ParkStage Youth


ParkStage is a new program we are still working on at the Santa Cruz Mission State Park. We hope to run this program either in Fall or Spring. Check out the details below, and feel free to contact us with questions or to be informed when we will run the next program. You can also find the photos of our initial production below!

For more information or questions, email or call (831) 425-5849



Students aged 8-13 years old are invited to join the program. No previous experience is necessary, only inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. The program will be led by a State Parks employee who is experienced both in historical interpretation, and historical performance. 


Meetings will take place at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, outside on the patio or the lawn. In case of inclement weather, we will gather inside the historic adobe. Performances will take place on the lawn of the historic adobe. 


Students will gather to research, rehearse, and perform a short play telling a story from Santa Cruz history. Every student who registers will receive a role (and so should be ready to perform in front of an audience). After a few meetings of getting to know each other, exploring the story we’re working with, and learning some historical context, students will receive a script and roles. They will be expected to memorize lines, and do further investigative research on their historical person and coinciding events of the story as they unfolded here in Santa Cruz. Much of this work can be done during their rehearsal time here at the park. By the end of the process, they should be comfortable understanding the motivations of these historical characters, and some of the pressures of life here in the time period. They will also be able to pass this story on in a complex and collaborative manner, by performing the story clearly and honestly together.


Looking for either Fall or Spring, in after-school hours. 


The theatrical exploration of character inherently involves asking questions about motivation, and objectives. Where are they going, what do they want, and how do they try to get what they want? These questions can just as well apply to understanding the motives of real people in history--particularly those we don't understand or agree with. Performing history gives the performer a new and deeper appreciation for life in a different time. Further, young people's participation in theatre is well documented as assisting in the development of empathy for others-- a very important skill in an era of increasing divisiveness.

We hope to foster not just a cursory knowledge of history, but

  • A discovery of things that occurred on the very ground we tread
  • An understanding of why people in history made, or might make, the choices they did
  • An ingrained empathy and "de-othering" for people other than ourselves, be it in our era or in the past
  • A delight in the ageless tradition of passing on a story to a rapt audience. 


Check out this article on teaching history through theatre by Texas A&M University or this well-cited article by the Washington Post about teaching empathy through theatre.


We register students via Squarespace. 

This will only notate the first meeting, but it is assumed that students will be in attendance for all or almost all meetings/rehearsals.

There is a $19.99 material fee per student required, for any prop/set needs to help perform the story. Please pay this fee through the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks donation site . Please write in "ParkStage Youth" in the Donor Note box.

While there is no registration fee to participate in this California State Parks program, you may consider increasing your donation to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, a local association that keeps funds in our local parks and does significant work to keep programs like this running at your parks. 

But wait...

Have any questions, comments, or want to know about scholarship opportunities? Send us an email at or a ring at (831) 425-5849



ParkStage Youth Spring Play: Woman & Her Era

Our story for this Spring 2024 ParkStage was set in 1850's Santa Cruz, and follows a dramatized tale of how Eliza Farnham and Georgiana Bruce Kirby come to experience life in California. Arriving empty-handed to her late husband's land in Santa Cruz, Eliza is immediately thrust into a whirlwind of western society-- untrustworthy lawyers, reinvented men running from their pasts, forward thinking women, sharp-witted newspaper editors, and a Santa Cruz split between cultures, all while the temptation of gold lingers just beyond the mountains. These two women, remembered over 100 years after their time, find their own way and forge their own paths as they learn what freedoms the "frontier" might have to offer. 

ParkStage Youth students in action

 fun pt 1