A Guide to San Francisco Performing Arts
San Francisco performing arts venues are plentiful, and offer a large array of concerts, plays, comedy shows, operas, and other live performances for every taste.
The American Conservatory Theatre
Established in 1965, this tony-award winning theatre company and training facility is the largest in the San Francisco Bay area, and the only actor training facility in the nation that is not affiliated with a college or university accredited to award a master of fine arts degree. With a rich history and a number of popular celebrity grads, the theatre today is internationally recognized for their innovative productions of classical works, their inventive contemporary playwriting, and for their commitment to developing the next generation of highly trained actors.
The San Francisco War Memorial Performing Arts Center
Comprised of the War Memorial Opera House, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, and Herbst Theatre, the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center is a mecca of performing art institutions that host world renowned classical and contemporary performances.
- The War Memorial Opera House: Home of the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet, the 3,146 seat auditorium opened in 1932 and has since become one of San Francisco’s most sought after concert, lecture, and reception venues. The perfect place for the classical opera and ballet enthusiast.
- Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall: Home of the San Francisco Symphony since 1980, this is the premiere place in the Bay Area to catch a classical orchestral performance, although they do host several other genres of musical performance and presentations throughout the year. Designed by world renowned acousticians, this auditorium is dedicated to the enjoyment of live music.
- The Herbst Theatre: With more than 200 unique shows presented on its stage per year, the Herbst Theatre is the primary venue for many of San Francisco’s cultural and community organizations, and also hosts an array of independent presenters and touring shows.
The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
Located in the Marina District, the Palace of Fine Arts was originally constructed in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, and still remains on its original site as one of the few remaining structures from the exposition. In addition to hosting art exhibits, the monumental theatre also hosts hundreds of shows per year, including cultural dance performances, musical acts, presentations, stand-up comedians, and film screenings.
San Francisco Playhouse
The San Francisco Playhouse opened in 2003, and has since become the city’s premier off-broadway company, described as an “intimate alternative to the larger, more traditional Union Square theater fare.” Lauded for their stellar contemporary plays and intimate atmosphere, this venue is the perfect spot to catch a unique play, presented by top notch actors and directors.
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