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John Walcutt, the artistic director of Shakespeare Orange County, announced today that the venerable company would be closing permanently.

“The book is closed after four decades. We will now pass the baton and throw our support over to The New Swan Shakespeare Festival and its summer season at UCI,” Walcutt said today on the company’s Facebook page.

No reason was given for the closure, and Walcutt didn’t return a call for comment.

Shakespeare OC entered an agreement last year with Santa Ana College to perform its season there after the company couldn’t get the production dates it wanted from the city of Garden Grove, which owned the Festival Amphitheatre, where Shakespeare OC had performed for many years.

While Walcutt didn’t disclose what led to the company’s demise, he gave an extended shout-out to the people who had made it possible, including Shakespeare OC founder Thomas Bradac.

“We salute the great Tom Bradac, who made all this possible, who willed it into existence and survival, devoting a huge portion of his and his family’s lives to The Grove Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare Orange County. He invited me here, and gave me the honor of keeping it alive a little longer, and gave all of us the opportunity to make a little more magic. And we did. We gave it our best shot. I did nothing new that Tom hadn’t done years before, just did my best to carry on and have some fun.”

Walcutt also singled out others for praise, including well-known L.A. actor Dakin Matthews, “who donated the very first dollar to my joining the cause.”

Walcutt indicated he would be working in the future with the New Swan Shakespeare Festival at UC Irvine, although he provided few details, writing only that he intended “to sow some seeds and see what we get. Long live the memory of Shakespeare Orange County. ”

Paul Hodgins is the senior editor of Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at phodgins@voiceofoc.org.

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