Shakespeare's 450th Birthday: How "Will" Chicago Celebrate?

Shakespeare's 450th Birthday: How "Will" Chicago Celebrate?
Sonnet" © 2002 by Ed Paschke, courtesy Maya Polsky Gallery

“The wheel is come full circle” with Chicago pulling out all the stops for a birthday blast celebrating William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday on April 23—coincidentally the same day Wrigley Field turns one-hundred (kind of makes one wonder how Wrigley will be doing in another 350 years).

Around the world, Shakespeare's 450th birthday kicks off the internationally recognized Shakespeare Quadricentennial Celebration which will continue through 2016, marking 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy since his death in 1616.

In Chicago, the birthday celebration will showcase a series of programs, events and activities kicking off with an online quiz  “Will's 450 is the New 30 Quiz," testing your knowledge of Shakespeare today with questions including: “Which Shakespearean phrase is the title of a current song?"  You can test your knowledge with multiple choice questions on the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre website from April 21–May 11.

A highlight of the Chicago celebration features the premiere of "Our City, Our Shakespeare."  The program takes a look at the Bard through the eyes of notable Chicagoan's including: Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Michael P. Kelly, Chicago Park District General Superintendent/CEO; William J. Brodsky, Navy Pier, Inc. Chairman; Barbara Gaines, CST Artistic Director; Criss Henderson, CST Executive Director; Renée Fleming, Lyric Opera of Chicago Creative Consultant; Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera of Chicago General Director; Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director; and Douglas Druick, Art Institute of Chicago President along with other civic and cultural leaders, theater critics and artists.

Other events include:

Shakespeare at the Newberry Library: April 21 at 6 p.m. & April 22–June 21

Join CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Gail Kern Paster, director emerita of the Folger Shakespeare Library, in "Conversations at the Newberry" on April 21 at 6 p.m.  The free event launches Newberry's The Bard Is Born exhibition of Shakespeare-related artifacts. The exhibition runs April 22 through June 21.

Talk Like Shakespeare Day: April 23

This fun day, celebrated around the world, brings out everyone's inner Shakespeare. Just sprinkle your conversation with a few "thees" and "thous" instead of dese, dose and dems and you got it made.  If you want to go a little further include words like "bedazzled," "swagger," and "new-fangled"--all words Shakespeare added to the language.  If you're really into this go to Talk Like Shakespeare for tips and more expressions.

Preview of "Our City, Our Shakespeare" on Chicago Tonight: April 23 at 7 p.m.

Host Phil Ponce welcomes CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater to Chicago Tonight on WTTW Channel 11 to present a sneak preview of "Our City, Our Shakespeare."

Shakespeare's Henry V at CST: April 29–June 15

Experience Shakespeare up close and personal with a performance of Henry V, opening on April 29 and running through June 15 in CST's Courtyard Theater. The production, directed by Christopher Luscombe, tells the story of the war on the fields of Agincourt, as the charming, freshly crowned King Henry must prove his worth as a man and king in the ultimate test of his leadership.

Joffrey Ballet's Romeo and Juliet: April 30–May 11 at the Auditorium Theater

Alberto Velazquez as Romeo and Mahallia Ward as Juliet. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Alberto Velazquez as Romeo and Mahallia Ward as Juliet. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Joffrey Ballet presents a beautiful retelling of Shakespeare's tale of star-crossed lovers. The ballet is set to Sergei Prokofiev's score and choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor with live music performed by the Chicago Philharmonic.

"Our City, Our Shakespeare": May 1 at 8:00 p.m., May 2 at 7:30 p.m. & May 4 at 5:30 p.m.

"Our City, Our Shakespeare," produced by HMS Media, will be aired on WTTW 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.

CST and Chicago Philharmonic in Romantic Rapture: May 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The birthday celebration 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.

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