Shakespeare 400 Chicago

Re-living the yearlong celebration in 2016 through a commemorative book of essays

In 2016, as the world commemorated the four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death, Shakespeare 400 Chicago brought together the city’s resident world-class institutions across disciplines and welcomed leading artists from around the globe to make Chicago their stage. This book is a collection of essays written by thirty scholars, who provide their personal reflections on the festival’s citywide programs, including theater, dance, opera, music, exhibition, broadcast, education, film, culinary and visual arts. Shakespeare lovers, students and scholars alike will take delight in these new perspectives on Chicago’s quadricentennial celebration.

Excerpts from the Collection

On Measure for Measure (Cheek by Jowl):

“For some decades now, feminist insights into Shakespearean staging have insisted that Isabella, who is given no lines of reply, can choose to walk away from such a proposal. Her refusal of the Duke’s offer has nearly reached the status of de rigueur. How remarkable, then, that this Isabella, though surprised at first and indeed decidedly skeptical at an idea that the audience too finds unexpected and amusing, agrees at last to dance with the Duke in a gesture of acceptance. The final stage image is of three dancing couples…”
–David Bevington

On Falstaff (Chicago Symphony Orchestra):

“…Falstaff moves into another realm altogether, giving the best reply I know in all art to perpetual questions about the meaning of life. How deliciously it thumbs its nose at stupid stereotypes of aging that dominate culture, now as then. (Slowing down? Crumbling? Halting? Try: assured mastery, new power of insight, fizzy rapidity, and a newfound ability to laugh at the body, at sex, at vulnerability, even at death.)”
–Martha C. Nussbaum

On The Winter’s Tale (Cheek by Jowl):

“…the pent-up negative energy of the two men is enhanced by the extraordinary choreography of this production where, unlike most stage presentations in which everyone stands still whenever the main characters are speaking, here everyone seems to be in perpetual motion, like electrons around the nucleus of an atom, like matter itself, expressing in the ensemble the inner restlessness of the two central male characters. Moments like that change one’s understanding of a great play forever after.”
–Wendy Doniger
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