Publications for finding live theater in San Francisco include The San Francisco Weekly, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Eastbay Express and San Francisco Theater. The New York Times also lists major theater events in San Francisco in its “National Listing” section.
Theater in San Francisco began with the California Gold Rush, in the 1850s. A New York bar man and taxi driver opened an 800-seat theater, called the Jenny Lind, that would spark a rise in performances in the city during the years to follow. Tom Maguire also built an opera house and two more versions of his original theater during his tenure in San Francisco.
Today, theater in the Bay Area thrives; any given night there are Shakespeare shows, musicals, Broadway headliners and even mime troupes performing on stages all over the city. Experimental theater in San Francisco in the 1980s and 90s thrived, small companies threw out conventional rules and found new ways to engage the audience while performing. Notable residents who graced the San Francisco stage include Robin Williams, and aclaimed, author Dave Eggers contributes to the productions of the local Campo Santo Theater Company alongside other contemporary artists and writers.
The California Shakespeare Company performs in the outdoor Bruns Amphitheater during the summer: For Broadway, the Willows Theater in Concord is the place to find a show. The Tony Award-winning, Berkley Rep Theater produces ground-breaking shows, many of which go on to become Broadway hits. For cutting-edge productions, the Central Works Theater keeps the city’s experimental tradition alive, incorporating the full company’s participation in the script-writing process, from conception to completion.