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Shakespeare 400 Chicago

Chicago is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death with a slew of local and international programming

William Shakespeare shuffled off this mortal coil in 1616, leaving behind a prolific collection of plays, sonnets and the like that's had an arguably unmatched influence on Western culture. To mark the 400th anniversary of his death, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is spearheading a new year-long festival of performances, panels and more exploring the Bard's work from dozens of angles. The events won't be confined to CST's Streeterville home; they'll take place at venues across the city and suburbs, including parks, museums and even some of the city's best restaurants. The initial slate runs into April, with more announcements expected later in January; we'll update this guide as they come.

Shakespeare 400 Chicago events

Measure for Measure

Director Declan Donnellan of Britain's Cheek by Jowl stages the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre's production of Shakespeare's tale of morality and corruption. Performed in Russian with English supertitles.

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Until Sun Jan 31

King Lear

The exiled Belarus Free Theatre returns to Chicago with a boldly political staging of Shakespeare's royal tragedy. Performed in Belarusian with English supertitles.

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Until Sun Feb 14

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Shakespeare Theater combine forces for this kid-friendly concert, combining Chicago actors and the CSO orchestra to alternate scenes from Shakespeare's comedy with excerpts from Felix Mendelssohn's music for the play.

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Until Sat Feb 13

Shakespeare a cappella

Actors from Chicago Shakespeare Theater, including artistic director Barbara Gaines, join the singers of Chicago a cappella for a program of sonnets and soliloquies set to music.

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Until Sun Feb 21

Sancho: An Act of Remembrance

British actor Paterson Joseph wrote and performs this solo piece about Charles Ignatius Sancho, a prominent but little-remembered black man in 18th-century England.

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Until Sun Feb 21


James Vincent Meredith reprises the title role of the Moor of Venice, which he previously played at Writers Theatre in 2007, in a new Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production that sets the action on an American military base. Jonathan Munby directs.

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Until Sun Apr 10

Hamburg Ballet: Othello

Hamburg Ballet's interpretation of the tragedy of Othello, Desdemona and Iago, created by the company's artistic director, John Neumeier, features music by Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke and Naná Vasconcelos, performed here by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Until Wed Feb 24

Music in the Time of Shakespeare

Rockefeller Chapel's professional vocal ensemble, the Decani, performs a cappella renditions of music by Thomas Tallis and other Elizabethan composers, as well as settings of Shakespeare texts by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and U. of C. music professor Shulamit Ran.

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Until Sat Feb 27

Twelfth Night

The UK company Filter Theatre's playful version of Shakespeare's comedy of mistaken identities and misplaced affections, created for the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival in 2006, is marked by raucous, immersive music and sound design.

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Until Sun Mar 13