written by Greek playwright Aristophanes in approximately 410-415 BC, will additionally be presented a limited number of times during the festival as a fringe production. The famous political satire tells the story of women from opposing states who come together to end a war by refusing to sleep with their husbands. Desperate for intimacy, the men eventually agree to lay down their swords and achieve peace through diplomacy. This comedy has inspired a wide variety of adaptations, as well as the 2002 Lysistrata project, where readings of the play were staged simultaneously in hundreds of cities around the world to protest the Iraq war and promote international peace (See Currents: http://www.ucsc.edu/currents/02-03/02-17/play.html).

Building on the success of their earlier collaborations, Cinderella and Gretel & Hansel, playwright Kate Hawley and director Whitworth will also reunite for their third world-premiere holiday show, The Princess and the Pea, running from November 19 to December 12. General admission holiday show tickets go on sale August 6, but season subscribers may order in advance when purchasing their summer festival tickets.

For more information, visit the Shakespeare Santa Cruz web site, shakespearesantacruz.org, or call the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159.

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