Magazine article Sunset

Balmy Nights with the Bard

Magazine article Sunset

Balmy Nights with the Bard

Article excerpt

Brush up your Shakespeare at festivals from Lake Tahoe to Santa Cruz

I'm on sensory overload. The sun is just dipping below the Sierra peaks, suffusing Lake Tahoe with silvery light. With a glass of wine in my hand and a picnic spread at my feet, I'm tempted to fix my stare on the sky, whose purple glow has become more intense by the minute--but I also want to see what's happening on the stage, where Rosaline perches coyly on a stone wall, conducting a verbal joust with a suitor who can't take his eyes off her. No wonder: In her sumptuous red flocked-velvet dress, with her curly blond ringlets swept up off her neck, she's fair competition to the evening sky.

These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights,

That give a name to every fixed star,

Have no more profit of their shining nights

Than those that walk, and wot not what they are.

The passage, from Love's Labour's Lost, seems fitting on a beautiful night like this, when the names of the stars and the intricate meanings of Shakespeare's poetry may be lost on me--but nevertheless add up to pure pleasure.

For nearly 30 years, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor State Park has been drawing crowds of up to 26,000. Now, in addition to its showstopping setting--and solid acting by the Foothill Theatre Company--Sand Harbor boasts a new $1.8-million stage, updated sound and lighting, and a vast new selection of food vendors offering everything from blackened salmon to individual apple pies.

Five stages where the play's the thing

If you can't make it to Tahoe this summer but--as Cole Porter advised--still want to brush up your Shakespeare, there are numerous other stages essaying the Bard in Northern California. Below we've selected a handful that combine great settings with professional acting. Food is available at all, though the menus range from simple to elaborate. In general, discounts are available for students, children, and seniors. For more Shakespeare, visit

Shakespeare planner

California Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley. Tucked in the golden hills of Siesta Valley between Berkeley and Orinda, Bruns Amphitheater is easily among the Bay Area's most dramatic performance venues. …

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