See Shakespeare for Free at UCB

By STEVE FINACOM Special to the Planet
Friday April 30, 2004

One of the advantages of living in a university town is that dramatic performances by not only visiting professionals but talented locals are frequent events, often in unique surroundings.  

You can catch one such activity Friday or this weekend when students of English 117T at Cal present Shakespeare’s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing” in a dramatic outdoor setting on the university campus. These performances are free and are usually spirited events, with the students demonstrating what they’ve learned about Elizabethan drama during the past semester. The play is given in costume. 

Annual outdoor Shakespeare has been a campus tradition in recent decades, with the setting shifting from site to site. I recall one notable performance with the noble white granite façade of Wheeler Hall as the backdrop, and the performers playing from not only the steps in front of the building but from a second floor balcony as well. 

This year, the main eastern steps of South Hall form the stage, with the venerable red brick exterior of the university’s oldest building behind.  

There are three performances remaining. Today (Friday), 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2, at 3 p.m. I’m told each performance runs over two hours. (In the event of rain, the performance shifts to the Maude Fife Room in nearby Wheeler Hall.) 

You can easily find the performance site. Just head for the Campanile, and South Hall is the red brick building downhill to the southwest.  

Although the university does allow public parking on campus on the weekends, spaces in this part of campus are extremely scarce. If you can’t walk or take public transit to the campus edge, look for a parking space in one of the university’s perimeter lots on Bancroft Way or Hearst Avenue and walk in; remember to pay the fee, post your parking permit on the dashboard, and read the instructions wherever you park (some spaces remained reserved for university uses even the weekends).  

(Parking tip: on weekends only, if you take Bancroft Way down towards Telegraph, turn right behind Sproul Hall and go north on Barrow Lane, a little one block street typically lined with police cars. Along Barrow Lane itself almost all the parking is reserved for university vehicles, but at the north end the road branches left into a small parking lot above Sather Gate, or right along Eshleman Road where there’s also curbside parking. If there’s no sign reserving the parking for special events, pay at the yellow vending machine. This is about as close as you can get in a private vehicle to the performance site; it’s just a short stroll north, across Strawberry Creek.)