The Bard might be the pride of England but no place celebrates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's global influence better than Chicago. A year-long, dazzling celebration organized by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Chicago's biggest cultural institutions, Shakespeare 400 Chicago features 1,000 artists from all over the world presenting innovative interpretations of the writer's best known works.
From theater, to dance, to music, visual art and even food, all bases are covered in the world's most comprehensive Shakespeare festival.
So where to start? Shakespeare 400 hosts 850 events at 120 sites all throughout 2016 across both downtown and Chicago's neighborhoods so there are lots and lots of options to choose from. So many in fact, that we've divided the highlights into the first half of the year. We'll post the latter half this summer so check out these selections over the next few months:
Othello, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Now through April 10
Nothing represents drama and passion quite like Othello and this classic tale of love, prejudice and jealousy gets the royal treameant from Britain's Shakespeare's Globe and Royal Shakespeare Company. Prepare to be glued to your seat. Tickets from $45.
Richard III, Steppenwolf Theatre
Now through May 1
The Gift Theatre presents this thrilling adaptation of the power hungry monarch's nefarious journey showcases a redefining production using assistive devices that examine disability, self-perception and character. Tickets from $40.
Supernatural Shakespeare, Art Institute of Chicago
April 11- October 10
This fanciful exhibit focuses on the witches, faeries and spirits that populate many of Shakespeares's works, The installation recalls the Gothic style of painter Henri Fussel to bring to life the witches from Macbeth, Titania and Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream and phantoms hovering around a baby Shakespeare. The exhibit is included with museum entry (general admission from $19).
Othello: The Remix, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
April 12- May 8
Because there's always room for more drama, this reinterpretation of Othello includes re-written verses and original beats in an acclaimed hip hop production that has toured the world. Don't miss this award-winning extravaganza from The Q Brothers — GQ and JQ — that premiered at the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad. Tickets from $35, with $20 offers for viewers under age 35.
Revel in the musical creativity that Shakespeare inspired with Tchaikovsky's masterful symphonies. Ricardo Muti conducts two of the composer's most romantic overtures emanating for his love of both plays. Tickets from $40.
Even if you're not into Shakespeare, you will manage to appreciate the culinary inspirations of 38 chefs interpreting 38 plays. Culinary Complete Works serves up applaud worthy dishes by chefs interpreting specific works. From a Brazilian take on Othello with chicken hearts and kale tabbouleh at La Sirena Clandestina, to an adventurous riff on Pericles with Wagyu beef, king crab and black truffle jus at Maple & Ash, there's no bad staging to be found.
Photos courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Art Institute of Chicago, Shakespeare 400 Chicago