Why it's cool: Berkeley Rep dazzles onstage on a regular basis, but once a month, it throws open the doors to its theater school for a Sunday morning of thespian frolic. Some of these family workshops are inspired by what's happening on the main stage -- the Nov. 4 Greek Myths workshop bounces off the ideas behind Berkeley Rep's upcoming "Argonautika," which is based on the tale of Jason and the coveted Golden Fleece.

Sometimes it's whimsy that dictates the lineup. Last year's workshops, for example, included everything from clowns to rock musicals.

It's all very cool. Very fun. And free, to boot. Besides, how often do grownups get to put on costumes and clown around with their kids? OK, besides Halloween?

What kids like: Watching dad don a clown nose or fairy-tale cape is fun. But clowning around with the ol' pater familias? Downright irresistible. And this particular workshop, which is designed for families with kids 4 and up, promises enticing attractions -- Greek myths, giants, sea monsters, sirens and plenty of play-acting.

What parents like: You mean, besides the goofball fun, the togetherness and bonding? It's educational, too. When your kids hit ancient Greek studies in sixth-grade history and Greek myths in freshman English, they'll remember the time they didn't just read about mythological derring-do -- they were Jason. Or an Argonaut.

And if you liked that ... Come back Dec. 7 for a Dr. Seuss workshop, or Jan. 6 for lessons in poetry and rhyme, or the next month, or the next.

Or if you're too old for that ... Then check out some of Berkeley Rep's teen offerings, including Friday Preview Nights -- dinner, a night of theater and a workshop or discussion with a theater pro, all for $12. The "Argonautika" teen night is Nov. 2; "Taking Over" is Jan. 11.

Afterward: Downtown Berkeley is always a hoot. Grab burgers at Mel's, a scoop at Gelateria Naia, or something delish at any number of tasty ethnic restaurants in the area.

Parking tips: Street parking is a pain in Berkeley, and the pay-parking garage down the street from Berkeley Rep doesn't open in time for the 11 a.m. workshop. So allow extra time for parking, or make life easy -- take BART to the Downtown Berkeley station

-- Jackie Burrell, Times staff writer, jburrell@bayareanewsgroup.com

ONLINE

For more ideas for weekend family fun, visit the Times' parenting blog, aPARENTly Speaking, at http://www.ContraCostaTimes.com/blogs.

The Basics

  • WHERE: Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, 2071 Addison St., Berkeley.

  • HOURS: The first Sunday of each month. The next one is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Nov. 4.

  • TICKETS: Free, but families are asked to bring a children's book to donate to a local elementary school library.

  • CONTACT: 510-647-2973 or http://www.berkeleyrep.org/school.