Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents
Student-Teacher Ensemble from across Chicago neighborhoods in

CPS Shakespeare! Macbeth

Marking ten-year anniversary of award-winning arts-in-education program

Chicago—October 19, 2015—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) presents the tenth anniversary of CPS Shakespeare!, a transformative arts-in-education program that empowers an intergenerational ensemble of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and teachers—supported by a team of CST theater professionals—to master Shakespeare’s text and create an original Shakespeare production on CST’s Courtyard Theater stage. Under the direction of Matt Hawkins, the ensemble completes an intensive six-week rehearsal process, culminating this year in performances of Shakespeare’s chilling tragedy Macbeth. Last November, the program was honored at the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Performances of CPS Shakespeare! Macbeth will be presented in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Courtyard Theater on Friday, November 6 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m.

The citywide ensemble for this year’s CPS Shakespeare! includes 17 students and 6 teachers from 7 CPS schools: Benito Juarez Community Academy; DRW College Prep; Hancock College Preparatory High School; Lake View High School; Mather High School; Prosser Career Academy and Wendell Phillips Academy.

Now in its tenth year, CPS Shakespeare! has engaged hundreds of student and teacher participants in productions of Othello, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet on Chicago Shakespeare’s stage. Developed by Director of Education and the Ray and Judy McCaskey Education Chair Marilyn Halperin and director Kirsten Kelly, the CPS Shakespeare! program has become a national model for immersive arts-in-education programming. The Theater launched the initiative as a way to reach students with untapped potential from under-resourced schools.

In a ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on November 10, 2014, CPS Shakespeare! was honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYPA), which recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for engagement in the arts and the humanities. Current CPS Shakespeare! participant and Prosser Career Academy senior Jennifer Guadalupe Gonzalez was selected as the student representative to address the gathering of elected, civic and cultural leaders and share her experiences through the program.

Longtime CPS Shakespeare! collaborator Matt Hawkins, who has previously served as the program’s Movement and Voice Director, directs this year’s production. Multiple Jeff Award-winner Hawkins is a noted director, fight choreographer and actor—named one of the top five “Most Prolific Artists of the Decade” by Time Out Chicago. He is a founding member of The House Theatre of Chicago and Artistic Associate and resident director with Strawdog Theatre. Hawkins is joined by Assistant Director Sandra Shimon, Prosser Career Academy English Department Chair and teacher, who has participated in the program for the past eight years.

Joining Hawkins and Shimon on the creative team for CPS Shakespeare! Macbeth is Costume Designer Mieka van der Ploeg, Lighting Designer William Kirkham, Sound Designer James Savage, Wig and Make-up Designer Miguel Perez and Properties Master Cassandra Westover.

The award-winning program’s ten-year legacy and its continued future have been made possible by the support of Eric’s Tazmanian Angel Fund. This fund also provides for the Eric Curtis Skowronski Spirit Award, granting a monetary gift to the school of each participating teacher for their support of the arts, literature or library programs.

CPS Shakespeare! Macbeth is presented in CST’s Courtyard Theater Friday, November 6 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m. Each performance is followed by a 30-minute post-show discussion with the entire ensemble. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or online at

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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