Persistence has finally paid off for the East Bay’s Shotgun Players. After more than a decade of being nomads, the theater ensemble finally has a more permanent home with a 35-year lease on their space on Berkeley’s busy Ashby Avenue. Spark checks in on this grassroots troupe as they rehearse for a production of French existentialist Albert Camus’s “Les Justes” (1949).
The Shotgun Players came together in 1992 when a group of 11 theater artists decided to put on a play in the only reasonable space they had available to them — the basement of a local pizza parlor. This became their home base for five years and the site of a half-dozen performances a year. Since then, the Shotgun Players have worked in more than 30 different venues, including church basements, print shop back rooms, university stages, outdoor arenas and even in front of inmates at San Quentin Prison. Over the years, their hard work has earned them a wide subscriber base, critical acclaim and devoted audiences.
The mission of the Shotgun Players is to make bold, relevant and affordable theater with a commitment to doing rarely produced plays. “Les Justes” considers a group of terrorists from the early 20th century. The play stirred heated discussion in France at the time of its first production, and the Shotgun Players believe it is as relevant today as it was more than half a century ago.
Since their formation, the Shotgun Players have won prestigious DramaLogue awards for direction, set design and production. Other awards include the 1998 SF Weekly Black Box Awards for Best Company, Production and Acting, the 1999 SF Bay Guardian Award for Outstanding Theater Company, and four 1999 Bay Area Critics Circle Awards for Entire Production, Original Script and Ensemble.
Shotgun Players at Ashby Stage
Where: 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley
Phone: (510) 841-6500