Related Articles: Theater, All


Live Performance – the Antidote to the Movie Monotony

These articles -- Break Out of Your Movie Mold, Theater!, Activate Your Weekend, Shake It! -- are a mix of teen-friendly venues and events. They were written to fill in the lack of all ages venues and clubs listings in the media. Because there are not enough places for teens to hang out, they often end up at their friends’ houses or doing things their parent’s would not approve of. With these articles, we hope to expose high school students to places where they can have fun and be safe at night.

Big City Improv
Big City Improv, originally named “The Oakland Playhouse”, was founded by Justin Neal of Western Washington University in 2000. Big City Improv has performed at well-known events such as “Comedy on The Square”, been named “The Best of the Bay” in San Francisco Bay Guardian for Best Improv Troupe, and won most recently “The Roar of The Crowd Award on Goldstar Events” based on audience reviews.

Big City Improv is the place to go for an intimate night of improvised comedy, especially on those nights when there just isn’t a good movie playing. Big City Improv is composed of a ten person, full-time comedy troupe. Shows are fast-paced, completely improvised, and directed by the audience through suggestions and participation. Audience participation is encouraged, especially if you’d like to make a fool of yourself, as you can volunteer to go onstage.

Big City Improv has performed every Friday night at The Shelton Theater for the past two years. Performances start at 10pm on Friday nights and the box office opens at 9pm, cash only. The age limit is sixteen and older. Tickets are also available online at Tickets are $15.

The Shelton Theater is easily accessible by public transportation. Take the Powell Street BART Station, walk up Powell to Sutter Street, and then take a left.

Magic Theatre
If you’re looking for an alternative to movies or just want to try something different tonight, check out the Magic Theatre in the Fort Mason Center. You’ll definitely encounter subjects different than those of mainstream television or movies. The plays range anywhere from science fiction to political humor to just plain weird. One thing is for sure, each play will be different from the last. You won’t encounter the generic Hollywood formula here.

Tickets can be purchased online at for $30 to $40. $5 discount available to students, if purchased in advance.

Magic Theatre also offers the “Launch Pad” program, a one-act writing competition for Bay Area high school students. Each student will receive a professionally staged workshop performance of his or her play at the Magic Theatre in early June and will be awarded a cash prize.

Contact [email protected] with any questions.

Directions to Magic Theatre are available at

Youth Speaks
Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks is a well-known non-profit organization that holds events that feature Spoken Word. A diverse 45,000 bay area teens participate in Youth Speaks in the bay area every year. They have put on local as well as national poetry slams, festivals and other similar events. There are several opportunities per month to participate in the events hosted by Youth Speaks, the most well-known of which is called Final Fridays. Hosted two times every month by members of the Spokes Youth Board, up and coming poets, song writers, MC’s and others can go and speak their minds and participate in the open mics. There are also many festivals and special events which occur at different times throughout the year. A description of Final Fridays is located at, and a calendar of the larger events is available on the Youth Speaks website.

The Berkeley Reparatory Theater
The Berkeley Rep is a community-based theater that consistently holds high-quality shows, that push the boundaries of American Theater. Occasionally performances include high school students. There is a school for young actors as part of the program, who are an active part of the performing community there. Whenever possible, they showcase student talent, whether it be actors, writers or even producers. Tickets for people under 30 are often half-price. The atmosphere is perfect for teens and their friends, interested in performing theater. Although it may look small from the outside, the interior is quite large and professional, with comfortable seats and a balcony. There are snacks and drinks at intermission. There are two stages at the Berkeley Rep. The Thrust stage is a more intimate version of the main stage, with seats surrounding the protruding stage. The different stages are interchanged depending on the performance and its needs.

There is a plethora of restaurants and cafes, with multiple gelato places to wrap up your night. Berkeley Rep is located in Downtown Berkeley off of Shattuck. It is easily accessible from Downtown Berkeley BART and numerous AC Transit bus lines.

In a group effort, the byline "SFS Staff" is used. The writers involved in this article include: Jason Hwang, Robby Myers, Misha Hurd, Taylor Wong, Randy Zellerbach, Zak Mandel-Romann, Greg Fleischut, Mike Shenk.