How to enjoy theater in the park (even if you don't like Shakespeare)
Looking for more ways to enjoy theater and the great outdoors? Pack picnic basket, gather a few blankets and head to Cal Shakes to be entertained by great literary works at the Bruns Amphitheater.
For those who haven’t visited Cal Shakes before (maybe you think Shakespeare is boring? Or that you’ll be stuck sitting on the ground? Or you’ll be freezing cold?), follow these tips so those Shakespearian tragedies stay on the stage.
The Bruns Amphitheater is built on parkland, set against Orinda's rolling hillside.
Don’t be tardy to the party
The Bruns Amphitheater is built on parkland, set against Orinda's rolling hillside. The theater opens two hours before curtain time, and theatergoers are encouraged to take advantage of it. There’s plenty of places to picnic in the grove, a sculptural garden to explore, café and Grove Talks that give insight on the play beginning 45 minutes before each performance.
Eat, drink and be merry! Theatergoers are encouraged to arrive early and take advantage of the picnic area surrounding the Bruns.
Pack dinner and dessert
Everyone around you will be eating (yes, even during the performance). Pack a picnic or purchase food at the café. Easy dinner options include cold cuts and cheese, dried fruit and nuts, chips and guac, and easy-to-pack salads from your local deli. Pair it with a bottle of your favorite wine, or bring a six-pack to share. Just remember, don’t be a bad neighbor and make a lot of noise unwrapping your food or popping bottles during the performance.
Arrive early at the Bruns Amphitheater and enjoy a meal before the show.
The Bruns uses plastic chairs in most sections. If you purchased tickets in the Terrace, the seats are low-to-the-ground beach chairs. You’re also welcome to bring your own chair, just make sure it’s a low-backed beach chair (so people behind you can see). Bring a blanket to keep yourself warm.
BYOB. Or buy one at the cafe. Cal Shakes serves up wine, beer, coffee, soda and other drinks at the cafe.
It’s a wild party
Hawks, owls, bats, cattle and even turkeys all roam the land surrounding the Bruns – call it part of the charm of seeing a show in a wooded park. The Bruns warns sometimes little yellow jackets like to say hi, so keep your food covered, throw away your trash and recyclables and contact house management if you get stung.
Dress the part
It’s the theater, so it must be formal, right? Wrong! The Bruns is outdoors, and it’s the Bay Area, so dress in warm layers. If you’re seeing an afternoon show, bring a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you’re seeing an evening show, sweaters, a blanket and snuggling are encouraged. Also, wear comfy shoes for the short walk on the path to the theater.
Visiting Cal Shakes by BART? Hop on the free courtesy shuttle at Orinda BART Station beginning 90 minutes before showtime.
By BART of course! Ride BART to the Orinda BART Station and catch a free shuttle to the Bruns Amphitheater. The shuttle starts 90 minutes before each performance, and when the show is over, ride the shuttle back to the BART.
Pick a show!
Even if you’re not a fan of the Bard, Cal Shakes offers two-non Shakespeare plays a season.