In 2016 we celebrate our 25th year at the Bruns!

In 1991, Cal Shakes (then Berkeley Shakespeare Festival) moved from Berkeley's John Hinkel Park to its current performance venue, the 545-seat The Lt. G.H. Bruns III Memorial Amphitheater following a capital campaign led by East Bay philanthropist Clarence Woodard and supported by foundations and Bay Area community leaders. The Bruns Amphitheater and surrounding campus lie in the Siesta Valley, nestled in the hills between Berkeley and Orinda; this area is one of the original land holdings of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). In agreeing to lease to the Theater, EBMUD seeks to serve the public with a community facility while preserving the watershed with minimal disruption to the pastoral surroundings.

The Lt. G.H. Bruns III Memorial Amphitheater is named in memory of the late son of Sue and George Bruns of Lafayette. Lt. George Bruns was born in Hollis, NY, on December 14, 1942. He came to California with his family at the age of seven, and attended Pleasant Hill High School, where he played football and took the North Coast Championship in Greco-Roman wrestling. At the Air Force Academy, he became the AAU wrestling champion. He earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State University. George rode Brahma bulls and saddle broncs, and loved to ride horses through the land where the Amphitheater now sits. Lt. Bruns was killed in June 1967, in an automobile accident just before he was due to ship out for service in Vietnam. California Shakespeare Theater honors the memory of Lt. George H. Bruns III.

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 house 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 renovations included a re-graded campus; native, drought-resistant planting and rainwater-treating bioswales throughout; and, most dramatically, the 7,000-square-foot Sharon Simpson Center, housing bathrooms with low-flow toilets, a glimmering new café and Theater Store, 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. These improvements—along with the great strides we’ve made in our scene and prop shops to design and create recyclable and reusable set pieces—have deepened our commitment to environmentally sustainable practices, and to our stewardship of the spectacular land that we are so lucky to call our home.

In 2016 Cal Shakes celebrates our 25th year at the Bruns Amphitheater under the leadership of our new Artistic Director, Eric Ting.

Will’s Weeders is an all-volunteer-organized, -staffed, and -funded gardening corps founded in 2001 to care for the Bruns Amphitheater’s abundant flora (and, in the case of 2010’s Much Ado About Nothing, the onstage landscaping, as well!). Prior to the Bruns campus’ 2009-2010 renovation, the Weeders attended to the site’s landscaping for six months out of the year, readying and maintaining the grounds before and during the Cal Shakes season. With the addition of the living roof and copious new native plantings, the gardening group now works even more tirelessly, checking in monthly at the Bruns during the off-season as well. The Weeders are Carole Amstutz, Joan Andrews, Betty Argabright, Diana Caldwell, Ellen Dale, Sue Fernstrom, Gina Field, Jessica Fleming, Robin Frazier, Kathy Graeven, Patti James, Janet Pease, Carla Preisler, Binky Schauffler, Sharon Simpson, Winnie Smith, Dayna Taylor, Muriel Wilson, and Midge Zischke. Interested in joining Will’s Weeders? Create a login on our Shiftboard page and choose “Will’s Weeders” as your area of interest!

The Bruns Amphitheater, the Berkeley rehearsal hall and shops, as well as props and costumes are all available for rental. Call 510.548.3422 x101 for our Berkeley facilities; x111 for costumes; x117 for props; or x110 to reserve the Bruns Amphitheater and picnic grounds.


Late Arrivals   Performances begin on time. Latecomers will be seated at an appropriate interval at the discretion of the house manager. 

Electronic Devices   No videotaping, photography, or audio-recording of performances is allowed. Please turn off cell phones and other devices before entering Amphitheater. The use of any type of camera, video or audio recorder is strictly prohibited in the amphitheater. Such devices may be confiscated at the House Manager's discretion. Since we ask all patrons to silence cell phones during performance, you may leave the House Office phone number 510.548.3422 x143 as your contact number during a performance. 

Smoking is prohibited in the Amphitheater at all times, except on stage as part of the productions. Electronic cigarettes are allowed in the groves, plaza, and anywhere on the grounds with the exception of the Amphitheater. Otherwise smoking is restricted to our designated smoking area, located where the entrance path meets the central plaza, across from the café.

Children under four are not permitted in the Amphitheater as a courtesy to our patrons and artists. To determine suitability of a play for your child over four, please call the box office at 510.548.9666. 

Pets & Service Animals   Pets are not allowed on grounds or in Amphitheater, but we are happy to allow service animals at the Theater. Please notify the Box Office when booking your tickets if you require room for your service animal.

Good Neighbor Behavior   Perfumes or scented lotions may cause discomfort to other patrons and may attract yellowjackets. We ask that you keep use of such products to a minimum. Likewise, be mindful of noise—please unwrap all picnic items before the performance begins or at intermission.

Observe All Signage   Please heed all directional and other informational signs on the grounds. They are posted for your safety.