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Great Places To Catch A Shakespeare Play In The Bay
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Great Places To Catch A Shakespeare Play In The Bay

Picture of Susan Blick
Updated: 5 January 2017
California’s Bay Area is filled with amazing Shakespeare groups that put a modern spin on Shakespeare’s classic plays. Although the peak season for Shakespeare is in the summer, acting tropes continue to put on incredible shows throughout the year. Check out this list of nine of the best well known — and not so well known — theaters that are scattered throughout the local area.

California Shakespeare Theatre

With spectacular rolling hills as a natural background for this outdoor theater, Cal Shakes offers one of the most scenic Shakespeare experiences in the Bay. Since its start in 1974, Cal Shakes has grown to become a nationally recognized theater group that is known for its creative takes on Shakespeare’s classics. Although Cal Shakes is closed for the season, they will be reopening the 2016 season with Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing from May 25 to June 19. Tickets range from $36-$51 but a variety of discounts are available for students, seniors, and military personnel.

Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda, CA, USA, +1 510 5489666

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

Each summer, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival performs free Shakespeare plays from July to October in San Francisco, Pleasanton, and Cupertino. These performances embody their mission to make Shakespeare’s works accessible to all members of the Bay Area community. In addition to these free performances, SF Shakespeare Festival also offers acting camps for Shakespeare fans of all ages. SF Shakespeare Festival is currently performing hour-long versions of Hamlet throughout the Bay Area as part of their Shakespeare on Tour program.

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, PO Box 460937, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 558 0888

Pacific Repertory Theatre

Until recently the beautiful outdoor theater was closed for renovations, but now it has a new roof and solar power installed. The Pac Rep also offers classes through itsSchool of Dramatic Arts and students get to perform plays from a wide range of genres throughout the year.

Golden Bough Playhouse, Monte Verde St., Between 8th and 9th Avenues, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA, USA, +1 831 622 0100

Circle Theatre, Casanova Street between 8th & 9th, Or Box 7174, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA, USA, +1 831 622 0100

Outdoor Forest Theatre, Mountain View Ave and Santa Rita St., Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA, USA, +1 831 622 0100

African-American Shakespeare Company

The African-American Shakespeare Company seeks to celebrate diversity and inclusion by providing actors of color with opportunities to hone their acting skills with Shakespearean works. In addition to performances, it also offers workshops and a literacy program, Shake-it-Up, that helps students grow their reading and comprehension skills.

Buriel Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 762 2071

Marin Shakespeare

Marin County Shakespeare’s main stage is located at Dominican University of California’s Forest Meadows Amphitheatre where they have performed As You Like It, Alls Well That Ends Well, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After 26 years of performances, Marin Shakespeare created a behind the scenes look at the people who have help make Shakespeare’s words come alive. Although you will have to wait until next summer to watch their next performances at their beautiful Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Marin Shakespeare offers many educational programs for students looking to learn from some of the best actors in the Bay.

Forest Meadows Amphitheatre 890 Belle Avenue, San Rafael, CA, USA, +1 415 499 4488

Santa Cruz Shakespeare

After 34 years of performing plays like Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth, Santa Cruz Shakespeare has shown that it can entertain audiences with comedies, romances, and tragedies. Santa Cruz Shakespeare is currently in the process of changing its venue for the 2016 season to an outdoor theater in Upper DeLaveaga Park. You can find scheduling updates on the calendar section of Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s website.

500 Chestnut Street, Suite 250, Santa Cruz, CA, USA, +1 831 460 6396

Livermore Shakespeare Festival

Although the Livermore Shakespeare Festival is most active during the summer with many events at Wente Vineyards, it has great offerings during the off-season as well. From classic holiday performances to school programs and internships, Livermore Shakes is a great tradition among the Bay Area community.

Livermore Shakespeare Festival, 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, CA, USA, +1 925 443 2273

Silicon Valley Shakespeare

Silicon Valley isn’t all nerds and computers! Like its high-tech neighbors, Silicon Valley Shakespeare operates by the mantra, ‘Innovate, Illuminate, Inspire’ and looks to update Shakespeare’s classics with modern interpretations. This company is currently working on its 48-Hour Play Festival, in which two Shakespearean plays are selected at random and combined into ‘Shakespeare Mash-Ups’ by different groups of writers and actors. For anyone interested in participating in this 48-hour challenge, registration is available online.

Silicon Valley Shakespeare,16055 Sanborn Road, Saratoga, CA, USA, +1 408 569 0360

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

The Berkeley Repertory Theatre is excited to announce that Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy, Macbeth, will run from February 19-April 3, 2016 with Conleth Hill — most recently known for his role as Lord Varys on HBO’s Game of Thrones — in the lead role as Macbeth. In addition to performances, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre offers classes for aspiring Shakespearian writers or actors of all ages.

Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA, USA, +1 510 647 2900

Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA, USA, +1 510 647 2900