IDEA To Action


Chicago Shakespeare’s stages will be home to stories that reflect the multitude of identities, strengths, and viewpoints in our city and our world. As we interrogate what it means to be a “Shakespeare theater,” we acknowledge the power of our platform, and the voices that have historically claimed it. We strive to invest in the stories and talents of those who have historically been marginalized and silenced and commit to collaborating with a more diverse group of theater-makers.

Our Objectives

Directors and Generative Artists IDEA Practice and Process

  • Build creative teams in alignment with our IDEA commitments with BIPOC artists, people with disabilities, artists of all gender identities and expressions, and individuals from underrepresented populations in leadership positions.
  • Expand our community of generative artists (directors, designers, writers, music directors, choreographers, and other creatives) to involve, engage, and employ an increased number of BIPOC artists, people with disabilities, artists of all gender identities and expressions, and individuals from underrepresented populations.
  • Identify ways in which underrepresented populations can be included in the Theater’s work and better supported throughout the creative process, addressing how barriers can be removed and how development opportunities can be provided.
  • Establish processes and accountability for the ongoing examination of concepts and artistic approaches brought forward by creators, makers, and directors—from first impulse to closing night—through the lens of the Theater’s IDEA commitments.
  • Encourage diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible artistic processes by developing and implementing systems for onboarding, cultural competency building, IDEA shared-value orientation, and opportunities for training for all generative artists.
  • Seek to create a work environment and community that is transparent and inclusive as we make progress with the efforts listed above. We will be conducting regular assessments addressing our Inclusive Artmaking goals and establishing ongoing mechanisms to gather feedback from all artmakers and artistic collaborators.
  • Establish pre/mid/post-production process mechanisms to gather feedback from each production’s company about their experiences with Chicago Shakespeare’s policies, practices, and IDEA strategies. Use this feedback to inform artistic decision-making or change course.

Diversity and Consciousness in Concept and Casting

  • Expand the community engaged with and auditioning for Chicago Shakespeare to increase participation from BIPOC artists, people with disabilities, actors of all gender identities and expressions, and individuals from underrepresented populations. Address methods for removing barriers, creating safe space, and intentionally and authentically welcoming artists into our organization.
  • Define a casting process that begins with the production’s director, casting directors, assistant directors, and casting decision-makers prioritizing inclusive principles for the production from first discussions of concepts and artistic approaches.
  • Standardize our communications with actors and their representatives (deal memos, casting breakdowns, contracts, etc.) to reflect the Theater’s IDEA commitments.
  • Review and examine actor compensation, contract terms, and benefits across the Theater’s programs and labor agreements (LORT, CAT 3, 5, 6, TYA, etc.)
  • Explore best practice among producing theaters in setting IDEA goals for diverse casting across a season of work and for individual productions.
  • Research and track data related to race, ethnicity, gender identity, disabilities, etc., for actors engaged in the Theater’s audition/casting/hiring processes (generals, called in for the specific show, called back for a particular show, cast, etc.)
  • Develop and implement required and recommended IDEA training for all casting decision-makers and casting influencers to build and maintain a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible culture in the Theater's casting process. Create a method for tracking training.

Diverse Technical Teams and Production Practice

  • Develop and implement required IDEA/Cultural Competency Training for technical and production workers.
  • Build a culture for all production employees that acknowledges and works to deconstruct gender bias and sexism in technical and production work in our industry.
  • Define and focus Stage Management role in supporting Chicago Shakespeare’s IDEA commitments and objectives.
  • Ensure that budgets anticipate and allow for resources to be sufficiently allocated to support the specific needs of BIPOC actors and actors with disabilities.
  • Develop a system for artistic interruption protocols and resolution paths.
  • Expand the Theater’s community of BIPOC technicians and production staff, addressing how barriers to entry might be removed and inclusion is actively supported.
  • Identify and communicate harmful terms/language and technical terminology in the Theater vernacular with the goal of eliminating their use in our process.
  • Review artistic facilities and backstage spaces to consider those with disabilities, taking into account: clear signage (identifying location and directions), well-lit meeting space and adjacent areas, and projection screen visible from all seating.
  • Review backstage and rehearsal space accessibility for wheelchair users and those with other mobility devices, taking into account: accessible parking near venue; proximity to the bus stop; ramp and elevator access; accessible bathrooms; barrier-free pathways; wide doorways and aisles to accommodate wheelchairs/scooters; and no loose cables across walking areas.
  • Actively work on performance technology for designers and technicians who may need adaptive devices, such as electrical outlets in accessible seating areas to accommodate devices, laptops, etc., extra space or work surface.

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