CST's Open Door encompasses our free and varied audience enrichment programs, introducing patrons to the rich world of ideas embodied in the productions on our stages. With the participation of scholars, theater artists and CST’s professional staff, they provide thoughtful points of entry for engagement by our many audiences—offering to those who wish to dig deeper another lens through which to understand these great plays and the breathtaking art-making behind them.
A team of scholars presents free pre-performance lectures in our Skyline Room on the Sixth Floor of the Theater. The half-hour talk bridges the worlds of scholarship and performance, examining the play in its historical context as well as the interpretive choices made by the director, design team and acting ensemble. Pre•Ambles are held at the Theater an hour before curtain on select Friday evenings, and at Saturday and Sunday matinees throughout a production’s run. These invaluable lectures are recorded and become available online in the week following their presentation here at CST.
Patrons are given a rare opportunity to engage with members of the cast before they don their costumes and get into character. One hour before select Friday night performances, patrons and artists meet for an informal discussion about the play in the casual atmosphere of the Theater’s Pub.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater's post-show discussions, facilitated by members of the Theater’s Education Department team, provide audiences with the opportunity to discuss the play, the production and its making with actors from the cast. These entertaining and informative discussions are offered following every weekday matinee performance and after each Saturday morning matinee of the Short Shakespeare! abridged production.
Like each of the other components of our Open Door programs, program notes provide another entry point through which to enter and appreciate the plays on our stages. Commissioned by CST, internationally recognized scholars of theater performance, Shakespeare and the English and American stages offer their own unique lens into the plays. These essays are available in our printed play programs and on our website associated with each production's "Learn more" link.