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"Pericles" by Shakespeare, at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2014. (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Chicago Shakespeare Celebrates the Bard With 2016–17 Season

Companies from around the globe will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in the Windy City.

CHICAGO: Chicago Shakeapeare Theater (CST) has announced its 2016–17 season, featuring 20 productions.

“What better way to mark this momentous year—Chicago Shakespeare’s 30th anniversary, the 100th Centennial Anniversary of our home, Navy Pier, and the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s legacy—than with a veritable explosion of work both on our stages and in cherished cultural institutions across the city,” said artistic director Barbara Gaines in a statement. “Shakespeare’s influence and relevance continues to amaze and inspire us as we begin this next chapter of our story.”

The season will start with I, Malvoli (June 2–5), written and performed by Tim Crouch, a one-man-show reimagining Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night from the perspective of Malvolio.

Next up will be Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet (July 12–17), written and performed by David Carl, a one-man show with all the characters in Hamlet performed as Gary Busey. Michole Biancosino, who co-created the piece, will direct.

Following, CST’s summer in the parks series will present Twelfth Night (July 15–Aug. 14), adapted and directed by Kirsten Kelly, for free in parks across Chicago.

Next will be Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s production of The Merchant of Venice (Aug. 4–14), starring Jonathan Pryce as Shylock. Jonathan Munby will direct.

Following will be Belgium’s Theater Zuidpool’s production of Macbeth (Aug. 21–23), a live concert featuring compositions by Mauro Pawlowski and Tijs Delbeke in a performance bordering on an underground opera and a rock concert.

Next will be Australian company one step at a time like this’s unpathed waters, undreamed shores (or a little water in a spoon) (Fall 2016), commissioned by CST. The show is an audio, walking theatre work that explores the wrecks, the tempests, and the sea changes of life in Shakespeare’s works.

The season will continue with Tug of War: Civil Strife (Sept. 14–Oct. 9), adapted by Gaines from Shakespeare. This production is the second installment of Gaines’s Tug of War series, and will feature live music set to the origin stories of Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3, and Richard III. Gaines will direct.

Following will be Polish company Song of the Goat presenting Songs of Lear (Sept. 15–18), an ensemble-driven piece that explores the crucial scenes from Shakespeare’s King Lear, featuring compositions by Jean-Claude Acquaviva and Maciej Rychły. Grzegorz Bral will direct.

Next up will be Mexico’s Foro Shakespeare company with Enamorarse de un Incendio (Sept. 22–24), by Eduardo Pavez Goye, about the love and relationships in Romeo and Juliet. Goye will direct.

The season will continue with Company Theatre Mumbai’s Piya Behrupiya (Sept. 27 and 29), a Hindi translation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The show is a coproduction between CST and Company Theatre Mumbai and will be presented as part of Eye on India, an annual festival of performing and visual arts from the country.

Next up, Shanghai Peking Opera will present The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan (Hamlet) (Sept. 28 and 29), written by Feng Gang, a reimaging of Hamlet set in China’s ancient state of the Red City. The production will be presented by Harris Theater for Music and Dance and CST, and Shi Yukun will direct.

Next will be the Chicago premiere of King Charles III (Nov. 5, 2016–Jan. 15, 2017), by Mike Bartlett, a story about the reign of Prince Charles after the death of England’s present-day monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Associate artistic director Gary Griffin will direct.

Following will be the U.K. company Spymonkey‘s The Complete Deaths (Nov. 30–Dec. 11), adapted by Tim Crouch, a performance of all 75 deaths that occur in the Shakespeare canon. The show was developed at the Other Place at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is a coproduction with  Brighton Festival and Royal & Derngate Northampton. Crouch will direct.

Also part of the season will be the one-night event Shakespeare Tonight! (Dec. 5), by artistic associate Bob Mason, a celebration of the Bard with music by Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. Beckie Menzie will provide the music direction.

The season will continue with Cheek by Jowl’s new production of The Winter’s Tale (Dec. 14–21). Nick Ormerod will design, and Declan Donnellan will direct.

Next up will be the world premiere of The Book of Joseph (Jan. 29–March 5, 2017), by Karen Hartman, developed and commissioned by CST, a true story about a man who discovers an unopened suitcase of letters by a family he never knew during World War II.

Next will be Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost (Feb. 7–March 26, 2017). Marti Maraden will direct.

Also part of the programming will be Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Feb. 25–March 25, 2017), adapted by Marti Lyons, which will tour to schools around the region. Lyons will also direct.

Following will be the world premiere CST commission Gravediggers’ Hamlet (Spring 2017), written by Michael Mahler, Alan Schmuckler, and Laura Schellhardt. The work was developed with CST creative producer Rick Boynton, and will feature the actor and musician group The Lincoln Squares.

The season will conclude with the Chicago premiere of  Shakespeare in Love (April 15–June 11, 2017), adapted by Lee Hall from the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, about young Shakespeare’s bout with writer’s block and the inspirational love that sparked his creativity. Rachel Rockwell will direct.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, founded in 1986, produces Shakespeare’s plays, and other theatrical works that reflect the work of the Bard.

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