Audience Enrichment

John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Inquiry and Exploration Series

Chicago Shakespeare’s John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Inquiry and Exploration Series encompasses our 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 the Theater’s professional staff, they provide thoughtful points of entry for engagement by our many audiences. Those who wish to dig deeper will be offered 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 for most productions in our subscription season. These half-hour talks by scholars examine the offerings in our subscription series through the lens of the play’s historical context, as well as the interpretive choices made by the director, design team and acting ensemble. If you are interested in listening online, select Pre•Ambles are posted for each production.

Cast Calls

One hour before select Friday night performances, patrons are given a rare opportunity to engage with members of the cast before they don their costumes and get into character. In this intimate and relaxed setting, patrons and artists meet for an informal discussion about the play in the casual atmosphere of the Theater’s Pub.

Post-show Discussions

Chicago Shakespeare Theater's post-show discussions provide audiences with the opportunity to discuss the play, the production and its process with actors from the cast. These entertaining and informative discussions are offered following weekday matinees for our subscription series performances and after Saturday morning matinees of the Short Shakespeare! abridged production.

Lunch & Learn

Chicago Shakespeare Theater invites lifelong learners among our audiences to come “lunch & learn” with us before select weekday afternoon performances. Attendees can purchase a convenient boxed meal in advance and enjoy a scholar’s lecture, followed by a robust discussion with their fellow lunch-and-learners.

Program Notes

Program notes provide another entry point through which to enter and appreciate the plays on our stages. Commissioned by Chicago Shakespeare, internationally recognized scholars of theater performance and Shakespeare offer their unique perspectives on the play. These essays are available in our printed programs and online—just look for the   Browse program link in the Helpful Resources section on the play's webpage.

The Rowe Annual Dialog on Shakespeare

This newest tradition at Chicago Shakespeare features an annual dialog between Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Chicago civic leader John Rowe. Together they will explore the themes of one of the canon’s plays and its relevance to current events with the Theater's Shakespeare Society.

City Desk 400

30 scholars from around the country provided critical commentary and analysis on many of the Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival events. Read their essays online.




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