Chicago Shakespeare Slam

“It was honestly so much fun! :) It really did help my understanding of how to read Shakespeare and how to feel when you say his words.”

–Student, Zion-Benton Township High School, Zion, IL

“One student said: ‘It gave me confidence to be who I am.’ Students also said it motivated them, got them interested in Shakespeare, and gave them confidence.”

–Teacher, Hancock College Prep, Chicago

Teams representing high schools from across the Chicago region will collaborate this fall to celebrate the power of Shakespeare and their own voices in CST’s fourth annual Chicago Shakespeare Slam. Due to the ongoing impact of COVID‑19, the SLAM program goes remote this year—and culminates in a collaborative, filmed production of Hamlet, to be shared in January.

In a world gone wrong, Hamlet wrestles with betrayal, alienation, and self-doubts. His brilliant journey is one that may have special resonance to students as they attempt to cope with the many unanticipated ramifications in their lives of a global pandemic and the struggle for racial justice and equity.

A series of filmed workshops, accompanied by school rehearsals (likely remote, as well), and live video conference gatherings will prepare the teams for their role in this year’s program. Each team will rehearse, perform, and record its contribution to the SLAM community’s unique staging of Hamlet. Woven together with narration, the recorded scenes will tell the story of a Hamlet that is inextricably bound to their own stories as our students’ lives collide with history in the making.

The Chicago Shakespeare Slam is, more than anything, an ensemble program—building community, both among the members of a school’s team and between the teams participating across the entire region. Together, participants have the opportunity to dive deep into a shared text—and do so through an infinite number of lenses crafted out of students’ own imaginations.

“Shakespeare Slam brings out the best in my students: they engage more, think more, and learn more from this experience than from traditional classroom instruction. Witnessing my students' transformative growth and genuine delight has inspired me to create more project-based learning experiences within the curriculum. The Shakespeare Slam inspires me to imagine what's possible—to take more risks, to build more intentional community, and to give young people more voice and choice in the classroom. Chicago Shakespeare Theater has created a program that changes everyone who experiences it—not only students, but also teachers.”

–Teacher, Little Village Lawndale High School, Chicago


Lead SponsorS



  Butler Family Foundation

  Kimberlee Herold

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