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Phone: 707-643-7819
For grades: 3-12
Fees for live visit: single performance - $725; two back-to-back performances - $795
Funding: $100 travel fee beyond 100 miles from Vallejo, CA. $150 beyond 200 miles.


Living History Theater »

You were wonderful.
It supported the Social Studies Standards. The set was beautiful, the actors were professional, and the content was thorough.
Great rapport. Thanks for doing what you're doing. It's so important.

--- Teachers, Sutter, Washington Union, and Milpitas Christian Schools.

IN THE WAKE OF GOLD - This award-winning portrayal highlights the cultural diversity and maritime history of early California in word and song. With links to U.S. and world history, we sail from the Mission Era to the Gold Rush, and learn about the Opium Trade with a strong anti-drug message.


We re-create the 1850 ship-wreck of the Baltimore Clipper Frolic, and trace the historic wake of the Gold Rush on the people and land of California. The story is based on letters, logs, oral histories, and diaries, including Two Years Before the Mast. We also examine the conflicts among archaeologists and collectors who unearth artifacts, and the descendants of the Native Americans who crafted them.


In a diversity of voices we weave a web of connections among the Native Californian, Asian, Hispanic, and European peoples who created the most diverse state in the union. Actor/scholars Michael and Renee Oakes collaborated with archeologist Thomas Layton and Native, Chinese, and Latino historians and poets to weave this unique historical tapestry. Student volunteers participate in the show, and the whole audience learns lively sea shanties and poignant lessons about racism, tolerance, and the ‘age of addiction.’ A Study Guide is included to help teachers prepare and follow-up with their students.


More Award-Winning Shows
To see a full description of other shows in our repertoire, click any of the links below, or visit


Scripted Shows

  • Coyote Tales (grades K-12)
    Mythical tales of 'the trickster' from many tribal traditions.
  • From Colonies to Country (grades K-12)
    A colonial quilt of diaries, documents, letters, and songs.
  • I Have A Dream: Dr. King & The Civil Rights Movement (grades K-12)
    A rousing musical history of the man and the movement.
  • A Christmas Carol (grades K-12)
    Dickens' literary classic comes to life with carols and student actor parts.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome (grades 3-12)
    The contributions of these cultural Titans are explored in an interactive show with evocative sets, classical costumes, a Greek game show, and a Roman Rap!
  • The Complete Condensed History of California (grades 3-12)
    An inspiring and hilarious whirlwind tour de force of history, including Native Californians, Explorers, Missions, the Gold Rush, African American '49ers, Asian immigrants, the Great Quake, Beats, Hippies, and dot-com-ers. Whew!
  • In the Wake of Gold (grades 3-12)
    A maritime voyage through Gold Rush California, with links to science, U.S., & World history.

Chautauqua Interactive Living-History Portrayals

  • The Call of the Wild: the Life of Jack London  (grades 3-12)
    A dynamic portrayal of this revolutionary writer.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci: Renaissance Man (grades 3-12)
    Renaissance Italy through the eyes of the Master.
  • Muir of the Mountains (grades K-12)
    The inspiring adventures of the 'Father of our National Parks.’
  • Shakespeare: Live! (grades 3-12)
    An entertaining and accessible portrait of the 'Prince of Players.’
  • Edgar Allen Poe (grades 3-12)
    Combines details of Poe's tragic life with passionate passages from his poems and prose to exhume America’s most haunting author.
  • John Steinbeck (grades 3-12)
    Selected readings and personal anecdotes bring to life this seminal American author of The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden.


Grade Level: All shows can be performed appropriately for grades 3-6, or 7-12. Shows marked K-12 are also suitable for lower grades.


Format: Our living history shows have one of two formats: scripted, or un-scripted chautauqua. The scripted shows weave together many historic characters. Each chautauqua is an interactive visit with a major historical figure.


Show Length: Shows can be tailored to run from 35-60 minutes, with 45 minutes most common. We love to do Q & A sessions if you schedule extra time.

Also available...

Live Oakes Educational Theater is dedicated to combining rigorous research with acting expertise to bring history to life. Since 1994 our mission has been to inspire our audiences with stories from the past that can make a difference for the future. We have a large repertoire of award-winning shows. We are seasoned professional actor/scholars, who research and write our own shows; we pride ourselves on really knowing our subjects. We have performed at Historical Societies, National and State Historic Parks, Museums, libraries, conferences, universities, theaters, Big Reads, and schools throughout the U.S.


Artistic Director Michael Oakes has been acting, directing, and teaching drama for over twenty-five years. He graduated from Stuyvesant H.S. in N.Y., earned his B.S. and M.S. at the University of Wisconsin, and trained at A.C.T. As a member of Actor's Equity, he performs with professional theatres, and tours his own shows throughout the country. His award-winning screenplay, DA VINCI'S DREAMS is being considered by Dreamworks, Warners, and Disney.


Our Managing Producer and Musical Director, Renee Oakes, is a classically trained soprano, a leading North Bay actress, and Musical Director. She is soprano section leader and frequent soloist with the Grammy nominated Pacific Mozart Ensemble, with which she has performed with Bobby McFerrin and recorded original works by Dave Brubeck. Ms. Oakes enhances our productions with women's history and traditional songs that touch the spirit.


2012 Hollywood Outreach Program Winner


Interpretive History Merit Award - California Historical Society


Global 500 Award - UNESCO

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