Chicago Shakespeare Slam

Watch Video

“Chicago Shakespeare Slam gives you the ability to take such a significant piece of work and then combine it with something that's relatable to us.”

–Student, Lindblom Math & Science Academy, Chicago

Teams representing forty high schools from across the region collaborate to celebrate the power of language—and their own voices—in the seventh annual Chicago Shakespeare Slam. SLAM is, more than anything, an ensemble program—building community, within a school’s team, and among the many teams participating from across the entire region.  

Here’s how it works. Each team, comprised of two to eight students, attends a Saturday workshop in the fall where they learn skills in text work, character building, staging, and most importantly come together as a SLAM community. Then, back at their school rehearsals, each team prepares two performance pieces to be performed at one of three Regional Bouts. First, teams stage the “Scene Round,” a scene that they’ve selected from any of Shakespeare’s plays--cut, staged, and rehearsed. Next, teams stage the “Dream Round,” a devised, “remixed” performance piece inspired by a community shared text that explores a particular character, theme, or story that they want to tell in an original and creative way.  

This year’s shared text will be the tragic romance Romeo and Juliet. A tale of love found and tragically lost. A story where young love fights to survive in a divided community. A text with powerful moments of feeling and play. Romeo and Juliet will be an exciting landscape for students’ imaginations to explore. The top-scoring teams advance to perform in the Final Bout, which takes place in December 2023 on Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s stage, with the entire SLAM community gathering to celebrate and support their fellow performers.  

Interested teachers can REGISTER HERE for the 2023/24 Chicago Shakespeare Slam. Please reach out to the Education department with any questions at 312.595.5678 or at

Check out students’ SLAM experiences

“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



AllstateNeal and Jennifer ReenanKimberlee Herold


The Jentes Family

Major Team Shakespeare Supporters

ComEd an Exelon CompanyCrown Family PhilanthropiesLloyd A. Fry FoundationIllinois Tool WorksKPMGMazza FoundationOld National BankPolk Bros FoundationRobert and Penelope Steiner Family FoundationThe Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust

Additional support provided by: Helen Brach Foundation, Butler Family Foundation, Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation, The Malott Family Student Access Fund, Pritzker Foundation Team Shakespeare Fund, Ropes & Gray LLP, Dr. Scholl Foundation, The Segal Family Foundation Student Matinee Fund



Register for SLAM 23/24

Are you an Illinois teacher interested in being a part of Chicago Shakespeare Slam? Register your school team using the link above!  


Additional Pages