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San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley: Theater, Small Equity Companies

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San Francisco Theater: Small Equity Theater Companies Around San Francisco

Below are our recommendations for the best small equity theaters in and around San Francisco, with information on location, ticket prices, transportation/parking, theater history and other points of interest.


Actors Theatre of San Francisco

Actors Theatre of San Francisco

Founded in 1989 by a group of professional actors and directors, Actors Theatre is a permanent repertory company whose work reflects it members’ ideals of ensemble theatre. Over the years, the company has focused on the human interactions at the core of each play and has presented an eclectic repertoire that has included many world, U.S., and area premiere productions of major new plays, as well as some of the …more…

Aurora Theatre Company

Aurora Theatre Company

This company came together in 1991-92 around the development and production of a new play, Dorothy Bryant’s Dear Master. Following the success of that endeavor, its members committed themselves to continue to present plays “about something important; ideas mediated by language and people, which are assisted by other elements like sets, lights, and costumes,” not dominated by them.

Known for its intimate performance space in downtown Berkeley, Aurora is often referred …more…

Cutting Ball Theater

Cutting Ball Theater

The Cutting Ball Theater specializes in new, experimental plays and “re-visioned classics.” Founded in 1999 by theater artists Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers, the company presents a four-play season in residence at EXIT on Taylor, in addition to producing Avant GardARAMA!, which has featured short, experimental works by writers such as Richard Foreman, Mac Wellman, Suzan-Lori Parks, Eugenie Chan, Heiner …more…

EXIT Theatre

EXIT Theatre

EXIT has been presenting “indie theatre” in downtown San Francisco since 1983. The company commissions, develops, and produces new plays; provides production support and low cost theater rentals to small companies; hosts playwrights-in-residence; and produces the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival, the largest such event in the Bay Area, as well as DIVAfest, dedicated to creating new works by women writers. EXIT operates a …more…

Magic Theatre

Magic Theatre

Magic Theatre is solely dedicated to the development and production of new plays by both emerging and established writers. The company was founded in 1967 at the Steppenwolf Bar in Berkeley; its name derives from the novel Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, in which the central character is invited to attend an “Anarchist Evening at the Magic Theatre. For Madmen Only. Price of Admission: Your Mind.” Over the decades, the company …more…

Marin Theatre Company (MTC)

Marin Theatre Company (MTC)

Founded in 1966, Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional nonprofit theater in the North Bay. Located in Marin County between the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tamalpais, MTC is a destination for intimate, powerful and engrossing theater productions for over 30,000 people from throughout the Bay Area each year.

The company produces a six-show season of provocative plays by passionate playwrights from …more…

New Conservatory Theatre Center

New Conservatory Theatre Center

The mission of this company is to champion innovative theatre and “to effect personal and societal growth, enlightenment, and change.” Recent New Conservatory productions of note have included Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Good Boys and True, Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed, John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, the musical Dames at Sea, and the San Francisco premiere of Nathan Sanders’ The Sugar Witch.

New …more…

San-Francisco-Shakespeare-Festival-300x225

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival began in 1983 with a production of The Tempest in Golden Gate Park. The company’s goal is to make the words and themes of Shakespeare accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, financial status, or level of education. SF Shakes programs include: Free Shakespeare in the Park, presented every year from July to September in San Francisco, Pleasanton, Cupertino, and Redwood City; Shakespeare …more…

SF Playhouse

SF Playhouse

Founded in 2003, the SF Playhouse is an intimate, professional theatre located in Union Square. The company garnered 20 Bay Area Theatre Critic nominations in its first year of operation alone, and it is well regarded for its efforts to present theater that “celebrates the human spirit,” including new works and classics. Among its recent productions: David Greenspan’s She Stoops to …more…

Shotgun Players

Shotgun Players

Dedicated to creating “fearless, provocative, relevant theatre,” this company was born in 1992. For the first 13 years of its existence, the Shotgun Players performed in 44 different spaces, then in 2004 found a permanent home at the Ashby Stage in South Berkeley. SP presents at least one commissioned work its season, and the company is known for forming long-term …more…

Willows Theatre Company

Willows Theatre Company

The Willows Theatre Company is a non-profit professional theatre that focuses on the development and production of American plays and musicals. In existence for more than 30 years, WTC has presented such shows as To Kill a Mockingbird, Avenue Q, Hair, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and Brighton Beach Memoirs.  In 2007, …more…