Shakespeare Santa Cruz announces new season

2008 will be the inaugural season for new Shakespeare Santa Cruz artistic director Marco Barricelli

Artistic Director Marco Barricelli has announced the lineup for his inaugural season at Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC).

The 2008 season will combine Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and All's Well That Ends Well with two contemporary American plays--Burn This, by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, and Bach at Leipzig, by the critically acclaimed young playwright, Itamar Moses.

It's all part of Barricelli's plan to continue SSC's time-honored tradition of presenting inventive interpretations of Shakespearean plays, while at the same time putting a new emphasis on contemporary works by American playwrights.

"That we can explore new and exciting directions theatrically is a direct result of the strong artistic foundation Paul (Whitworth) has brought to SSC during his leadership," said Barricelli, who took over the reins as SSC's artistic director on January 1. An acclaimed actor with a national reputation for performances in both Shakespearean and modern roles, Barricelli spent eight seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as an actor and seven years as an associate artist with the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) in San Francisco.

Romeo and Juliet will be directed by Kim Rubinstein (Much Ado About Nothing, 2007), who considers Shakespeare's tragic tale of star-crossed lovers betrayed by an adult world as "the greatest love story ever written" and still highly relevant today.

"At the heart of the play, the ultimate tragedy occurs because the adults didn't listen or listened too late," says Rubinstein. "It is in the small moments of our everyday lives--moments where we don't treat each other with kindness and compassion and listening--that is where the seeds of violence begin." The former associate artistic director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, Rubinstein now serves on the faculty of the Theater & Dance Department at UC San Diego where she heads the undergraduate acting program.

All's Well That Ends Well will be directed by SSC veteran Tim Ocel, who notes that the play explores the question of nobility--"are you born with it or do you achieve it through your actions?" It tells the story of Helena, a woman whose love for Bertram is unflappable but goes unrequited until her dogged persistence and clever wit finally allow her to emerge victorious.

"This play is on a very human scale; there are no heroics and it is brutally honest," says Ocel, who is based in St. Louis where he directs theater and opera. Ocel is an artistic associate at Geva Theater Center in Rochester, New York, and associate professor of opera at the University of Kansas--Lawrence.

Lanford Wilson's Burn This premiered in New York in 1987 with Joan Allen and John Malkovich in starring roles; Allen won a Tony Award for her performance. The play is set in a lower-Manhattan loft where Anna, a dancer and budding choreographer, her screenwriter boyfriend Burton, and her gay roommate Larry, are recovering from the tragic death of Anna and Larry's roommate Robbie--a talented young dancer. They encounter Pale, Robbie's charismatic older brother, and their lives become irrevocably changed. It's a witty, engaging, and painfully human story by Wilson, whose Talley's Folly received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979.

Burn This will be directed by Michael Barakiva, who has worked with the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Arena Stage, and New Dramatists. A winner of the David Merrick Prize in Drama, Barakiva is based in New York City and will be making his SSC directorial debut.

Bach at Leipzig was written by 30-year-old playwright Itamar Moses, who is considered one of the leading new voices in American theater, and whose work has been compared to that of Tom Stoppard. Moses made his mark with this brilliantly written, farcical tale of "a bunch of average guys trying to get ahead in their chosen profession."

Bach at Leipzig will be directed by Art Manke, co-founder of A Noise Within, L.A.'s acclaimed classical theater company, where he served as artistic director for its first 10 seasons. Manke directed the acclaimed 2006 production of this play at South Coast Repertory, where he won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Direction.

All four plays will be performed in repertory from July 15 through August 31. Subscriptions for the 2008 season go on sale in mid-April; single tickets will be available in May. For more information, call the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159 or visit the SSC web site at