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Concert Venues :: Berkeley Community Theater


Now Known As
Date Opened 1938
Venue Capacity 3,500
Venue URL
Venue Address 1900 Alson Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Venue Information

Toward the end of the 1930s, Berkeley High School undertook an extensive building program to replace older buildings and build new ones. The shop and science buildings, the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, and Berkeley High School Community Theater were designed in 1938 by architects Henry H. Gutterson and William Corlett, Sr. They are the only planned ensemble of Art Deco-style buildings in the city and are significant examples of the style in the Bay Area.

The Berkeley Community Theatre is a noted venue located in Berkeley, California on the campus of Berkeley High School. The theater has 3,500 seats, including a balcony section. A large stage is extended by an orchestra pit that can be raised or lowered.

The theater is also used by Berkeley High School and the Berkeley Unified School District. The theater building also holds the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, a smaller theater that is often used for Berkeley High School music and theater performances.

The theater was dedicated on June 5, 1950 after sitting only partially completed for almost nine years, due to delays caused by World War II. Students attending Berkeley High during the war years often called it the "Bird Cage" since the exposed metal framework was a roost for many seagulls waiting for students to finish their lunches.

Starting in 2004 Berkeley Unified School District has began to use the theater foyers, green rooms, stage shop and dressing rooms as classrooms. The stage shop was in the process of being made a computer lab, however that was moved to the green room due to security. Before every show the classroom desks, chairs, and bookshelves must be moved out; the facility is difficult to use due to the presence of classrooms. In addition the theater lighting and sound systems in both the Berkeley Community Theater, and the attached Florence Shwimley Little Theater have been neglected by the district funds, and are in dire need of upgrades.

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