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Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks presents

ShakesFest

A Chicago Shakespeare Community Cabaret

Pop-up performances in neighborhood parks, July 14–23, 2022

Featuring arts partners from Austin, Chinatown, Englewood, Little Village, West Town/Ukrainian Village & West Pullman:
Jose “iasEL” Gonzalez, DJ Jeremy Heights, James Heitz, Emma Lyons, Noelle Klyce, Move Me Soul, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center & Yin He Dance

 

Chicago—June 27, 2022—Chicago Shakespeare Theater joins with arts partners in Austin, Chinatown, Englewood, Little Village, West Town/Ukrainian Village, and West Pullman to present this summer’s Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks event—ShakesFest: A Chicago Shakespeare Community Cabaret. This free theatrical event unites performers, musicians, and dancers in an exuberant musical revue of songs inspired by Shakespeare’s words, spanning styles ranging from pop and hip hop to Broadway and the blues. Pop-up performances will take place in Chicago Park District parks in each of the six partner communities, July 14–23, 2022.

Created and performed in partnership with local artists and arts organizations, this Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks event is rooted in direct engagement with communities and imbued with a collaborative spirit. ShakesFest is directed by Malkia Stampley with music direction by Shraman Ghosh. Longtime Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks performer Danielle Davis is the production’s Assistant Director and Community Partner Liaison. ShakesFest concept creation by Bob Mason. Arts partners include Jose “iasEL” Gonzalez, DJ Jeremy Heights, James Heitz, Emma Lyons (Scenic Designer), Noelle Klyce, Move Me Soul, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, and Yin He Dance. The vocal ensemble features Adia Bell, Christian Denzel Bufford, Kidany Camilo, Jackson Evans, Haley Gustafson, and Becky Keeshin. Understudies are Isabella Andrews, Ben Dow, Clare Kennedy, and Noah Villarreal. Joining the creative team are Costume Coordinator Ryan Magnuson, Verse Coach Andrea San Miguel, Production Stage Managers Danny Fender (through July 14) and Nikki Konomos (beginning July 15), and Production Assistant Anna Margevich.

This summer’s creative collaboration will culminate in free pop-up performances of ShakesFest: A Chicago Shakespeare Community Cabaret at parks located in each of the partner communities:

  • Thursday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. – West Pullman Park (401 W. 123rd St.) in West Pullman
  • Friday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. – Eckhart Park (1330 W. Chicago Ave.) in West Town/Ukrainian Village
    American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performance
  • Saturday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. – Piotrowski Park (4247 W. 31st St.) in Little Village
  • Thursday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. – Columbus Park (500 S. Central Ave.) in Austin
    American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performance
  • Friday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. – Ogden Park (6500 S. Racine Ave.) in Englewood
  • Saturday, July 23 at 6:30 p.m. – Ping Tom Memorial Park (1700 S. Wentworth Ave.) in Chinatown
    Audio-described performance

Assistive-listening devices (ALDs) are available at all locations.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks is an important component of the Theater’s Community Practice, a year-round community connectivity program. Since its establishment in 2012, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks has been fueled by the transformative power of neighborhood-based partnerships—and has built a network between more than 600 civic, cultural, and corporate partners and thousands of artists. The reimagining of this annual summer tradition expands the program’s social impact by intentionally centering the process on equitable and inclusive collaboration. In addition to the annual Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production, the program aims to offer professional development and employment opportunities and to foster year-long engagements with neighborhood-based arts organizations to jointly offer advocacy initiatives, workshops, classes, and community-building events.

Meet this summer’s featured arts partners: 

  • Jose “iasEL” Gonzalez: Jose “iasEL” Gonzalez is an actor, poet, and storyteller based on the West Side. He is the host and producer of La Sala: Cuentos from the Latino Living Room, a storytelling series that features comedy, spoken word, and music—and host of Legal Aliens, a podcast about living in America from a Latino perspective.
  • DJ Jeremy Heights: Hailing from Englewood is DJ Jeremy Heights, a DJ and music producer defining his own signature style through hip hop, R&B, and pop. He is the founder and CEO of New Heights Music, which created the Color the World Project to share free music tracks with the community. His “Nights with Jeremy Heights” podcast dives into his own upbringing on the South Side and explores the role of art as a means for expression and creative healing.
  • James Heitz: Ukrainian Village resident and Ukrainian American artist James Heitz has been playing guitar for more than 12 years with diverse musical styles ranging from classical and metal to jazz. He has appeared in concerts in venues around the city, including Martyrs, Schubas, and Uncommon Ground. Heitz has previously collaborated with the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, which preserves and promotes contemporary art as a shared expression of the Ukrainian and American experience through exhibitions, concerts, and events. 
  • Noelle Klyce: Noelle Klyce is a multi-hyphenate artist born and raised on the South Side. She is a frequent Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks and Holiday Artisan Market collaborator and recently appeared as a featured performer in Chicago Shakespeare’s 2022 virtual event, TO BE. She has performed locally at City Lit Theatre, MPAACT, and Oak Park Festival Theatre. Noelle is deeply involved in her church community Salem Baptist Church and takes tremendous pride in her Black identity. She owns the Crochet line Hook Me Up, Design Co., focusing on personalization through yarn work.
  • Emma Lyons: Creating the production's scenic design is visual artist Emma Lyons, a member of the Fulton Street Collective—a community incubator and a home base for artists in West Town. Lyons is passionate about the theater, and alongside a team of fellow Collective artists, led the set design efforts in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks 2021 production, DREAM: A Community Reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her acrylic paintings have been featured in the Chicago Shakespeare’s Holiday Artisan Market.
  • Move Me Soul: Austin-based modern dance ensemble Move Me Soul fuses technique, performance, and character development—empowering artists to “move” their limits on and off stage. Through programs including a teen ensemble, professional dance troupe and its “Commundance” community engagement initiative, the company works primarily in modern dance styles to explore the Black experience on the West Side. Featured artists include Brassel Chaney, Raven Lewis, Mary Thomas Branch and Tia Young with choreography by Diana Muhammad. 
  • Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center: The longest-standing Latino cultural center in Chicago, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) has been committed to preserving and promoting Afro-Puerto Rican and Afro-Latino cultural traditions for 50 years. Based on the West Side, the Center offers multi-disciplinary programs that highlight the presence of African cultures in Puerto Rico and Latin America through dance, music, theater, and visual arts. Featured artists include Edgar Estrada (Bass), Nathaniel Mohill (Guitar), Angelina Ortiz (Trumpet), Tai Ramírez (Percussion), and Adrian Ruiz (Keyboard/Instructor).
  • Yin He Dance: Rooted in Chicago’s Chinese American community and the historic Chinatown neighborhood, Yin He Dance bridges east and west, past and present, via repertory works passed down by master teachers, as well as new creations, especially those by members of the Chinese diaspora. The company aims to build new avenues of cultural dialogue and share the joy of dance with all communities. Yin He's featured dancer and choreographer is Angela Tam.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks is made possible by a civic, cultural, and corporate partnership between Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Park District, and Lead Community Partner BMO Harris Bank

Ray Whitacre, Co-Head, U.S. Commercial Bank, BMO Financial Group and member of Chicago Shakespeare’s Board of Directors said, “BMO is proud to be a Lead Community Partner in support of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s transformative work in creative community connectivity. For more than a decade, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks has been a model for intentionally and authentically engaging with Chicago communities. They actively listen to the community and have evolved the program in meaningful ways.”

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks is a cornerstone of the Chicago Park DIstrict's Night Out in the Parks (NOITP) event series, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2022. Since its inception in 2013, NOITP has provided thousands of hours of safe, diverse, and unique arts programming for artists and audiences in Chicago Park District parks citywide. With support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the program produces free cultural events across disciplines in all 77 community areas of Chicago.

“We are excited to continue our long-standing partnership with Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the eleventh year of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “Night Out in the Parks has successfully produced 10 years of community-based entertainment, fostered an increased appreciation the arts and parks, and provided diverse platforms for local artists to perform and connect to new audiences —and this year’s collaboration with ShakesFest exemplifies the very best of that initiative.”

More information about this summer’s program at www.chicagoshakes.com/parks


ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Chicago Shakespeare is dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers; one in four of its audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, the Theater works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire. www.chicagoshakes.com

ABOUT NIGHT OUT IN THE PARKS
Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks is presented as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series, supported by the Mayor’s Office and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Celebrating 10 years, Night Out in the Parks activates parks across the city with robust cultural events—bringing neighbors together to laugh, dance, sing, and engage. The Chicago Park District, in partnership with more than 120 local artists and organizations, presents engaging events and performances to amplify the artistic and cultural vibrancy of our city in every neighborhood and enhance the quality of life across Chicago. Through theater, music, movies, dance, site-specific performances, nature programs, and community festivals, the series supports Chicago-based artists, facilitates community-based partnerships and programs, cultivates civic engagement, and ensures equity in access to the arts for all Chicagoans. www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/night-out-in-the-parks 
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Cathy Taylor Public Relations
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