Connecting Scholarship with Community through Shakespeare
Santa Cruz and the UC Santa Cruz campus were filled with thespians performing, discussing, and dissecting Shakespeare’s plays this summer. Two events centered on the legacy of English literature’s most storied playwright: Weekend with Shakespeare, on August 17 and 18, presented by UC Santa Cruz’s Shakespeare Workshop and Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Summer Festival at DeLaveaga Park, from July 9 – Sept 1.
The Humanities Institute was proud to support both events through Fellow placements and co-sponsorship. This Event Recap focuses on Weekend with Shakespeare—for more about the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Summer Festival, read our coverage here.
Weekend with Shakespeare
Sean Keilen, director of the Shakespeare Workshop at UC Santa Cruz, said that the annual Weekend with Shakespeare always “promises to be a lively combination of scholarly and creative experiences,” and this year it did not disappoint. In fact, says Keilen, it exceeded his expectations. “We were at capacity both days, as old friends were joined by new arrivals in lively conversation about the summer season.”
The Weekend features a combination of discussions, panels, pre-show talks, and productions of two of Shakespeare’s plays—this year, The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors. Two celebrated Shakespeare scholars, Professor Gina Bloom (UC Davis) and Dr. Ariane Helou (UCLA), brought their skills as scholars and theater practitioners to interpret and produce the plays this season. In addition, actors, directors, dramaturgs like THI Fellow Ashley Herum, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Artist Director Mike Ryan gave talks alongside Bloom and Helou.
Ariane Helou is an alumna of UC Santa Cruz, and a past THI Fellow. Helou received a Summer Dissertation Fellowship in 2013-2014 for her work on “Figures of Voice in Early Modern Europe.” Excited to welcome Helou back to campus, THI spoke with her this August about her work as dramaturg for The Winter’s Tale, one of the Weekend’s two featured productions, and the power of community events like this. “Public events like the Weekend educate the community, providing context for plays and other artistic or cultural events; they also invite the broader community to become involved in university life,” says Helou, “absolutely anybody can join the conversation.” She adds, “And it’s a boon for researchers to share our work with people who don’t necessarily have a professional stake in it, but are simply curious to know more… Questions from the public can even inspire thinking about future research projects!”
Keilen agrees: “The questions that participants ask are always as fresh and exciting as the scholarly and creative presentations we offer, if not more so.” Shakespeare Workshop and Santa Cruz Shakespeare revived Weekend with Shakespeare five years ago, and Keilen says that the event keeps gaining momentum. “Weekend with Shakespeare is a wonderful experience for everyone involved with it,” says Keilen. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with Santa Cruz Shakespeare and make it happen.”
Both the Weekend with Shakespeare and the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Summer Festival are annual events: be sure to look out for summer 2020 event announcements here at THI, and join us then for a new set of productions!
Full photos of the Weekend with Shakespeare are viewable on the event page.
Feature photo credit: Crystal Birns.