Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) kicks off its 31st season on Tuesday, July 24 with the Bard’s beloved comedy Twelfth Night, directed by SSC Artistic Director Marco Barricelli, at the indoor Mainstage Theater.

Opening in the Festival Glen on the following night will be the world premiere of The Man In the Iron Mask—a new play commissioned by SSC as the sequel to 2011’s rollicking production of The Three Musketeers--written by SSC associate artist Scott Wentworth.

Playing in repertory in the Festival Glen, beginning August 7, will be the SSC debut of Henry IV, Part Two, directed by Scott Wentworth.

The season runs from July 24 through August 26, with the production of Twelfth Night moving to Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga for performances from September 8-16.

SSC Managing Director Kyle Clausen noted that there are 23 current UCSC students, and 33 alumni involved in the 2012 summer season.

Their jobs range from acting and production interns, to paid members of the acting company, production staff, or SSC’s core staff.

“Notably, seven of our 10 acting interns this year are UCSC students, or just graduated in 2012,” said Clausen. “They play supporting roles in one or more of the main summer productions, and then play leading roles in the Fringe Show, which this season is Niccolò Machiavelli's The Mandrake.”

“The acting interns spend the summer learning from top professional actors and directors, and then get to apply their existing knowledge with what they've learned over the summer to really shine in the Fringe Show,” Clausen added.

As part of a research university, one of SSC’s goals is to educate, and the intern program is just one of the primary ways that students can apply the skills and knowledge they acquire in the classroom to a professional setting. 

“It allows for great inter-departmental collaboration,” noted Clausen, “a prime example being the number of Literature Department students who are involved with SSC as dramaturges.”

Emily Sloan-Pace, a Ph.D. student in literature who is studying Shakespeare's history plays, will be the dramaturge for Henry IV Part Two.

Mara Sherman, who graduated from the Literature Department in 2011, and finished the 5th-Year program in Theater Arts in 2012, is the dramaturge for Man In The Iron Mask, and Ariane Helou, also a Ph.D. candidate in literature, will serve as dramaturge for The Mandrake.

Student involvement at SSC further extends to its holiday show and Shakespeare to Go program, both of which are collaborations with the Theater Arts Department.

“In all of these endeavors, students are involved not just as actors, but in all areas of production, including lights, sound, costumes, front of house, and administration,” said Clausen.

“It's really an amazing learning environment.”

Tickets to the the 2012 Shakespeare Santa Cruz season at UC Santa Cruz are available at shakespearesantacruz.org or by calling (831) 459-2159.