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Chicago Shakespeare Theater

High School Students Battle Using the Bard

Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy PierChicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) joins forces with Chicago Youth Shakespeare (CYS) to engage 350 high school students from 40 public, private, and parochial schools across the region in the Battle of the Bard, inaugurated as part of the yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago.

Inspired by the electric energy of poetry slams, this arts-in-education initiative challenges teams of students to perform scenes from Shakespeare's plays as well as to share their own creative mash-ups of the playwright's work in a slam-style arena. Students are coached by their teachers and supported by a team of CST and CYS theater professionals.

A series of Saturday workshops and regional preliminary bouts culminate in the Battle of the Bard Finals on Monday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. on the Chicago Shakespeare stage on Navy Pier, with a star-studded panel of judges and cheered on by fellow classmates and friends.

A new national model for a community-building Shakespeare slam, Battle of the Bard honors the power of Shakespeare's language when it is catalyzed by students' imaginations. Battle of the Bard is just one component of Chicago Shakespeare's award-winning education programs, which have impacted well over one million students.
Two slam rounds encourage ensemble performance and focus on exploring Shakespeare's characters in dialogue with one another and with the audience. In the Primary Scene Round, teams perform a single scene from any of Shakespeare's plays. In the Ensemble Round, students create and perform a collective ensemble piece using text from any of—and possibly multiple—Shakespeare plays or sonnets.

Regional Preliminary Bouts are scheduled to take place over the next three Saturdays:

The program culminates with the Finals Bout on Monday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. on the Chicago Shakespeare Courtyard Theater stage. Emcees warm up the crowd, and DJs drop beats as teams take the stage with Shakespeare. Guest artists from Chicago Fire and the Hamilton cast will play a role in the evening's festivities, with additional special guests to be announced.

By playing with the endless possible interpretations of the text and thinking outside the box, Battle of the Bard students discover Shakespeare's capacity to speak to all and find their own voices in Shakespeare's words. The following high schools are participating in Battle of the Bard: Alcott College Prep, Chicago; Amandla Charter School, Chicago; Aqsa School, Bridgeview; Aurora Central Catholic High School, Aurora; Benito Juarez Community Academy, Chicago; British International School of Chicago, Chicago; Carl Sandburg High School, Orland; Park Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago; Christian Liberty Academy, Arlington Heights; De La Salle Institute, Chicago; Elk Grove High School, Elk Grove; Village Fenton Community High School, Bensenville; Foreman College and Career Academy, Chicago; Francis W. Parker School, Chicago; George Westinghouse College Prep, Chicago; Glenbrook South High School, Glenview; Islamic Foundation School, Villa Park; John Hancock College Prep, Chicago; Kelvyn Park High School, Chicago; Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago; Lake View High School, Chicago; Lincoln Park High School, Chicago; Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Chicago; Loyola Academy, Wilmette; Mather High School, Chicago; Multicultural Academy of Scholarship, Chicago;Mundelein High School, Mundelein; New Trier Township High School, Winnetka; Niles North High School, Skokie; Oak Park and River Forest High School, Oak Park; Phillips Academy High School, Chicago; Prosser Career Academy, Chicago; Rich Central High School, Olympia Fields; RTC Medical Prep High School, Chicago; Ridgewood High School, Norridge; Senn Arts Magnet High School, Chicago; Sullivan House High School, Chicago; University of Chicago Laboratory School, Chicago; Waukegan High School, Waukegan; and Westmont High School, Westmont.

Battle of the Bard is inaugurated in 2016 as part of CST's yearlong, citywide celebration of Shakespeare 400 Chicago, which brings together the city's world-class institutions and leading artists from around the globe to interpret and reimagine Shakespeare's work in 850 events. The festival is engaging more than 500,000 Chicagoans and visitors in events spanning theater, opera, music, dance, cuisine, exhibitions, workshops, and discussion series.

For more information on Battle of the Bard, visit

October 18, 2016

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