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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Performing Arts, Theater

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.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

Our daughter has attended Cal Shakes youth theater programs for 3 years running now. When we originally enrolled her it was mostly to help her deal with some performance anxiety issues and to give her a creative outlet for her big (and sometimes overwhelming) imagination and emotions. We got what we were looking for, that's for sure. She has received support for those issues, for sure. The teachers have been amazingly supportive of her, even through some of her more challenging moments. And she loves the programs so much -- she looks forward to summer conservatory all year long. What amazes me most, about what these programs have accomplished, is how they have really fostered her love of Shakespeare. At age 10, she knows the plots of more plays than I did as an English major at age 21! She asks questions like "who do you think is the most evil - Regan or Goneril?" or "Who would you rather be friends with - Horatio or Hamlet?" Did I mention she's 10? The key is that the programs never patronize or insult the kids' intelligence - but they do deliver the goods in a way that opens kids' eyes and gets them seeing the connections between Shakespeare's characters and their own lives. Talk about magic...that's the kind of magic that can change lives.



Rating: 5

CalShakes is a fantastic organization. My personal experience with CalShakes is as a 15-year season ticket holder and supporter. The staff approach both the shows and the student outreach with contagious enthusiasm and zeal for life and beauty and the arts.