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How To Get Involved In San Francisco's Theater Community

(credit: The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival)

The San Francisco theater community reaches deep through many social layers that go well beyond the box office. In partnering with churches, schools, parks, clubs and people, these non-profit organizations bring live theater and life's lessons to as many of the public as they possibly can. Help is always appreciated, for "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
1560 Davidson Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 558-0888

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Bring your inner bard to the free Shakespeare in the Park outdoor performances at five parks (newest is Jerry Garcia Amphitheater at McLaren Park) and venues throughout the Bay Area. This non-profit regional theater company and arts educational provider offers summer acting camp for ages 4-18, an Advanced Shakespeare Workshop, Midnight Shakespeare community outreach and Saturday acting classes for teens that culminate in a performance. They tell us that new this year are the fall acting classes for adults, taking place at the newly renovated Presidio Officer's Club. Donate anything from performance props to power tools for scenery construction. High school and college students can get into the act both front-of-house and behind the scenes through the vibrant internship program.

The San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 677-9596

The 2014-2015 season offers eight theatrical productions from "Company" by Stephen Sondheim to Sandbox Series' "Ideation" moving to the main stage. In its 12th season as a non-profit, this Union Square-based theater group stages "some of the most consistently high-quality work around," according to The New York Times. A call to action for volunteers covers every possibility from volunteer ushering to donating frequent flyer miles. Young passion for live theater is fueled via The Rising Star Theater Attendance Program that serves 600 young people from 21 Bay Area high schools and through internships for those who dream of dabbling in all departments.

New Conservatory Theatre Center
25 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 861-4914

"Ushers and donations, of course, are always welcome," says Ben Randle, Artistic Associate. If you're hankering to sing, sew, shift scenery or sit in a sound booth, get in touch. Auditions are more accessible because actors are mostly non-union. And there's more. "Our signature YouthAware education program reaches into schools in the Bay Area and beyond to illuminate social issues such as anti-bullying, peer pressure and lifestyle acceptance through performances and post-performance cast discussions to encourage healthier lifestyles," Randle explains. Parents or teachers looking to bring YouthAware into their school may get in touch as well.

Young Performers Theatre
Fort Mason Center, Building C, Room 300
2 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94123

In recognizing that a lifelong appreciation of the arts starts early, the non-profit YPT has presented over 100 shows to young audiences. Some 20,000 tickets have been donated to Children in Need over eight years, distributed through Bay Area community organizations. Through Theatre in Education, drama teachers visit schools to conduct acting classes, run creative workshops and work with educators to build curriculum around theatrical disciplines. With a Theater Arts Academy starting as young as age three, kids begin with the fundamentals. Connect by attending a show, bringing the family, making a donation, checking out the summer camps and workshops and becoming a member of YPT to stay connected.

Theatre Bay Area
1119 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 430-1140

One of North America's largest regional theater service organizations, this is the place for an overarching look at the San Francisco Bay Area's theater community, beginning with Theatre Bay Arts Magazine published six times a year. Office-based volunteers are welcome and internships offer both a stipend and college credit to complement the experience and contacts gained in arts administration and marketing resources. Writers in the know with thought-provoking tidbits to share can get in touch with TBA Backstage about blogging. Playwrights will know that twice a year, Theatre Bay Area Magazine publishes an entire playscript, reserving at least one slot for a locally based contributor.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she's writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on

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