How does a 24 year-old fisherman with a thick New York accent become a Shakespearean actor?

You can find out at Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s third annual fall benefit show--supporting the company’s education and internship programs—on Sunday, October 14, at 2 p.m. in the UCSC Mainstage Theater.

The featured play will be In Acting Shakespeare, actor James DeVita’s touching and hilarious blend of personal reminiscences, theatrical lore, and selections from Shakespeare, freely adapted from Acting Shakespeare, Sir Ian McKellan’s one-man show that toured the U.S. in 1987.

DeVita will share onstage his improbable and inspiring journey from every man to leading man, revealing along the way that his biggest hurdle was convincing himself he was smart enough to understand Shakespeare.

DeVita is a leading actor and director at the acclaimed American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, whose roles include Iago, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Richard III. 

He is also the resident playwright at First Stage Children’s Theatre in Milwaukee, and an award-winning author. 

DeVita’s theatrical awards include the Denver Critics Circle Award for “Best Season for an Actor.”

SSC artistic director Marco Barricelli noted that “James DeVita is one of the most accomplished artists in the American Theatre. He is recognized as an actor, director, and playwright around the country, and I’m thrilled to be bringing his personal take on Shakespeare to Santa Cruz.” 

Proceeds from the performance will benefit Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s education and internship programs. Its “Shakespeare to Go” touring program currently brings Shakespeare to nearly 8000 students (grades 5 and up) throughout the Central Coast each spring, and is frequently the first exposure to live Shakespeare these students encounter. 

During the summer, SSC also welcomes more than 30 undergraduate and graduate students, who intern in all areas of the company--from acting to dramaturgy to scenic construction--working alongside top professionals and gaining valuable experience in the theatre industry.

“As part of UCSC, Shakespeare Santa Cruz is able to provide unique educational opportunities to students of all ages throughout our community,” said SSC Managing Director Kyle Clausen. “Our Shakespeare to Go program provides a first professional credit for UCSC Theater Arts students, as well as playing an important role in providing comprehensive arts education to Central Coast middle and high school students.

“Through our summer internship program, we are also able to provide hands-on experience for students each summer, a majority of whom come from UCSC, and they are able to apply skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to a professional setting. This allows for a special relationship between SSC and the UCSC Theater Arts Department, providing opportunities for our students not found in many University training programs,” he added.

Clausen noted that many of these students go on to secure professional appointments at theatre companies throughout the Bay Area and the nation.
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In Acting Shakespeare will play for one performance only on Sunday, October 14, at 2 p.m. in the UCSC Mainstage Theater. The event is a benefit for Shakespeare Santa Cruz education and internship programs. Tickets are $50, available at shakespearesantacruz.org, or the UCSC Ticket Office (831) 459-2159.