Moss Landing, CA – The New Shakespeare Sanctuary is nestled between an art gallery and antique shop on the main drag in Moss Landing. This tiny fishing town along Highway One is known for its seafood restaurants, marine research labs and antiques, but Shakespeare? Terry Taylor says it surprises a lot of visitors. "Forty to fifty percent probably leave," said Taylor when describing what happens after people discover it's not an antique shop.
The Shakespeare Society of America has not always called Moss Landing home. Taylor's Uncle, Thad Taylor, founded the organization 35 years ago in West Hollywood and later opened the Globe Playhouse. It was a scaled replica of Shakespeare's original Globe Theater where Taylor produced all of Shakespeare's plays. Actor and educator Gary Bolen said the Society provided something unique to L.A. where many do stage work in hopes of landing a television or movie gig. "It was a way of sort of exercising the acting muscle without worrying gee is my agent going to like me doing this? We didn't care. You're doing it because you love to do Shakespeare," said Bolen. And those who knew Thad say that love of Shakespeare kept the organization alive. Bolen added, "it always looked to me like a one man band, this guy just by dint of his own passion just sort of willing this organization into existence and into survival."
That's where the Society finds itself once again. Except now it's Thad's nephew Terry Taylor with the will to keep it going. After Thad passed away in 2006, the Society lost its lease, so Terry packed up his uncle's extensive Shakespeare collection and moved it to Santa Cruz County. It's where he found affordable storage space and later this former antique auction house where he opened the New Shakespeare Sanctuary.
No longer a stage organization, the Society is now a museum, archive, and educational resource with dreams of growing. One of Taylor's ideas is to create a mobile museum that travels to area schools with a repertory group. "In that case they could go anywhere. I call it a green cultural arts delivery system. So rather than having a school bus come out here with so many kids we can take a vehicle out on the road," said Taylor. For now, visitors come here to tour of the collection that includes thousands of Shakespeare related books, countless antiques, and pieces of art and memorabilia.
Educational books are just some of the materials that caught Monica Williams' eye. She works at the North Monterey County Unified School District. "We're trying to work some arrangement to help him bring Shakespeare into our schools. Budgets are tight right now, but we'd really like use this as a resource in our schools," said Williams. Like many organizations these days, the challenge for the Society is also financial. Since the move, it's survived on Taylor's full-time dedication, minor donations and personal loans from the Society's board. "We're at about 45 months since we had to throw everything in boxes. We have about $200,000 in debt of carrying it this far, always with the expectation that angels are going to come through the door, recognize and appreciate what we have here," said Taylor. He does meet people on a daily basis who appreciate the collection, but no financial angel yet. Still some ideas are panning out. Right now he's working with the Central Coast Girls Scouts on an educational program.