Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Chicago
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a non-profit, professional theater company located at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. Its more than six hundred annual performances performed 48 weeks of the year include its critically acclaimed Shakespeare series, its World's Stage touring productions, and youth and family oriented programming concentrated in the summer. By summer 2005, the theater had garnered 36 Joseph Jefferson awards and three Laurence Olivier Awards. In 2008, it was the winner of the Regional Theatre Tony Award.
The company's present artistic director Barbara Gaines founded CST in 1986, when it began performances on the roof of the Red Lion Pub in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood. In 1999, the company received permission to build its permanent home: a two-venue facility at Navy Pier.
Productions at CST include works from the Shakespearean canon as well as other plays and musicals. In addition to its own original productions, CST also hosts touring productions from other theatres.
The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is part of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America (STAA).
CST was founded as the Chicago Shakespeare Workshop by current Artistic Director Barbara Gaines in 1986, a name which was changed a year later to the Chicago Shakespeare Repertory and finally in 1999 to Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It performed its first twelve seasons in residency at the Ruth Page Theater, where it performed titles ranging from better-known Shakespeare plays such as Hamlet and King Lear as well as lesser-known titles such as Troilus and Cressida and Timon of Athens. Although the theater was critically lauded for its innovative approach to classic works, it was limited by the age and spatial restrictions of the Ruth Page Theater and began looking for a new performance space in the late 1990s.
In 1997, CST announced its plans to move from the Ruth Page to a new facility located at Navy Pier, a place better known for its family attractions and in fact the most popular tourist attraction in the Midwest. The move was accompanied by a public relations blitz, which even involved Mayor Richard M. Daley naming April 23, 1997 Shakespeare Repertory Day. The company began a large-scale capital campaign to finance the move, and finally opened its year 2000 season in its new, state-of-the-art facility. Since then, CST has grown from the third-largest theater company in Chicago to the third-largest in the entire Midwest, at a rate 400% faster than the industry growth trend.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater has, since the year 2000, been in residence in a new, seven-story, 75000 m2 facility on Chicago's Navy Pier, which houses its box office, administrative offices, and performance venues. The first performance at this facility was Eric Idle reading from his novel, The Road to Mars.
The 510-seat Courtyard Theater which is the primary production venue for CST has features state-of-the-art technology and acoustics, together with a versatile thrust stage and deep proscenium, create a flexible performance space. A second theater, the 200-seat black box "Upstairs" space, is devoted to smaller but still-popular productions such as The Second City's smash hit, Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People Vs. Friar Laurence, The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater's "Team Shakespeare" program is the largest arts-in-education program in the state of Illinois. The program reaches nearly 50,000 students annually through group matinée performances, touring programs, abridged theater productions, and discussions, and also reaches out to educators with teacher resources and workshops.