Bay Area Shakespeare Camp (SFShakes)

Community Subscriber
SF Bay Area
120 participants
sfshakes [at]

2023 marks the 31st season of Bay Area Shakespeare Camps!
Sessions this summer in Berkeley, San Francisco, & Santa Clara! Visit web site for dates & details.

Campers ages 7-13 will develop skills and techniques to understand and perform Shakespeare! Learn about the world of Shakespeare, Elizabethan dialect, and performance in a FUN and supportive atmosphere. Theatre professionals lead interactive sessions in Shakespeare's poetry, clowning traditions, stage combat, theatre games, set building and costuming. Each camp culminates in a performance of an abridged Shakespeare play for family & friends. Camps for ages 7-10 (Groundlings) and 11-13 (Players). Experience welcome but not required! Need-based scholarship assistance available.

Parent Reviews

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Look at the SF Shakespeare camps! They are tremendous. My daughter did them from elementary thru high school. She really wanted to try acting, but couldn’t shine in her school environment because she was a little quieter than other girls. SF Shakes was terrific for her. Everyone gets a part, the staff are so inclusive, and they really bring out the best in everyone. They also have Saturday programs during the school year. 


I am writing to recommend a unique camp experience for children and teens. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival has been offering excellent camps throughout the Bay Area for years. My daughter attended her first 2-week session in Berkeley when she was 7 and now 8 years later, she’s signed up for one of the teen camps having never missed a year.

What makes SFShakes camps great is the combination of kid focus and fun with a structure and direction that allows them to pull off a play of Shakespeare’s in 2 weeks. It’s mind boggling what SFShakes get the kids to achieve. I’ve seen experienced Shakespearean actors take direction from children because they know it when they hear a good idea, this is to say that kids are treated with respect and given the opportunity and support to reach the material they are working on. The kind and experienced staff (all professional actors) take pains to help the children understand the meaning and context of the plays but always bring in the fun that kids need.

Along the way my daughter has made lasting friendships, learned the responsibility of committing to a group project (Learn your lines! There are no solo performances!), and developed the confidence that comes from tackling something truly challenging.  She’s also learned that people in a time long ago and far from here were a lot like us and were concerned with love, death, joy, and fear (often with silliness along the way). It’s made her a deeper, more empathetic person. This is the SFShakespeare Festival camps website

-Emma 5/1/20

In 2014, after reading King Lear during an English class, my son became interested in exploring Shakespeare further, and so decided to join an SF Shakes camp. He had no previous knowledge of theater arts. Hooked from day one, our son has now been participating in SF Shakes camps at least twice a year for almost six years. While every class has been a little different as instructors and plays change, the one constant is the excellence and commitment of the teachers and those behind the scenes. All students are equally involved, with gender roles being shared, and often the "star" roles being shared by several students. Activities and topics range from stage combat to analyzing the metrical pattern of a line of verse.

There is no better example of the staff's commitment to students than during the COVID-19 outbreak this Spring. When it became evident that in-person classes were no longer tenable, the SF Shakes team scrambled, missing only a single class, and transitioned to an all on-line program. While on-line theater is certainly not the same as working together in the same room, it was still an excellent experience, culminating in a surprisingly sophisticated live Zoom performance.

During the last six years, SF Shakes has been a pillar of my son's growth, helping him expand his creativity, increasing his understanding of human nature, honing his leadership skills, and offering him volunteer opportunities. As an added bonus, our son's enthusiasm for the Bard has spilled over into the rest of the family, and we are all richer for it. I give the SF Shakes programs the highest recommendation.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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

My daughter has loved the Bay Area Shakespeare camps. The teachers are really high quality, the camps are fun (stage fighting) and they do a real play. A pretty big accomplishment for 2 weeks. Happy parent

March 2011

I'd like to recommend the San Francisco Shakespeare Camps. They have camps all over the bay area which are fun, offer high-quality experience and are reasonably priced.

When she first went, my daughter had no experience in drama, and she loved it. She really loved the other kids, as well as the lessons on stage fighting (a highlight) voice and of course the play itself.

Sessions are offered for various age groups. Shakespeare Parent

June 2009

My daughter LOVED the SF Shakespeare Festival camp. I selected the camp because my daughter wanted to do Shakespeare and this camp was outside. The camp she attended was at John Hinkle Park in Berkeley. There are camps all over the Bay Area ? some inside others in parks. Last summer she was 12, and it was absolutely her favorite camp ever. She wanted it to go on forever. She liked the performance, the Shakespeare, learning how to ''stage fight'', but more than anything she liked how close the group of kids became working on something together. She had never done theater before, and she's a little shy. I was very impressed with how well she did in the production. They have camps for three age groups. The performances after the 2 week sessions are free and really fun. All the kids had a great time. Pam

April 2004

Has anyone had experience with the SF Shakespeare Camp (for teens, at John Hinkel Park)?

I think that this is the first year that the Shakespeare Camp is holding a teen program in Berkeley, so I cannot give any specific feedback about the teen program. However, my son did participate in the program for the younger children and loved it. He went for 3 summers (4th, 5th, and 6th grades, I think). I confess that initally I was most worried that there were too many girls and not enough boys. The numbers were rather lopsided, but somehow it never really turned out to be a problem. The boys learned sword-fighting and all sorts of ''stage combat.'' (So did the girls, but I was the mother of a boy, so that was where my worries lay at the time...) They actually learned quite a bit about Shakespeare, but they were having too much fun to realze it. The end-of-camp production was quite wonderful. The counselors were all very ''cool'' young adults, and my son loved them. He made friends, got to wear great costumes, made scenery, learned some memorable lines, and all-in-all had a wonderful time. Even though I cannot say how these experiences will translate into the teen camp, I suspect that it would be just as good!

March 2004

Re: Summer drama for teens
Check out San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. They have a separate camp for teens. Both my daughters have enjoyed these camps, at all ages. Rosalie