Chicago Shakespeare Theater Announces EMMA, THE KING'S SPEECH, and More in 2019/20 Season

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Announces EMMA, THE KING'S SPEECH, and More in 2019/20 Season

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces today its 2019/20 Season-featuring an expansive line-up of plays, musicals, new work, and presentations from around the globe to engage one of the broadest audiences of any theater in America today.

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines shared, "At a time in our lives when estrangement and belonging are so entwined into our public discourse, we are looking forward to a season of stories that explore our boundaries-personal, societal, geographic-and how we cross them in order to better understand ourselves, our neighbors, and the world we inhabit. A king is limited by his inability to speak to his nation; two teenagers see beyond the walls erected by their families' hatred; a young woman can imagine the possibilities of love all around-but not in her own heart; and free spirits leave behind the constraints of society and discover love in unexpected places. Powerful narratives of a Somalian refugee in South Africa and indigenous youth in México both wrestle with defining home and identity. In the communal space that is the theater, we share these stories that bind us together."

Bold theatricality onstage at Chicago Shakespeare

Kicking off the 2019/20 Season is David Seidler's play The King's Speech (September 12-October 27, 2019), the remarkable true story about an unlikely bond between a reluctant king and his charismatic subject that inspired the Academy Award-winning film-now brought to life onstage as Seidler first imagined it. Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning director Michael Wilson stages the North American premiere at Chicago Shakespeare. Following its Chicago run, the production is slated for engagements at other theaters across the country.

For the first time in her distinguished career, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines directs Shakespeare's most famous tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet (November 1-December 22, 2019). Set against a modern backdrop of a city torn apart by hate, the star-crossed young lovers defy every boundary forged from their families' enmity, finding love-and heartbreak.

Jane Austen's beloved novel Emma (January 28-March 15, 2020), featuring one of literature's most fiercely independent heroines, is transformed into an enchanting new musical by Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon, whose world premiere production of Sense and Sensibility captivated Chicago Shakespeare audiences in 2015. Artistic Director Barbara Gaines directs this deliciously charming romantic comedy.

A vibrant, '60s-inspired take on As You Like It (May 1-June 21, 2020) infuses Shakespeare's comedy with the hit songs of The Beatles-lifting the playwright's timeless verse in beautiful harmony with the immortal music of the "Fab Four." This high-spirited, music-filled staging is adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director of Canada's acclaimed Citadel Theatre.

Global conversations and collaborations

In April 2020, Chicago Shakespeare is pleased to welcome the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company back to Chicago for the first time in 25 years with a signature production of a Shakespeare play (title to be announced in the coming months). Following Chicago Shakespeare's performances on the RSC stage in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the Complete Works Festival, both theaters have sought the opportunity for Chicago audiences to experience the RSC's work onstage at Chicago Shakespeare-promising to be a theatrical highlight of the spring.

This season's WorldStage series features South Africa's Isango Ensemble with their acclaimed production of A Man of Good Hope (October 4-13, 2019). Vividly told through music and dance steeped in African traditions, the story follows one young Somalian refugee's extraordinary odyssey across a continent, and his unfailing hope in the face of adversity.

Devised from personal anecdotes, ancestral myths, and traditional art forms, Makuyeika Theatre Collective presents Andares (October 23-27, 2019), directed by Héctor Flores Komatsu, which chronicles the lives of indigenous youth in México-and the realities that they face at the crossroads of modern life and tradition. Translated as "pathways," Andares is featured as part of the third annual Destinos - Chicago International Latino Theater Festival.

Jeanine Tesori, the Tony Award-winning composer of Fun Home and Caroline, or Change, and acclaimed director, playwright, and librettist Tazewell Thompson join forces to create the new opera Blue (June 19-28, 2020), presented in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Blue brings audiences into the emotional epicenter as an African-American couple is faced with the sudden death of their son-realizing a mother's worst fear, and igniting a father's rage and devastation.

Traditions continue throughout Summer 2019

Chicago Shakespeare also announces two productions for Summer 2019. At the Theater's home on Navy Pier, celebrated director Brian Hill and choreographer Kenny Ingram join forces to bring new life to the timeless musical classic The Wizard of Oz (July 6-August 25, 2019), based on the original 1939 MGM film, for audiences of all ages.

Now in its eighth year, the FREE FOR ALL Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour will bring Shakespeare's riotous The Comedy of Errors (July 18-August 18, 2019), adapted and directed by David H. Bell, to 18 neighborhood parks across the south, west, and north sides in our City's most expansive arts-in-communities initiative.

Engaging students and teachers through Team Shakespeare

Chicago Shakespeare's Team Shakespeare education initiatives serve more than 40,000 teachers and students each year-making it one of the most comprehensive and highly respected arts education programs in the country. Team Shakespeare brings Shakespeare's work to life in the school curriculum-through live performance, professional learning for educators, comprehensive teaching resources, and opportunities for students to perform Shakespeare.

Key Team Shakespeare initiatives include Bard Core, a year-long professional learning seminar that introduces Chicago Public Schools high school English, Special Education, and ESL teachers to drama-based strategies for engaging students-including struggling and reluctant readers, and English language learners-with Shakespeare and other challenging texts. In the annual Chicago Shakespeare Slam, hundreds of high school students and their teacher coaches from public, private, and parochial schools across the region come together to celebrate the power of Shakespeare and their own voices. A series of Saturday workshops and regional preliminary bouts throughout the fall culminate in a spirited, fun-filled Final Bout onstage at Chicago Shakespeare. In addition to weekday matinee performances of the Theater's full-length productions, Chicago Shakespeare annually presents an abridged 75-minute Short Shakespeare! production, which welcomes 30,000 students during its seven-week run of weekday matinees, followed by a tour to schools across the region.

These programs-in concert with the free citywide Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour and summer family musical series-exemplify the Theater's steadfast commitment to young audiences-which has resulted in one in four audience members being age 18 or under.

Access Shakespeare

Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through Access Shakespeare programming, which offers services designed for individuals with mobility, hearing, or visual impairments for all productions, including the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour. In addition to offering assistive-listening devices as well as large-print and Braille programs, the Theater schedules dedicated performances featuring ASL duo-interpretation, open captioning, audio description, and touch tours. Tickets to Access Shakespeare performances are provided at pay-what-you-can rates to ensure that cost does not prohibit participation.

For information on purchasing tickets, visit or call the CST Box Office at 312.595.5600. A variety of flexible season ticket packages will be on sale soon, offering savings over single tickets, and guaranteeing your seat at every production you choose to see. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more.

Photo Credit: Vito Palmisano

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