The theatre world gets major inspiration from the expansion plans of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which will change theater as a whole.
The announcement was made Wednesday by the Theater’s creative directors Barbara Gaines and Criss Henderson that the theater will be adding a third performance venue. The new area will be called “The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare” and will be taking up the space where the Skyline Stage is currently on, but the dome of the Skyline will remain in the new design. This third installment will be “expanding the footprint” of the theater on the Navy Pier, where some of the other stages are present. Of the designs and plans released, what is seen is a completely new experience viewers will receive at the theater, and a completely contemporary look.
“The Yard” will feature nine flexible seating towers, and each tower will have three levels of seats for viewers to fill in. Executive director Henderson attempted to describe the towers but struggled due to the novelty of the concept, rather than sticking with an amphitheater setting, the towers provide a new experience. Henderson states, “They will move around this room; move closer when we want to have a small intimate space, or move out away from each other when we want the space to be larger. And, really, it will be left to the artist’s imagination” which implies that the seating of the towers can be moved to the needs of the performers. This completely allows viewers a personal experience as their line of sight is catered to, but at the same time it changes the atmosphere of performance because artists will be able to shift around the seating to truly incorporate and impact their acting.
The construction is set to begin in the spring and will cost about $35 million with $15 million coming from Navy Piers Inc. The theater’s $20 million contribution will be funded by a capital campaign. The total amount pretty much split among many investors, but is quite a substantial amount and growth for the theater. The expansion is being made in order to change how theater is taken in by the public as stated by Shakespeare Theater board member Marilynn Thoma, “When you build these stages, you think it’s going to be adequate for the next 10 to 15 years. We’ve reached that point. The world of theater has changed and the economics have changed”. No longer are we in the time of Shakespeare but the passion remains the same, so be on the lookout for a brand new experience.