Shakespeare Santa Cruz recently announced that Paul Whitworth — its artistic director, and more importantly, it’s most well-known face — is calling it quits after more than a decade running Santa Cruz’s most popular theater organization.
To say this is represents a turning point for SSC is to make an art of understatement. Since its beginning SSC has been run by a small circle of theater professionals (Audrey Stanley, Michael Edwards, Danny Scheie and Whitworth) who were all close friends and colleagues, making for a remarkable continuity and consistency of artistic vision. After Whitworth, that’s all up in the air
Whitworth is getting out to do more acting in the recognition that it’s his time to leave, after leading the company during 10 seasons (with a two-year sabbatical in the middle of his term). His leaving coincides with what may be some changes in the relationship between SSC and the university.
Moreover, succeeding Whitworth means stepping into some impossible large shoes, and as SSC searches for a new leader, it’s going to have to find someone of uncommon talent and charisma to forge a new working relationship with its host and to make audiences forget that Whitworth’s ghost will be forever hovering just backstage.