"I don't know if I would call Hamlet a COWARD," the 11-year-old told me. "I think he just got kind of DISTRACTED. I mean, his father's ghost told him to focus on ONE thing, revenge, and he agreed, and then he got all worried about his relationship, and his mom, and death and stuff. I mean, he PROMISED, right?" She rolled her eyes. I smiled and passed the talking piece to another student, and inside I just glowed. Cal Shakes brings the intense experience of watching and understanding excellent theater to students who have never seen a play, have never ridden the BART train to a neighboring suburb, maybe have never been out of their neighborhoods. They take the students seriously and teach them high-level concepts, and the actors and crew take the time to answer student questions from the banal ("How much do your costumes cost?") to the deep ("Did Gertrude have a choice?") The kids are not talked down to or treated like charity cases, the actors never roll their eyes at doing a dozen extra shows for young, inexperienced audiences, and the whole experience has made me a better teacher as well as bringing a life-changing experience to nearly every student that they bring up that hill to their magical stage. I just can't speak highly enough of the work this organization does for students.
Recently became a member of the board. Long time volunteer. Cal Shakes [as it is affectionately known] has the most beautiful outdoor theater I have ever seen. Our gourmet picnics with friends before the shows have given us many happy memories. The plays themselves are always creatively, professionally presented. Not your usual boring rendition. The Cal Shakes arts education program is unparalled and has changed the lives of many students, many of whom live in underserved areas and have no access to the arts.
I worked at Cal Shakes for three amazing years. I had the opportunity to work with the most passionate and intelligent art aficionados in the industry. The level of depth in which they operate on every level, from how they treat their staff to the quality of their productions, has not met anywhere else I have worked. I consider my time at Cal Shakes the best professional experience I have had to date. If you ever get the opportunity to work there, do it!
I took my high school class to last year's student matinee of The Taming of the Shrew at Cal Shakes, and it was a fantastic experience. There was a fun pre-show event, the play was previewed for the students, and the show itself was my favorite production of Shrew ever. Also, as a bonus, one of my students had a specific acting question for the female lead, and she came back afterwards to discuss the issue with my student specially. I was impressed with that actor, with the show, and with the whole staff for being organized and terrific. My class loved the show, and they are not big fans of Shakespeare. Bravo.
My daughter is a CalShakes participant. CalShakes allows young people to be taken seriously as artists. The work they do (and it is indeed work) turns into incredible performances. CalShakes has changed her life. She has had the opportunity to play some of her favorite Shakespeare characters. We also attend the CalShakes performances and enjoy critiquing them! This is another way she can improve upon her craft as an actor. We wish they had a year round school for actors and theater artists of all kinds....maybe if someone gives them a super big donation earmarked for this purpose? No matter the size of your donation you can rest assured that CalShakes will take good care to make sure your funds go to the good work of using the arts to change lives!
My daughter attended camp last year and our family purchased season tickets and thoroughly enjoyed all shows. We were eager to purchase the next season and cannot wait for 2012.
I attended Cal Shakes' 5-week summer conservatory for three years. They were without a doubt the best experiences of my adolescence. The staff is incredibly dedicated to providing the best education and experience possible, and they foster a community that I haven't found anywhere else. They teach you about Shakespeare's time period, and how to read the text, but also things like how to intuitively react onstage to your fellow actors, how to do awesome things like stage combat, and how to have a deeper connection to your breath and use that in your acting. I grew as an actor but more importantly as a person. Beyond camp, I attend as many mainstage shows as I can each season, and they are always beautiful, moving, accessible productions.
I am both a donor and a client, as I have held season tickets for 10+ years and donate funds to help with building projects, classroom instruction, etc. CalShakes is a local jewel. The set design is magical; the lighting is impeccable; and their performances are stunning. Their performances are a highlight of our summer experiences. On top of that, they teach students of all ages about their art. They provide school-age children with hands-on experience, instruct the instructors, and hold seminars for everyone and anyone before performances.
my 8 yr old son participated in the 2 week summer conservatory and it was a fabulous experience. He loved every day of it, and the class culminated in a live performance. He learned quite a lot about Shakespeare and had a deeper understanding of the play than I had anticipated. HIghly recommend these summer classes! We'll be back!
As the Berkeley High School drama teacher, I have known many of my students who have been very inspired and challenged by Cal Shakes Programs during the summer. Cal Shkaes teachers don't water the content down for kids and they hire kick-but directors and teachers. Stage combat, high-stakes acting, dramaturgy, this is the place you want your kids to go for real theatre work that will truly impact their lives.