Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. The work is enjoyed by 225,000 audience members annually, with one in four under the age of eighteen. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading presenter of international work, and in touring its own productions across five continents has garnered multiple accolades, including the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award. Emblematic of its role as a global theater, the company spearheaded Shakespeare 400 Chicago, celebrating Shakespeare’s legacy in a citywide, yearlong international arts and culture festival, which engaged more than 1 million people. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of English and drama teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of their students each school year. Over the summer, the company tours a professional production of Shakespeare’s work, free for all, to neighborhood parks across the city. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare with its innovative design that has changed the shape of theater architecture. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, The Yard positions Chicago Shakespeare as the city’s most versatile performing arts center.
Rooted in the legacy of Shakespeare as an unparalleled theatrical innovator, CST’s unforgettable productions are at the heart of our mission. The epic plays and musicals in our Subscription Series, our world premieres of new works, along with our magical performances for families each theater season engage one of the broadest audiences of any theater in America today.
With the world-class artistry on our stages at the foundation, Chicago Shakespeare offers robust education programs that support personal development and career preparation for teachers, artists, arts managers, students and lifelong learners alike.
A Global Theater
Here in Chicago, our WorldStage Series showcases venerable international theaters and companies who break the boundaries of theatrical expression. And abroad, we tour CST’s signature productions to major international festivals and theaters across the globe. In 2016, we spearheaded the citywide celebration Shakespeare 400 Chicago, marking four centuries of the playwright’s rich legacy. Throughout the yearlong festival, 1.1 million people took part in 863 events across 231 locations across the city.
Partner in Innovation
CST is proud to serve as a leading partner in artistic and civic initiatives that are shaping our world—today and tomorrow. In active collaborations with our peers on local, national and international levels, we are engaged at the forefront of creative exchange, advancing thought and dialogue here and abroad.