What can you possibly do to follow up on a season that celebrated the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare with so many productions and special events that the lights at your Navy Pier home were probably not turned off for a single second?
Well, if you are the hyperactive Chicago Shakespeare Theater you just turn around and announce plans for programming on your two existing stages, as well as the opening of your innovative new third performance venue, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, which has been re-purposed on the footprint of Navy Pier’s former Skyline Stage.
In a prepared statement the theater, under artistic director Barbara Gaines and executive director Criss Henderson, explained the addition this way: “The Yard has been designed specifically to redefine the traditional, fixed relationship between artist and audience. Offering a radically versatile theatrical platform with an enclosed, year-round theater space, this third performance venue connects to Chicago Shakespeare’s two existing spaces … through expanded lobbies. The innovative design features a series of mobile towers that allow the space to be configured in a variety of shapes and sizes, with audience capacities ranging from 150 to 850. The new space also enables Chicago Shakespeare to expand its programming, host a wide range of international productions, and double its service to students and teachers.”
Here is a look at the schedule for the 2017-2018 season, with additions to be made in the coming months:
“Madagascar – A Musical Adventure” (Courtyard Theater, July 13–Aug. 27): Based on the DreamWorks animated feature, a book by Kevin Del Aguila, with original music and lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan, this family musical will be directed and choreographed by Matt Raftery.
“Romeo and Juliet” (Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks free series, in neighborhood parks throughout Chicago during July and August): Shakespeare’s classic tale of love and warring families, adapted and directed by Marti Lyons
“The Taming of the Shrew” (Courtyard Theater, Sept. 16–Nov. 12): Shakespeare’s comic battle of the sexes, here played with an all-female company in a production adapted and directed by Barbara Gaines, with additional dialogue by Ron West, and framed as a performance by a group of suffragettes in 1919 on the eve of the passing of the 19th Amendment.
“The Toad Knew” (from France’s La Compagnie du Hanneton, the opening production at The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, Sept. 19–23), a work by James Thierrée, presented as part of CST’s World’s Stage series, the production features a blending of dancers, contortionists and high-wire artists. Thierrée’s previous Chicago productions at CST include: “Farewell Umbrella” (2007) and “Bright Abyss” (2005).
International Latino Theater Festival: (CST will be partnering with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, CLATA, in its inaugural International Latino Theater Festival in Fall 2017). Founded by an alliance between the National Museum of Mexican Art, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, and the International Cultural Center, CLATA aims to celebrate and amplify the voices of Latino theater artists in Chicago.
“Red Velvet” (Courtyard Theater, Dec. 1, 2017–January 21, 2018): Lolita Chakrabarti’s award-winning play, directed by Gary Griffin, chronicles the true story of Ira Aldridge, the African-American actor who challenged convention by taking the London stage as the first black Othello in 1833 — sending shockwaves through the city at a time when anti-abolition protesters rioted in the streets. (The play was seen in a Raven Theatre production last year.)
“Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, Jan. 24–March 10, 2018), Shakespeare’s magical romantic comedy, abridged for family audiences and introducing them for the first time to The Yard.
“Mary Stuart” (Courtyard Theater, Feb. 21–April 15, 2018): The fearsome power play between Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots as they face off in a struggle for the faith of the nation in this new version of the Schiller classic devised by Peter Oswald and directed by Jenn Thompson.
“Macbeth” (The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, April 25–June 24, 2018): Shakespeare’s brutal play about the quest for power, adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller (the team behind the magic-infused version of “The Tempest” presented a couple of seasons back), in this supernatural thriller that dives into the psyches of the power-hungry Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
“Waiting for Godot” (CST’s Courtyard Theater, May 23–June 3, 2018), Samuel Beckett’s modernist classic (in a production from Ireland’s Druid Theatre) is directed by Tony Award-winning Irish director Garry Hynes.
For tickets, call (312) 595-5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com.