What started as an artistic collective in 1973 became an official company—Berkeley Shakespeare Festival—at John Hinkel Park in 1974. In 1991, the company (then known as California Shakespeare Festival) built the Bruns Amphitheater in the hills of Orinda. In 2016, California Shakespeare Theater celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Bruns.
Over the past four decades, Cal Shakes has become a cornerstone of Bay Area Theater, producing works from the Shakespeare canon and beyond, including New Classics that expand and reframe the concept and ownership of “classic theater.” Under the leadership of Artistic Director Eric Ting, we have honed three pillars of our work (MAKE, LEARN, and ENGAGE) into a focused approach to create art that represents the best of what we can do, nurture a culture of learning where we are both teacher and student, and forge community by dismantling barriers to participation.
The board began searching through more than 40 sites before landing on an idyllic piece of protected land in the Siesta Valley. The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) granted a 50-year lease in an extraordinary act of support.