"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cal Shakes is THE best summer camp around. My 10-year-old daughter has attended the 2-week and 5-week conservatories for the past two summers. Before that, she had no interest in Shakespeare, but did enjoy performing. I was looking for a camp that would give her a safe environment to become more comfortable and proficient as an actor. Cal Shakes provided that and so much more. Of all the fabulous musical theater camps, tech camps, arts and crafts camps, science camps she has attended, she will tell you Cal Shakes is her favorite. The Teaching and Adminstrative Team truly have a gift for teaching kids not just the skills of acting, but the comraderie, teamwork, and importance of conquering your fears and supporting others as they conquer theirs. I continue to be amazed at how well everyone gets along in a camp the spans from 8 to 18-year-olds. To see the professional productions that are put together in such short periods of time are truly awe inspiring. The kids are challenged and they rise to the occasion. I highly recommend the 5-week conservatory. The experience is so rewarding, you'll want more than 2 weeks! And I encourage everyone to donate to Cal Shakes, because I've seen first hand what a difference they make in people's lives with their scholarships.
The Cal Shakes summer theater camps have been within a doubt the best summer camps my children have ever attended. The staff are professional, energetic, knowledgeable and engaging. They bring the joy of theater to life
When I first mentioned this camp to my nine-year-old daughter, she wasn't at all interested. She eventually changed her mind when she heard her best friend would be enrolling. She had previously participated in some after school musical theater performances and was lukewarm about those. Since she's a very shy kid, I was hoping the camp might give her some positive experiences with performing. I couldn't have been more pleased. Most surprising was that her favorite camp class was combat! It was completely out of character for her and such a fun surprise for me. It was like the camp opened up an alternative universe for her -- one that really brought her to life. She wanted to learn more about Shakespeare and his plays during and after the camp. In fact, our family just went to see Cal shakes perform Midsummer Night's Dream. She had already read a synopsis and a lot of the actual play and was explaining it to me! Needless to say, this camp is on the top of her list for next summer.
California Shakespeare Theater Summer Camp completely "turned my teenage daughter on" to Shakespeare! She loved the acting workshops, the teachers, and made many good friends among her fellow campers. Now she insists on attending the California Shakespeare Theater with us. We couldn't ask for more!
From my experience, California Shakespeare Theater has not only found the most talented people to teach and support the kids, but also attracts only the best type of people. This summer it was rare to meet someone that I didn't love. Cal Shakes is like that best friends family that you meet and instantly want to become a part of. It really is a family, a big, welcoming, talented family that cares about it's artistic community. The quality of the shows is only the best, and the people are experiences are unforgettable.
My son has had an excellent experience in the Cal Shakes summer conservatory as well as in Playshop. The Cal Shakes summer program is staffed by incredible teaching artists who also perform as part of the Cal Shakes theatre. The program is geared toward serious acting with the mindset that young children are capable of learning and understanding Shakespeare. Each program my son has been in has been rich with language, expert teaching and high expectations. As much as I might like to offer constructive suggestions, I have found the program to be quite exceptional. As a teacher educator, I can attest to the high level of teaching that goes on within the program and how well the students respond to being in such a well-managed environment.
My son has been taking acting classes with Cal Shakes for the past 4 years. He started in Elementary school and is now in the 7th grade. He has participated in various acting classes in the Bay area and the Cal Shakes Summer Conservatory is by far the most wonderful program he has every been part of. He has truly learned a about acting techniques, history, text and has been able to hon his skills, and every summer he gets to shine of the stage in a Shakespeare play - that is the biggest thrill! The folks at Cal Shakes are supportive and give every kid who participates the chance to dream big and then lets that dream unfold. They have built a very serious and rigorous acting program where kids really learn all aspects of acting and performance in a supportive environment, while having fun - I can't praise them enough. Every year we have to plan our summers around the conservatory program - it has become part of his life and has a whole community of friendships from through the conservatory who he sees year after year. And since our son has been working with Cal Shakes - we have gone to all the plays each season and have seen some of the best theater performances in the Bay Area. The best part is all young Cal Shakes conservatory actors get to see all the plays for free! This is an organization that needs to be noted for their community outreach, wildly successful youth programs and great theater in an idyllic setting!
I spent this past summer working as an Artistic Learning intern with this company. It was by far the best work experience I have ever had. Their respect for young people and arts education is incredible. They offer amazing summer programs as well as residency programs in the classrooms of local schools. This organization helps learning of all ages and backgrounds. Cal Shakes shows how important arts education is daily. Every day I spent there I felt that I was changing lives. I was given an education on how to educate and that is something that is invaluable. I cannot thank Cal Shakes enough for teaching me what my purpose is and providing students with opportunities of a lifetime.
My Daughter attended the 5 week conservatory over the summer. It was by far the best Summer activity she has ever done. She showed more enthusiasm and interest than I have ever seen her show for anything. This is a serious acting camp where students learn from and interact with professional thespians and other theater folks. We will most definitely do this again.
Our daughter attended CalShakes' 5 week conservatory this past summer and the 2 week conservatory the summer before. We have been attending special performances for students for years. CalShakes has wonderful outreach to the youth community and always has interactive presentations before plus Q&A with the cast after performances. Our daughter (& indeed hundreds of youth) has broadened her acting abilities & knowledge greatly through the in-depth programs provided by this organization.
Cal Shakes is home, for the actors, staff, patrons and especially for the children who attend Student Discovery Matinees and the summer theater programs like 2 week and 5 week Conservatory or 2 week camp. The teaching artists are phenomenal and really let the kids shine and find new talents they never knew they had. I was not only impressed, but astounded that I was learning things along with the kids. At 5 Week Conservatory, my 8 and 9 year old students put on an hour long "Romeo & Juliet" that would make adults jealous. Even more important than having gained new techniques and knowledge is that every child came out of their summer theater program more confident and excited (not just about Shakespeare, but about the arts in general). Student Discovery Matinees allow Bay Area youth to experience a show most of them wouldn't get to otherwise as well as ask the actors questions after the show. From a backstage perspective, the kids always had questions that were so thoughtful, they left even the experienced actors speechless. My only regret is that I didn't grow up in the Bay Area with Cal Shakes to show me just how important the arts are in ALL of our lives, no matter your age!
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.