Order for Guest
Your shopping cart is empty.

Clive Worsley

Cal Shakes Summer Conservatories Build Character and Community
by Clive Worsley
Director of Artistic Learning

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in July and Lafayette’s Upper Bentley School campus had been turned into a mini Stratford-Upon-Avon. Classrooms became makeshift costume shops, students ran through the grassy quad to take their “places” backstage, and cheers erupted from the auditorium where family and friends had come to watch the Cal Shakes Conservatory showcases—a series of performances by the different teams formed throughout the two- and four-week camps.

The final show on this day was Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, featuring a cast of 14- to 17-year-olds. Three students—one boy, and two girls—were playing the role of Lear, seamlessly and innovatively replacing each other during scene changes. These students had been rehearsing for two weeks and not only did not one cast member miss a line, but they relished in Shakespeare’s often intimidating Elizabethan language. After the show the cast humbly accepted applause and adulation from their fans. These kids were more than alright.
“[Cal Shakes Summer Conservatory] was one of my daughter’s favorite experiences”

“We train humans who could be actors, not actors who might be human,” says Brett Jones, the Lamorinda Conservatory Coordinator. Cal Shakes Conservatory students receive training in a broad variety of theatrical skills—movement, voice, improvisation, text analysis, stage combat, and of course acting, by our team of professional teaching artists, directors, and staff. Along with this world-class level of instruction, we actively work with students to create mutual respect, trust, and acceptance in their work, resulting in well-rounded, socially adapted, and compassionate young people. As one Artistic Learning donor observed while visiting the camp, “The teachers are superb, and the students are obviously captivated.”

Our success is also measured by the diverse group of young people we are able to bring together in pursuit of a common goal. One student put it this way: “I like the community you build at Cal Shakes. You start off not knowing people and end up being part of a community that supports each other.” While we are extremely proud of the work our students perform at our final showcases, we are even more proud of the loving, accepting, and empowering environment that we, along with our students, create together, where the value and necessity of joyful self-expression becomes clear. “[Cal Shakes Summer Conservatory] was one of my daughter’s favorite experiences,” says one parent. “I have already seen a difference in her communication skills and confidence level, which is so important during the middle school years.” We’ll always accept a standing ovation, but this sentiment is, to us, the highest praise. Through the exploration of Shakespeare’s characters and stories, our young actors discover their individual and shared humanity in ways that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

• Acting
• Stage Combat
• Improvisation
• Movement
• Voice
• Text
• Master Class Mondays (4 week camps only)

Cal Shakes’ Summer Shakespeare Conservatory for ages 8-18 offers a theater experience rooted in the same passion for artistic exploration and excellence that guides our award-winning Main Stage productions.

We foster self-expression and artistic discipline to engage students in the theater-making process: In the dynamic study and physical experience of developing some of literature’s greatest characters, our students also develop their own.
"My favorite part of Conservatory is the people. The campers and teachers are like one giant family." —Five-Week Conservatory student.

Participants spend the morning playing and creating in a wide variety of theater disciplines, taught by working theater professionals.

Afternoons are spent in rehearsals. The experience culminates in Shakespeare performances for family and friends at the end of the program.

2016 Summer Conservatories will be open for registration on December 1st, 2015.

2016 Summer Conservatories will be open for registration on December 1st, 2015.

2016 Summer Conservatories will be open for registration on December 1st, 2015.

2016 Summer Conservatories will be open for registration on December 1st, 2015.

2016 Summer Conservatories will be open for registration on December 1st, 2015.

Have questions? Reach out to Artistic Learning Coordinator Whitney Grace Krause at 510.548.3422 x105 or learn@calshakes.org.

Want to get social? Like us at Facebook.com/calshakesconservatory to post your photos, memories, questions, and other thoughts.

Think a picture’s worth a thousand words? Click here to check out some of our favorite photos from 2014’s conservatories.

Promo Code

  • If you have a promotional code, please enter it here: