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California Shakespeare Theater (CalShakes) Camp & Classes

(Lafayette & Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Classes & Lessons > Acting & Drama > California Shakespeare Theater

editor note: there is a summer camp program in the East Bay with a similar name: Bay Area Shakespeare Camps sponsored by the SF Shakespeare Festival Theater.
April 2012

We are thinking of sending our gregarious 7-year-old son to the 2-week Shakespeare camp. Would love to get your impressions of the camp. El Cerrito mama

I assume you are talking about the CalShakes 2-week camp? My son, now 16, is a CalShakes Conservatory veteran. He started at 8 or 9 in the two week camp. It was an experiment (he was not a theater kid, or particularly social -- just an out-of-the-box boy), and it was wonderful. He had a good time, and felt (and feels) like part of a community. The program is fun and well-paced, the kids are nice, and the productions are terrific. He has begged to go back every year since. So have many of the other kids in his group, who have become good friends. He is now a confident actor and speaker, a dedicated and supportive member of any ensemble he is in, and is a real scholar of Shakespeare. (Visiting the Globe Theater and Stratford-upon-Avon with him last year was like having a personal docent!) CalShakes deserves credit for helping him become a terrific young man. For us, CalShakes has been fabulous.

One caveat: The program tends to draw more girls than boys, especially in the older groups. My son never cared. If it matters to your son, you might check what the gender breakdown looks like in his age-group this year. Grateful to CalShakes

March 2010

Re: Summer acting camp for 12-year-old
You should try the California Shakespeare Theatre summer camps. They have a two week conservatory in the Oakland Hills (Holy Names highschool campus) and a five week conservatory in Lafayette (Bentley highschool campus). They are fun, yet rigorous drama camps for all types of kids! Campers who start here end up returning year after year and loving it. Students study acting, voice, movement,improv. and text in the morning and then have rehearsals for the play in the afternoon. This is a great camp for serious actors as well as those who just want an exciting, interesting and educative summer experience. Contact: or phone 510-809-3293 kate

You should look into Cal Shakes' Summer Shakespeare Conservatories. They offer a really wonderful conservatory- style program (i.e. intensive training by professional teaching artists), designed for kids of all levels of experience, with the day split between classes and rehearsal for a performance. They have locations around the Bay Area, including Oakland. More info at Cal Shakes fan
Definitely check out the Cal Shakes summer programs. They have classes in the mornings (acting, stage combat, improvisation, etc) and rehearse a shortened version of a Shakespeare play in the afternoons. I've seen the performances several years in a row, and they are just fantastic. There's a 5-week program in Lafayette, and 2-week programs in Lafayette and Rockridge. jessica
Feb 2010

Re: Drama summer camp for precocious 8-yr-old
I am happy to recommend to you the California Shakespeare Theatre summer camps. They are fun, yet rigorous drama camps for all types of kids! Campers who start here end up returning year after year and loving it. Students study acting, voice, movement, improv. and text - for my 8 year old boy, the stage combat is the most exciting! This is a great camp for serious actors as well as those who just want an exciting, interesting and educative summer experience. Contact: or phone 510-809-3293 kate

Jan 2009

Re: Drama Opportunities for 15 year old?
Cal Shakes has a great year round program and summer classes for youth. My nine year old daughter has taken several classes and this summer she keeps reminding me that she wants to do the five week course. They have great teachers and the kids love it. Stage mom

April 2002

I highly recommend the CalShakes theater camp, which is run by the California Shakespeare Festival folks. My (then) 9 year-old daughter attended their 5-week camp last year and loved it. At the end, the students perform in one of three Shakespeare plays (abbreviated versions). They are taught Elizabethan history, stage combat and so on. Living in Berkeley, we had to get creative in getting over to the Bentley School in Orinda, where it was held last year. We ended up getting a car pool together with other families and it worked out beautifully. I understand it will most likely be in Orinda again this year, but they are looking at a site just steps from the Orinda BART station. More information can be found on the web at Good luck! Sarah

Re: Classes for 7-year-old (March 2002)
In response to your inquiry about challenging, engaging acting classes for a 7 year old I thought to post information about acting courses I feel to be of excellent quality. The California Shakespeare Festival conduct acting training in the following age categories during the summer; 7-9,10-12, 10-13 and pre-college.

The 7-9 and the 10-12 age groups are offered a course entitled Youth Imagination Training. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth and The Winter's Tale will be used as units of study. The following is an excerpt from Cal Shakes Midsummer Stage 2002 brochure, ''Through fun and innovative investigations of Shakespeare's stories, students will develop their own creative abilities. Techniques include basic acting, stage combat, playwriting and visual arts. The program culminates in a performance''

For more information or to register contact Cal Shakes directly at: (510) 548-3422 ext 105 Or log on to

As a note for older children interested in learning more about acting the pre - college Shakespeare Training Program sounds exemplary. L. Ross

Re: Shakespeare acting classes for 10-year-old (December 2001)
try Cal Shakes (California Shakespeare Festival). Their offices are in Berkeley-the professional company performs at the Bruns Ampitheater in Orinda. My daughter has done summer classes with them twice and I know they have started a new student company. Also, Berkeley Rep. is now offering classes. Ellen
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