Arts & Culture

Bay Area’s Best Outdoor Theater

May 12, 2011 1:24 PM

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www.mountainplay.org

What could be more dramatic than outdoor theater? The Bay Area is lucky to be home to award-winning theater companies who perform under the sun and stars. Just in time for Spring and Summer, take in a picnic-friendly performance at one of our favorite outdoor theater companies.


Mountain Play
Sidney B. Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Marin County
(415) 383-1100
Mountain Play Association

Nearly a century old, the Mountain Play is an annual rite of Spring for thousands of Bay Area families who come to see award-winning performances in a 4,000-seat amphitheater atop Mt. Tam, overlooking the entire Bay Area. While the shows under the sun are spectacular, half of the fun is the Mountain Play Adventure. Free shuttles are provided from downtown Mill Valley to the top of the mountain, where groups dig into gourmet picnics (paired with wines, of course) and those who wish can make the post-show 6-mile hike back to town. New shaded structures, delish food and drink vendors and pre-show concerts make this performance an all day outing.


San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
Free Shakespeare in the Park
(800) 978-PLAY
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

Pleasanton’s Amador Valley Community Park
(Santa Rita Rd
& Black Ave)

Cupertino’s Memorial
Park Amphitheater
(Stevens Creek Blvd & Mary Ave,
across from De Anza College)

The Presidio’s Main Post
Parade Ground Lawn
(between Graham St
& Keyes Ave)

Don’t let the name deceive you. The San Francisco Shakespeare festival provides free Shakespeare in parks in Pleasanton and Cupertino, in addition to their popular performances at the Presidio. Free Shakespeare in the Park began in 1983, with its debut production of The Tempest in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It is now one of the major free Shakespeare programs in the nation. Produced every year from July through September, Free Shakespeare in the Park provides an opportunity for everyone to see high quality, professional theater free of charge.


California Shakespeare Theater
Bruns Amphitheatre
Orinda, CA
(510) 548-9666
Cal Shakes

Founded in 1974, Cal Shakes has delighted audiences with their award-winning performances, set at dusk in a modern East Bay amphitheatre. Helmed by Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, Cal Shakes performances are both critical hits and crowd pleasers. And it’s not just Shakespeare. Each season includes a new work or classic piece of non-Shakes theater. Come early for a picnic before the sun sets, buy a gourmet meal to enjoy during a performance or snuggle up with a complimentary blanket for show under the stars.

Woodminster
Woodminster Amphitheater
Joaquin Miller Park
3300 Joaquin Miller Road
Oakland, CA 94602
510-531-9597
Woodminster

Nestled in the Oakland Hills, the Woodminster Summer Musicals Series in beautiful Joaquin Miller Park is a beloved fixture on the local arts scene for over 45 years. The cherished tradition of American musical theatre under the stars is an essential Oakland summertime experience. Chose one of three seasonal musicals, bring a picnic and the entire family and sing along under the stars.


Marin Shakespeare Company
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre
Domincan University
San Rafael, CA
(415) 499-4488
Marin Shakespeare Company

Marin Shakes, the north Bay’s only professional Shakespeare company, presents an award-winning summer Shakespeare festival at Dominican University’s Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, in San Rafael. You’ll find Shakespeare fun with Marin Shakes’ special events, year-round classes for all ages and “Shakespeare Under the Stars.”

-Beth Spotswood, CBS San Francisco

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