Shakespeare Workshop


About the Center

“Feed yourselves with questioning…” (As You Like It)
“Study what you most affect” (Taming of the Shrew)
“[W]e know what we are, but not what we may be” (Hamlet)

In the belief that great public universities must be cultural as well as academic institutions, providing access to important works of art and to the conversations about the meaning of human experience to which they give rise, Professor of Literature Sean Keilen established Shakespeare Workshop as a research center of The Humanities Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013. The Workshop builds on a tradition that began in 1981, when Audrey Stanley founded Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and it extends an open invitation to members of the public to discuss topics of fundamental human concern, using Shakespeare’s works as a common vocabulary.

Our mission is to promote the study of Shakespeare’s plays and poems and also to support local and national organizations seeking to share them with underserved communities.

We are faculty, students, and artists at UC Santa Cruz, committed to the idea that by studying and sharing Shakespeare’s works, we will come to understand ourselves and our world in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

Recent Programs
In summer 2020, Shakespeare Workshop partnered with Santa Cruz Shakespeare, a professional theater company, to offer “Undiscovered Shakespeare,” a free, ten-week webinar about Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses plays that combined live dramatic readings by professional actors with discussions led by visiting scholars. In addition to Weekend with Shakespeare, an annual event that supports Santa Cruz Shakespeare and its audiences, the Workshop’s earlier programs have focused on a translation of the Sonnets into American Sign Language, prison-based productions of Shakespeare’s plays, Shakespeare’s interest in the experience of veterans and the challenges they face when coming home from war, and the work of a contemporary director to illuminate the experience of global refugees through Shakespeare’s meditation on exile in As You Like It.

The Opportunity
Shakespeare Workshop has an opportunity to become Northern California’s premier destination for Shakespeare scholarship, community engagement, and theatrical performance. Generous gifts from Audrey Stanley and the estate of Tilly Shaw provide support for Shakespeare Workshop’s modest slate of annual programs. With the resources of the C.L. Barber Endowment, the Workshop makes it possible for a doctoral student from UCSC’s Literature department to work as an assistant dramaturg during Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s summer season.

What your support can do:
With your help, Shakespeare Workshop can expand its reach in our community and enhance its impact on students and underserved populations. Your unrestricted gift will allow the Workshop to:

  • Enhance our partnership with Santa Cruz Shakespeare and explore new and exciting virtual event collaborations in order to give wide audiences access to our shared programs, while also creating professional opportunities for doctoral students in the humanities at UC Santa Cruz.
  • Establish an annual public lecture by a distinguished Shakespeare scholar performing artist, designer, or director, to coincide with the announcement of Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s season each spring, introducing the plays that have been chosen from fresh perspectives and setting the scene for Weekend with Shakespeare later in the summer.
  • Launch a new experiential Summer Shakespeare Seminar Series at UC Santa Cruz that includes programs for undergraduates at multiple University of California campuses, professional development certificates for K-12 teachers in the Monterey Bay Region, and UC faculty and graduate students engaged in scholarly research and creative activity. The seminar might take advantage of meeting locations on and off our campus, including UC Santa Cruz UC Reserve campuses, such as Año Nuevo Island Reserve, Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve and Younger Lagoon Reserve, in order to explore the intersection of the natural world and Shakespeare’s reflections on the impact that civilization and wilderness have upon each other and the development of character.

Our boldest dream is to establish an endowed chair in Shakespeare Studies at UC Santa Cruz. This would allow the faculty chair to dedicate a substantial portion of their time to developing new curriculum and programs across campus and to establishing and maintaining relationships with other universities and professional theater companies, from which the community would derive many benefits.

Contact Senior Director of Development, Cari Napoles, at for any questions or to discuss your gift to Shakespeare Workshop.

Director of Shakespeare Workshop

Sean Keilen, Literature


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Upcoming Events

August 17 and 18, 2024: Weekend with Shakespeare

Past Events

February 21, 28 and March 6, 2024: “Undiscovered Shakespeare: Henry VIII” virtual performance and discussion series

August 4 and 5, 2023: Weekend with Shakespeare 

August 5 and 6, 2022: Weekend with Shakespeare

February 10, 17, and 24, 2022: “Undiscovered Shakespeare: The Life and Death of King John” virtual performance and discussion series

June 9, 16, and 27, 2021: “Undiscovered Shakespeare – Troilus and Cressida” virtual performance and discussion series

July 1-September 2, 2020: “Undiscovered Shakespeare – The War of the Roses” virtual performance and discussion series

December 9, 2019: Sean Keilen “Reading Hamlet Now”

August 17-18, 2019: Weekend with Shakespeare

March 16, 2019: Shakespeare Educator’s Day

January 31, 2019: What Refugees Taught Me About Shakespeare

August 11-12, 2018: Weekend with Shakespeare

August 3, 2018: Shakespeare Educators Day

August 18-20, 2017: Weekend with Shakespeare

March 7-12, 2017: Masked Acts Three Classic Plays of Gender Fluidity

March 3, 2017: Improvised Shakespeare

March 5, 2017: Acting Improvisation Workshop

February 1, 2017: Shakespeare and the Common Good: The Value of a Literary Education

August 12-14, 2016: Weekend with Shakespeare and Educators Workshop

April 23, 2016: Remembering Shakespeare, 1564-1616: Readings from the Works and about the Man

January 29, 2016: Shaul Bassi: “Shylock vs. Sarra Copia Sullam: Reframing the Venice Ghetto, 1516-2016”

August 14-15, 2015: Weekend with Shakespeare

June 2, 2015: Coming Home from War: The Arts and Humanities in the Public Sphere

June 1, 2015: Cry “Havoc”!, with Stephan Wolfert

April 24-25, 2015: Shakespeare and Classical Literature: A Research Conference, Harvard University

March 14, 2015: Shakespeare and Music

July 25-26, 2014: Weekend with Shakespeare

May 23-24, 2014: Working w/ Shakespeare: The Winter’s Tale

April 9-10, 2014: Caesar Must Die: Shakespeare and Criminal Justice

February 26-27, 2014: Shakespeare + ASL, with Monique Holt and Tim Chamberlain