California Shakespeare Theater (Cal Shakes) in Berkeley today announced plans for its 2017 season, with William Shakespeare's As You Like It and Measure for Measure bookending a season that also includes the Bruns' debut of one of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and the West Coast premiere of Oakland native Marcus Gardley's theatrical adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.
“Choosing a season of plays was only part of the story; our passion is to take our core offering—the art on our stage—and transform it into an instrument for social impact," Cal Shakes Artistic Director Eric Ting said in an announcement of the season. "We are putting community at the heart of everything we do and how we do it. Whether through the casting of a production or the extraordinary humanity expressed through our Story Circles, Civic Dialogues, and classroom residencies, we are pursuing a culture of participation that values authentic discourse around the work we make and allows everyone—everyone—to see themselves in the stories we tell.”
Opening the Main Stage season at the Bruns will be Shakespeare’s gender-bending comedy As You Like It, directed by Desdemona Chiang. Juxtaposing the world of the court and the world of the forest, As You Like It highlights the journeys we take as we discover not just where home is, but who our family can be. Chiang, known for her work at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Seattle Rep, makes her Cal Shakes debut with this production, which plays May 24 through June 18.
Next up, Lisa Portes, artistic director of Chicago Playworks, also makes her Cal Shakes debut with one of the true American classics, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, from July 5–30, marking the first time Williams’ work has appeared on the Bruns' stage.
Opening Aug. 9 is the West Coast premiere of black odyssey, directed by Eric Ting, and running to Sept. 3. Playwright Gardley reimagines one of Western civilization’s earliest epics, with war veteran Ulysses Lincoln working his way home after wandering through the mythical and historical characters of the black American experience.
Closing the Main Stage season will be Measure for Measure from Sept. 20 through Oct. 15. The director will be announced at a later date.
“The slate of plays we chose for 2017 relates to each other without being related, and celebrates what is unique in all of us," Ting said. "They explore what ‘classic’ means in the 21st century, and my fellow directors and I will be asking the question: How can we interact, engage with, and enrich a plurality of perspectives using these old stories as a foundation for contemporary discourse?”
The Main Stage season will be accompanied by a second annual series of Civic Dialogues designed to highlight issues surfaced by the Cal Shakes season in context with local artists, community partners, and thought-leaders. Conversation will span themes of gentrification, displacement, our entwined communities, and our definitions of home.
Season packages for the four-play season are available now; single and group tickets go on sale March 27, 2017. Prices start at $130 for a four-play subscription, with discounts available for seniors, youth, and full-time K–12 educators. For information or to charge tickets by phone with VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510-548-9666. Additional information and online ticketing is available at www.calshakes.org.
Founded in 1974 as a collective of actors performing for free in the park, Cal Shakes, now under the leadership of Artistic Director Ting and Managing Director Susie Falk, welcomes more than 43,000 people annually to the solar-powered Bruns Amphitheater, located in the Siesta Valley of the East Bay hills. In 2001, Cal Shakes formalized its educational activities with the launch of its Artistic Learning program, which reaches more than 4,000 Bay Area youth each year. In 2005, Cal Shakes expanded its work with communities to explore ways to integrate the arts more deeply into community life, investigating what happens when the powerful tools of theater artists are mobilized and integrated into broader civic dialogue. Over the course of the past decade, this work has evolved to become Cal Shakes Artistic Engagement program, which has garnered support from national and local foundations. In 2013, Cal Shakes launched its Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) initiative to create and sustain an equitable arts ecosystem; the company became a founding member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG)’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Institute, and is now among the leaders in the field in this work.
September 16, 2016