Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a global theatrical force, known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, language, and empathy for the human condition. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary productions of classics, new works, and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. CST serves as a partner in literacy to Chicago Public Schools, working alongside English teachers to help struggling readers connect with Shakespeare in the classroom. His words are brought to life on stage for 40,000 students from across the Midwest every year. Each summer, 30,000 families and audience members of all ages welcome the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour into their neighborhoods across the far north, west, and south sides of the city. Reflecting the global city it calls home, CST is the leading producer of international work in Chicago, and has toured its plays to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada/North America, and the Middle East. Throughout 2016, CST spearheaded the international arts and culture festival, Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a yearlong, citywide celebration of the playwright’s 400-year legacy. In fall 2017, CST opens its third year-round performance space, The Yard, on its Navy Pier campus.
The Theater’s tradition of excellence and civic leadership has been honored with numerous national and international awards, including the Regional Theatre Tony Award, three Laurence Olivier Awards, and eighty-five Joseph Jefferson Awards. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds. CST’s work with Chicago Public School students and teachers was recognized by the White House in 2014 with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Among its many international engagements, CST participated in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2006 Complete Works Festival and was selected to represent North America at the Globe to Globe festival as part of London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad.