New Classics

The New Classics Initiative explores what it means to be a classical theater in the 21st century.

This Initiative aims to commission playwrights who, while diverse in perspective and experience, share Shakespeare's vision of the power of story.

Future New Classics productions will reimagine timeless dramas from across cultures, expanding our classical canon and, by extension, broadening our understanding of who we are.

Past & Present Productions

photo: Quixote Nuevo

The Initiative was piloted in 2017 with Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, which broke box office records and was sold out for much of its run. Its success led to the very first Cal Shakes remount, in 2018. That same season saw the first full commission of a New Classic, Octavio Solis’ Quixote Nuevo. In our 2019 season, we will premiere Madhuri Shekar’s House of Joy.

Forthcoming Productions

"I look forward to sharing our next story with the community and the world beyond. Time to start writing!"—Marcus Gardley

We’re working on exciting multi-year projects that engage deeply with Bay Area communities in the development of these works. These include, in 2020, 1001 Nights - A Retelling, which examines how the stories we tell and how we tell them connect and shape us as individuals, communities, and a nation - using the incomparable Shahrazad (a.k.a. Scheherazade) as our inspiration and guide.

In 2021, Marcus Gardley returns with A Thousand Ships, an adaptation of Twelfth Night based on true stories of his grandmothers, who left New Orleans during WWII to work at the Richmond Shipyards.

Want to learn more about Cal Shakes' New Classics Initiative?

Events, readings, information, and more!