The Hearst Greek Theater was built in 1903 on the site of a rough outdoor bowl already in use as an amphitheater since 1894 known as "Ben Weed's Amphitheater". The project was championed by University of California president Benjamin Ide Wheeler and was the first University building designed by John Galen Howard. Its construction was financed by newspaper magnateWilliam Randolph Hearst, after whom it was named. The design of the theater is based directly on the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus.
It officially opened on September 24, 1903 with a student production of The Birds by Aristophanes. However, while still under construction in May 1903, the theatre hosted a graduation ceremony with an address by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a friend of Wheeler's from New York.
In 1957, a basement backstage area was added, which was designed by Ernest Born. It includes a large plaza flanked by two stage-level constructions.
Over the years, the Greek Theatre has seen performances from hundreds of musical and theatrical artists. The Greek has also long been the venue for a number of annual UC Berkeley events including departmental graduation ceremonies, the Commencement Convocation for graduating seniors, and the Big Game Bonfire Rally before the Big Game each year with Stanford. Charter Day ceremonies and inaugurations of University of California presidents and Berkeley chancellors have been held in the Greek Theatre. Berkeley High school also uses the Greek Theatre for their graduation ceremonies.
Another Planet Entertainment became the exclusive concert promoter at the Greek in 2004.