Monday, February 15, 2016

OPENING: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre debuts Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night While Filter Theatre from the UK Present Twelfth Night Upstairs

Shakespeare would have been amused. Two different versions of the same show are occupying two different floors of the same theatre simultaneously this March!  

I've always had a soft spot for Twelfth Night since I was Viola's understudy back in college. As a mom, I've also been a long time fan of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's "Short Shakespeare" series. These abridged versions are still full on Shakespearian dialect and keep the plot and characters true to the original, while trimming each piece to an action packed, more accessible hour and 15 minutes. We eagerly anticipate the Short Shakespeare shows every season. Highly recommended. Most of these are reserved for school groups so the few public performances sell out fast, so book now.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents
A Shakespeare 400 Chicago event
Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night
Newly abridged work adapted and directed by Kirsten Kelly
Public Performances Saturdays at 11am, March 5–April 9, 2016

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) debuts the newly abridged Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night , a 75-minute production of William Shakespeare’s tale of mistaken identity and unexpected love. In the midst of the 2016 celebration of Shakespeare 400 Chicago, this new adaptation by director Kirsten Kelly makes an outstanding introduction to Shakespeare for audiences of all ages. In addition to public performances each Saturday, this production welcomes 1,000 students each day during its four-week run in the Courtyard Theater, followed by an extensive tour to schools across the Midwest through May 6, 2016. Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night will be performed for the public Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.—March 5, 12, 19 & 26 and April 2 & 9, 2016.

After each Saturday morning performance, the actors remain on stage for a question-and-answer session, before joining the audience in the Lobby for one-on-one conversations and photo opportunities. CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. An “Access Shakespeare” performance for Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night occurs on Saturday, April 9 at 11:00 a.m. and includes ASL Duo-interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description.

When separated from her brother Sebastian in a tragic shipwreck, Viola disguises herself as a man while navigating the unfamiliar land of Illyria. She enters into the service of the handsome Duke Orsino and finds herself caught in the midst of an unrequited love triangle. Misunderstandings and mistaken identities abound in Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. The Short Shakespeare! production of Twelfth Night gives opportunities for families and young audiences to engage with Shakespeare’s play through the text’s use of humor and youthful characters. Music is incorporated throughout the production, as the emotions of the characters are amplified through the diverse sounds of piano, guitar, ukulele, cajon and banjolele.

Director and award-winning documentary filmmaker Kirsten Kelly  has been an integral partner of the CST Education team for more than a decade, including co-founding the CPS Shakespeare! program with CST Director of Education Marilyn Halperin ten years ago. The initiative engages Chicago Public Schools students and teachers to create a unique Shakespeare production on the Courtyard stage. Returning with another of her own adaptations of Shakespeare’s canon after 2015’s Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, Kelly approaches Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night  with a diverse audience in mind—making an exciting theatrical encounter for even the newest of Shakespeare fans.

The Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night cast includes Rebecca Hurd (Viola), Neal Moeller (Duke Orsino), Nate Santana (Sebastian), Krystel Lucas (Olivia), La Shawn Banks (Malvolio), Lynn Robert Berg (Antonio/Captain), Lydia Berger Gray (Maria), Ronald Conner (Sir Toby Belch), Dominic Conti (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Donovan Diaz (Fabian), Will Mobley (Feste), Colin Morgan (Valentine) and Nik Kmiecik (Curio).
The creative team features Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer  Rachel Healy, Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann, Composer and Sound Designer Ethan Deppe and CST’s Resident Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal.

With public performances on Saturday, CST’s Short Shakespeare! series is an essential component of the Theater’s celebrated Team Shakespeare  education program. In addition to six weeks of public performances, the production will host student performances in the Theater’s home on Navy Pier and then embark on a four-week tour to urban, suburban and rural schools across the Midwest. With a crew of eight and a 20-foot-long box truck, the production will transform each venue, giving students the experience of a fully realized professional performance. Chicago Shakespeare partners with teachers to extend the experience into the classroom, providing show-specific materials and activities in addition to leading free professional development workshops for teachers. These resources ensure teachers are well-equipped to effectively connect the words and works of the playwright to their students.

As the world commemorates the 400 years since Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Shakespeare 400 Chicago  brings together the city’s resident world-class institutions across disciplines, and welcomes leading artists from around the globe to make Chicago their stage. Spearheaded by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, this yearlong international arts festival will engage more than 500,000 Chicagoans and visitors in events spanning theater, opera, music, dance, cuisine, exhibitions, workshops and discussion series—including opportunities for students and teachers like Short Shakespeare! Twelfth Night. Programs like this ensure that Shakespeare 400 Chicago is not only occurring in institutions and theaters downtown, but also in schools across the region.

Saturday, March 5, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
Saturday, March 12, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
Saturday, March 19, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
Saturday, March 26, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
Saturday, April 2, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
Saturday, April 9, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.

Tickets: $22–$34 • 312.595.5600
For more information, visit

About Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a global theatrical force, known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, language and empathy for the human condition. Throughout 2016, CST is spearheading the international arts and culture festival, Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a citywide celebration of the playwright's 400-year legacy. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. CST serves as a partner in literacy to Chicago Public Schools, working alongside English teachers to help struggling readers connect with Shakespeare in the classroom, and bringing his text to life on stage for 40,000 students every year. And each summer, 30,000 families and audience members of all ages welcome the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour into their neighborhoods across the far north, west and south sides of the city. Reflecting the global city it calls home, CST is the leading producer of international work in Chicago, and has toured its plays abroad to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada/North America and the Middle East.

CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds. The Theater’s tradition of excellence and civic leadership has been honored with numerous national and international awards, including the Regional Theatre Tony Award, three Laurence Olivier Awards, and eighty total Joseph Jefferson Awards. CST’s work with Chicago Public School students and teachers was recognized by the White House in 2014 with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Among its many international engagements, CST participated in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2006 Complete Works Festival and was selected to represent North America at the Globe to Globe festival as part of London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

You can also catch another version of Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre this March, with actors from the UK, born with British accents! 

"Rock and roll Shakespeare... blessed with wit, style and a sense of magic"

The Daily Telegraph (UK)


Two worlds collide in Filter Theatre’s explosive take on Shakespeare’s lyrical Twelfth Night, originally commissioned for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival in 2006. This story of romance, satire and mistaken identity combines dynamic narrative drive with a torrent of sound and music. Olivia’s melancholic, puritanical household clashes head on with Sir Toby’s insatiable appetite for drunken debauchery. Orsino’s relentless pursuit of Olivia and Malvolio’s extraordinary transformation typify the madness of love in Illyria: land of make-believe and illusion. Experience the madness of love in this heady world where riotous gig meets Shakespeare. 

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