1. We believe in…connection. Connection is at the heart of theatrical practice, and human existence. Shakespeare offers many means through which we can connect, including language, rhythm, feeling, story, character, movement, and idea. The goal of our educational programming and productions is to foster connection between participants.
2. We believe in…embracing paradox. As we believe that Shakespeare’s works can be used for artistic, cultural, personal, interpersonal, emotional, intellectual, and ethical development, we also contend with their historical and contemporary roles in colonial and white supremicist structures. We enjoy the gifts of Shakespeare while interrogating its problems. We understand that these plays are rooted in a specific context, and grapple with how to apply them to our multicultural context.
3. We believe in…accessibility. We recognize the diversity of human composition and experience, and endeavor to create practices and programs that are accessible to all who might want to engage. We are committed to an adaptable mindset that will allow for continuing growth as an organization. We heed, in particular, communities and individuals who have been marginalized or underserved.
4. We believe in… stories. Stories help us explore what it means to be human. They serve as a passing down of our (sometimes collective) truths, lessons learned, as well as continued growth. Self and societal reflection can make us more aware, empathetic, expressive, and balanced as people.
5. We believe in…process. While performance provides a structure through which learning occurs, learning is the aim, not producing. We define success by the enjoyment and growth of our participants, not through a “final” polished product. We recognize that there is no point at which we are finished, that learning is always ongoing even after the class or performance has happened.
6. We believe in…what works. Rather than thinking and acting in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ we concentrate on what works. We don’t assume that what has been working will continue to work, nor that what works for some people works for everyone. We are committed to an actively self-reflective process of making our programming and organization work.
7. We believe in…transparency. Everyone who works and engages with us has the right to know why decisions are being made. While some information needs to be protected for reasons of safety and privacy, we understand that transparency is essential to create access and break down hierarchies of privilege. We commit to not ‘gatekeep.’
8. We believe in…community. Theatre is a collaborative art form. Theatre is both a response to and a creation of culture. Our practice of theatre is rooted in communal participation, is a partnership between our practitioners and our many intersecting communities throughout the Bay Area and globally.
9. We believe in…empowered casting. Inclusive, identity-conscious casting is a tenet of all casting decisions in our camps and productions. Directors examine their own biases and seek perspectives unfamiliar to them as they cast. SF Shakes commits to not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender expression, size, age, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or any other identity.
10. We believe in…adapting Shakespeare. We recognize that the surviving texts of Shakespeare’s plays come to us fragmented, amalgamated, and altered, the result of various editors, collaborators, and publishers. They are living texts. We adapt freely, with artistry and intention, so as to work from a script that best serves our needs, context, and population.
11. We believe in…embodied storytelling. We choose theatre as a form that embodies language, and tells stories through a spectrum of tangibility and abstraction. We consider all the tools at our disposal, and choose the ones that best fit our artistic and educational objectives.
Written by: Bidalia Albanese, Rebecca Ennals, Evan Held, Charlie Lavaroni, Ryan Lee, Regina Morones, Amy Lizardo Ryan, Ayelet Schrek, Michaela Stewart, Joshua Waterstone