Chicago Shakespeare Theater Announces Free Chicago Shakespeare In The Parks

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour performances in Peoria, Illinois to celebrate the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial. This year’s tour marks the first time the program has traveled outside of Chicago in its seven-year history. This summer, the Tony Award-winning Theater’s founder and artistic director Barbara Gaines stages her new music-filled adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Peoria performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be presented in Glen Oak Park(2218 N. Prospect Rd.) on Saturday, August 18 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 19 at 2:00 p.m. A specially equipped truck will travel downstate and unfold into a stage—and a company of professional actors will share Shakespeare’s magical comedy with neighbors of all ages.

Marking the 200th anniversary of statehood, the Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong, state-wide celebration honoring the cultural, economic, academic, and political contributions that Illinois has made to the nation and the world.

In addition to the Peoria performances, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks will bring free world-class performances to 18 neighborhood parks throughout Chicago, July 25–August 26, 2018.

Duplicating its successful community engagement efforts piloted in Chicago over the first seven seasons of the program (as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Night Out in the ParksInitiative), the Theater will work in partnership with the Peoria Park District—the oldest and largest park district in Illinois—as well as residents and community organizations to cultivate new audiences from neighborhoods across the down state region.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis shared, “Peoria is a city built on the appreciation of the performing arts. Our downtown, once dotted with vaudeville theaters, was a well-known testing ground for acts travelling the country. We are honored that Chicago Shakespeare Theater selected Peoria as their first downstate destination and I encourage all residents to experience this award-winning performance in the setting of our beautiful and historic Glen Oak Park on the East Bluff.”

The first-of-its-kind tour is made possible by a civic, cultural, and corporate partnership between Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the City of Peoria, Peoria Park District, Boeing, and BMO Harris Bank—as well as a consortium of generous benefactors led by Peoria-based RLI Corp and Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer Tom Brown, a member of the Chicago Shakespeare Board of Directors.

“The Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program has become a local symbol for increased access to and participation in the arts” said John Blazey, Vice President of Boeing Global Engagement. “This unique partnership among city agencies, community-based organizations, local artists, and neighborhood residents is a powerful example of how investment in the arts helps to bring vitality to our communities by engaging families and building connections with one another.”

David Casper, President and CEO, BMO Harris Bank said, “BMO Harris Bank is proud to sponsor this summer’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a magical story that has been delighting audiences for over four hundred years. Chicago Shakespeare Theater shares our commitment to ensuring that great theater is accessible to all, and we look forward to partnering with them in bringing this production to neighborhoods across the city.”

For more information on Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks and a complete tour schedule, visit


A global theatrical force, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, musicality of language, and empathy for the human condition. 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, putting forward a company that delights in the unexpected and defies theatrical category. A Regional Tony Award winner, the Theater produces acclaimed plays at its home on Navy Pier, throughout Chicago’s schools and neighborhoods, and on stages around the world. In 2017, the Theater unveiled a new stage, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, The Yard positions Chicago Shakespeare as the city’s most versatile performing arts venue.