Mission & History
Founded in 1985, Actors’ Theatre has a long history of being a vital part of the greater Santa Cruz area’s theatre community, known for its productions of contemporary, cutting edge theatre, and new plays.
Sondheim's Company, 2019.
Actors’ Theatre produces the acclaimed 8 Tens @ Eight Short Play Festival which is greatly loved not only by the public, but also by the theatre community for being an outlet to develop their skills.
Actors’ Theatre also supports emerging playwrights from around the country and beyond, in their annual short playwriting contest and staged reading twice a year with their Playwrights’ Arena series.
Serving Santa Cruz County since 1985, Actors’ Theatre supports, champions, and provides an outlet for the performing arts, with an emphasis on the theatrical arts.
To this end, Actors’ Theatre:
Provides resources for theater artists to explore their creativities and develop their crafts.
Presents new and established works by local, national, and international authors.
Cultivates and maintains audiences for the theatrical arts.
Collaborates and partners with other groups to create a stronger presence for theater.
Holds playwriting contests for 10-minute format and full-length plays, bringing the winners’ plays to life on the stage.
Sponsors the Actors' Theatre Award for Theatre Excellence at Cabrillo College by awarding an annual scholarship to an outstanding student. Started in 2016, the inaugural recipient was Cabrilo Theatre Arts student Malia Machado.
Executive Director/Board President/ Artistic Director: Wilma Marcus Chandler
ACTORS' THEATRE HISTORY
Actors’ Theatre has a long and illustrious history contributing to the area’s cultural life by representing contemporary playwrights and producing new and exciting theater works for Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay audiences.
Founded as a non-profit theatre company in 1985, we have continually produced work represented hundreds of playwrights, designers, directors, and actors – as well as providing practical work experience for countless technical theatre artists including lighting designers, set designers and builders, scenic artists, sound engineers, and costume designers.
Our home has been Center Stage Theater, located inside the Santa Cruz Art Center, where we have also been able to provide a venue for other theatre companies to showcase their work, including SEE THEATRE, SIDEREALTHEATRE COMPANY, KIRBY SCHOOL, and GHOSTLIGHT THEATRE, to name just a few.
We are also proud to give an annual scholarship to a deserving Cabrillo College Theatre Arts Department student.
Over the years our offerings have been diverse and unique. Some of these include:
WORKSHOPS: on Acting, Auditioning, Improv, Shakespeare, etc.
THE ANNUAL “IMPROVATHON”: a yearly presentation of Improv troupes from this area.
SHOWCASES for local writers and writing groups to present new works as staged readings followed by audience feedback.
THE FULL-LENGTH PLAY AWARD: a fully staged production of the winning script.
THE YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL: featuring work by students from local High Schools throughout our area.
IN CELEBRATION OF THE MUSE: an annual Women’s Literary Festival, which began in 1985, for writers of poetry, prose, memoir, and oral history.
THE 8 TENS @ 8 INTERNATIONAL SHORT PLAY CONTEST and FESTIVAL. Known as America’s longest-running short play festival - now in it' 26th year– it brings together playwrights from around the world, directors, actors, designers, and technicians to present 16 plays in repertory over a five week period each winter. Over the years it has represented thousands of talented theatre artists and writers and is internationally recognized as an outstanding festival.
Our contributors, both as a Theatre Board, as artists and as craftspeople, represent and encourage diversity in all its aspects. Our offerings do the same, and we have presented works by both the well-recognized and the underserved; often-neglected artists who, through presentation of their writings, have been given renewed opportunity. This includes the LGBTQ community and groups in our area who represent the multicultural nature of our home.
The following is a list of just a few of the plays we have produced over the years:
THE MOUNTAINTOP - KATORI HALL
LOOKING FOR NORMAL - JANE ANDERSON
COMPANY - STEPHEN SONDHEIM
BEYOND THERAPY - CHRISTOPHER DURANG
THE REAL THING - TOM STOPPARD
WHITE SKY, FALLING DRAGON - STEVE “SPIKE” WONG
HOW I LEANED TO DRIVE - PAULA VOGEL
RED - JOHN LOGAN
SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE - JANE WAGNER
THE REALISTIC JONESES - WILL ENO
GOD OF CARNAGE - YASMINE REZA
YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER - STEVEN CAPASSO
Santa Cruz has a large, flourishing community of gifted writers, artists, performers and scholars whom we have striven to represent and serve. We plan for a future which continues to represent the finest in live theatre and bring to our audiences work which will both inspire and delight for the years to come.
It is with great sorrow that we lost our beloved Producer and Board President, Bonnie Ronzio in 2020.
Bonnie was the driving force in the company for decades, and worked with love and strength as not only a producer, director, and stage manager, but her creative leadership offered us all a strong vision which allowed Actors’ Theatre to flourish even during difficult times.
We honor her life and her contributions. She will be greatly missed.
Read Wallace Baine's article on Bonnie HERE
Artistic Director Wilma Chandler, in conversation with Wallace Baine, remembers Bonnie Ronzio.