Students from Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Shakespeare Theater professionals collaborate to bring an original performance of Othello to live in CPS Shakespeare!
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is presenting its transformative art-in-education program, CPS Shakespeare!, designed to engage Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and teachers in the creation of an original Shakespeare production with CST theater and education professionals.
Working under the guidance of stage and film director Kirsten Kelly, the intergenerational ensemble will complete an intensive five-week rehearsal process, culminating this year in performances of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on CST’s Courtyard Theater stage. In its ninth year, the program has been honored as a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalist by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Performances of this year’s CPS Shakespeare! production will be presented in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Courtyard Theater on Friday, November 7 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 8 at 10:30 a.m.
Emphasizing CST’s 20+ year role as a partner in literacy with CPS, Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett advocates, “CPS Shakespeare! develops students’ literacy skills as it builds confidence, empowering our city’s teens to approach life’s challenges with bravery and self-assurance.”
The CPS Shakespeare! program and director Kirsten Kelly have received new visibility this year with the critical success of the compelling documentary The Homestretch, which details the struggles of homelessness among Chicago teens. Conceived by Kirsten Kelly upon first working with students experiencing homelessness in CPS Shakespeare!, the film chronicles the journey of program participant Roque as he prepares to perform CPS Shakespeare! Hamlet in 2012. In addition to screenings around the international film festival circuit, the documentary is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS in April 2015.
The citywide ensemble for this year’s CPS Shakespeare! includes 26 students and 9 teachers from 10 schools: Benito Juarez Community Academy; Curie Metropolitan High School; Hancock College Preparatory High School; Hubbard High School; Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School; Mather High School; Multicultural Academy of Scholarship High School; Noble Charter-DRW College Prep; Perspectives Charter—IIT Math and Science Academy and Prosser Career Academy.
Tickets to CPS Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream are $5 and may be purchased by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visiting www.chicagoshakes.com/cpsshakespeare.