About Us

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) believes that Shakespeare speaks to everyone. A global theatrical force, CST is known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, musicality of language, and empathy for the human condition. 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, delighting in the unexpected, defies theatrical category. A Regional Tony Award-winning theater, CST produces acclaimed plays at its home on Navy Pier, throughout Chicago’s schools and neighborhoods, and on stages around the world. In 2017, the Theater unveiled The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, with an innovative design that will change the shape of theater-making. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, The Yard positions CST as the city’s largest and most versatile performing arts venue.

Chicago Shakespeare’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, and visiting international tours—to engage a broad, multigenerational audience of 225,000 community members. Recognized in 2014 in a White House ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, CST’s education programs support literacy and creativity for 40,000 students each year. Each summer, 30,000 family audiences welcome the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour into their neighborhoods across the far north, west and south sides of the city. The Theater is the leading producer of international work in Chicago and, touring its own plays across North America and abroad to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East, has garnered multiple accolades, including the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award. Emblematic of its role as a global theater, CST spearheaded Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a yearlong international arts and culture festival, which engaged an estimated 1.1 million people through 863 events at 231 locations across the city in 2016—all in celebration of Shakespeare’s 400-year legacy.  

Bold Theatricality

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.

Creative Learning

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.

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.



Watch & Listen


Video: About Chicago Shakespeare Theater


Video: The Spirit of Shakespeare is Alive in Chicago


Video: NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams features CPS Shakespeare



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