Shakespeare 400 Chicago Line-up Announced for 2016

unnamedShakespeare 400 Chicago announces today the festival line-up for 2016, featuring 850 events on stages and in museums, restaurants, parks, schools and neighborhoods across Chicago. Today, Chicago Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson gather with leaders of the City’s cultural institutions at British Consul General Stephen Bridge’s residence to launch the festival and unveil the Shakespeare 400 Chicago catalog, which will be available at many of the event venues across Chicago. Casting is announced for Chicago Shakespeare’s centerpiece of the festival, Barbara Gaines’ epic production of Tug of War. Shakespeare 400 Chicago is made possible by leading support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.

As the world commemorates the four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Shakespeare 400 Chicago brings together the city’s resident world-class institutions across disciplines, and welcomes leading artists from around the globe to celebrate, interpret and reimagine Shakespeare’s work. Spearheaded by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, this yearlong international arts festival will engage more than 500,000 Chicagoans and visitors in events spanning theater, opera, music, dance, cuisine, exhibitions, workshops and discussion series.

In addition to the previously announced Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Shakespeare-inspired presentations at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Supernatural Shakespeare exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago—Joffrey Ballet has announced Romeo and Juliet as part of its fall season. Yo-Yo Ma joins musicians from Chicago Symphony Orchestra to perform A Distant Mirror, exploring the musical worlds inspired by Shakespeare and Cervantes. Chicago Mariachi Project debuts a new work, El eterno Shakespeare (The Eternal Shakespeare), which weaves themes from the Bard’s plays into the traditional sounds of mariachi. The Grant Park Chorus performs Shakespeare selections at the Grant Park Music Festival. The Gift Theatre Company’s Richard III featuring Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton in the title role is presented in the Steppenwolf Garage, in partnership with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The Q Brothers return with their award-winning Othello: The Remix after international tours to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, South Korea, New Zealand, Poland, the United Arab Emirates and beyond. Chicago’s own band of actor/musicians The Lincoln Squares premiere their Gravediggers’ Hamlet.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater also announces the acting company for Artistic Director Barbara Gaines’ epic six-play history cycle Tug of War, which will be presented as a two-part theatrical event: Foreign Fire (beginning May 11) and Civil Strife (beginning September 14). The dynamic ensemble cast performs over 100 characters ranging from kings to commoners throughout the action-packed drama. Spanning more than a century of British history, the play reveals that, when it comes to politics and pride, history is doomed to repeat itself. The company includes: Karen Aldridge, David Darlow, Matt Deitchman, Jed Feder, Neil Friedman, Kevin Gudahl, Shanna Jones, Timothy Edward Kane, Heidi Kettenring, Daniel Kyri, Elizabeth Ledo, Michael Aaron Lindner, James Newcomb, Barbara Robertson, Freddie Stevenson, Steven Sutcliffe, John Tufts, Alex Weisman, Tahirah Whittington, Dominique Worsley and Larry Yando. A vibrant musical soundscape encompasses music from Bach and the blues, to contemporary pop and rock anthems.

In a uniquely Chicago tribute to the City’s rich culinary scene, Culinary Complete Works translates the 38 plays of Shakespeare through the immense talents of 38 of Chicago’s most inventive chefs in restaurants across the city throughout 2016. Curated by Alpana Singh, proprietor and master sommelier of Boarding House, Culinary Complete Works reflects the incredible breadth of cuisine that makes Chicago the hub of the dining world today. Rick Bayless (Topolobampo) makes magic in the kitchen channeling A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tony Mantuano’s (Café Spiaggia) Italian cuisine marries love and tragedy interpreting Romeo and Juliet. Art Smith (Blue Door Kitchen & Garden) tackles the iconic tragedy of King Lear. Ryan McCaskey (Acadia) explores The Winter’s Tale at his newly ranked two-Michelin-star restaurant. And Carrie Nahabedian (Naha) brings bold experimentation to Measure for Measure—to name just a few highlights. Representing the city’s vibrant microbrewery scene, North Coast Brewing Co. is set to release a special Shakespeare 400 Chicago edition of their popular beer, Puck.

The international artists participating in Shakespeare 400 Chicago hail from nations spread over five continents, including Australia, Belarus, Belgium, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and beyond. The festival kicks off with Cheek by Jowl and Pushkin Theatre, Moscow’s Measure for Measure , directed by world-renowned Shakespeare interpreter Declan Donnellan, presented at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, January 27–31, 2016.

Newly announced international presentations include: acclaimed Chilean playwright Eduardo Pavez Goye’s collaboration with Mexico’s Foro Shakespeare—Enamorarse de un incendio, a new play inspired by the themes of Romeo and Juliet; from the UK, Spymonkey’s new work The Complete Deaths, in which all 74 deaths of Shakespeare are messily and movingly captured onstage; and hailing from Belgium, Theater Zuidpool’s live concert version of Macbeth featuring alternative musicians Mauro Pawlowski and Tijs Delbeke presented at Thalia Hall. UK writer/director/actor Tim Crouch brings his one-man interpretation of Twelfth Night, as told by Shakespeare’s much-maligned steward in I, Malvolio; while David Carl presents his off-beat, one-man show, Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet. Australia’s award-winning performance group, one step at a time like this (Since I Suppose, en route), creates a new personal audio-walking theater work engaging the environs around the lakefront and Navy Pier entitled unpathed waters, undreamed shores. Closing the year’s festivities in December 2016 is the return of Cheek by Jowl with its new English-language production of The Winter’s Tale.

These varied works join the line-up of previously announced events that include: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s The Merchant of Venice, starring Jonathan Pryce at Chicago Shakespeare; Shanghai Peking Opera’s The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan (based on Hamlet) and the Hamburg Ballet’s Othello, both at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance; (In)Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare from Forced Entertainment at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Belarus Free Theatre’s King Lear; Oxford Playhouse’s Sancho: An Act of Remembrance, written by and starring Paterson Joseph; The Company Theatre of Mumbai’s Hindi translation of Twelfth NightPiya Behrupiya; Songs of Lear from Poland’s Song of the Goat; and Filter Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Twelfth Night—all at Chicago Shakespeare.

Families and students can connect to the festival through: Chicago Public Library’s free “Check Out Shakespeare” initiative; the Short Shakespeare! abridgment of Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare and on tour to schools around the region; and in the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour to 19 neighborhood parks on the south, north and west sides of the city. Chicago Symphony Orchestra teams up with Chicago Shakespeare for family-friendly concerts featuring CST actors interpreting Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Three hundred high school students and teachers from 50 public, private and parochial schools citywide will participate in the Battle of the Bard—developed in partnership with Chicago Youth Shakespeare—in which students will perform scenes plus their own creative mash-ups from the canon in a slam-style arena.

Initiatives to foster a citywide conversation about the playwright’s legacy include Newberry Library’s Creating Shakespeare ,featuring over 100 treasures from the Newberry Library and other distinguished collections. The exhibition displays a variety of artifacts, manuscripts, printed books, artwork, music and more, while examining how Shakespeare’s works have been reimagined and recreated throughout the centuries. In addition to Newberry Library, Chicago Shakespeare joins with partners including Chicago Humanities Festival, Illinois Humanities, Northwestern University, University of Chicago and Logan Center for the Arts to offer thought-provoking lecture and discussion series, classes and educational programs. Throughout the year, City Desk 400 correspondents from ten of Chicago’s world-class universities will respond online to the remarkable body of artistic work encompassed by Shakespeare 400 Chicago.

Tickets are on sale now for many Shakespeare 400 Chicago events through the individual event venues, which can all be accessed through ; additional ticketing links will be updated online as they become available. Chicagoans and the world can engage with Shakespeare 400 Chicago across platforms—on Facebook (, Twitter (@shakes400chi ) and Instagram (@shakes400chi).

For the most up-to-date information about programming, tickets and event venues, go to