San Francisco is home to a thriving theatre community. Many of the professional actors who populate local stages began their careers at local colleges. There are quite a few excellent, professional-level training programs in the Bay Area, producing a variety of plays with tickets available at bargain-basement prices. Attend with an open mind and heart, and you may well see a star of the future finding her wings. And you’ll feel really good about supporting a new generation of artists. You can’t beat that for the price.
San Francisco State University
Creative Arts Building
1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
Date: Dec. 5-15, 2013
“Chorus Line,” a classic American musical, will be directed by Professor Barbara Damashek. Professor Damahsek is a leading expert in musical theatre and has been nominated for multiple Tony Awards for the musical “Quilters.” Many of SFSU’s graduates perform with distinction in the Bay Area theatre scene. The current season includes contemporary plays, Shakespearean works and musical comedies. Ticket prices are more affordable than professional theatre, and the enthusiasm of the young players more than makes up for any lapses in polish.
Bancroft Way and Telegraph Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Date: Oct. 18-27, 2013
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is among Shakespeare’s most accessible plays, easily followed even by children, and offers excellent roles for young actors. Of all of the Shakespearean canon, it is perhaps the play best suited for a student production. Families should be delighted by this. The San Francisco Bay Area is very fortunate to be home to one of the world’s leading universities. According to Times Higher Education, UC Berkeley ranks as having the fifth strongest reputation for excellence among universities worldwide. This high standard is reflected in all of UC Berkeley’s programs, including theatre arts.
City College of San Francisco
The Diego Rivera Theatre
50 Phelan Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94112
Dates: In November, specific dates TBA. Check the website linked above.
“The Women” is a classic American play by Claire Booth Luce, which is not often produced. This play is of special interest because in the 1930s, it was highly unusual for a play to be written for an all-female cast. Student actresses will be particularly thrilled to participate, and their excitement is likely to make this production catch fire. The San Francisco City College Theatre Arts faculty has decades of teaching experience. It brings excellent professional standards to all of its instruction, which is reflected in the quality of the productions. Also, when you attend productions at The Diego Rivera Theatre on the SFCC campus, you will have the opportunity to see a major mural by Rivera which is on display at the theatre.
Stanford University Memorial Hall
551 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
Dates: Jan. 23-25, 2013
“The Bluest Eye,” by Lydia R. Diamond, is adapted from the novel by Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison is the winner of a Nobel Prize for literature, and Lydia R. Diamond’s adaptation of Morrison’s first novel has been highly praised. It has not been previously performed in the Bay Area. Like Berkeley, Stanford University is one of the nation’s most prestigious schools. It has an active community in the creative arts, with a strong emphasis on scholarly work. Many graduates of Stanford go on to academic careers at major universities throughout the United States. Productions at Stanford are often the thesis projects of outstanding scholars.
Related: Best Community Theater In North Bay
College of Marin
835 College Ave.
Kentfield, CA 94904
Dates: Feb. 28 through March 16, 2014
The College of Marin has had an active Theatre Arts Department for nearly 50 years. Professor James Dunn has been active with the program since it began. In 1966, his very influential wild west-style production of “Taming of the Shrew” went to Edinburgh, Scotland for the Fringe Festival where it won a “Best of the Fringe” award. This season, Professor Dunn is reviving this famous production. It ought to be a hoot.