Even now, it's a shock to say it: Shakespeare Santa Cruz -- at least, officially -- is defunct.
But, miraculously, despite a stressful and exhausting offseason for those closest to the company, audiences who have not been reading the papers for the past 10 months may not even notice a difference between this summer and summers past -- except, of course, that little wrinkle in the name.
Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, you have to be amazed at the story of
"We're a brand-new company with a 32-year history," said SCS co-artistic director
For the record,
The only difference, essentially, is in the bookkeeping.
Last August, even before the 2013 SSC summer season had ended, the Arts Division at UCSC announced that it was shuttering Shakespeare Santa Cruz due to a yearslong budget deficit that had reached close to
What followed was acrimony on both sides -- many in the community feeling that the university had acted in a highhanded and capricious manner, while others felt that the university was not being acknowledged for covering SSC's budget overruns for years.
Ryan, who as an actor is as close to a "face of Shakespeare Santa Cruz" as anyone, immediately took a leadership role in trying to fight the decision. He publicly disputed the university's rationale and worked with SSC's board is creating a new entity called Shakespeare Play On to forge a path to a 2014 season without the university's support.
As a result, a new company was formed without the safety net of UCSC underwriting its budget shortfalls. The two sides entered into weekslong negotiation on the use of the Glen and of the Shakespeare Santa Cruz name. The new company got a two-year lease to operate in the Glen, but had to change its name. Ryan and SSC artistic director
"We're going to be putting out the same level of integrity of Shakespeare Santa Cruz in terms of our performances," said Barricelli who first came on as artistic director at SSC in 2008. "But there are so many benefits for us not to have to deal with the bureaucracy and the time table of the university. Like many divorces, it's probably a good thing in the end."
Though audiences may be pleased at the sense of continuity that
"Everything from this season is paid for," said Ryan. "That means, because we are forward-funding the whole season, every person who comes to one of our shows this summer is helping us ensure there's a season in 2015. We're willing to grow this festival as much as the community will allow us to."
Though the mood is up in the Glen this summer, there is no guarantee that SCS will endure beyond this season. Without the university's support, there is no margin for error. Barricelli's new independent theater company debuts in the shadow of the bankruptcy and closing just two weeks ago of
"We have to look at his as a startup company," said Barricelli. "This is the situation. We have fewer resources, less support. It's going to be a bumpy ride. Everybody understands that. But the level of work is as high as it's ever been. We can guarantee that."
(c)2014 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)
Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at www.santacruzsentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services