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Berkeley’s Best
Downtown Arts District

Addison St. betw. Shattuck Ave. & Milvia St. 
Works by local artists are displayed in this enclave for the arts, and 127 cast-iron panels embedded in the sidewalk are imprinted with poetry and comprise the Addison Street Poetry Walk (they were selected by Kensington resident Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate). 

outside Berkeley Repertory Theatre at night
image courtesy of venue; outside Berkeley Repertory Theatre at night

Aurora Theatre  
2081 Addison St./Shattuck Ave. 
In this intimate venue, no seat is more than 4 rows from the stage.  The two venues include the 150-set main stage Alafi Auditorium and the 50-seat black box theater Harry’s Up-Stage. 

Berkeley Repertory Theatre   
2025 Addison St./Shattuck Ave. 
This Tony Award-winning company has established a national reputation for ambitious programming and dynamic productions.  It is well known for presenting important new dramatic voices and fresh adaptations of seldom-seen classics.  Multi-talented Rita Moreno, now a local resident, appears in some productions.  Past productions have won 5 Tonys, 7 Obies, 9 Drama Desk Awards, 1 Grammy, and many other honors.  Performances are held in two spaces:  the 400-seat Peet’s Theatre, and the 600-seat Roda Theatre.  A cafe provides a vibrant gathering space before curtain and during intermission; a simple snack counter is also available.  See info about “It Can’t Happen Here.”

California Jazz Conservatory  
2087 Addison St. 
Situated in the basement of the landmark Kress building, this school offers music lessons and performances.  Concerts are presented in the 85-seat Rendon Hall theater located in the new Fiddler Annex across the street at 2040 Addison Street. 

Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse  
2020 Addison St.  Performances most nights at 7:30 or 8 pm. 
This non-profit green performance facility, which has been around since the ‘60s but moved to this location in 2009, features traditional music such as blues, folk, honky tonk, and Celtic.  It is the longest-running full-time folk music venue west of the Mississippi.  Comfortable auditorium seating is first-come, first-served, but everyone gets a good view and excellent acoustics–thanks to a sound system designed exclusively for the space by Meyer Sound Lab of Berkeley.  Wine and beer and, of course, coffee are available, plus light snacks (cookies, peanuts).  Note that this venue is only open for coffee and food service when a show is scheduled, and then a ticket is required for admission.

seating at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley
seating at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley

Berkeley‘s Best
Performing Arts

1317 San Pablo Ave./Gilman St., West Berkeley.  Fee.
Described as “just a big barn,” but with skylights and stained glass, this upbeat spot books in lesser known musicians. Think international music and dance, including zydeco and reggae.  Most events are family friendly.  Refreshments include self-serve coffee, kombucha, and mate. 

Berkeley Symphony  
Season runs October through April. Fee.

Cal Performances  
In Zellerbach Hall. 

Central Works often presents performances at the Berkeley City Club.  Fee. 

Greek Theatre 
2001 Gayley Rd.  

John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre 
41 Somerset Pl./off The Arlington.  Free. 
Seating at this venue consists of stone terraces.  You’ll be more comfortable if you bring cushions or low lawn chairs. 
Performances are by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley.  

Julia Morgan Theater  
2640 College Ave.  Fee.
Designed by architect Julia Morgan and built in 1908 as St. John’s Presbyterian Church, this theater is considered her finest Craftsman-style building.  The lovely redwood structure retains its original redwood paneling inside and outside and features the original exposed beams.  It is known for remarkable acoustics and now hosts theater events. It also houses dance studios and a pre-school.  More images.

The Berkeley Playhouse regularly presents family-oriented performances in the theater.  A concession counter sells snacks, drinks, and pizza.  Note that the surrounding residential area only allows for 2 hour parking before 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  If you drive to a Saturday matinee, do remember to move your car during intermission.  Sunday parking is usually blessedly free and unlimited, and Sunday is a wonderful day to attend a matinee in this former church–perhaps a delightful performance of “Mamma Mia!” 

exterior of Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley, California
exterior of Julia Morgan Theater

Live Oak Theatre  
1301 Shattuck Ave./Berryman, in Live Oak Park.  Fee.  
Intimate performances occur in this cozy 99-seat theater.  Many patrons bring a picnic to enjoy in the park before curtain time.  On-street parking is free. 

The Marsh  
2120 Allston Way/Shattuck Ave., downtown.  Fee. 
This small theater features contemporary performances aimed at adults, but it also sometimes presents special performances appropriate for children. 

(www.berkeleyandbeyond2.com; copyright Carole Terwilliger Meyers)