History

Our company started as an artistic collective in 1973, and began performing as 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, Cal Shakes celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Bruns.

Over the past four decades, California Shakespeare Theater has become a cornerstone of Bay Area Summer 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.

Seeing a play at Cal Shakes is a different kind of theatergoing: surrounded by gorgeous eucalyptus groves, actors and audience share space under the sky for an experience like no other. You can come to the grounds early and picnic, hear a talk, and enjoy a glass of wine while soaking up the beauty of the hills. It’s a great date night—in fact the San Francisco Chronicle reviewer called it “the best theater for a first date.”

Cal Shakes Timeline

1973

1974

1985

1988

1991

1996

1998

2000

2002

2003

2003-2010

2005

2009

2010

2011

2014

2016

2017