Chicago Shakespeare Theater partners with
Chicago Public Schools to promote literacy
Intensive five-week rehearsal process begins Saturday, October 1
Performances by CPS high school students and teachers
November 4 and 5, 2011
Chicago—September 29, 2011—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announced today a partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), CPS Shakespeare!, in which an ensemble of 35 students and teachers from ten CPS high schools will stage an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The ensemble embarks on an intensive five-week rehearsal process beginning on Saturday, October 1, led by a team of theater professionals that includes text coaches and a fight choreographer. CPS Shakespeare! is a central component of CST’s Team Shakespeare arts-in-education program, which has served over 1 million students and teachers since its inception in 1991. Performances of CPS Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew, adapted and directed by Kirsten Kelly, will be presented in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Courtyard Theater on Friday, November 4 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 5 at 10:30 a.m.
Ten high schools from across the Chicago Public School system, represented by 35 students and teachers, will collaborate on this year’s CPS Shakespeare! production: Alcott High School for the Humanities, Al Raby High School, Curie Metropolitan High School, Gage Park High School, Mather High School, Multicultural Academy of Scholarship, Phillips Academy High School, Prosser Career Academy High School, Steinmetz Academic Centre and Taft High School.
“In a literate society, language gives us power,” says CST Director of Education and Communications Marilyn Halperin. “Our work with CPS teachers and students is essential. For students who participate in CPS Shakespeare!, taking on Shakespeare’s language as their own through the rehearsal process and performance is an act of personal empowerment—both cognitively and emotionally. We are grateful for the support of Eric’s Tazmanian Angel Fund, which makes our work in CPS Shakespeare! possible.”
Ensuring the future of CPS Shakespeare!, Eric’s Tazmanian Angel Fund has made a generous commitment to support Chicago Shakespeare’s arts-in-education program. This fund will also provide for the Eric Curtis Skowronski Spirit Award, which provides a monetary gift to the school of each participating teacher for their support of the arts, literature or library programs.
Director and Adaptor Kirsten Kelly, who developed the CPS Shakespeare! program with Halperin, returns to CST for her sixth year. An award-winning documentary film and theater director, Kelly has directed past CPS Shakespeare! productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. She recently directed the DC premiere of The Clockmaker and Daniel Talbott’s production of Slipping at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Roots & Branches Theater Company, a multi-generational theater company in New York. Other credits include: the Midwest premiere of Boston Marriage (After Dark Award for Best Director); Boy Meets Girl for Theatre Alliance (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Direction); and Savage Love/Tongues with the Julliard Percussion Ensemble at Lincoln Center. Kirsten is currently adapting the Newbery Award-winning young adult novel The Wednesday Wars for the stage and directed a workshop of the project in January 2011. She is also directing a new feature documentary on youth homelessness, which recently won a Sundance Development Grant.
Joining Kelly as assistant director is Sandra Shimon, a Prosser Career Academy teacher who has participated in the program for the past three years. The creative team for CPS Shakespeare! Taming of the Shrew also includes Costume Designer Cathy Tantillo, Lighting Designer Joel Moritz, Sound Designer James Savage, Wig and Makeup Designer Melissa Veal, Fight Choreographer Tyler Rich and Properties Master Chelsea Meyers.
CPS Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew runs Friday, November 4 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 5 at 10:30 a.m. in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Each performance is followed by a 30-minute post-show discussion with the entire ensemble, led by CST Director of Education and Communications Marilyn Halperin. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased beginning on Monday, October 3, by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visiting www.chicagoshakes.com/cpsshakespeare.
About Team Shakespeare
Since its establishment in 1991, Team Shakespeare has served more than 1 million students and teachers—making Chicago Shakespeare Theater one of the nation’s largest providers of performing arts-in-education theater programming. As part of CST’s strong and continuing commitment to Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Theater has developed two successful programs targeting at-risk youth: Bard Core and CPS Shakespeare! Bard Core, a professional development seminar offered annually to CPS teachers, explores how the skills of theater practitioners link directly to best practices in literacy, offering practical reading strategies and exercises for CPS students. A number of Bard Core teachers go on to participate in CPS Shakespeare!, which brings together a citywide cast of CPS high school teachers and students to stage an adapted Shakespeare production in CST’s Courtyard Theater each fall. Throughout the year, free weekend workshops are offered to teachers looking to innovate their lesson plans, with an upcoming Chicago Shakespeare production used as a central touchstone. Additionally, CST reserves nearly 100 professional Shakespeare matinees for student audiences—and the Theater’s annual Short Shakespeare!, an abridged production of a Shakespeare classic, conducts a five-week tour each spring to public, private, parochial, urban and rural schools throughout the Midwest. Reaching 40,000 students and teachers annually, Team Shakespeare is part of CST’s commitment to lifelong learning, introducing Shakespeare’s legacy to a new generation.
About Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary this season, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company, known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for intricate storytelling, musicality of language and depth of feeling for the human condition.
Recipient of the 2008 Regional Theatre Tony Award, Chicago Shakespeare’s work has been recognized internationally with three of London’s prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards, and by the Chicago theater community with 55 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Artistic Excellence. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to producing extraordinary classic productions, new works and family fare; unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. At its permanent, state-of-the-art facility on Navy Pier, CST houses two intimate theater spaces: the 500-seat Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the 200-seat Carl and Marilynn Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare.