Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bay Area Theatres

If you have another theatre to recommend, let me know in the comments!
Last updated May 2016.

San Francisco

PianoFight: Self-described as “San Francisco’s next landmark entertainment venue”, the PianoFight space plays host to sketch comedy troupes, audience-judged playwriting competitions, and surf rock bands. It’s also within walking distance of the Powell Street BART station!

Magic Theatre: A classic theatre located in northern San Francisco, famous for being the artistic home of gritty American playwright and film actor Sam Shepard.

Crowded Fire Theatre: A small theatre company in Potrero Hill that produces diverse plays by local playwrights.

ACT:  One of San Francisco's largest and most famous nonprofit companies, ACT puts on a variety of modern plays and musicals.

San Francisco Playhouse: Located close to Union Square, the San Francisco Playhouse combines old favorites with challenging new works.

Cutting Ball Theatre: A small theatre in the Tenderloin that performs risky, experimental plays.


Palo Alto Players: An 80-year-old community theatre that performs classic shows and occasionally branches into more experimental artists like Sarah Ruhl.

TheatreWorks: The biggest regional theater in the Peninsula, especially famous for its New Works Festival. Performs shows in Palo Alto (at the Lucie Stern Center) and in Mountain View (in the city's Center for Performing Arts).

Pear Theatre: A small but ambitious Mountain View theatre company that performs both the 20th Century’s greatest plays and more esoteric work. Their Playwrights’ Guild produces a festival of short plays every year.

Dragon Theatre: Another small theatre company, located in downtown Redwood City. Most Dragon plays are by little-known playwrights or apocryphal works by the greats. Within walking distance of a Caltrain station and a lot of good restaurants.

Hillbarn Theatre: Foster City's community theatre, which performs some of Broadway's most beloved musicals.

South Bay

City Lights Theatre Company: A midsize theatre in downtown San Jose that produces a variety of interesting shows. Usually serves snacks after performances, but you may want to save room for the dozens of excellent restaurants in the area.

Tabard Theatre: This family-friendly theatre, located literally across the street from some of San Jose’s best restaurants, has an intimate space with an interesting “corner” stage construction.

San Jose Theatre Company: Modern plays – and twists on the classics – performed on an arena stage in downtown San Jose.

Silicon Valley Shakespeare: A seasonal outdoor theatre near Saratoga that performs Shakespeare plays along with a few modern plays in a fun, casual setting.

East Bay

Gritty City Repertory Youth Theatre: A youth theatre in Oakland that stages plays – both Shakespeare and modern – with relevant themes for young people and people of color.

California Shakespeare Theater: Located in the hills near Orinda, Cal Shakes performs a four-play season during the summer in their outdoor arena stage.

Shotgun Players: An edgy Berkeley theatre company that directly responds to issues in the larger theatrical community: For example, selling $5 tickets to audience members under 25.

Berkeley Rep: Berkeley's longstanding theatre, most notable for its repeated collaborations with director Mary Zimmerman.

Impact Theatre: Another Berkeley company, this one dedicated to producing new work.

North Bay

Marin Rep:  Marin's most notable nonprofit theatre, which puts on mostly modern plays with serious artistic merit.

Notable College and University Theatres

Santa Clara University

Foothill College

Notre Dame de Namur University

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