California Shakespeare Theater

Rating: 4.96 stars   27 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture

Location: 701 Heinz Ave Berkeley CA 94710 USA

Mission: We strive for everyone, regardless of age, circumstance, or background, to discover and express the relevance of Shakespeare and the classics in their lives. **** We make boldly imagined and deeply entertaining interpretations of Shakespeare and the classics. **** We provide in-depth, far-reaching artistic learning programs for learners of all ages and circumstances. **** We bring disparate communities together around the creation of new American plays that reflect the cultural diversity of the Bay Area.
Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2008: 46,035 people attended our performances. Of these, 3,147 were students who attended our special Student Discovery Matinees. Of these, 1,206 were students from low-income communities.
Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California
Programs: Founded in 1973, California Shakespeare Theater (Cal Shakes) is an award-winning, nationally recognized regional theater dedicated to the classics, with year-round artistic and educational programming. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone since 2000, Cal Shakes has earned a national reputation for creating immediate and revelatory responses to Shakespeare and the classics. Through our various programs, we expand access to the arts, and build diverse community ownership of our cultural vitality by fostering participatory approaches to the artistic process and arts education. * Our performance venue is situated in the stunning natural environment of protected open space in the hills between Berkeley and Orinda, CA. We produce four plays annually from June through late October. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, we engage the most daring and unconventional artists from around the country to investigate and reveal great works of literature with an innovation and immediacy borne of theatrical innovation, intellectual rigor, and emotional honesty. * Cal Shakes' Artistic Learning (AL) program was formally established in 2001 to make our educational efforts accessible to students from ethnically, economically, and geographically diverse communities in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. AL builds upon our 25 years of in-school and community-based theater training and educational activities, with a vision to create a culture of life-long learners, nourishing the imaginations of young people in preparation for the work of life. In 2007, we served over 5,400 young people from ethnically and economically diverse Bay Area communities, providing a continuum of learning opportunities in local schools, at our amphitheater, and through summer theater training camps. Our school residencies served 1,394 East Bay students. Our Student Discovery matinee program served 3,675 elementary, middle, and high school students from both urban and suburban/rural counties. More than 42% were underserved students from school in low-income communities. Our two- and five-week summer camps grew by 29%, augmented in part by the expansion of our two-week camp program into a new site in Oakland. * Launched in 2003, our New Works/New Communities program brings disparate community members together to participate as co-creators with our artists and theater partners in the development of new works of theater inspired by classic literature. In partnership with other arts and community-based organizations, we aim to make concrete connections between the work of classical writers and marginalized communities that for many reasons do not see themselves reflected in those plays. Through these collaborations, we aim to create sustainable relationships with diverse communities, contributing to a more vibrant, inclusive cultural ecosystem. Our first project, HAMLET: BLOOD IN THE BRAIN, by Naomi Iizuka, was a new play inspired by Shakespeare's masterpiece that relocates Elsinore to the drug-ravaged world of East and West Oakland in the late 1980s. Along with project partner Intersection for the Arts + Campo Santo, we engaged multiple generations of Oakland residents in a participatory, grassroots process of new play development over three years. In our second New Works project, KING OF SHADOWS, playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa re-imagined Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", exploring themes of transformation from the perspective of marginalized and homeless gay youth and engaging transient, outcast young people in the playwrighting process. Our current project, an adaptation of John Steinbeck's collection of Depression-era short stories THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN, partners San Francisco-based playwright Octavio Solis and the Word for Word Performing Arts Company with community organizations in and around Salinas, California.
2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 51-0169452
510-548-3422
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

"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.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

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!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

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.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

feeling encouraged, supported, and challenged as an actor, by an amazingly talented and dedicated group of peers and staff.

Ways to make it better...

there had been a more dedicated facility for the summer camp, since Cal Shakes has to borrow off a rotating set of locations that can be disruptive to the learning and rehearsal process.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-7-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

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.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the incredible shows combined with the pre-show picnic and incredible scenery.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated and kind.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

teach even more East Bay children about the arts and hold more teach-the-teacher training sessions.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

13 people found this review helpful

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!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

my son learned so much in 2 weeks. I believe he will have a life long love of theatre!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

professional, dedicated, experienced, good with kids

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand to include more underserved youth

Ways to make it better...

play on last day ran long and entrance process was a bit unorganized...but not bad.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

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.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

professional, enthusiastic and talented.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-6-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

14 people found this review helpful

I attended camp here as a teenager and can attest to it being an inspiring experience! So grateful they continue to expose kids to Shakespeare, theater, reading and performance.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

changing teenager's and kids perceptions of Shakespeare as something relevant to their lives

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

give them more money to expand programs.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

how exciting it is and how the experience resonates years later

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

intelligent, thoughtful, engaged, and passionate about helping young people.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world!

Ways to make it better...

can't think of anything!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

lack of funding. Tough times out there for arts organizations.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-7-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

13 people found this review helpful

Cal Shakes helped my daughter dive into reading because she fell in love with Shakespeare. She has gained self-confidence and she loves all aspects of theater. Cal Shakes supports her where she is and helps her grow as a person and an actor.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

inspiring, kind and knowlegable!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change 10 million lives for the better!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

12 people found this review helpful

I went to the 2 week conservatory and had oodles of fun! I really learned a lot about the time period and I loved performing "As You Like It". It was amazing learning stage combat and how to become the character.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

performing the play

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

Cal Shakes summer programs for kids are terrific! My 14 year old daughter did both the 2 week camp and the 2 week conservatory this summer and loved it. She wants to do the same thing next summer. She learned a lot, had fun, made friends, gained confidence in her skills and got a good introduction to acting. The kids did an amazing amount of work, managing to perform a whole play in 2 weeks. She really gained an appreciation for Shakespeare and wants to go see the Cal Shakes performances now. The summer program fees are reasonable, and the staff are terrific. I highly recommend it.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing how much my daughter gained from the experience.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

Was this review helpful?