Our Mission & Vision

California Shakespeare Theater (CAL SHAKES) redefines the classical theater for the 21st Century, making works of extraordinary artistry that engage with our contemporary moment so we might learn about ourselves and each other in the fullness of our world.

There are three pillars of our work:  MAKE, LEARN, ENGAGE.

MAKEWe create art that represents the best of what we can do, and the making of it makes us better.

Cal Shakes creates exemplary productions of works, both old and new, interpreted in vital and urgent ways. We do this with a commitment to bold theatricality, innovative interpretation, thoughtful excavation, to expanding cultural ownership of classic stories, and to being our best selves as artists, stewards, and members of our community.

LEARN: We nurture a cultural of learning where we are both teacher and student.

Cal Shakes seeks to both teach and learn through our art—not simply about the theater but about our world. We transform young minds through the practice of theater, we listen to and amplify seldom heard voices, we confront our own insecurities and ignorance with an openness to new ideas.

ENGAGE: We forge community by dismantling barriers to participation.

Acknowledging that the theater is a rare public forum, we pursue a robust culture of participation that values above all authentic discourse around the work we make. We endeavor to hold space for all points of view because it provides a deeper, richer, more nuanced and human experience of the world.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

At Cal Shakes, we believe that equity is a practice. Our actions—both onstage and off—can have a positive social impact by exposing oppression, addressing historic injustices, and showing how power can be transformed and shared in different ways. We endeavor to dismantle systemic bias by actively including, reflecting, and creating opportunities for our diverse Bay Area communities. We recognize that this work is ongoing and often imperfect, but we are committed to facilitating respect for the many facets of the human experience. 

Learn more about all parts of Cal Shakes and our 2019 Season in our To Be booklet.


ARTISTRY We celebrate those that practice creative risk, who straddle past and present, who move us, change us, bring joy into our lives.

AUTHENTICITY We commit to being present, to sharing space, to honesty of intention and generosity of spirit.

DISCOURSE We value spaces that invite a plurality of experiences and perspectives, acknowledging that the collision of different points of view, and respect for all points of view, are essential to meaningful discourse in our diverse society.

EQUITY We pursue a more equitable world where individuals from all walks of life are valued equally; and we reflect that in the theater we make, in our staff and board, in the artists we hire, in the discourse we nurture, in the stories we tell and in how we tell them.

INCLUSION We practice extraordinary hospitality and radical accessibility. We practice bridge-making in a space defined by compassion and respectful exchange. We affirm that we all have stories to share; and we seek to elevate those stories, to respect those stories, in all that we do.

SUSTAINABILITY We participate in sustainable practices that maximize the long-term impact of our programming.

Land Acknowledgement

Cal Shakes acknowledges that we work on the ancestral, occupied, and unceded lands of the Bay Miwok people and the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people. We acknowledge that this land was taken and colonized through violent means, as part of a legacy of land theft, labor exploitation, resource extraction and genocide that created this nation, and we acknowledge this process of colonization as on-going. We recognize that we currently benefit from living and working on their traditional homelands, and affirm their sovereign rights as first peoples. For those who are not Indigenous to this land, the Shuumi Land Tax is a way to acknowledge the true history of the land we are on, facilitate the return of ancestral lands in the Bay Area, and contribute to the Ohlone community’s ongoing work to create a vibrant future.

We also acknowledge that America as we know it today was built at the often fatal expense of forcefully enslaved Black people. We must recognize and acknowledge the enslaved Africans who have lived, been subjugated to free labor, and toiled the grounds where many theaters have been built and resurrected. Black Lives Matter.

(Thank you to the Black Theatre Caucus and the authors of the We See You, White American Theatre demands for providing the framework for this language.)

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