Our History

History of Highlands Playhouse

historic theater

Highlands Playhouse was originally part of Highland School in Hayward. “It served as a cafetorium, a combination cafeteria and auditorium.” “The college purchased the facility and converted it into a science building.” “With the college’s move in 1963 to the new hilltop campus, and a new science building, the makeshift labs were no longer needed. The speech and drama department then proposed that it be allowed to use the building as a 145-seat theater.” “It has that non-institutional look,” Muir said. “The playhouse is adequate for the present, but not for the strong program we hope to have in the future.” The first production held in this theatre was The Strongbox. (The Daily Review, Hayward, Wed. July 20, 1966)

Relocation of the Highlands Playhouse facility. “Cal State was confronted with the perplexing playhouse problem when the Hayward Unified School District decided to build additional classrooms on the former playhouse site.” A truck carried the playhouse on to campus land; its new home was west of the science building. If all goes well this old playhouse with its revamped facility and relocation will be ready for productions for the fall quarter. (The Daily Review, Hayward, Wed. July 20, 1966)

The demolishing of the Highlands Playhouse facility. "Sparse crowds watched as the playhouse was crumbled on Tuesday of August 15." Highlands Playhouse with a seating capacity of 150 was used as in interim theatre on the Hayward campus from fall of 1966 to spring 1971. In total there were 23 campus productions beginning with Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” and ending with “Stalag 17.” “According to Cal State sources, several drama students were observed carrying away small remnants of the building, like pieces of old theatrical dreams.” (The Daily Review, Hayward, Wed Aug. 16, 1972)

History of the University & Studio Theatre

Studio Theater

Inception of the project was in 1962, as stated by Donald B. Muir in his 1974 letter of invitation to the first production of the new University Theatre. The first production held in the new building actually took place in the studio theatre. The Studio Theatre’s first production was "Ladies not for Burning". Next came the opening of the University Theatre. “With this installation of our complex, new lighting and sound control system we can now mount the kind of productions of which we have dreamed” said Muir. “In celebration of this event we are presenting a gala production of Shakespeare’s "Comedy of Errors." (Invitation letter by Donald Muir, Feb. 14, 1974)

“This opening marks an end as well as a beginning: our Theatre building fulfills the ambitious dreams and painstaking planning of some of our faculty for a decade or more and embodies our confident expectation of a successful future as a cultural center for the University and the community. We hope that you will enjoy our performances of Comedy of Error and will return frequently for future productions.” By Chairman John C. Hammerback, Department of Speech/Drama. (Univ. Theatre Dedicatory Series booklet 1974)