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Cal Shakes Hires Sarah Williams as Managing Director

A former associate managing director of Berkeley Rep, she joins the team at the Bay Area’s outdoor classical theatre.

Sarah Williams.

BERKELEY, CALIF.: Kate Stechschulte, president of the board of California Shakespeare Theater, along with its entire board, have announced the appointment of Sarah Williams as the company’s new managing director. Williams will join the company on Sept. 3, succeeding interim managing director Tirzah Tyler.

Williams comes to Cal Shakes after four years at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where she served as the associate managing director. In her role at Berkeley Rep, Sarah managed the administrative operations of the Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work, producing new-play workshops, readings, and the Ground Floor’s cornerstone program, the Summer Residency Lab.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Sarah to Cal Shakes,” said board president Kate Stechschulte in a statement. “After a national search, we are thrilled to have found a marvelous new leader for our organization right here in our local arts community. We are excited to work with Sarah in advancing Cal Shakes’s uniquely important role as a leading regional theatre company that is uplifting new voices and reinterpreting classic tales in a 21st-century context. Sarah’s experience, acumen, and leadership abilities will also be essential as we build our community and educational programs in the East Bay, as well as our practices that center equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the sector.”

Added Cal Shakes’ artistic director, Eric Ting, in a statement: “We’re so honored that Sarah has chosen Cal Shakes for her next artistic home. I’ve long admired her leadership, her compassion, her commitment to a more humane world—in so many ways, she inspires us to see what is possible and challenges us to be our best selves. And this moment represents an extraordinary opportunity, particularly as Cal Shakes begins the countdown to our 50th anniversary and the promise and potential of expanded programming and deeper relevance through more committed partnerships with and for our communities here in the Bay Area.”

“I’m so thrilled to partner with Eric, the staff, and the board of Cal Shakes,” said Williams in a statement. “Cal Shakes is committed to redefining what it means to be a classic in the 21st century through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion and is passionate about building authentic community partnerships. I’m blown away by the staff, board, and community’s passion and support for this vision. It’s absolutely infectious and completely exhilarating. Cal Shakes is envisioning the world of theatre and its place in the community not as it is, but as it may be, and I’m beyond excited to be a part of the journey.”

In addition to supporting Berkeley Rep’s mainstage productions, Sarah produced many of Berkeley Rep’s special event productions, including Mike Birbiglia’s The New One, the Second City’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue and Left Leaning and Always Right, and Fran Lebowitz: In Conversation. In summer 2018, Sarah served as tour manager for Berkeley Rep’s production of Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations, which played for five weeks to sold-out houses at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and is currently running on Broadway. During her tenure at Berkeley Rep, Sarah also managed the entitlement, development, and financing process for Berkeley Rep’s artist housing project, a seven-story mixed use building consisting of 45 apartments, classrooms, and production space.

Prior to Berkeley Rep, Williams served as the associate managing director at Yale Repertory Theatre and held positions with the Huntington Theatre Company and Boston Symphony Orchestra. Williams has served for five years on the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and serves on the board of Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco. She holds a BA from Boston College and an MFA from Yale School of Drama, where she was the recipient of the Morris J. Kaplan prize for recognition in theatre management.

California Shakespeare Theater is currently in its 45th season, nationally recognized as a leader in drawing on the power of authentic, inclusive storytelling to create more vibrant communities.

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