Barbara Gaines exiting Chicago Shakespeare Theater post

“My mission over these many years has been to fill the world with the humanity of Shakespeare — a writer who understands the immediacy of being human,” Gaines said.

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Barbara Gaines

Barbara Gaines

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Barbara Gaines on Tuesday announced she will be exiting her post as artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, effective 2023.

In a statement, Gaines, who founded the company 36 years ago as Chicago Shakespeare Workshop, said: “We still have much to accomplish together this year. Artistry will be filling our stages this spring. ... More than ever, our city needs art to fill people’s lives with hope, beauty, courage — and with radiant light. ... Here’s to the brightest future.”

In the nearly four decades since its inaugural production of “Henry V” was staged on the rooftop of Lincoln Park’s Red Lion Pub, the theater company, which now makes its home in a state-of-the-art, seven-story structure on Navy Pier, has earned nearly 80 Jeff Awards and won the Tony Award for best regional theater in 2008. It is considered one of the world’s premiere presenters of the Shakespeare canon.

“Barbara Gaines has had an indelible impact on the global cultural landscape as the founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Shakespeare — her vision, passion, and tenacious spirit are unequaled,” said Chicago Shakespeare board of directors chair Mark S. Ouweleen, in the official announcement. “Her audacious impulse to build a Shakespeare theater for Chicago has blossomed into a world-class theater that continues to raise the bar for artistry and service.”

The company moved to its longtime home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in 1987, and after 12 seasons to its current site, where it curates three performance venues: the Courtyard, the Upstairs Theater and The Yard.

“My mission over these many years has been to fill the world with the humanity of Shakespeare — a writer who understands the immediacy of being human, and gives us all the chance to delve into the mysteries of life,” Gaines added. “And that’s exactly what I believe we’ve been able to do together. I am immensely proud of all that we’ve done and deeply inspired by the thrilling possibilities ahead for Chicago Shakespeare in the decades to come.”

Barbara Gaines at the 1986 performance of Henry V on the rooftop of the Red Lion Pub, which would become Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s inaugural production. Photo courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Barbara Gaines at the 1986 performance of “Henry V” on the rooftop of the Red Lion Pub, which would become Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s inaugural production.

Courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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