Innovative theater and film free at UC Santa Cruz

One of the best-kept secrets of the theater and independent film scene in Santa Cruz is the diverse and original productions presented each spring, free and open to the public, at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This year marks the 23rd Chautauqua Festival, featuring more than 25 new short plays and films, all written, produced, directed, and starring UC Santa Cruz students. Chautauqua is the culmination of eight month's work by over 160 students, under the guidance of assistant professor of theater arts Kimberly Jannarone. Students in Chautauqua fill at least three jobs within the festival, covering all aspects of production from acting to publicity, technical design to ushering, concessions to costuming. This year students secured sponsorship from Simple Shoes, underwriting part of the festival cost. For the first time in the history of Chautauqua, the festival has a web site, created, of course, by students.

The Chautauqua Festival runs May 9 - 12 and 16 - 19, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the UC Santa Cruz Theater Arts Center. For more information and a schedule, see the web site or call (831) 459-4731.

Students also star in International Playhouse, which presents plays in their original languages accompanied by English supertitles. New this year is a performance in Latin, The Conversion of Thais, a medieval comedy by Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, directed by professor of classics Mary-Kay Gamel. Other works include:

Crosstalk, written by Jacqueline Ku, lecturer in Chinese, and Kevin Miles, a UCSC student. Crosstalk, a comedy about the varieties of tones in the Chinese language, is directed by Jacqueline Ku.

Scenes from the comedies The Bourgeois Gentleman, by Moliere; Fanny, by Marcel Paul Pagnol; and the groundbreaking absurdist drama The Bald Soprano, by Eugene Ionesco, all in French and directed by Miriam Ellis, lecturer in French.

The Puppet Show of Miracles, by Miguel de Cervantes, a short comedy based on the legend of the Emperor's new clothes. The Puppet Show of Miracles is presented in Spanish and directed by Paco Ramirez, lecturer in Spanish.

International Playhouse will be held on May 17 at 8 p.m. and May 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the Cowell College Dining Hall. For more information, e-mail Miriam Ellis at