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Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is one of the fastest-growing producing and presenting theater institutions in America today. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST has achieved its reputation for consistently high production values and artistic standards. In addition to its acclaimed productions of William Shakespeare's canon, CST presents work of the highest quality by some of the most distinguished American and international playwrights and directors. The theater is grounded in a dedication to quality, clarity and integrity, which are the hallmarks of every CST production, from Shakespeare to Sondheim.

Rapid growth has characterized CST from its first production on the roof of the Red Lion Pub in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Just 13 years later in 1999, CST, now recognized as one of Chicago's leading cultural and civic resources, was invited by state, city, and private officials to build its permanent home-a new $24 million, multi-venue, facility-on Chicago's famous Navy Pier. Prominently situated on the Pier, CST's new location and architectural design-a seven-story, glass curtain-walled structure, housing a 500-seat courtyard theater and a 200-seat flexible black box theater-afford panoramic vistas of the Chicago skyline. CST's mission-to bring innovative and high-quality theater to a broad and diverse audience-is well served by its new location on the Midwest's most-visited destination. In its new location, CST's annual budget has grown from $2.9 million in 1999 to $12.4 million for the 2003-2004 Season; its subscription base has increased from 7,200 to more than 22,000 patrons.

Asserting a leadership role in Chicago's global cultural renaissance, CST recently made a bold move to expand its global profile with the introduction of the "World's Stage" program, presenting works by leading internationally distinguished theater companies and artists. In the fall of 2003, CST presented the American premiere of Edward Hall's acclaimed Henry VI history cycle, entitled Rose Rage; and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's "original practice" production of Twelfth Night, starring The Globe's Artistic Director, Mark Rylance. In the summer of 2003, CST made its London debut as it joined with London's acclaimed Donmar Warehouse to co-produce CST's nationally acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures, directed by Chicago Shakespeare Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin.

In 2002, CST was the only North American stop on Peter Brook's world tour of the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord production of Le Costume (The Suit). In 2001 CST was one of only three venues in the United States to host the internationally acclaimed production of Peter Brook's The Tragedy of Hamlet. Also that year, CST presented the Comédie-Française production of La Dernière Lettre starring Catherine Samie, and hosted Simon Callow's one-man performance of The Mystery of Charles Dickens. During its second season on Navy Pier (2000-2001), CST provided a home for Canada's Stratford Festival, with Brian Bedford's production of The School for Scandal.
Since CST's inception, reaching out to young audiences has been integral to its mission. Team Shakespeare, CST's arts-in-education program, reached 500,000 students in its first decade serving 50,000 students and teachers annually. Team Shakespeare's multi-faceted programming expands on traditional teaching methods by building long-term partnerships with a team of educators, administrators and students, and CST's artistic and educational staff.

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines

Barbara Gaines (Director, Artistic Director) is the founder of Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Ms. Gaines has directed Chicago Shakespeare's productions of Julius Caesar (2003), Love's Labor's Lost (2002), The Tempest (2002), Richard II (2001), King Lear (1993 and 2001), All's Well That Ends Well (2000), Antony and Cleopatra (1988 and 1999), Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (1999), Henry V (1998), The Merchant of Venice (1997), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1997), Hamlet (1996), Richard III (1996), Othello (1995), Troilus and Cressida (1987 and 1995), The Winter's Tale (1994), Measure for Measure (1994), The Taming of the Shrew (1993), The Tale of Cymbeline (1989 and 1993), Pericles (1992), Much Ado About Nothing (1991), and King John (1991). Her work has been honored with Jeff Awards for Best Production (Hamlet, The Tale of Cymbeline, and King Lear, 1993) and for Best Director (The Tale of Cymbeline and King Lear, 1993). Ms. Gaines serves on the artistic directorate of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and on Northwestern University's board of trustees. She has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and is an editorial board member of the Chicago Reporter.

Executive Director Criss Henderson

Criss Henderson (Executive Director) has produced Chicago Shakespeare's past 14 seasons. Under his leadership Chicago Shakespeare has become one of the city's major cultural attractions. He oversaw the development and construction of the Theater's new $24 million facility on Navy Pier. Mr. Henderson was honored at The Kennedy Center as Arts Administrator of the Year for 2000. He was among 1998's top 40 business people under the age of 40 in Crain's Chicago Business. In 1999 he was named, along with Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, one of the Chicagoans of the Year by Chicago Tribune arts and entertainment writers. He has been invited to serve on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Mr. Henderson serves as president of the Producers' Association of Chicago-area Theaters and on the executive committee of the board of directors for the Illinois Arts Alliance and the League of Chicago Theatres. He is a graduate of DePaul/Goodman School of Drama.


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+ Associated Press 05.13.08
+ Playbill 05.13.08
+ PerformInk 05.13.08
+ TimeOut 05.13.08


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