Shakespeare and the Music of the Spheres: Summer attractions on and off campus

The Lick Observatory is a lovely place to watch a sunset.
The 87-foot long blue whale skeleton at the Seymour Center is a sight to behold.

UCSC does not slumber when most of the students clear out in June. Summer is a great time to explore the wooded, shady campus and off-campus facilities. Whether you want to see a play, take a walking tour, go to a poetry reading in a garden, learn about exotic plants, delve into astronomy, look at hummingbirds, or get close to marine mammals, UCSC provides the opportunity.

Here is a roundup of some good options for visitors. While most of the following events and attractions are free, a few including Shakespeare Santa Cruz charge admission.

Performances and lectures

Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 2010 offerings from the Bard are Love's Labor's Lost and Othello. Also on offer are La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler, a play about sexual mores that serves up plenty of scandal and caused a lot of uproar when it was first performed in 1920; and James Goldman's The Lion In Winter, a tale of politics and family scheming in the court of Henry II.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz is a professional repertory company in residence at UCSC. The campus's Shakespeare festival was founded in 1981 and is held annually each summer on campus. Plays are held indoors on the UCSC Theatre Arts Mainstage and outdoors among the redwoods in the famous Festival Glen. The company brings in professional actors, directors, and designers from throughout the country. Shakespeare Santa Cruz's performance season runs from mid-July through August and features three to four plays presented in repertory.

For information, call (831) 459-2121.

Buy Shakespeare Santa Cruz tickets online or call (831) 459-2159.

The campus is also home to the Dickens Universe. Held every year at the beginning of August, this one-of-a-kind convocation brings scholars, graduate students, high school teachers, and members of the general public together for a week of study and Dickensian conviviality. The program includes formal lectures by internationally distinguished scholars, seminars, small discussion groups, films, performances, exhibits, and informal social activities. Regularly attended by more than 200 participants of different ages and backgrounds, the Dickens Universe provides a relaxed and supportive environment for serious intellectual inquiry.

Each summer, the Universe program focuses on a different Dickens novel and on a related theme. This year's Universe features Oliver Twist and Sketches by Boz. Previous gatherings have featured "Dickens and America" (in conjunction with Martin Chuzzlewit, "Dickens and Women" (in conjunction with Dombey and Son, "Dickens and the Law" (in conjunction with Bleak House), and "Dickens and Victorian Publishing" (in conjunction with The Pickwick Papers). The Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction regularly publishes papers presented at the Dickens Universe.

Dates for the 2010 Dickens Universe are Sunday August 1 to Saturday August 7. Visit the web site for information and pricing.

The Arboretum

Visitors to the UCSC Arboretum can stroll through its 50 acres of gardens, go on a First Saturday Tour, or learn about plants on a self-guided Hummingbird or World Tour. General admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children (6-17 years old), and free under 6; for more detailed admission information, visit the web site or call (831) 427-2998.

A research and teaching facility, the Arboretum is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Norrie's--a gift shop selling plants, cut flowers, wreaths, and books--is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Thanksgiving and between Christmas and New Year's Day. The Jean and Bill Lane Horticultural Library, a nonlending library of horticultural and botanical books, is usually open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. This library now allows Arboretum members to check out books. The Arboretum is located on Empire Grade between the campus's main and west entrances.

University Library

The McHenry and Science & Engineering Libraries house nearly 1.5 million books, nearly 17,000 periodical titles, 825,000 microforms, and 500,000 nonprint items, including maps, slides, and audio and video recordings. Most of these resources are available to the public; borrowing privileges are available through membership in the Friends of the UCSC Library or Alumni Association. Special Collections at McHenry Library contains rare, valuable, and often fragile materials that do not circulate but can be viewed by appointment.

Summer quarter hours (June 12-September 22) are:

McHenry: Noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday

Science & Engineering: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Both are closed on weekends.

For information, visit the Library web site or call (831) 459-4000.

Recreation, sports, and fitness

By purchasing a recreation/wellness card or paying a day-use fee, members of the community gain access to UCSC's recreation facilities, which include tennis, racquetball, and basketball courts; a recently refurbished pool; a wellness center; a running track; and playing fields. Alumni Association members receive substantial discounts on cards and day-use fees; for information, call (831) 459-2530.

Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems manages two facilities: the 25-acre Farm near the main entrance of campus and the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden across McLaughlin Drive from Stevenson College.

Both the Farm and the Alan Chadwick Garden are open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a self-guided tour brochure available at the Farm entrance. Groups can sign up for docent-led tours. During their tours, visitors can see first-hand how to build fertile soil and control pests, recycle yard and kitchen waste, conserve water, and encourage biodiversity. You'll also learn about the latest research projects taking place at the sites. The Life Lab science program's garden classroom, a garden designed with kids in mind, is also located at the Farm.

Beginning in early June and continuing into the fall, the Center for Agroecology sells organically grown produce and fresh flowers each Tuesday and Friday from noon to 6 p.m. in front of the Barn Theater at the intersection of Bay and High Streets. The center also sponsors a number of classes and events, including pruning workshops, poetry readings, and a harvest festival.

For information, call (831) 459-3240.

Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Visitors can view one of the largest whale skeletons displayed worldwide, touch living sea stars and hermit crabs, and enjoy spectacular views of Monterey Bay at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, part of a UCSC's marine research laboratory.

Aquarium and exhibits feature the everyday tools of ocean exploration and focus on research conducted by scientists on site and around the world. Skillful docents answer questions and lead tours beginning at 1 p.m. every day.

The Seymour Center is open year-round, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m and is open 7 days a week in July and August ; admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students and senior citizens (64+), and $4 for children 4-16.

The Seymour Center is located at the west end of Delaware Avenue in Santa Cruz. For more information call (831) 459-3800 or visit the web site.

Lick Observatory

A working observatory, Lick is located atop Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose and about 60 miles from campus.

The public is invited to view exhibits in the main observatory building, completed in 1888. Enjoy an informal talk about Lick history while taking a look at the Great Lick Refractor in the 36-inch telescope dome. These talks begin at the gift shop, on each half hour starting at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. on weekends, continuing until 4:30 p.m. Each talk is about 15 minutes long.

The visitors' center is open from 12:30 to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day and when the road leading up to the observatory is closed because of snow.

Visitors are also invited to take a short walk to the Shane Dome to view the 120-inch Reflector from the Visitors' Gallery. Displays explain the Shane reflector, one of the major telescopes used to discover planets outside of our solar system.

The observatory is also hosting a Music of the Spheres concert series in July and August.

Visitors should carry warm clothing and allow one hour to drive from San Jose. For more information, call (408) 274-5061.

Tours of the UC Santa Cruz campus

The Office of Admissions offers campus tours year-round on weekdays. Reservations are required, and tours fill early. The approximately two-hour tour program starts at the Office of Admissions--Cook House, near the campus's main entrance at Bay and High streets.

The easiest and most convenient way to make a reservation is online; if you are unable to schedule a tour online, call (831) 459-4118.