From New City (10/13/16) The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, the under-the-radar equity theater group that for twenty-two years has been presenting fully professional staged readings of Shakespeare’s work free of charge to audiences from downtown Chicago to far-north Lincolnshire. “Our motto is ‘Less is more,’” says Peter Garino, who has served as artistic director of The Shakespeare Project since 2010. “We strip the work down to the basic elements, intoned by artists with passion and clarity. We emphasize the words because it’s important to know how characters think and how they use language.” It was love of the language that led to the Shakespeare Project’s founding back in 1995. They arranged to meet once a week at the Berger Park Cultural Center on Sheridan Road to divvy up parts and read through one of the master’s plays. Early on, during a break, the readers opened the door only to discover a crowd listening in at the doorway. Encouraged by those first sheepish eavesdroppers, the performers decided to take their show on the road, doing free theatrical readings first at Berger Park and later at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center.
“We never had to look for an audience,” says Garino. “Our audience found us.”
50-Minute Hamlet. Now in its 20th year, The Shakespeare Project of Chicago's 50-Minute Hamlet has been presented dozens of times to school audiences, senior centers and the general public. Shakespeare's Hamlet is presented by two professional actors: one who plays Hamlet and the other who plays every other role in the play. Fun for audiences of all ages, and, for many, a great introduction to the greatest playwright in the English language. We would like to tour 50-Minute Hamlet to under-served libraries throughout the State of Illinois that lack funding for public programming. The mission of The Shakespeare Project of Chicago is to make Shakespeare accessible to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Our theatrical reading season, now in its 27th year, provides professional staged readings of Shakespeare at nine Chicago-area venues.
By Help of Devils. Film (2021). 64 minutes. What is the face of evil? Why do otherwise good people do terrible things? "By Help of Devils" explores the motivations of evil from the perspectives of fourteen characters from Shakespeare's plays and poetry. The film's star, Peter Garino, would bring the film and screen it at under-served public libraries throughout the State of Illinois. Each screening would be followed by a discussion with the audience. The film can also be screened with English subtitles for the hearing impaired. The film streamed to a limited audience in 2021 and received a great reception for it innovation and artistry.
Trifles by Susan Glaspell. One-act stage play. Live, in-person performance. We would like to tour the play Trifles by Susan Glaspell to underserved libraries in the State of Illinois that lack funding for public programming. Glaspell's one-act play from 1917 was inspired by the true crime story of the murder of John Hossack, a 59-year-old farmer. Working as a journalist at the time of the incident in 1900, Glaspell covered it for the Des Moines Daily News. The case was a sensation, because Hossack’s wife Margaret was accused of killing him. Neighbors believed that Margaret Hossack was an abused wife, and thus, she was the object of suspicion. The play is frequently anthologized in American literature textbooks. Written during the first wave feminist movement, the play contrasts how women act in public and in private as well as how they perform in front of other women versus how they perform in front of men. A Midwest murder mystery with an important message for today's audiences.
The three work samples demonstrate the breadth of The Shakespeare Project of Chicago's artistic achievement. 50-Minute Hamlet, now in its 20th year of production, is a core offering of our education outreach program serving younger audiences. Trifles by Susan Glaspell, offers a glimpse into our non-Shakespeare work frequently commissioned by the Newberry Library, Chicago, one of our partner venues. By Help of Devils demonstrates our ability to pivot from live programming to streamed entertainment which was necessitated by the global COVD-19 pandemic. All reflect the acting excellence and high production values of The Shakespeare Project of Chicago.
The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, now in its 27th year, presents free theatrical readings of William Shakespeare and other classic dramatists to Chicago area audiences. The Shakespeare Project of Chicago also offers education outreach programs on Shakespeare to local schools. Since 2011, the company also has offered acting and directing internships to local college students on one of its shows each season as part of its commitment to developing the next generation of professional actors. Actors enjoy working with The Shakespeare Project not only because of our artistic emphasis on Shakespeare’s text but also because they share The Project’s mission of making the Shakespeare experience accessible to all. For the past 27 years, we have successfully pursued our mission, having produced over 100 classic plays (every one of Shakespeare’s plays at least once, many twice or more), leveraging Chicago’s most talented and experienced actors, and inviting the citizens of Illinois to experience the plays for no admission charge. The Shakespeare Project has now grown into a unique cultural institution like no other with eight venue partners, a loyal and expanding audience base, and a commitment to finding new and innovative ways to make young learners' first experience with Shakespeare positive.
We believe that the key to creating a transformative experience of Shakespeare is through making Shakespeare’s words understandable and impactful for our audiences. Story telling that is truthful, simple, fantastical, poetic, lyrical, sometimes challenging, but always universal. Our gifted artists deliver performances that are intimate and emotionally engaging – Shakespeare at its best. The theatrical reading: not less, but so much more.
Programs for Specific Audience(s) Expertise
We have produced Shakespeare workshops for students with learning disabilities, tailoring our teaching approach accordingly. The workshops for special needs students can be conducted during regular school hours or after school, depending on the teacher’s preference. The special needs teaching assistants are strongly encouraged to partake in the workshop to guide and assist students. It is recommended that the workshop serve a maximum of 10 students per session. Additional workshops can be scheduled if needed. The workshop duration is generally 45 minutes, which conforms to the approximate duration of a class period. Our experience has demonstrated that students have a positive experience with Shakespeare when they have fun and participate in active story-telling. Rather than sitting at desks, students are invited to sit on the floor with the facilitator and play games that explore Shakespeare’s language beginning at the atomic level with a single word. Understanding that some students may have limited verbal abilities, another game has them try on a mask from Romeo and Juliet, and describe what they see in a mirror provided by the facilitator. It is remarkable to see the students begin to assume a different character by simply putting on a mask.
The Shakespeare Project of Chicago
8100 W. Prospect Court
Niles, IL 60714
$1,000 - $5,000