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Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s

GALA 2015 on June 8

Supporting Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Communities

Civic Honoree ITW – David and Ros Parry

Artistic Honorees Simon Callow and Phylicia Rashad


 Chicago—May 14, 2015—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) celebrates the transformative power of Shakespeare with GALA 2015 on Monday, June 8 at the Theater’s home on Navy Pier. Funds raised will benefit the Tony Award®-winning theater’s Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Communities initiatives, including Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks and the award-winning Team Shakespeare education programs—recognized this season by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Through the generosity of Lead Sponsors, the Host Committee and the advocacy of CST’s Board of Directors, the Theater anticipates raising more than $1 million. GALA 2015 will culminate in the presentation of the fifth annual Spirit of Shakespeare Awards. This year’s Civic Honoree is Illinois Tool Works (ITW), represented by ITW Vice Chairman David Parry and his wife Ros Parry. Artistic Honorees Simon Callow and Phylicia Rashad will be recognized for their contributions to theater. A one-night-only performance will conclude the event in the Courtyard Theater.

Proceeds from GALA 2015 will support Chicago Shakespeare’s education and civic engagement initiatives that annually serve over 100,000 students, teachers and family audiences. Every year, CST’s Team Shakespeare programs introduce more than 40,000 students to Shakespeare in performance, and have positioned the Theater as a partner in literacy to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for over 20 years. This season, CST’s education programming was recognized at the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation's highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. CPS Shakespeare! participant and CPS Prosser Career Academy junior Jennifer Guadalupe Gonzalez was selected to speak at the East Room ceremony, and will address GALA 2015 attendees about her personal and academic growth through the program. Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Communities also encompasses the annual citywide summer tradition, the free-for-all Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. This summer, 24 free performances of Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits will tour to 17 Chicago Park District parks throughout the city’s diverse neighborhoods—activating culturally underserved communities across the city and breaking down participation barriers to the arts.

Chicago Shakespeare presents the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to honor those that engender the spirit of Shakespeare through community engagement and artistic leadership.

The 2015 Spirit of Shakespeare Award Civic Honoree is ITW and ITW Vice Chairman David Parry in recognition of the company’s commitment to community leadership, creativity and innovation. ITW demonstrates a strong commitment to supporting education and advancing arts and culture. David Parry and wife, Ros, will accept the award on ITW’s behalf. Mr. Parry is a member of the Board of Directors of IDEX Corporation and on the Board of Trustees for The Field Museum of Chicago. He is also a member of the Executive Club of Chicago and the Economics Club.

The distinguished list of past years’ Civic Honorees includes John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe, Northern Trust with Frederick H. Waddell, The Honorable Richard M. Daley and The Boeing Company with Greg and Denise Smith.

This year, the Spirit of Shakespeare Award recognizes two Artistic Honorees: Simon Callow and Phylicia Rashad.

British theater artist Simon Callow has enjoyed a varied career, including internationally lauded work on stage and screen, directing over 30 shows and a film, writing and presenting two documentaries, writing 16 books—his latest, the third volume of his comprehensive biography of Orson Welles, appears later this year. In England, he has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Royal Court, in the West End and frequently tours all over the country. He has appeared with Chicago Shakespeare Theater in his one-man performances of The Mystery of Charles Dickens and Being Shakespeare. Mr. Callow was awarded a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to acting in 1999.

A theatrical force, musical talent and incisive director, Phylicia Rashad originally garnered a household name for her portrayal of Claire Huxtable in the television series “The Cosby Show.” On Broadway, she has starred in such notable productions as August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cymbeline, Gem of the Ocean, Jelly’s Last Jam, Into The Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz. In 2003, she received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as Lena Younger in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. In recent years, Rashad has gained national acclaim for her work as a director, most notably for the works of August Wilson and Lorraine Hansberry. She has said that Shakespeare’s language reminds her of August Wilson: "The rhythms are there and the rhythms are like waves, and you have to ride them." An advocate of arts in education, Rashad is the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University.

These two seminal artists join an acclaimed group of previous Artistic Honorees, including Stephen Sondheim, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Peter Hall, Brian Bedford and Mike Nussbaum.

GALA 2015 is generously supported by Lead Sponsor ITW, along with the Host Committee that includes, to date: Allstate Insurance Company – Jess and Amanda Merten; BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois – Maurice Smith, Nazneen Razi; BMO Harris Bank; Bulley & Andrews; The Donna Van Eekeren Foundation; Dover Foundation; Exelon – Robin and Steve Solomon; Harve A. Ferrill and Karla Scherer; GCM Grosvenor; JLL; Betsy and Jack Karp; Kirkland & Ellis LLP – Richard Porter and Lydia Marti; KPMG – Charlene and Bill Tomazin; Raymond and Judy McCaskey; Northern Trust; Burton X. and Sheli Z. Rosenberg; John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe; Carole and Gordon Segal; and Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom LLP – Brian and Yasmina Duwe.

GALA 2015 showcases Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s home on Navy Pier with grand spectacle and stunning skyline views throughout the Theater’s multi-level lobbies. Adding a fanciful ambiance to the celebration, actors dressed as celebrated characters of Shakespeare’s canon will enliven the lobbies. Five hundred guests will enjoy a three-course dinner, sponsored by Food for Thought Catering. Following dinner, guests will gather in CST’s Courtyard Theater for a one-night-only performance highlighting the Theater’s extraordinary artistic vision.

ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds.

 

 

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Hannah Kennedy
Director of Communications
hkennedy@chicagoshakes.com
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
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312.667.4968

Cathy Taylor
cathy@cathytaylorpr.com
Cathy Taylor Public Relations
773.564.9564

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
on Navy Pier
800 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

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