2018 Guiding Stars Recap

Guiding Stars was brilliant! The passion and generosity of nearly 250 guests garnered almost $400,000 in contributions, ticket sales, and winning bids on incredible trips and one-of-a-kind experiences.

We were so inspired by this year’s Guiding Star, Marcus Gardley, and the four Luminaries, James Carpenter, Tristan Cunningham, Tatiana Chaterji, and John Muir Health.

During the celebration, the guests enjoyed a surprise performance by Linda Tillery and members of her Cultural Heritage Choir, and we surprised Marcus with a visit from Oakland Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington, who read a proclamation declaring September 26, 2018 “Marcus Gardley Day” in Oakland. Marcus’ family was in attendance at the event to cheer him on, and his keynote speech that followed left the crowd inspired and uplifted.

Click here to see a video from the event, with Marcus’ speech beginning around the 13-minute mark.




Luminary Spotlight: Tristan Cunningham

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.

Tristan Cunningham (Luminary: LEARN) has been a teaching artist at Cal Shakes since 2013 and has been seen onstage at the Bruns in Measure for Measure, A Winter’s Tale, The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Life is a Dream, and The Tempest. Other Bay Area credits include: The Arsonists (Aurora Theater); Tree (San Francisco Playhouse); And I and Silence (Magic Theater); The Book Club Play (Jewel Theater). She holds a BFA from SUNY Purchase and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. She is a TBA and BATCC Award winner for her work in The Taming at Marin Shakespeare Theater. You can currently see Tristan onstage in Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew at TheatreWorks.

Audiences have been charmed with Tristan’s work onstage at Cal Shakes, most recently as Escalus in Measure for Measure. That sternly capable role belied her playful spirit, which delights fellow actors backstage and kids in classrooms alike.

Tech day with Measure for Measure cast; photo by Tristan.

Cal Shakes Director of Artistic Learning says, “Tristan has become one of our premiere teaching artists. Her work with students combines social justice focused learning alongside academic and performance based teaching. She is also an engaging ambassador for the work the company is doing.”

We asked Tristan for some of her favorite photos from teaching around the Bay Area for Cal Shakes and beyond. Here are some of her picks:

Peace Camp, hosted by the Contra Costa Family Justice Center.

Clowning class taught by Tristan.

Letter from one of Tristan’s students.

We are so proud to be honoring Tristan’s contributions to Artistic Learning here at Cal Shakes and throughout the Bay Area during our Guiding Stars celebration. We’ll be going live throughout Saturday’s ceremony and party, featuring keynote speaker and Guiding Star Marcus Gardley. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you get our updates!


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!


Join Philippa in Ashland this summer!

Join Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly and Cal Shakes Managing Director Susie Falk for an intimate and immersive theater trip to visit the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Features of the Tour include:

  • Choice of a 2-Night/3-Play or 3-Night/4-Play package
  • Accommodations at the elegant and centrally located Ashland Springs Hotel
  • Great seats to sold-out performances
  • Informal discussions with Philippa to share impressions after each play
  • Official OSF backstage tour
  • Guest appearances by Oregon Shakespeare Festival company members
  • Welcome reception & supper on Friday evening before the show
  • Saturday night gourmet dinner at Amuse, one of Ashland’s best rated restaurants
  • Daily breakfast at Ashland Springs

Play selection for our 3-Play Package:

  • Julius Caesar, directed by Cal Shakes favorite Shana Cooper
  • The Odyssey, directed by Mary Zimmerman
  • UniSon, a world-premiere musical based on the poetry of August Wilson, directed by Robert O’Hara

4-Play package will also include a choice of either:

  • Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, a World Premiere by Jiehae Park directed by Chay Yew OR
  • Shakespeare in Love, a U.S. Premiere based on the screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall and directed by Christopher Liam Moore

Preliminary Itinerary (final details subject to change):

Friday, September 8
3:00pm Guests arrive and check in to Ashland Springs Hotel*
6:00pm Welcome Reception & Light Supper at the Ashland Springs Hotel
8:00pm Julius Caesar (Angus Bowmer Theatre)
Post-Show Meet Philippa on the Hotel’s Mezzanine for informal discussion

Saturday, September 9
6:30-10:00am Morning Deluxe Continental Breakfast available
1:30pm UniSon (Angus Bowmer Theatre)
6:00pm Dinner at Amuse 8:00PM The Odyssey (Allen Elizabethan Theatre)
Post-Show Meet Philippa on the Hotel’s Mezzanine for informal discussion

Sunday, September 10
6:30-10:00am Morning Deluxe Continental Breakfast available
Check out by 11:00am
10:00am Backstage Tour**
1:30pm Shakespeare in Love (Angus Bowmer Theatre)** OR
Hannah and the Dread Gazebo (Thomas Theatre)**
5:30pm Sunday Supper with Philippa**

Monday, September 11
6:30-10:00am Morning Deluxe Continental Breakfast available
Check out by 11:00am**

  • 2-Night/3-Play Package: $1,400 per person double occupancy
  • 3-Night/4-Play Package: $1,750 per person double occupancy
  • Single Supplement: $100/night per person
  • Prices include a $600 tax-deductible contribution to Cal Shakes

This is a very special event, and space is limited. So reserve your spot now!

For questions or to make your reservation, contact Shanti Peterson, Donor Stewardship & Events Coordinator, at 510.899.4907 or speterson@calshakes.org.

* Transportation to and from Ashland is the responsibility of each guest. All local activities on the Tour are easily walkable. If you are interested in carpooling, we would be happy to connect you with other Tour participants in advance.

** Applies only to guests who purchase 3-Night/4-Play Package


Guiding Star Award Recipient Bill Rauch: Keynote Address

The following is the text of Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch’s acceptance speech, given at our Inaugural Guiding Star Awards Gala, on March 4, 2017.


Thank you, Eric, for that beautiful introduction. I am so grateful to you and Susie and everyone from Cal Shakes for this honor. It’s a special treat to be here tonight along with my colleagues who are the recipients of the first-ever Luminary Awards.

I want to acknowledge my colleague Alison Carey, who is here tonight. When the two of us co-founded Cornerstone Theater Company over 30 years ago, we had a hunch that we wanted to test: we would make better art and become better artists ourselves if we created our work in collaboration with communities. We spent our first five years adapting some of the greatest hits of the Western dramatic canon including several Shakespeare plays to the realities of isolated low-income rural communities across the United States, involving 20 to 50 first-time actors onstage alongside our small ensemble. We then moved to Los Angeles to begin to build bridges within and between diverse urban communities. This work was life-changing for all of us, and completely made me the artist and arts leader that I became.

After 20 years as Cornerstone’s artistic director, I realized that I wanted to contribute to an institution that worked on a larger scale for a larger audience, but that once again had classics and new work and an acting company at the heart of the work. I was blessed to find all that I was looking for when I was appointed the fifth artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

This is my tenth anniversary season as the Festival’s artistic director. As we’ve tried to shift our large-scale classical theater into being more inclusive, more equitable and more dynamic, we’ve tried many experiments. We’ve built on OSF’s long-held tradition of casting diverse actors (in fact, our acting company is currently 62% actors of color), experimenting with culturally-specific approaches to Shakespeare texts including a largely Latino Measure for Measure, a Comedy of Errors set in the Harlem Renaissance, a Trolius and Cressida with production parallels to the Iraq War, and a Winter’s Tale set in Dynastic China as well as a mythical U.S. West Coast. We have expanded our very definition of the classical canon to include Sanskrit, Nigerian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and Korean dramatic and literary traditions. Inspired by the scale and scope of Shakespeare’s history plays and the number of plays in the canon, we’re commissioning 37 new American plays about moments of change in United States history; in less than a decade, that cycle called American Revolutions has yielded a greater bounty of influential new plays than we ever dreamed possible.

We’ve also tried to take the time to reflect on why we’re doing what we’re doing and to write it down. We’ve created a values statement for our repertory acting company. When some of our colleagues sensed that our executive director and I were not on the same page about OSF audiences, we challenged ourselves to create an Audience Development Manifesto, spelling out the four pillars of new audiences that we wanted to reach to strengthen and build on our core audience.

And a few years ago, with the help of a lot of my smart colleagues—including our extraordinary Repertory Producer Mica Cole, who’s also here tonight– I wrote a set of guiding principles for how we approach our namesake playwright at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I wanted every artist working at our theater to be able to see spelled out clearly in black and white what the assumptions are that we make about Shakespeare, and to understand our ‘house style’ when it comes to producing his work.

Shakespeare’s uncanny ability to capture the human experience with his characters, themes and especially his language may mean that he belongs to all ages and cultures, but the fact is, we are producing him in the United States in the 21st century. We need to be rigorous in our efforts to make connections between the plays of this radically populist author and the messy experiment that is our American democracy. And how do we reconcile the paradox that Shakespeare is often used as an elitist tool to make others feel intellectually inadequate, that the Shakespeare industry has been used too often to uphold the white supremacy that continues to hold back our country from achieving its full potential, with the equally true phenomenon that no writer in the English language has ever more fully explored the breadth of society and the complexity of the human heart, that in fact a spirit of aesthetic and spiritual and even political revolution seethes under the very words of his plays?

Dr. King talked about “the fierce urgency of now.” Whatever your political point of view, I imagine that most if not all of you will agree with me that we live in a moment of increased polarization, often destructive rhetoric and with desperately high stakes for the future of our democracy and even our planet. WWWSD: What would William Shakespeare do, right now? The good news is that we don’t need to waste a moment mourning his death four hundred and one years ago. William Shakespeare is right here with us, at the institutions that Eric and I are lucky enough to lead and that you are lucky enough to support.

I understand that Cal Shakes is in the midst of a strategic planning process to further refine your mission and vision. My brilliant husband Chris, who is here tonight and to whom I owe most everything good in my life, has directed two shows at your fine institution. I have long enjoyed conversations with Jon Moscone and now Eric, admiring your past and current artistic leaders as profound thinkers and innovative artists. From all these experiences, I know that OSF and Cal Shakes share an ever-growing understanding that social impact must be on equal footing with artistic excellence. Our fears may sometimes make us want to artificially separate them, but if my 30-plus year career has taught me nothing else, it is that social relevance and artistic achievement are inextricably tied, are two sides of the same coin.

In fact, as you endeavor to weave more inclusive voices from your communities into the very fabric of your art-making, you are pulling off what my teenage son the soccer player would call a hat trick: you are simultaneously being more responsible stewards of a literary legacy that is now in its fifth century, you are protecting the foundations of our own country’s democratic traditions that are approaching the 250 year old mark, and you are actively strengthening the foundation of the future for all our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will see the triumphs and disasters of their times accurately reflected in the glorious words of William Shakespeare. Both our organizations’ shared commitment to education is especially vital when it comes to those future generations.

It’s pretty darned exciting, when you think about it, what we all get to do together as lovers of the classical canon and believers in the potential of our own society. I’m a lucky guy that I get to be on this journey with all of you in this room, and I feel humbled that you’ve honored me tonight for merely walking down that path alongside so many of you.

As Eric and I can both attest, what we do as leaders of non-profit classic theaters is often really hard. An acknowledgment like this award will help my heart on the most challenging days to come. For that and for so many others reasons, I thank you.



O Brave New World! See Photos from Gala 2016


We are inspired by the enthusiasm and generosity of those who attended O Brave New Word, and we’re thrilled by how much their support will fuel the power of creativity for students and communities throughout the Bay Area. Our tally shows a total of at least $473,000 in winning bids for spectacular auction items, in ticket sales, and from generous contributions.

From the dining room to the dance floor, we’re grateful to have had the chance to celebrate with many of you at the event and online.  Click here to see the fun in action.


Tickets on Sale for Cal Shakes Gala

City View at Metreon“O Brave New World, That has such people in’t!” – William Shakespeare, The Tempest

With the arrival of our new Artistic Director Eric Ting coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Bruns, we have a lot to celebrate!

Make plans to join the fun at our 21st Annual Gala on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at City View, on the top floor of the Metreon in downtown San Francisco. You can participate in our gala either by attending in person or by sponsoring an artist or community partner to attend.

This exciting event is a little more than a month away – we can’t wait to share all of the details of the night’s festivities. You will be able to bid on exciting new auction items like a glass-blowing lesson and party for you and your closest friends at Glassybaby in Berkeley, or a trip to New York to catch all of the hottest plays on Broadway.

You will be delighted by two different secret performances that will tickle your funny bone. Indulge in our new menu, provided by our new caterer, Grace Street Catering.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks to preview more of the auction items and find out more about the delicious food and entertainment you’ll enjoy.

For tickets, visit http://calshakes.org/galatickets.


From Twelfth Night to Life Is a Dream: Fate Works in Mysterious Ways

Get Tangled Up In Love show art for Twelfth NightThe first two productions of our 2015 season—Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night about falling in love with mistaken identities and Life Is a Dream, Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s 1635 drama, translated and adapted by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Nico Cruz, which examines the relationship between fate and reality—couldn’t seem farther apart at first read. But it turns out Olivia, Viola, Orsino, and Sebastian have more in common with King Basilio, Segismundo, and Rosauro then one might think. Here our Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly explains the link between these two wildly different productions.

The question: Where character comes from and where it can lead? is at the core of both Twelfth Night and Life Is a Dream. Twelfth Night’s characters have their dreams, but they end up with fates they never dreamed of. In Life Is a Dream, Calderon’s 17th century Spanish masterpiece, translated and adapted by Nilo Cruz, the question grabs us from the very start and chills us with its development. Does a person have any real power to change the fate that’s written for him or her? And if not, why not? Malvolio struggles with this idea in Twelfth Night and we’ll see in Life Is a Dream the vengeance that is wreaked by a son who is imprisoned for the first 20 years of his life. Was his father right to lock him up? Was he wrong to release him, given that he’s done exactly the monstrous deeds that were predicted at his birth? Or is his vengeance created by his father’s actions? (Who wouldn’t want to go on a rampage after being locked away since birth?) Do we have the power to change our fates and to change the way we adapt to experience? Come judge for yourselves.

Twelfth Night starts Previews on May 17 and runs through June 21. Life Is a Dream starts Previews on July 8 and runs through August 2. Click here to learn more and buy tickets. Hear more about the link between these two shows from Philippa herself at the Life Is a Dream Inside Scoop, June 22 at the Orinda Library. Reserve your spot here.



Off to Ashland!

Antony and Cleopatra. Photo courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival

This October 2-4, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly will lead a trip to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Attendees will stay at the Ashland Springs Hotel and attend three plays during their stay, while enjoying dinners, cocktails, and conversation with Philippa and other guests. Philippa will lead discussions on each play and give her own insight. If you are interested in attending or learning more, please call or email Interim Special Events Manager Zoe Westbrook at 510.809.3297 or ashlandtour@calshakes.org no later than Friday, May 15th.

This year’s fantasy weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival will begin the moment we put our cases down in our beautiful rooms at the Ashland Springs Hotel, discovering, on our pillows, the little sachet of lavender and, on our bedside tables, the bar of chocolate especially wrapped with a picture of the hotel.  We’ll meet for drinks and dinner, joined (and for the whole weekend) by Director of Development Megan Barton, whose grace and charm help make the weekend perfect.

Our first play is Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s tempestuous romance as reimagined by director Lileana Blain-Cruz. Much Ado, written between 1588 and 1599 in the middle of Shakespeare’s career, features a plot that’s moved along largely by eavesdropping, mishearing and gossip. Shot through with the acerbic puns and jokes hurled back and forth by Beatrice and Benedick (a wittier, much more sophisticated version of the relationship between Kate and Petruchio written almost ten years before), the play is at once hilarious, unnerving in its twists and turns, and deeply moving. It’s intriguing to think that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet at the same time as Much Ado. In the notes I prepare for our group, I’ll speculate on the melange of themes that Shakespeare was able to calibrate in both comic and tragic contexts at the pinnacle of his career.

Saturday lunchtime we’ll see Sweat, the world premiere by Pulitzer Prize winner and Macarthur ‘genius’ grant winner Lynn Nottage. Sweat is part of the American Revolutions cycle, which sees 37 new works performed at OSF over a ten-year period, each of which addresses some pivotal moment in American history. Says Portland Theater Scene, ‘Dodging the artistic dead ends of whimsy, wackiness, “magical realism”, and manic profanity that entrance so many of her contemporaries in the American theatre, Nottage is the real deal and writes plays that matter. As good playwrights must be, she is an activist deeply engaged with the world. A new work by this talented Brooklynite is national news…’ Sweat follows a group of friends who work in a steel plant in 2000 Pennsylvania, when a horrific crime shocks two generations. After the play we’ll have legendary OSF actress K.T. Voght  join us for a talkback.

On Saturday evening we’ll have a delicious dinner, accompanied by an interview with dramaturg Lue Douthit (she is so good that she threatens to steal whatever show follows!) That evening we’ll see Antony and Cleopatra, part of a momentous trilogy of plays (the other two being Macbeth and King Lear) that were written in just over a year, circa 1604-5. Interestingly, all three of these plays stage a conflict between desire and duty in very different forms. We’ll see the struggle for Mark Antony, Roman warrior, as he falls under the spell of Cleopatra, queen of the Nile. Written when Shakespeare was in his forties, about 12 years after that other drama about doomed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, this play shows a Shakespeare in his middle years examining the passion between characters of his own age (not the children whose naïve, desperate love makes us gasp). Antony and Cleopatra risk more than the fates of two families  – they risk the fates of entire empires in their love. Afterwards I’ll go to the Mezzanine, where there’ll be cookies and tea and hot chocolate, awaiting anyone who wants to chat about the play. And those who want to carouse can go actor-spotting at Martinos, Ashland’s most famous bar.

Sunday morning we will have a post-breakfast chat with two of the actors from Antony and Cleopatra.

I can’t wait to join you all – it is such an honor for me to guide you through this trip.

If you’d like to experience this incredible theater adventure, email Zoe Westbrook (zwestbrook@calshakes.org) or call 510.809.3297.


Additional Details on the Ashland OSF Tour with Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly:

WHEN: Friday, October 2 through Sunday, October 4, 2015

LODGING: The elegant Ashland Springs Hotel in the heart of downtown, just steps away from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

DINING: Your package includes Friday night cocktail reception and dinner, and Saturday night dinner at a restaurant in town; breakfasts included with your stay at the Ashland Springs Hotel.


FRIDAY EVENING: Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s tempestuous romance reimagined by director Lileana Blain-Cruz, is a cunning comedy of love, language, and wit, one of Shakespeare’s few comedies that manages to be both moving and frivolous at once-featuring an ensemble cast of scheming characters and a twist-ridden wedding plot.

SATURDAY MATINEE: Sweat, a powerful world permiere by acclaimed playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Intimate Apparel) and directed by Kate Whoriskey, explores America’s Industrial decline at the turn of the millennium with a look inside a Pennsylvania town whose people struggle to reclaim what they’ve lost, find redemption, and redefine themselves in the new century.

SATURDAY EVENING: In Antony and Cleopatra, directed by OSF’s Artistic Director Bill Rauch, Shakespeare’s tragedy presents history as a breathtaking pageant full of passion, intrigue, exotic locales and the larger-than-life character that brought about the death of an Egyptian dynasty and the birth of the Roman Empire.

SUNDAY MORNING: We’ll come together to reflect on our experience of all three productions this weekend, facilitated by Philippa’s illuminating insights.

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation to and from Ashland is not provided. Short distances in Ashland (from hotel to restaurant, hotel to theater) are readily walkable by people in moderate health.

COST: $1,250 per person double occupancy, or $1,400 single occupancy (includes a $500 tax-deductible contribution to Cal Shakes). A deposit of $300/per person is required to confirm your reservation.

RSVP: Please call or email Interim Special Events Manager Zoe Westbrook at 510.809.3297 or ashlandtour@calshakes.org no later than Friday, May 15th.