Learn about San Jose-based Silicon Valley Shakespeare, from the theatre's Executive Director, Doug Brook.
Silicon Valley Shakespeare invigorates the classics through innovative, relevant theatrical experiences that illuminate and inspire modern audiences. Founded in 1999, SVS currently produces three mainstage outdoor productions and a 48-Hour Play Festival, as well as numerous education offerings.
SVS prioritizes bringing quality entertainment to new audiences. A big part of that is our focus on youth. All youth 17 and under attend our mainstage plays for free. We provide a two-week Shakespeare Camp every June at History Park in San José, providing kids and teens valuable onstage and behind-the-scenes skills, culminating in their own performance. We also have a vibrant internship program, giving real experience to actors and onstage and to technical interns working on sets and other technical areas. Finally, we bring a variety of related, often customized workshops and assemblies to area schools, year-round.
Among our mainstage plays, we produce Free Shakespeare in San José every June, performing a fresh take on a classic Shakespeare play for free in Willow Street Park. Our summer repertory at Sanborn Park, in the hills near Saratoga, brings two productions – one another Shakespeare play, the other a non-Shakespeare classic such as Pride and Prejudice or The Three Musketeers. Tickets are very affordable and youth attend for free at the vibrant performances among the redwoods.
We also produce special events such as our 48-Hour Play Festival, co-produced with a local college or university (the past several with Foothill College in Los Altos). In just one weekend, eight teams of writers, actors, and directors produce eight Shakespeare-themed short plays completely from scratch, culminating in a performance of all eight for a packed house. We’ve also had special events such as Wakespeare to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing, and Shakespeare’s Most Wanted which explores the Bard’s top ten villains – both SVS originals!
SVS is based in San José, and will be an anchor tenant in the new Creative Center for the Arts, currently under construction in the Japantown neighborhood. We partner with San José’s History Park for several special events, and it’s the rich environment for our annual Camp. In each of our outdoor performance venues, we create a full theatrical experience which is augmented by the wonders and spontaneity of performing in nature. We depend on a vibrant core of volunteers who do so much to complement our staff, from our Board of Directors to our Friends of SVS group, as we continue to engage the communities around where we perform.
Special thanks to Doug Brook, Executive Director at Silicon Valley Shakespeare for this article.