Chicago Shakespeare Theater Announces 2019/20 Season

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces today its 2019/20 Season—featuring an expansive line-up of plays, musicals, new work, and presentations from around the globe to engage one of the broadest audiences of any theater in America today.

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines shared, “At a time in our lives when estrangement and belonging are so entwined into our public discourse, we are looking forward to a season of stories that explore our boundaries—personal, societal, geographic—and how we cross them in order to better understand ourselves, our neighbors, and the world we inhabit. A king is limited by his inability to speak to his nation; two teenagers see beyond the walls erected by their families’ hatred; a young woman can imagine the possibilities of love all around—but not in her own heart; and free spirits leave behind the constraints of society and discover love in unexpected places. Powerful narratives of a Somalian refugee in South Africa and indigenous youth in México both wrestle with defining home and identity. In the communal space that is the theater, we share these stories that bind us together.”

Bold theatricality onstage at Chicago Shakespeare

Kicking off the 2019/20 Season is David Seidler’s play The King’s Speech (September 12–October 27, 2019), the remarkable true story about an unlikely bond between a reluctant king and his charismatic subject that inspired the Academy Award-winning film—now brought to life onstage as Seidler first imagined it. Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning director Michael Wilson stages the North American premiere at Chicago Shakespeare. Following its Chicago run, the production is slated for engagements at other theaters across the country.

For the first time in her distinguished career, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines directs Shakespeare’s most famous tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet (November 1–December 22, 2019). Set against a modern backdrop of a city torn apart by hate, the star-crossed young lovers defy every boundary forged from their families’ enmity, finding love—and heartbreak.

Jane Austen’s beloved novel Emma (January 28–March 15, 2020), featuring one of literature’s most fiercely independent heroines, is transformed into an enchanting new musical by Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon, whose world premiere production of Sense and Sensibility captivated Chicago Shakespeare audiences in 2015. Artistic Director Barbara Gaines directs this deliciously charming romantic comedy.

A vibrant, ‘60s-inspired take on As You Like It (May 1–June 21, 2020) infuses Shakespeare’s comedy with the hit songs of The Beatles—lifting the playwright’s timeless verse in beautiful harmony with the immortal music of the “Fab Four.” This high-spirited, music-filled staging is adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director of Canada’s acclaimed Citadel Theatre.

Global conversations and collaborations

In April 2020, Chicago Shakespeare is pleased to welcome the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company back to Chicago for the first time in 25 years with a signature production of a Shakespeare play (title to be announced in the coming months). Following Chicago Shakespeare’s performances on the RSC stage in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Complete Works Festival, both theaters have sought the opportunity for Chicago audiences to experience the RSC’s work onstage at Chicago Shakespeare—promising to be a theatrical highlight of the spring.

This season’s WorldStage series features South Africa’s Isango Ensemble with their acclaimed production of A Man of Good Hope (October 4–13, 2019). Vividly told through music and dance steeped in African traditions, the story follows one young Somalian refugee’s extraordinary odyssey across a continent, and his unfailing hope in the face of adversity.

Devised from personal anecdotes, ancestral myths, and traditional art forms, Makuyeika Theatre Collective presents Andares (October 23–27, 2019), directed by Héctor Flores Komatsu, which chronicles the lives of indigenous youth in México—and the realities that they face at the crossroads of modern life and tradition. Translated as “pathways,” Andares is featured as part of the third annual Destinos – Chicago International Latino Theater Festival.

Jeanine Tesori, the Tony Award-winning composer of Fun Home and Caroline, or Change, and acclaimed director, playwright, and librettist Tazewell Thompson join forces to create the new opera Blue (June 19–28, 2020), presented in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Blue brings audiences into the emotional epicenter as an African-American couple is faced with the sudden death of their son—realizing a mother’s worst fear, and igniting a father’s rage and devastation.

Traditions continue throughout Summer 2019

Chicago Shakespeare also announces two productions for Summer 2019. At the Theater’s home on Navy Pier, celebrated director Brian Hill and choreographer Kenny Ingram join forces to bring new life to the timeless musical classic The Wizard of Oz (July 6–August 25, 2019), based on the original 1939 MGM film, for audiences of all ages.

Now in its eighth year, the FREE FOR ALL Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour will bring Shakespeare’s riotous The Comedy of Errors (July 18–August 18, 2019), adapted and directed by David H. Bell, to 18 neighborhood parks across the south, west, and north sides in our City’s most expansive arts-in-communities initiative.

Engaging students and teachers through Team Shakespeare

Chicago Shakespeare’s Team Shakespeare education initiatives serve more than 40,000 teachers and students each year—making it one of the most comprehensive and highly respected arts education programs in the country. Team Shakespeare brings Shakespeare’s work to life in the school curriculum—through live performance, professional learning for educators, comprehensive teaching resources, and opportunities for students to perform Shakespeare.

Key Team Shakespeare initiatives include Bard Core, a year-long professional learning seminar that introduces Chicago Public Schools high school English, Special Education, and ESL teachers to drama-based strategies for engaging students—including struggling and reluctant readers, and English language learners—with Shakespeare and other challenging texts. In the annual Chicago Shakespeare Slam, hundreds of high school students and their teacher coaches from public, private, and parochial schools across the region come together to celebrate the power of Shakespeare and their own voices. A series of Saturday workshops and regional preliminary bouts throughout the fall culminate in a spirited, fun-filled Final Bout onstage at Chicago Shakespeare. In addition to weekday matinee performances of the Theater’s full-length productions, Chicago Shakespeare annually presents an abridged 75-minute Short Shakespeare! production, which welcomes 30,000 students during its seven-week run of weekday matinees, followed by a tour to schools across the region.

These programs—in concert with the free citywide Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour and summer family musical series—exemplify the Theater’s steadfast commitment to young audiences—which has resulted in one in four audience members being age 18 or under.

Access Shakespeare

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through Access Shakespeare programming, which offers services designed for individuals with mobility, hearing, or visual impairments for all productions, including the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour. In addition to offering assistive-listening devices as well as large-print and Braille programs, the Theater schedules dedicated performances featuring ASL duo-interpretation, open captioning, audio description, and touch tours. Tickets to Access Shakespeare performances are provided at pay-what-you-can rates to ensure that cost does not prohibit participation.

 

Chicago Shakespeare 2019/20 Season Listing

The Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum | with music & lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
adapted by John Kane
directed by Brian Hill | choreographed by Kenny Ingram
in the Courtyard Theater | July 6–August 25, 2019

Take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto as they encounter new friends—including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion—and face unexpected challenges in the musical stage adaptation of the landmark 1939 MGM film. Audiences of all ages will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score, featuring such cherished classics as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”—ultimately to discover that there’s truly no place like home.

 

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks
The Comedy of Errors

by William Shakespeare
adapted & directed by David H. Bell
on tour to neighborhood parks across Chicago | July 18–August 18, 2019

For the eighth year, Chicago Shakespeare, the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Boeing, and BMO Harris Bank partner to present the annual citywide summer tradition, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, on tour to neighborhood parks across Chicago, FREE FOR ALL. From Hamilton Park and Columbus Park to Loyola Park and Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks activates communities across the north, west, and south sides of the city. On each stop of the tour, a specially equipped truck rolls into the park, a stage unfolds, and a company of professional actors shares the delight of Shakespeare’s riotous The Comedy of Errors with families and neighbors. Tour details to be announced this spring.

 

North American Premiere
The King’s Speech
by David Seidler
directed by Michael Wilson
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare | September 12–October 27, 2019

Paralyzed by his stammer and unable to speak to a nation in crisis, King George VI ascends the throne as England stands on the brink of war once again with Germany. Enter Lionel Logue, an Australian migrant with a career path as unexpected as the king’s. The remarkable true story of this unlikely bond between a reluctant king and a charismatic subject that inspired the Academy Award-winning film is now brought to the stage, where writer David Seidler first imagined it.

 

A Man of Good Hope
Isango Ensemble, in co-production with the Young Vic
and in association with the Royal Opera, Repons Foundation, X and Y
based on the book by Jonny Steinberg
directed by Mark Dornford-May
a WorldStage Production from South Africa
in the Courtyard Theater | October 4–13, 2019

A musical theater spectacle, pulsating with the glorious sounds of this Olivier Award-winning ensemble, is the story of one young refugee’s extraordinary odyssey across a continent. Asad, a Somali with a painful past, miraculous good luck, and a brilliant mind for business, sets off for South Africa—the promised land, where he believes he has found a place of safety. He is mistaken. Acclaimed in New York and London, Isango’s 22-member cast tells Asad’s story through song and dance steeped in African tradition of unfailing hope in the face of adversity.

 

Andares
Makuyeika Theatre Collective
written and directed by Héctor Flores Komatsu
a WorldStage Production from México
as part of Destinos – Chicago International Latino Theater Festival
in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare | October 23–27, 2019

Woven from ancestral myths, traditional music and arts, and a three-person narrative, Andares reveals the extraordinary, untold stories of ordinary, humble people who inhabit México’s most remote corners. Created by director Héctor Flores Komatsu from his personal search to know and understand the original cultures of his homeland, Andares is a moving, fierce denunciation against a present that seems intent upon destroying what was once held as sacred.

 

Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare
directed by Barbara Gaines
in the Courtyard Theater | November 1–December 22, 2019

A city, two families, and a hatred so old that no one remembers its cause. Defying every boundary forged from their families’ enmity, Romeo and Juliet fall in love. In a society torn apart by hate, Shakespeare sets his immortal tale of love and senseless tragedy. For Chicago Shakespeare Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, now is the time to direct her first Romeo and Juliet, as Chicago awaits her vision for the most famous love story of all time.

 

Emma
based on the novel by Jane Austen
book, music & lyrics by Paul Gordon
directed by Barbara Gaines
in the Courtyard Theater | January 28–March 15, 2020

Jane Austen’s beloved novel is now a deliciously charming musical, created by Tony Award-nominated composer and lyricist Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Daddy Long Legs). Privileged, pampered, and preoccupied with romance, Emma Woodhouse indulges in her pastime of misguided matchmaking, but is clueless when it comes to her own feelings and a gentleman named Mr. Knightley. As our imperfect heroine learns that love cannot be predicted or channeled, we are swept up by Paul Gordon’s lyrical melodies.

 

Royal Shakespeare Company engagement
A WorldStage Production from the UK
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare | April 2020

In April 2020, Chicago Shakespeare is pleased to welcome the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company back to Chicago for the first time in 25 years with a signature production of a Shakespeare play. Following Chicago Shakespeare’s performances on the RSC stage in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Complete Works Festival, both theaters have sought the opportunity for Chicago audiences to experience the RSC’s work onstage at Chicago Shakespeare—promising to be a theatrical highlight of the spring. Title to be announced in the coming months.

 

As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
adapted & directed by Daryl Cloran
conceived by Daryl Cloran and Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
in association with the Citadel Theatre and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
in the Courtyard Theater | May 1–June 21, 2020

It’s the 1960s, when all you need is love. Free spirits escape a world gone wrong to get back to the land—a place that promises safe harbor from the corrupt ways of the city, but no one is spared here from the hazards of love. The irrepressible Rosalind takes refuge in the forest. So, too, does her love Orlando, with much to learn from the woman of his dreams, now disguised in boy’s garb. This high-spirited, music-filled adaptation infuses Shakespeare’s comedy with the hit songs of The Beatles—lifting the playwright’s timeless verse in beautiful harmony with the immortal music of the “Fab Four.” As You Like It is adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director of Canada’s acclaimed Citadel Theatre, and originated at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

 

Blue
music by Jeanine Tesori | libretto by Tazewell Thompson
directed by Tazewell Thompson
in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare | June 19–28, 2020
in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago

Blue brings audiences into the emotional epicenter of an African-American family in which the father is a police officer and the son is a politically active teenager. When the son is killed by police, his death realizes the mother’s worst fear, and ignites his father’s rage and devastation. The new opera is inspired by contemporary events and Black literature, including Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and focuses on the joys and sorrows of bringing a child into a world in which African-American families are forced to question if their sons’ lives matter. Blue is a coproduction of Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

For information on purchasing tickets, visit www.chicagoshakes.com or call the CST Box Office at 312.595.5600. A variety of flexible season ticket packages will be on sale soon, offering savings over single tickets, and guaranteeing your seat at every production you choose to see. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more.

ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading presenter of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.

Feature Photo by Ali Ibrahim