CPS Shakespeare!

"This experience has changed my life. Period."
Student at Gage Park High School (CPS)

"I know now that I can teach the most difficult text, to any student, because that is what we do here."
Teacher, Prosser Career Academy (CPS)

On November 10, 2014, at an official White House ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama awarded CPS Shakespeare! the prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation's highest honor for after-school creative youth development initiatives from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Program co-founders Marilyn J. Halperin, Director of Education and the Ray and Judy McCaskey Chair, and director Kirsten Kelly attended the East Room ceremony on behalf of the Theater. Joining them was Prosser Career Academy junior Jennifer Guadalupe Gonzalez, a two-year alumna of CPS Shakespeare!, who was selected as the student representative to address the gathered elected, civic and cultural leaders and speak about the impact of the program on her personal and academic development.

For years, this transformational program invited CPS high school students and their teachers from across the city into our rehearsal room to create a completely original Shakespeare production. Through a five-week intensive rehearsal process under the guidance of a full team of professional CST artists, this intergenerational ensemble worked together to prepare a fully designed production, culminating in two performances on Chicago Shakespeare’s mainstage in the Courtyard Theater. CPS Shakespeare! was designed to develop students’ literacy skills as it builds confidence, empowering our city’s teens to approach life’s challenges with bravery and self-assurance.


Watch & Listen


Video: NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams features CPS Shakespeare


Video: Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Education Programs


Audio: CPS Shakespeare! on WBEZ The Morning Shift





In Their Own Words

"The program changes the lives of our young people. I have incorporated a great deal of our work into my classroom."
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Making an Impact

Taking on the greatest poet in the English language and making his words their own, students and teachers discover their own voices.
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Power of the Process

The most exciting aspect of the entire process is to see someone's choice develop into a huge theatrical moment onstage.
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The Jentes Family

Major Team Shakespeare Supporters

AllstateComEd an Exelon CompanyCrown Family PhilanthropiesLloyd A. Fry FoundationKimberlee HeroldIllinois Tool WorksKPMGMazza FoundationOld National BankPolk Bros FoundationNeal and Jennifer ReenanThe Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable TrustRobert & Penelope Steiner Family Foundation    Shakespeare in American Communities

Additional support provided by: Helen Brach Foundation, Inc., The Malott Family Student Access Fund, Matthew and Gloria O'Meara, Pritzker Foundation Team Shakespeare Fund, Ropes & Gray LLP, Dr. Scholl Foundation, The Segal Family Foundation Student Matinee Fund, Charles and M. R. Shapiro Foundation, Inc.

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