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.

 

 

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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!

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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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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.

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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.

 

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O Brave New World! See Photos from Gala 2016

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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.

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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.

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Volunteering by the Numbers

By Jamie Buschbaum, Volunteer Program Coordinator

A mother-daughter volunteer team hands out programs; photo by Jamie Buschbaum.

Volunteering at Cal Shakes came in many different forms this year. The one most visible up at the Bruns Amphitheater was, of course, ushering. Our ushers come from all over the Bay Area to hand out programs, help patrons to their seats, sell raffle tickets, andbonus!see our plays. In 2011 we had ushers from Berkeley, Orinda, Folsom, Campbell, Washington state, and even from as far away as Nepal. Many of our ushers are mother-daughter teams, representing the National Charity League. Together, our extended family of ushering volunteers helped out with nearly 4,000 hours of service during 100 performances, including the ever-important Student Discovery Matinees.

Some of the young people running around up in our Orinda hills home are also volunteersthey’re our interns. This summer, 30 people participated in our Professional Immersion Program, shortened around the office to PIP. The PIPs arrived, for the most part, in May, and helped out for a big chunk of our season, learning the ropes in our education, marketing, production, artistic, and development departments. You can read up more on the PIP program in these blog entries by the interns themselves. The summer PIPs worked 1,700 shifts, totaling more than 10,000 hours of work!

We have PIPs outside of the theatrical season, too, helping us prepare and put on our annual black-tie fundraiser in March; making the casting process go smoothly (it’s happening right now!); keeping the momentum going on the Triangle Lab, our New Works/New Communities partnership with Intersection for the Arts; assisting in our marketing and development efforts; and more. That adds up to another 500 hours that we couldn’t do without.

We’re so fortunate to have this help in making our different programs happen. More than 600 people so far this year have provided us, the theater-going community and the schoolchildren of the greater Bay Area with an irreplaceable gifttheir precious time and energy. We thank you! And if you’re interested in helping us out in the future, please drop me a line to let me know. or visit our Shiftboard page and see what opportunities are available at your convenience (you’ll have to complete a brief registration process first).

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Busting the Myth of the “Off-Season”

A little perspective from Box Office Manager Robin Dolan.
On those crazy days here at the Cal Shakes office when there are actors warming up with nonsense words in the hall or playing instruments and dancing in the parking lot, I’m reminded why I’m grateful to work in theater. Performers notwithstanding, I’m surrounded by wonderful, funny, creative people year-round; I don’t have to worry if I curse occasionally; and I frequently see hilarious things—donkey’s heads, giant swords, jewel-encrusted wigs—being carried in through the front door.

But working in the nonprofit sector is demanding. Our resources are stretched, and many of us are often doing the jobs of several people. Patrons frequently say to me, “You must be looking forward to the off-season, when you’ll be less busy.” In truth, I think there’s perhaps four days a year when I’m not busy. I believe they happen in November, but they usually go so quickly that I don’t notice them till they’re gone. I remember relating this to Ilsa, our graphic designer, a few years ago; she replied, “Me too! But I think it’s about two days for me.”

In the winter and spring, our education department is busy setting up school residencies and Summer Shakespeare Conservatories. Development is raising money for the annual fund, getting corporate sponsors, and planning our annual gala fundraiser—referred to internally as our biggest production of the year, since it all happens on one night. The Artistic department is working on our New Works/New Communities projects, working with at-risk youth through Creative Risk, hiring interns for the coming year, and planning the Main Stage season. Marketing is designing our beautiful subscription brochure, fine-tuning the website, working with the press, and beginning group sales for 2011.

I’m busy with subscription renewals and seat change requests. I also work with the Marketing department to plan promotions and sales campaigns, and support other departments with statistics needed for corporate sponsorships and grant applications and reporting. In the box office it’s mostly me holding down the fort, answering the phone and talking to patrons. I have been lucky to have great people working during the season, and I miss their contributions. But the phones ring less this time of year, so I’ve got it covered.

A big thing we do in the “off-season” (which, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, is inaccurately named) is set objectives for the following year. We look at what worked last year and what we want to try again. This fall, our senior staff unveiled a three-year Strategic Plan for the company, spelling out Cal Shakes’ vision, mission, core values, goals, and strategies for the next three years. While this could be a very dry document, I’m finding it inspiring. For instance, how many companies include in their core values “humor, authenticity, and a sense of home?” Valuing all members of the Cal Shakes community is equally important to productive goals. Gotta love that.

When the final draft of the Strategic Plan was presented to us, staff members were invited to create a team—facilitated by board member Alan Schnur—that would come up with suggestions on how to implement it. This invitation to contribute allows us to feel included in the creation of everything that we do. A major concept we’re looking at here is “de-siloing”: making sure departments are not isolated from one another, and that pertinent information is shared. Most of all, de-siloing allows us to share our skills cross-departmentally; as a result, we’re learning more about each other’s talents.

During our well-earned break over the holidays—the office is mostly closed between Christmas and New Year’s Day—I often personally consider what’s happened in the previous year, and make plans for the coming year. So does Cal Shakes. So what do we do off-season? We plan. We review. We talk with patrons. We vision. And we laugh, and support one another. Just like we do all year-round.

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