Sad news regarding Audrey Stanley, Professor Emerita of Theater Arts

Audrey Stanley portrait
Audrey Stanley is perhaps best known for her work in launching Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

Dear Campus Community,

It is with deep sadness that we write to share the news that Audrey Stanley, Professor Emerita of Theater Arts and the Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, died May 15, at her home in Santa Cruz. She was 94.

Audrey was a trailblazer in the theatrical world, and over the course of her life she registered many “firsts.” She was in the first class of drama students at England’s University of Bristol, and she would later found the school’s Dramatic Society Touring Company. She was awarded the first doctorate in Theater Arts at UC Berkeley. Incidentally, she did so in the late 1960s while teaching in UC Santa Cruz’s still-emerging Theater Arts program. She was the first UCSC Academic Senate appointee in Theater Arts, and would go on to become UCSC’s first tenured Professor of Theater Arts. She was also the first woman to direct a Shakespeare play at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Audrey is perhaps best known for her work in launching Shakespeare Santa Cruz. She and the late Karen Sinsheimer, wife of then-Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer, were the guiding lights in the company’s creation in 1982. From the beginning, Audrey’s vision for the company was to foster links between the academy and professional theater. Shakespeare Santa Cruz grew rapidly into a nationally respected professional Shakespeare festival that connected UCSC’s faculty and students with professional artists in all areas of production.

In its heyday, Shakespeare Santa Cruz attracted 30,000 to 40,000 theater-goers to the campus every summer, to both its indoor and outdoor performance spaces. Audrey’s name today adorns the latter: The Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen, located in a spectacular redwood grove by Kerr Hall, was lauded as one of the most beautiful outdoor theater spaces in the country. Actors, directors and designers from all over the country (and from MFA programs at Yale, New York University, Juilliard and those of the whole UC system) created a repertory season that combined Shakespeare and other significant playwrights in provocative juxtapositions. The work of the company appeared in the national press and in the publications of leading scholars and dramaturgs. Today McHenry Library houses a large archive of material about Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

The accolades Audrey received over the years for the company’s creation were richly deserved. Shakespeare Santa Cruz was a wonderful achievement, and a very important part of our campus for a long time.

Audrey was a beloved figure on campus, a pioneering faculty member closely associated with both our Arts and Humanities divisions, and with Cowell College. She was devoted to her students. Friends, colleagues and students recall her as possessing boundless energy with a side of charm, guile and persistence. When she set out to accomplish something, she would not take no for an answer. She was a groundbreaker her entire career, and we are extremely proud that she was so closely associated with our campus.

We offer our deepest condolences to the many in our community who counted Audrey as a close colleague, friend and mentor. We are grateful for her lasting contributions to our university.

A memorial celebration is being planned. Details will be posted on our newscenter when they are finalized.

Cindy and Lori

Cynthia Larive

Lori Kletzer
Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor