“It gave me confidence to be who I am.”

–Student, 2019, Hancock High School, Chicago

“I believe this program has helped me to understand my students’ concerns and fears and help guide them through. It gave them a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride.”

–Teacher, 2019, Sullivan House High School, Chicago

Teams representing thirty high schools from across the region collaborate to celebrate the power of language—and their own voices—in the sixth annual Chicago Shakespeare Slam. After two years of virtual programming, Chicago Shakespeare is looking forward to welcoming back this year’s SLAM in person.

Here’s how it works. Each team, comprised of two to eight students, prepares two performance pieces from a shared text to be performed at one of three Regional Bouts. This year, our shared text is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays—with the most infamous of characters—Richard III. First, teams stage a scene that they’ve selected from Richard III, cut, staged, and rehearsed. Next, teams stage the “Dream Round,” a devised, “remixed” performance piece inspired by Richard III that explores a particular character, theme, or story that they want to tell in an original and creative way. The top-scoring teams advance to perform in the Final Bout, which takes place in January 2023 on Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s stage, with the entire SLAM community gathering to celebrate and support their fellow performers.

Power, revenge, legacy. Invincible determination, fierce femme characters, cut-throat conspiring, curses, untamable ambition—for all these delicious and relevant reasons, Richard III seemed the perfect play for students to be exploring right now. And its complex characters and action-packed world give students a playground for their imaginations.  

Chicago Shakespeare Slam is, more than anything, an ensemble program—building community, within a school’s team and among the many teams participating from across our 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.

Check out students’ SLAM experiences


The 2022/23 SLAM Schools

Alcott College Prep, Chicago 
Bishop Noll Institute, Hammond 
Francis W. Parker School, Chicago 
Huntley High School, Huntley 
John Hancock College Prep, Chicago 
Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago 
Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Chicago 
Little Village Lawndale High School, Chicago 
Morgan Park Academy, Chicago 
Mundelein High School, Mundelein 
New Trier High School, Winnetka 
Niles North High School, Skokie 
O-School, Chicago 

Oak Park and River Forest High School, Oak Park 
Orr Academy High School, Chicago 
Prosser Career Academy, Chicago 
Proviso Mathematics & Science Academy, Forest Park 
Round Lake High School, Round Lake 
Senn Arts High School, Chicago 
South Shore International College Prep, Chicago 
Sullivan House High School, Chicago 
Taft High School, Chicago 
The University of Chicago Lab High School, Chicago 
Tri-Point High School, Cullom 
Universal School, Bridgeview 
Warren Township High School, Gurnee


“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



Allstate Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation Kimberlee Herold Neal and Jennifer Reenan


The Jentes Family

Major Team Shakespeare Supporters

Helen Brach FoundationComEd an Exelon CompanyCrown Family PhilanthropiesLloyd A. Fry FoundationIllinois Tool WorksKPMGMazza FoundationOld National BankPolk Bros Foundation


Butler Family 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



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