Welcome to The Shakespeare Project of Chicago

We believe that the key to creating a transformative experience of Shakespeare is through making Shakespeare’s words understandable and impactful for our audiences. Storytelling that is truthful, simple, fantastical, poetic, lyrical, sometimes challenging, but always universal. Our gifted artists deliver performances that are intimate and emotionally engaging – Shakespeare at its best. 

The theatrical reading: not less, but so much more.

What is a theatrical reading?

What can you expect when you come to one of our theatrical readings?  The first thing you may notice is that the actors are performing book-in-hand. However, as our audiences have told us many times over the past 25 years, the scripts become invisible after the first few minutes as you listen to Shakespeare's language come alive as it is acted by some of the best professional actors in Chicago. 

I often explain to people that have not seen our work before that their experience of the play won’t be less, but more because by placing our focus exclusively on Shakespeare’s text we allow the play to emerge in an unencumbered setting that reveals new insights into the play's characters and themes.  Many have told us that after seeing a theatrical reading from The Shakespeare Project they truly “get” the play for the first time. 

Our performance is completely staged – meaning that actors make entrances and exits and move across the stage as they would in a full production.  You won’t see elaborate sets, props or costumes.  You will hear some music and sound from time to time which is only there to augment your experience and add to your understanding of the play. 

We provide a 360 degree experience of the play.  Our dramaturge will introduce the play to you in a brief prologue to give you some background on the play’s history and point out things to watch and listen for during the performance.  After the reading, we hope you stay for our post-show discussion to interact with the actors and creative team and further enrich your experience.

We look forward to seeing you at our next show.  And, if you like what you see, please tell a friend.

Peter Garino
Artistic Director
The Shakespeare Project of Chicago

New Season Announced

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50-Minute Hamlet

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New Partnership with Athenaeum

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Brand-New Xmas Comedy
Starbuck in Orson Welles’s ‘Moby Dick—Rehearsed’
A Midsummer Night's Dream 2019 banner
A Baker Street Christmas Caper banner for The Shakespeare Project of Chicago

Celebrating 20 years of 50-Minute Hamlet

Since its premier in 2002, Jeff Christian's 50-Minute Hamlet has delighted audiences young and old with his rapid, theatrical retelling of Shakespeare's greatest play. Performed by two actors, one that plays Hamlet and the other playing every other role, 50-Minute Hamlet is a principal offering of The Shakespeare Project's education outreach program. It has also been produced at Lakeside Shakespeare and St. Olaf College.

The production has featured many talented actors in its challenging roles. David Skidmore and Laura St. John performed the early iterations of the play from 2002-2008. Jeff Christian performed the role of Hamlet in 2003-2004 and later returned to perform with Gail Rastorfer in several performances 2012-2015. The photos below capture some of the other pairings in 50-Minute Hamlet over the years.

For more information on 50-Minute Hamlet, contact outreach@shakespeareprojectchicago.org.