Artistic Director Barbara Gaines opens the season with Shakespeare’s tale of a brilliant, scheming hunchback who seduces and murders his way to the English throne. This captivating drama has thrilled audiences across the centuries, and now takes center stage at Chicago’s home for Shakespeare.
Approximate Running Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes, including intermission
Richard III is presented in the Jentes Family Auditorium.
Team Shakespeare arts-in-education activities for Richard III are supported, in part, by Baxter International, with additional support from Sheila Penrose and Ernie Mahaffey.
The services of designers Neil Patel and Robert Wierzel have been underwritten by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.
Richard III has received support from a competitive grant opportunity administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Richard III Media Sponsor
Three generations and almost 100 years have passed since the Lancastrian Henry of Bolingbroke usurped the throne of the Yorkist king, Richard II. A long and bloody dynastic struggle between the powerful houses of York and Lancaster tore at the fabric of fifteenth-century England.
King Edward IV of York has reclaimed the throne, and England prospers in a rare moment of peace. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the king's younger and misshapen brother, now embarks upon an elaborate crime spree to secure the crown. Lady Anne mourns the deaths of her father-in-law, the deposed King Henry VI, and her husband, both murdered by Richard. As she follows the funeral procession of Henry VI, Richard addresses her, translating Lady Anne's curses into a betrothal of marriage. He plots his older brother Clarence's execution and, placing the guilt on Edward, hastens the king's own death. As Richard reprises the role of peacemaker, he pits courtiers against courtier, confiding in them one moment and turning upon them the next.
Margaret, the banished widow of Henry VI, returns to the Court and, cursing her usurpers, prophesizes their doom. One by one as Richard's detractors are executed, each recalls the fulfillment of Margaret's prophecies. With King Edward's death, Richard claims the throne after declaring the king's two sons illegitimate and locking them away in the Tower of London.
The crown sits uneasily on the new king, who builds his brutal reign upon the murders of his closest associates, the young princes, and his wife. A rebellion against Richard's tyranny gathers around Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the last heir of the Lancastrian line. As the two armies meet, the ghosts of Richard's victims rise to torment him. A victorious Richmond is crowned King Henry VII, and the bloody Wars of the Roses come to an end, ushering in the reign of the Tudors.
– Contributed by the CST Education Department
A Scholar’s Perspective by Stuart Sherman
Stuart Sherman examines our fascination with the Duke of Gloucester’s solitary ascent and disintegration.
A Scholar’s Perspective by David Bevington
David Bevington looks for the source of the wide and long-lasting appeal of Shakespeare’s villainous king.
Open Door: Audience Enrichment Programs
CST offers pre- or post-show programs with members of the cast or scholars: PreAmbles, Pub Cast Calls and Talk Backs.
Half-hour pre-show lectures are offered on selected weekend dates. Listen to a scholar give an overview of important scholarship and discuss some of the production choices.
Recorded Excerpts from Talk Back Discussions
Post-show discussions with the cast are held after Wednesday and student matinees. Recordings are updated throughout the run of the production.
The Wars of the Roses
Richard III depicts the final events of the Wars of the Roses, the prolonged dynastic civil wars between the houses of Lancaster and York that engulfed England for three decades.
The Genealogy of Richard III
Scholar David Brailow, with the help of Richard’s family tree, clarifies the essential characters in Richard III and their relationship to each other.
Who’s Who in Richard III
A family feud ignited the Wars of the Roses, medieval England’s 30-year civil war. Political marriages, shifting allegiance and betrayals spin a web of alliances that a “Who’s Who” can help you untangle.
The events depicted in Richard III were more recent for Shakespeare than our own Civil War is to us today, but the chronicles and histories he used as sources radically reshaped the character of Richard III.
Beginning with Richard Burbage’s performance for Shakespeare’s company, the great tragedians have created era-defining interpretations in the role of Richard III.
Scholars, Authors and Artists on Richard III
Insights into Richard III’s character and the nature of evil from Samuel Johnson, Sigmund Freud, Laurence Olivier, Marjorie Garber and others.
A portal to the world of Shakespeare, these selected internet sites lead further into the exploration of Shakespeare in performance, his life and times, the original texts, and much more.