Picture a sunny day on the York campus with students and faculty gathering in an outdoor theater nestled in the hillside next to the library. Envision students performing Shakespeare productions as they were originally intended, playing jazz and orchestral music, or singing choral compositions en plein air. Imagine enjoying these performances as the sun slips behind the hillside, creating a colorful backdrop. With your investment, York School is ready to make this dream of an outdoor performance and gathering space a reality.
To continue providing students with cutting-edge education in an inspiring learning environment, York is building the first new facility on campus in 16 years: The Gawain Family Theater. Designed to accentuate the natural beauty of the campus, the theater will be a versatile, inviting space that gives the feel of intimacy while increasing audience capacity for events—our current theater seats only 90.
We envision student presentations, debates and panel discussions, guest speakers and performances--every conceivable activity happening in an outdoor facility in the Classical Greek tradition. The venue will provide students with a collaborative, creative arena to discuss, explore, and even act out the challenges of a contemporary world.
Communal Gathering Space
The Gawain Family Theater will provide a new space for the community to gather. From our student-led assembly, "Break" to class meetings to lunchtime conversations and more, students will connect with each other, surrounded by the natural beauty of the sunny York hill.
In partnership with youth-oriented arts organizations, we look forward to hosting musical and theatrical performances. We've consulted with our friends and partners, such as Youth Music Monterey, Orchestra in the Schools, and the Monterey Jazz Festival, in an effort to provide these programs that serve area youth an additional venue for their events. Options for outdoor performances are limited in Monterey County, and those that exist are often prohibitively expensive for small non-profit groups.
Our surroundings influence how we think and perform, and nature can be a powerful influence over learning. Research shows that learning outdoors helps develop cognitive abilities and is good for emotional well-being. Time outside improves connection to the natural environment and allows students and teachers to take a break from screens and electronic devices. Being in nature improves brain functioning, helps manage stress, and is tied to increased concentration.
The new theater will provide students and faculty a naturally stimulating change of scenery that invigorates both teaching and learning.
Thanks to a lead gift from alumna Marianne Gawain ’76 in honor of her mother and father, Babette and Theodore H. Gawain, York is close to fulfilling the dream of an outdoor theater.
Marianne named the Gawain Family Theater in honor of her parents, in recognition of their belief in education, love of theatre, and support of her own education at York School and beyond.
"I remember telling my father how much I appreciated my education. He responded by saying I should express that gratitude by helping to educate the next generation. Now when I contribute to York it is with a sincere and abiding sense of indebtedness to my parents and to the York faculty who helped me discover the joys of intellectual inquiry."
–MARIANNE GAWAIN '76
Stage: Named by Dr. Peggy Downes Baskin and Jack Baskin
Olive Grove: Named by Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation
Path through Olive Grove: Named by Corie and Fane Opperman
Entry Garden: Named by Monterey Peninsula Foundation
Premier Circle (first two levels—six rows): $50,000
Terrace overlooking Olive Grove: $50,000
Performer’s Bay: Named by The Frumkin/Falco Family
South Section of Theater: Named by The Anderson Family
North Section of Theater: Named by James Valentine
Backstage Area: Named by Nancy and Bill Doolittle
Stairs: Named by Chuck Harmon and Elizabeth Miles
Row of Seats: $10,000
Four Seats: $5,000
One Seat: $2,000
It is still possible to support this project and help bring it to life. Please join us in creating a dramatic outdoor setting for myriad student activities and educational experiences, a gathering place for our community, and a showcase for actors and musicians, orators and singers, dancers and debaters.