Shakespeare Camp FAQ's

If you or your organization would like more information about Shakespeare Players (ages 7 to 13),  Upstart Crows (ages 12 to 18) or Advanced Shakespeare Workshop (experienced performers only, ages 13-18) please call 415-558-0888 or send email.

Will SF Shakes be offering in-person camps in the summer of 2021?
At the moment, we are committed to offering our acclaimed virtual programming, with adjustments to the schedule based on parent and teaching artist feedback. We are exploring adding in-person camps at safe locations - please add your name to this mailing list and we will alert you if and when in-person camps become available.

Is Virtual Shakespeare Camp right for my kid?

You know your child best, but we can assure you that our virtual camps are not passive screen time. Our teaching artists are experts at virtual education and keep it lively, active, and filled with personal attention and interaction. Each day also includes asynchronous, hands-on activities that encourage children and teens to get outside, become makers, and work flexibly at their own pace on what most interests them. Check out our blog about online instruction, featuring text and video commentary from popular teaching artist Amy Lizardo. 

If you’re still not sure, sign up for one of our free “Camp Sampler” sessions. Dates and times are TBA but get on the list and we'll notify you as soon as they are scheduled.

How long have you been doing Bay Area Shakespeare Camps?

2021 marks our 29th season of Shakespeare Camps! We've gone from 1 camp in San Francisco to serving up to 700 campers every summer.

How old should you be to attend Bay Area Shakespeare Camps?
We have camps for children ages 7 to 18!  7 years old (rising  2nd graders) through 12 years old (rising 7th graders) for our Shakespeare Players camps, and and 13 years old (rising 8th graders) through 18 years old for our Upstart Crows Camp for Teens and our Advanced Shakespeare Workshop. The age criteria are based on a few different variables, but its primary intent is to try and ensure that the camper's experience is a positive and enjoyable one.

Is it okay to go to camp if you've never acted before?

Yes! Shakespeare Players, and Upstart Crows Camps are designed for beginning and intermediate campers. Classes are small enough that our teaching artists are able to work with each individual at his or her level, including those who are new to performing.

What is the camper-teacher ratio at camp?

Our virtual camp ratio is approximately 12:1, with additional small-group and individual time with the teaching artist. This maximum ensure that everyone gets plenty of individualized attention and a speaking role in the final production.

Who are the teaching artists at Bay Area Shakespeare Camp?

Our teaching artists are working actors, stage managers, directors, and designers. Most have extensive teaching experience with camps and other programs. About a third have postgraduate degrees in theater. Some are currently enrolled in theatre degree programs at Universities. All of our teaching artists attend our company culture, classroom management, and curriculum training sessions. We do criminal background checks on all teaching staff. We are very proud of the quality of our teaching artists and curriculum. See the bios of some of our teaching artists.

What show will my child perform at Shakespeare Camp this summer?

  • Player’s Youngest Group (ages 7-8): The Adventures of Pericles (based on Act Two of Pericles, Prince of Tyre - our 2021 Free Shakespeare production
  • Player’s Middle and Older Groups (ages 9-12): Twelfth Night
  • Upstart Crows (ages 13-18): Pericles
  • Advanced Shakespeare Workshop (ages 13-18): monologues and scenes, plus an abridged play TBD.

    Why does the youngest group perform a scene or selection of scenes instead of a full play?

    We work to make sure every camper has the most successful theatrical experience, and work hard to match expectations to each camper's developmental abilities. While some children have the ability to memorize and recite larger amounts of text, we find that having a shorter production with a simpler dramatic structure is best for young learners. Instead of focusing only on memorization, they have the time to work more closely with their director and fellow campers, developing important theatrical skills such as interpretive movement, ensemble work, and a fully realized, embodied performance of Shakespeare’s poetry.

    How do you cast the camp shows? Does everyone get a part?

    Our camps are focused more on social-emotional learning, team-building, and developing appreciation for the art form of theatre than on training professionally competitive actors. During the first day of camp, the teaching artists will describe the characters and action of the play and play a series of games that reveal students’ strengths in reading, speaking text, movement, leadership and creativity. The teaching artist assesses what level of challenge is right for each child, and will make their decisions over the first few days of camp. Every effort is made to give each child an appropriate role for his or her level of experience and comfort, and not to overwhelm any child with a role that is too large for them to learn and perform successfully. And yes, everyone gets a speaking role.

    What if my child is unhappy with their role?

    Most campers, even if they are initially unhappy with their casting, find that they love their roles after a day or two of rehearsal. Our teaching artists make a special effort to highlight every performer and the importance of their role in the overall story.

    When is the final performance?

    Shakespeare Player’s and Upstart Crows Camps: 2:00 pm on the final Friday of camp. Performances last 45-90 minutes depending on how many groups are in a particular camp. For Virtual Camps, we encourage campers to continue our tradition of a post-show cast party by celebrating at home with their families and keeping the Zoom connection open to celebrate with their cast mates.

    Do you accept campers with special needs?

    Yes. In the past we have had campers with autism, cerebral palsy, Asperger's syndrome, diabetes, and other mental and physical challenges. We find that most of these campers do extremely well at camp. Those with severe challenges may need the on-site attention of a parent or caregiver - this is decided on a case-by-case basis. We ask that all parents of children with special needs indicate this on the emergency form. The more we know, the more prepared our staff can be.

    Is it okay to miss days during Shakespeare Camp?

    The campers who are able to attend every day of camp undoubtedly have a more rewarding experience. Even a short absence can cause your camper to miss out on a lot! Of course, emergencies and illnesses happen, and we do our best to work with them. Parents and children should remember that putting on a play requires a team effort from all cast members, and absences hurt the production. Please do not plan your vacation to overlap with the camp. There are no discounts for missed days of camp. If your child cannot participate in the final performance, it’s challenging for our teaching artists to keep them engaged during rehearsals.

    What's the difference between teen camp (Upstart Crows) and the Advanced Shakespeare Workshop?

    The Advanced Shakespeare Workshop is the one summer program with more of a professional training focus (although it’s still appropriate for teens who don’t intend to have a career in the arts). It is recommended for actors aged 13-18 who have attended at least one camp and are ready to work in a more intense and focused atmosphere. Students entering the ASW should have a good grasp of scansion, comfort with Shakespeare's language, and speak and move confidently. ASW students work on vocal technique, physical conditioning and expression, and deep text work on one or more selected scenes and monologues. This allows them to immerse themselves in the language more completely and also acquire material for future auditions.
  • ASWs are limited to 12 students. Students enjoy a professional atmosphere with one-on-one coaching, and the company of like-minded, self-motivated young actors. ASW students can expect to have a lot of material to memorize and occasional outside homework assignments. Participation in the ASW is by audition/interview only (note: returning ASW actors are not required to audition) – interested teens should email a one-minute Shakespeare monologue.

    Upstart Crows Camps are similar to the regular Camps in that experience is welcome but not required. There may be advanced actors as well as beginning and intermediate in Upstart Crows Camps; sometimes advanced actors enjoy participating in both programs since they are quite different. The camp ends with a final performance of a 30-minute Shakespeare play.

    My child loved camp! Can we sign up for a second session, or will it be too repetitive?

    Although the basic curriculum remains the same from session to session, a different teaching artist may have a different approach, and campers frequently benefit from multiple sessions in one summer. If your child is signing up for multiple sessions, let us know and we'll put him or her into a different role or with a different teaching artist so that he or she will have a new experience in each session. Campers who enroll for a second session in the same season will receive a $50 rebate on their second enrollment!

    How can my child best prepare for camp? Do you recommend any books or videos?

    Although it's fine for campers to walk in without having read the plays or seen any Shakespeare, it's always an advantage to have a little prior experience with the language. Your local library likely has a collection of Shakespeare performances on video, as well as illustrated books of Shakespeare's stories for all ages and reading levels.

    My child has been attending camp for many years, and wants to take the next step. How can s/he become an intern?

    Please see our internships page for more information about our internship program.

    Do you have scholarships?

    We offer need-based scholarship assistance on a case-by-case basis, and any student on the Free/Reduced lunch program may pay as little as $25. Please submit a letter stating your need and indicate how much you are able to pay. Attach any documentation that may help advance your request. We have never had to turn away a camper with genuine financial need, although we may have some restrictions on which camp sessions are available.

    What are the transfer and cancellation policies?

    Transfers from one camp session to another, on a space available basis, may be made prior to the start of the session. If you transfer more than once, a $25 administrative fee will be assessed for each additional change. There is a $100 administrative fee for cancellations prior to one week before the start of camp (for June 7 session, cancel before May31; for June 28 session, cancel before June 21; for July 19 session, cancel before July 12). No refunds can be made after the  cancel date deadline.

    Any questions we haven't answered?

    Give us a call (415-558-0888) or send a note!