Chicago Shakespeare Theater and
Chicago Public Schools Partner to Present
CPS Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet
Performed by Students and Their Teachers
at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier
Chicago—November 2, 2007—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) will present the second production of its landmark arts-in-education program, CPS Shakespeare!—a program designed to bring together students and teachers from each of Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) five designated geographic districts to perform a 60-minute adaptation of a play by William Shakespeare in CST's Elizabethan-style, Courtyard Theater on Navy Pier. This year, CPS Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet will have public performances today at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 3 at 11:00 a.m. The one-hour performance will be followed by a 30-minute post-show discussion. Tickets are $5.00.
CPS Shakespeare! extends CST's commitment to serve the community through its far-reaching arts-in-education programs by welcoming a group of 10th through 12th grade CPS students and their English teachers to Chicago Shakespeare Theater to participate in a month-long rehearsal process culminating in performances for an audience of the participants' families, friends and the general public. All participating educators have graduated from CST's year-long professional development seminar, Bard Core Curriculum: Reading into Shakespeare, which mentors English teachers from some of the most challenged CPS schools. Bard Core lessons provide teachers with drama-based reading strategies that have been documented to improve the basic skills and classroom engagement of struggling and reluctant readers.
"Last year's pilot, CPS Hamlet, demonstrated how students' success with Shakespeare markedly increased their self-confidence, communication skills and their engagement with school," says Marilyn J. Halperin, Director of Education and Communications at CST. "By discovering Shakespeare through performance, students—and teachers—experience their ability to decipher meaning, understand context, articulate thoughts and work collaboratively."
Lisa Moore, a participating teacher in last year's program from Chicago Military Academy – Bronzeville observed, "CPS Hamlet gave the students the courage to step outside of their comfort zones and explore new facets of themselves. They learned not only that others could inspire them to reach levels of greatness, but that they could actually be the ones inspiring others."
Seven schools from across the Chicago Public School system, represented by 25 students and seven English teachers, will collaborate in this year's city-wide production. The cast includes: from Chicago Vocational Career Academy, teacher Sarah Thom and students Erica Herring, Lassell Johnson and Darryl Stevenson; from Curie Metropolitan High School, teacher Eric Weiss and student Anthony Vega; from Julian High School, former CPS teacher Kristy A. Mixon and students Warren Baskin, Tanisha Hampton and Cherelle Williams; from Manley Career Academy, teacher Christopher Mizera and students Joseph Rangel and Raymond Wilson; from Phillips Academy High School, teacher Steve Iammartino and student Sean Gallagher; from Prosser Career Academy, teacher Sandra Shimon and students Ruby Contreras, Kwaanza Higgins and Jordan Rodriguez; and from Taft High School, teacher Shannon White and students Elena Mendoza, Marta Stecko and Allyson Tarmino.
Five additional students return from last year's CPS Hamlet: Lucinda Parra from Chicago Military Career Academy, Sammy Vega from Clemente Community Academy, Bianca Santiago from Kelvyn Park High School, Alycia Jenkins from Manley Career Academy, and Omolara Adeolu and Cedric Lewis from Von Steuben Metro Science Center.
Kirsten Kelly, who directed last year's CPS Hamlet, will return to stage CPS Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet. David Chrzanowski will choreograph the stage combat with members of the ensemble. Additional elements for CPS Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet include choreography by M.K. Victorson; costume design by Brenda Winstead; lighting design by Ryan Davies; sound design by James Savage; and wig and make-up design by Melissa Veal.
Ensuring the future of CPS Shakespeare!, Judy and Walt Skowronski have made a generous commitment to support Chicago Shakespeare's arts-in-education program. Their gift, made in memory of their son, Eric, who died as a passenger in a tragic automobile accident, will also provide for the Eric Curtis Skowronski Spirit Award. The award, given to the seven participating schools, provides a monetary gift to be used for the support of their arts, literature, or library programs.
CPS Shakespeare! is the newest in Chicago Shakespeare's array of arts-in-education initiatives. CST's flagship education program, Team Shakespeare, is in its 16th year serving students and their teachers through classroom lessons and an extensive professional performance series for studentsóboth at CST's home on Navy Pier and on tour to area schools.
Tickets for CPS Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet are $5.00. Performances will be held Friday, November 2 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 3 at 11:00 a.m. in Chicago Shakespeare's Courtyard Theater. The one-hour performance will be followed by a 30-minute discussion with the entire ensemble. For further information and to purchase tickets, call the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Box Office at 312.595.5600, or visit the Theater's website at www.chicagoshakes.com.
Principal support for CPS Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet is provided by Walt and Judy Skowronski.
Additional project support provided by The Field Foundation of Illinois, and by Kraft Foods, Principal Sponsor of the Theater's Team Shakespeare program for students and teachers.
Main stage artistic productions are supported, in part, through The Trust for Courtyard Theater Programming, established by a generous leadership grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation.
American Airlines is the official airline of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
ComEd is the official lighting design sponsor of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.