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History

past productions

Founded in 1973, our company began as an artistic collective and has evolved into a fully professional theater known for its innovative productions of classic theater. Our first performance was Hamlet at Newman Center in Berkeley, the Catholic church at the corner of Dwight and College, in 1973, at which point the company was known as the Emeryville Shakespeare Company. After several more shows at scattered churches around the East Bay, the company started performing at Hinkel Park in Berkeley in summer 1974. That summer, the company launched a three-show festival in Hinkel Park, as the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival.

From 1983 to 1995, the company was guided by the leadership of artistic directors Dakin Matthews (1983-1987), and Michael Addison (1987-1995). During our 15 years at Berkeley's John Hinkel Park, the company, known eventually as the California Shakespeare Festival, presented more than 53 productions, primarily of the plays of William Shakespeare. In 1991, we built our current performance venue, the 545-seat Bruns Memorial Amphitheater in the hills between Berkeley and Orinda, following a capital campaign led by East Bay philanthropist Clarence Woodard and supported by foundations and Bay Area community leaders. In 1995, actor Joe Vincent became artistic director, serving until 1999.

In 2000, following a yearlong national search, Jonathan Moscone was appointed the company’s current artistic director. Under his leadership, California Shakespeare Theater—as we renamed ourselves in 2003—has set out upon an ambitious growth path, intended to deepen the Theater's artistic and educational roles in the communities of the Bay Area. Since then, Cal Shakes has engaged artists of the highest caliber from the Bay Area and around the country. These artists come to the work without preconceptions or reverence for the iconic personality of Shakespeare, but with a shared belief in revealing his stories innovatively and with an immediacy that is borne of intellectual rigor and emotional honesty.
During Moscone's tenure, California Shakespeare Theater has broadened its programming to reflect our mission to create fresh rediscoveries of important works of world theater. 

In 2001, with the support of the East Bay Community Foundation, Cal Shakes engaged in a year-long assessment to define the vision for our educational efforts and how to root them in the mission of the Theater. We sought to integrate these with our artistic efforts, and discover how to serve the diverse communities of the Bay Area in meaningful and sustainable ways. With the support of the Board and staff, and in collaboration with area educators and arts education funders, the Theater created the Artistic Learning Initiative, with the vision of creating a culture of lifelong learners, nourishing imaginations of young people and adults in preparation for the work of life. For more information on Artistic Learning, click here

A hallmark of the Bay Area communities is the broad diversity of the people living here. It is a goal of Cal Shakes to make theater that reflects the rich diversity of our communities. To that end, in 2003 we created New Works/New Communities, an initiative to bring diverse communities together around the creation of new works of theater inspired by the classics. New Works/New Communities was launched with a partnership with San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts and its resident theater company, Campo Santo, around Hamlet: Blood in the Brain. In 2007, NW/NC partnered with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, MFA students at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), and community organizations working with homeless LGBT youth in San Francisco, to create King of Shadows; and with teens and young adults at San Francisco’s Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) and Oakland's Youth Empowerment School (in partnership with East Side Arts Alliance) to present Love Test. Beginning in 2007, NW/NC worked with playwright Octavio Solis, the Word for Word Performing Arts Company, and community groups in the Salinas area to adapt John Steinbeck’s Pastures of Heaven for a 2010 Main Stage production—the first play to ever have its world premiere at the Bruns Amphitheater.

Susie Falk was appointed Cal Shakes’ Managing Director in February 2009, after serving for four years as Cal Shakes’ Marketing Director, overseeing all marketing, sales, and public relations efforts for the Theater, as well as box office and front of house operations.

In October of 2010, New Works/New Communities received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the creation of a sustained partnership with Intersection/Campo Santo. This partnership became known as the Triangle Lab. The Lab is about making theater together, expanding the definitions of who participates in theater making and how they participate, aiming for theaters, artists, and community members (the three points of the triangle) to become equal partners in discovering and sharing the profound stories of our times. For more information on The Triangle Lab, click here

At the close of our 2009 season, we announced the public phase of Building for the Future: The Cal Shakes Campaign, under the leadership of campaign co-chairs Jim Roethe and Sharon Simpson. This ambitious effort raised funds to replace the dilapidated trailers that, intended as temporary, had housed the café, green room, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and offices since 1991. In June of 2010, the renovated site—courtesy of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Overaa Construction—opened to the public: the 7,000-square-foot Sharon Simpson Center, housing new bathrooms, a glimmering new café, and ample, world-class accommodations and storage for actors, artists, and house staff, all topped with an undulating living roof that blends seamlessly into the hillside behind it; a re-graded campus; and native, drought-resistant planting and rainwater-treating bioswales throughout. In August of 2011, we announced the successful conclusion of fundraising, with the campaign exceeding its original goal of $8.2 million by raising more than $8.7 million.

 In 2012, we became one of the largest solar-powered outdoor professional theaters in the country. This year we introduced state-of-the-art, wireless microphones that allow audiences, no matter where they sit, to hear every word the actors speak; and ADA-accessible picnic seating in our Grove Talk grove.

The official change of the company's name from California Shakespeare Festival to California Shakespeare Theater in 2003 more clearly defines our role as a theater serving the diverse communities of our region beyond our summer programming. As we approach our 40th anniversary season in 2014, we envision becoming a true cultural leader of the Bay Area, providing a home for our community of artists, audiences, and learners 365 days a year.


Past Productions

Year

Director

1974
A Midsummer Night's Dream
As You Like It
The Tempest
Pantagleize
(de Ghelderode)
All's Well That Ends Well


Mikel Clifford
Harold Aarons
Peter Fisher
George Kovach
Daniel Kozloff

1975
Twelfth Night
As You Like It
Richard II
Love's Labour's Lost
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Pericles


Peter Fisher
R. Carl Brush
Mikel Clifford
George Kovach
Mikel Clifford
J.D. Trow

1976
Macbeth
Troilus and Cressida
The Taming of the Shrew
Twelfth Night


Peter Fisher
Ken Grantham
George Kovach
Linda Dobb

1977
Romeo and Juliet
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard III
Measure for Measure


Sandra C. Hastie
Ugo Baldassari
George Kovach
Will Huddleston

1978
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, Part 1
As You Like It
Hamlet


Julian López-Morillas
Will Huddleston
Anne McNaughton
George Kovach

1979
The Duchess of Malfi (Webster)
Pericles
A Midsummer Night's Dream


George Kovach
Julian López-Morillas
Mary Rae Thewlis

1980
The Merry Wives of Windsor
King Lear
The Tempest


Richard E.T. White
Julian López-Morillas
Audrey E. Stanley

1981
Julius Caesar
The Taming of the Shrew
Cymbeline
Twelfth Night


Richard E.T. White
Mary Rae Thewlis
Patrick Tucker
Julian López-Morillas

1982
Antony and Cleopatra
All's Well That Ends Well
The Winter's Tale
Hamlet


Patrick Tucker
Albert Takazauckas
Dakin Matthews
Richard E.T. White

1983
Much Ado About Nothing
Romeo and Juliet
King John
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Ivanhoe
(Scott)
Macbeth


Anne McNaughton
Richard E.T. White
Julian López-Morillas
Anne McNaughton
Dakin Matthews
Richard E.T. White

1984
The Merchant of Venice
Love's Labour's Lost
Othello


Tony Amendola
Julian López-Morillas
Richard E.T. White

1985
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Two Noble Kinsmen
Richard III


Richard E.T. White
Julian López-Morillas
Anne McNaughton

1986
As You Like It
Coriolanus
The Tempest


Lura Dolas
Julian López-Morillas
Tony Amendola

1987
Richard II
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry V


Kathleen Conklin
Julian López-Morillas
Michael Addison
Michael Addison

1988
The Comedy of Errors
Troilus and Cressida
Timon of Athens
Julius Caesar


Ken Grantham
Michael Addison
Julian López-Morillas
Oskar Eustis

1989
The Taming of the Shrew
Romeo and Juliet
Measure for Measure
Much Ado About Nothing


Peggy Shannon
Julian López-Morillas
Richard E.T. White
Michael Addison

1990
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Othello
Cymbeline
Twelfth Night


Julian López-Morillas
Michael Addison
Laird Williamson
Richard E.T. White

1991
A Midsummer Night's Dream
King Lear
All's Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra


Richard Seyd
Michael Addison
Julian López-Morillas
Nagle Jackson

1992
The Merchant of Venice
The Tempest
Macbeth
The Two Gentlemen of Verona


Michael Addison
Julian López-Morillas
Charles Newell
Penny Metropulos

1993
The Winter's Tale
King John
As You Like It
Hamlet


Penny Metropulos
Chris Barton
Nagle Jackson
Michael Addison

1994
Romeo and Juliet
The Comedy of Errors
Richard II
The Taming of the Shrew


Paul Barnes
Michael Addison
Penny Metropulos
Jeffrey Bihr

1995
Julius Caesar
Love's Labour's Lost
Henry IV, Part 1
Much Ado About Nothing


Chris Barton
Michael Addison
Stephen Hollis
Penny Metropulos

1996
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Henry V
Twelfth Night
Measure for Measure


Robert Kelley
James Bundy
Joe Vincent
Michael Addison

1997
All's Well That Ends Well
Pericles
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Medea
(Euripides)


Joe Vincent
Roger DeLaurier
Ken Kelleher
Lisa Wolpe

1998
Scapin, the Cheat (Molière)
Othello
As You Like It
Richard III


Lillian Groag
Tom Markus
Joe Vincent
Mark Booher

1999
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Merchant of Venice
King Lear
The Tempest


Ed Hastings
Ken Kelleher
Denis Arndt
Robert Kelley

2000
The Taming of the Shrew
Hamlet
Rosen
crantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
(Stoppard)
Love's Labour's Lost


Lillian Groag
Karin Coonrod
Jonathan Moscone

Lisa Peterson

2001
Cymbeline
The Skin Of Our Teeth
(Wilder)
Romeo & Juliet
Twelfth Night


Daniel Fish
Richard Hamburger
Mark Rucker
Jonathan Moscone

2002
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Macbeth
The Seagull
(Chekhov)
The Winter's Tale


Jonathan Moscone
Kate Whoriskey
Jonathan Moscone
Lisa Peterson

2003
Julius Caesar
Arms and the Man
(Shaw)
Measure for Measure
Much Ado About Nothing


Jonathan Moscone
Lillian Groag
Daniel Fish
Peter DuBois

2004
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV

(Adapted by Dakin Matthews)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde)
All's Well That Ends Well


Sean Daniels
Mladen Kiselov

Jonathan Moscone
Lisa Peterson

2005
Othello
The Life and Adventures of
Nicholas Nickleby, Parts One & Two

(Dickens, adapted by David Edgar)
The Tempest


Sean Daniels
Jonathan Moscone
& Sean Daniels

Lillian Groag

2006
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Restoration Comedy
(Freed)
The Merchant of Venice
As You Like It


Sean Daniels
Sharon Ott
Daniel Fish
Jonathan Moscone

2007
Richard III
Man and Superman (Shaw)
The Triumph of Love (Marivaux)
King Lear


Mark Rucker
Jonathan Moscone
Lillian Groag
Lisa Peterson

2008
Pericles
An Ideal Husband (Wilde)
Uncle Vanya
(Chekhov, adapted by Emily Mann)
Twelfth Night


Joel Sass
Jonathan Moscone
Timothy Near

Mark Rucker

2009
Romeo and Juliet
Private Lives
(Coward)
Happy Days (Beckett)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Jonathan Moscone
Mark Rucker
Jonathan Moscone
Aaron Posner

2010
John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven (Solis)   
Mrs. Warren’s Profession (Shaw)       
Macbeth                    
Much Ado About Nothing   
       


Jonathan Moscone
Timothy Near
Joel Sass
Jonathan Moscone

2011
Titus Andronicus
The Verona Project (Dehnert)       
Candida (Shaw)         
The Taming of the Shrew


Joel Sass
Amanda Dehnert
Jonathan Moscone
Shana Cooper

2012
The Tempest
Spunk (Wolfe/Hurston)       
Blithe Spririt (Coward)         
Hamlet


Jonathan Moscone
Patricia McGregor
Mark Rucker
Liesl Tommy

2013
American Night: The Ballad of Juan José (Montoya)
Romeo & Juliet      
Lady Windermere’s Fan  (Wilde)      
A Winter’s Tale


Jonathan Moscone
Shana Cooper
Christopher Liam Moore
Patricia McGregor

2014
A Raisin in the Sun (Hansberry)
The Comedy of Errors     
Pygmalion (Shaw)      
A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Patricia McGregor
Aaron Posner
Jonathan Moscone
Shana Cooper