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Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Free Comedy of Errors Tours City Parks

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel on May 14 announced the expanded Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program as part of the City’s “Night Out in the Parks” initiative with 27 free performances of The Comedy of Errors in 18 different neighborhood parks across the city from July 25–August 25.

An Elizabethan costumed performance on a temporary stage in the background with people of all types sitting in chairs and on the lawn watching
The cast of The Taming of the Shrew performed for more than 700 people at South Shore Cultural Center on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at the launch of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, which toured July 29–August 19, 2012 throughout the Chicago Park District. The city recently announced plans to do a similar tour of The Comedy of Errors this year. Photo by Michael Litchfield, Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

“Chicago Shakespeare Theater brings Shakespeare to life at Chicago’s Navy Pier, in our neighborhoods, and in our schools," Mayor Emanuel said in a CST press release. "The return of the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program will make Chicago’s neighborhood parks come alive with the thrill and magic of live theater. This is a fitting way to honor Shakespeare, and I thank Chicago Shakespeare Theater.”

Building on a successful inaugural season in 2012, the expanded citywide tour is made possible by a renewed civic, cultural, and corporate partnership among Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, and The Boeing Company. Additional support is provided by The Comedy of Errors' production sponsors BMO Harris Bank and the Chicago Shakespeare Trust.

“The arts are essential to building strong communities,” Lianne Stein, vice president for global corporate citizenship at Boeing, said in the release. “This initiative brings innovative arts programming to Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and supports local artists and arts organizations."

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks is inspired by the open-air setting in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed more than 400 years ago, and Joseph Papp’s 20th century American initiative that brought free Shakespeare to urban communities. A specially equipped truck will roll into each park, a stage will unfold, and CST actors will perform a 75-minute production of The Comedy of Errors, adapted by Jeff Award-winning director and choreographer David H. Bell.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks will kick off at Gateway Park at Navy Pier on Thursday, July 25. Additional parks scheduled to be visited, rain or shine, include Frank J. Wilson Park, Loyola Park, Riis Park, and Welles Park in Chicago Park District North Region; Eckhart Park, Douglas Park, Dvorak Park, Garfield Park Conservatory, Humboldt Park, and Piotrowski Park in the Central Region; and Gage Park, Hamilton Park, Marquette Park, Ridge Park, South Shore Cultural Center, Tuley Park, and Washington Park in the South Region.

The touring Comedy of Errors is part of an effort to increase programming at the parks that attracts families, breaks down barriers to arts participation, and encourages young family members to take part in Chicago’s Summer of Learning program. The initiative represents an innovative public-private coordination to infuse learning into summer programs that young people across the city can attend when school is out of session. Summer programs throughout the Chicago Park District are participating—including Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, which will offer young audience members an opportunity to learn about the art of storytelling in the context of a professional theatrical production. After seeing the play, students will be prompted to reflect on their experience and respond to their favorite elements of the production through take-home questions printed in the program. Completion of the activities will earn each young person a “Bard Badge.”

“Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks furthers the Summer of Learning initiative as it will expose youth in our parks to one of the world’s greatest writers,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly in the press release. “The program also reinforces our commitment to working with our partners to provide citywide cultural programming in our community parks.”

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Barbara Gaines said in the release, “We’re privileged to build on the inaugural success of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks and announce the expanded tour for this year’s production of The Comedy of Errors. We thank Mayor Emanuel for his support of the arts throughout our city and we are absolutely thrilled to be touring one of Shakespeare’s funniest plays that I know will tickle audiences of all ages and motivate students to earn a ‘Bard Badge.’”

For more information on Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/parks. A complete Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks map and schedule may be downloaded here. For more information about “Night Out in the Parks,” visit www.nightoutintheparks.com. For more information about Chicago’s Summer of Learning and earning badges, visit www.chicagosummeroflearning.org.

May 21, 2013

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