Luminary Spotlight: James Carpenter

Every year, we bestow a Guiding Star award and recognize four Bay Area Luminaries whose greatness inspires us. The Luminaries represent the best of our four pillars of work: MAKE, LEARN, ENGAGE, and SUPPORT.

James Carpenter (Luminary: MAKE) has appeared in over 30 productions at Cal Shakes since 1988. He’s worked all over the Bay Area work  including at Berkeley Rep, A.C.T., Aurora Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Shotgun Players, and TheatreWorks.  Regionally, he’s been seen at Mark Taper Forum, Arizona Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Intiman Theatre, the Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Yale Repertory Theatre, among many others. James is the recipient of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Excellence in the Arts and their 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, he was named a Ten Chimneys Foundation Lunt-Fontanne Fellow.

Cal Shakes is proud to be honoring James Carpenter on Saturday with a Luminary award at this year’s Guiding Stars. We asked Jim to send us some of his favorite pictures from his 30 years at Cal Shakes, and he did not disappoint! From Jim:

OK, you asked for it….these photos span the years from 1988 at the old Berkeley Shakespeare Festival (the organization Cal Shakes evolved from) in John Hinkle park in Berkeley until today. They’re onstage and backstage and I’ll attempt to date each as well as the production.








[Left] This was after a two show day of Henry IV pt. 1 at John Hinkle Park in 1987—my first show with Cal Shakes. Me as a pooped Prince Hal. [Right, photo by Kevin Berne.] How’s this for contrast? Titus Andronicus publicity photo as Titus, 2011.

Iago in Othello, 2016 with Aldo Billingslea (Othello) and Julie Eccles (Emilia). [Photo by Kevin Berne.]








[Left] The Fishmonger in Comedy of Errors, 1988.  And yes, I was every bit as shameless as the picture implies…. [Right] As Richard II, backstage, 1994.

And some favorite people. Just a small sampling of the many friends I’ve worked with at CST over the years. [Phillipa Kelly, Renee Billingslea, Aldo Billingslea, Danny Scheie, and Liam Vincent at last year’s Guiding Stars.]

Jim is not only a powerhouse onstage. In the rehearsal room and at the office we have had the pleasure of getting to know Jim’s humor and warmth—a taste of which you can see in his previous Cal Shakes blog posts (including this hilarious one from the run of 2008’s Uncle Vanya which details a wardrobe malfunction involving a “sleight-of-beard.”)

We’ll be going live throughout Saturday’s award ceremony and party, featuring keynote speaker and Guiding Star Marcus Gardley. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you get our updates!


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