If you thought Easter and 4/20 coinciding this year was big... check out the forecast for 4/23! Tonight brings thousands of FREE books being given away on the streets, to reluctant readers around the world, Shakespeare's 450th birthday, and an ultra rare Lyrid Meteor Shower peaking. It only orbits the sun every 415 years... so maybe you can celebrate the bard under the same shooting stars that inspired HIM!
Our undying affection for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's Short Shakespeare Series continues with their awesome production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (see our full set of shots in the slideshow above). Public shows have ended, but we'll give them another shout out since they're still touring schools and inspiring kids through the end of April.
We LOVED the David Bowie-esque wigs for the fairies, (by Melissa Veal) reminiscent of the Troll King in Labyrinth. The wigs were custom made on site for the show! It was such a cooler, punk look and made their trickery (and plan to steal the changeling child-sound familiar) all the more sinister. Great edgy costume choices and so much more refreshing than the usual fairy tulle and flowers.
An enchanted Titania (Lanise Antoine Shelley) desires Bottom (Alex Weisman), surrounded by her fairy attendants (left to right: Max Fabian, Justin Cornwell, Wesley Daniel, Michael Finley). Photo by Michael Brosilow. - See more at: http://www.chicagoshakes.com/plays_and_events/ssdream#sthash.akMIUOI6.dpuf
We also really dug the use of simple objects in unusual ways, like the umbrellas and the ever changing string that blocked & opened paths through the forest.
Demetrius (Ryan Hallahan) finds himself ensnared in the shadowy vines of the woods. Photo by Michael Brosilow. - See more at: http://www.chicagoshakes.com/plays_and_events/ssdream#sthash.akMIUOI6.dpuf
The whole show is packed up on tour now, making the rounds and blowing the minds of school kids all over Chicago. ChiIL Mama had a great chat with resident Scenic Designer, Scott Davis, and he gave us the scoop. They pretty much tour with the whole cast and most of the set... except the moon which is just too huge to move.
You might recognize it from the recent production of Cyrano. It's not only too big to tour, it's too big for the Chi-Shakes set storage area! So it just may be waxing poetic over more productions before it wanes. That's cool with us. That orb is pretty impressive and worth mooning over.
- A new generation is realizing Shakespeare wasn't as snooty as they thought and he wrote about wacky, cross dressing, unfaithful, confused, hilarious, murderous, magical characters.
- A zillion jr high and high school students are crushing on the charismatic cutie, Puck (Steven Lee Johnson)! It was already starting with the tweens as early as opening day-- "No... you go talk to him..." "No, YOU. Giggle giggle."
- More than a few students are inspired to see more theatre and/or try their hand at writing plays and poetry.
- More than a few students are inspired to check out more circus arts, thanks to the best. wall. ever. and his uber creative block juggling work. Kudos to you!
ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Tips for Chi-Shakes:
- Kids love to get their programs signed by the actors who pose for photo ops and gladly sign in the lobby after each show at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
- Go to the TOP floor and check out the coolest bathroom view in the city that we know of! Seriously. Go already.
- Sure Navy Pier is all torn up and inconvenient at present, but snap some photos. We love to see things in the development stages... in the process of becoming. It'll never look like that again, even in a few days. Catch & keep that moment in time.
- SUPPORT THE ARTS: Buy some of their fun Shakes swag. Their water bottles and mugs are remarkably reasonably priced and they have unique gifts like Shakespearian insult bandaids, dolls, tees and Shakespeare quotes playing cards!
First--Happy Birthday to the bard. Shakespeare is 450 today! Here at ChiIL Mama, we dig the bard. I was in Twelfth Night in college and even now I catch every show at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Shakes and non alike--they have a diverse, world class lineup of shows!) My kids have see at least 3 different productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, multiple Macbeths and a host of others.
Everyone is dared on Shakespeare's Birthday on April 23 to break out your "thee-s" and "thou-s" and stock of Shakespearian insults in observation of the annual Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Today is an opportunity for citizens across the globe to bring the spoken words of Shakespeare into their daily lives. Penning 154 sonnets and 38 plays, Shakespeare is credited with contributing over 1,700 words and countless phrases to the English language, including "bedazzled," "swagger," and "new-fangled." Shakespearean tips and useful expressions can be found at www.TalkLikeShakespeare.org.
Proving that Shakespeare's words have passed the test of time, Will's 450 is the New 30 Quiz features multiple-choice questions dealing with Shakespeare in pop culture and everyday speech, such as "Which Shakespearean phrase is the title of a current song?" and “Which of the following Shakespeare quotes inspired the title for a hit TV mini-series?” Not sure of an answer? Quiz-takers are encouraged to Google search answers, so they can see how "with-it" Will still is today. The quiz will be available between April 21 and May 11 at www.chicagoshakes.com/birthday.
Those who want to dig deeper into Shakespeare's vast and varied contributions to literature and theater can join CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines in "Conversations at the Newberry" on April 21 at 6:00 p.m. for a discussion. Gaines will share the stage with Gail Kern Paster, director emerita of the Folger Shakespeare Library. This free event launches the Newberry's The Bard Is Born exhibition of Shakespeare-related artifacts, including the Library's treasured First Folio and Barbara Gaines's personal annotated copy of the play script for Henry V from CST's inaugural production in 1986. The exhibition is free and open to the public, April 22 through June 21.
Host Phil Ponce welcomes CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater to Chicago Tonight on WTTW Channel 11 and presents a sneak preview of "Our City, Our Shakespeare" on April 23 at 7:00 p.m. In honor of the Bard's birthday celebrations, Gaines will discuss CST's upcoming production of Henry V and Wheater will preview Joffrey Ballet's Romeo & Juliet.
To experience Shakespeare up close and personal, theatergoers can catch a performance of Henry V, beginning on April 29 and running through June 15 in CST's Courtyard Theater. This rousing finale to the 2014 season is directed by distinguished British director Christopher Luscombe in his Chicago debut. Confronted by the ferocity of war on the fields of Agincourt, the charming, freshly crowned King Henry must prove his worth as a man and king in the ultimate test of his leadership.
Joffrey Ballet presents a modern retelling of Shakespeare's tale of star-crossed lovers set to Sergei Prokofiev's formidable score. Choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor and with live music performed by the Chicago Philharmonic, this production of Romeo & Juliet makes its United States debut at The Auditorium Theatre, April 30 through May 11.
Produced by HMS Media, "Our City, Our Shakespeare" explores how Shakespeare comes alive in Chicago through theater, opera, ballet, improv and visual art. "Our City, Our Shakespeare" premieres on WTTW Channel 11 on May 1 at 8:00 p.m., with additional broadcasts on May 2 at 2 p.m. (WTTW Prime) and 7:30 p.m., and May 4 at 5:30 p.m.
The extended birthday concludes with a collaboration between CST and the Chicago Philharmonic on Sunday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Pick-Staiger Hall in Evanston. Together, the two organizations present Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet as part of the evening's Romantic Rapture event. Directed by Scott Weinstein and conducted by Scott Speck, actors and musicians bring to life one of Shakespeare's most passionate and tragic tales.
For a full line-up of activities and events surrounding Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, see www.chicagoshakes.com/450.