CHICAGO: Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced its 2020-21 season, with virtual programming starting up in September and in-person performances slated to begin in early 2021. Production dates for these in-person offerings will be announced on a rolling basis. Chicago Shakespeare’s announcement also confirms a commitment from Navy Pier to ensure “a seamless experience for all Chicago Shakespeare patrons” during the Pier’s temporary shutdown, which will begin on Sept. 8 and run through spring 2021.
“In designing our season, we were challenged to reimagine the audience experience,” said artistic director Barbara Gaines in a statement, “and while that experience may look different for the near term, the healing power of performances will remain—whether in-person or virtual in our own living rooms. It’s time to take the next steps toward our being together again, knowing we are poised to adapt—and adapt again—should circumstances require, while still delivering the artistry and excellence audiences expect and enjoy.”
The season’s offerings will start with a streamed WorldStage event direct from the stage at the Bristol Old Vic and available for viewers at home. Wise Children’s Romantics Anonymous (Sept. 22-26, 2020), with book by Emma Rice, lyrics by Christopher Dimond, and music by Michael Kooman, is a musical comedy based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes. The story follows the budding romance between two socially awkward chocolate makers.
During the holidays, Chicago Shakespeare will stream its 2018 production of Peter Pan—A Musical Adventure (winter 2020), with music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe, directed and choreographed by Amber Mak.
The in-person season will start with a pair of solo shows, dubbed I, Shakespeare (winter 2021), written by Tim Crouch. Audiences will be able to chose whether to attend in person in a reduced-capacity performance space or stream the production live from home.
The first solo show, I, Cinna (the poet), directed by Tyrone Phillips, follows the humble poet from Julius Caesar as he searches for the subject of a new poem in a live exploration of words, actions, protest, and power.
The second solo show, I, Banquo, directed by Marti Lyons, follows as the Macbeth character contemplates how he would have responded to the Weird Sisters’ prophesies if he’d been in Macbeth’s shoes.
Winter will also bring a Chicago Shakes collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago to present Blue (January 2021), with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Tazewell Thompson. Thompson will direct this story of a Black police officer and his wife who are faced with the killing of their son at the hands of the police.
Next up will be the world premiere of It Came from Outer Space (winter 2021), with book by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, music by Kinosian, and lyrics by Blair, and based on the Universal Pictures film. Laura Braza will direct this musical adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s examination of society’s fear of outsiders coupled with its wonder of the stars.
In spring Chicago Shakes will produce Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night in repertory. These productions, using the same ensemble of actors for both, will take place in the Yard, which will be configured to maintain safety measures. Measure for Measure (spring 2021) will be adapted and directed by Henry Godinez. Twelfth Night (spring 2021) will be adapted and directed by Gaines.
The season will close with As You Like It (spring/summer 2021), adapted and directed by Daryl Cloran, which was postponed from the 2019-20 season.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary season, is a Tony-winning year-round theatre that programs a mix of plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe.
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