If you like Shakespeare, well, 2016 is your year. From January 27 on, you’ll be able to attend a Bard-related event nearly every day if you so desire, courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare’s Shakespeare 400 Festival.
One thousand actors, artists, dancers, musicians, professors, and chefs from all over the world, performing in 120 locations across the city’s neighborhoods in just about every language spoken by Chicagoans, will pay tribute to the playwright. Many of the city’s cultural institutions have partnered with Chicago Shakespeare, and there will be visiting performers from Great Britain, Belgium, India, China, Poland, and Russia; the festival’s opening performance will be a contemporary Russian-language Measure for Measure from Cheek by Jowl and the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre. The full catalog of events is out this week.
“There really will be a way for every Chicagoan to experience this in some way,” says Doreen Sayegh, the festival’s producer. “This will be globally significant and important for the city.”
The festival has been in the works for a decade, since Chicago Shakespeare visited Stratford-Upon-Avon for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival in 2006.
Sayegh is most excited about the culinary complete works, for which 38 of the city’s leading chefs, including Rick Bayless and Alpana Singh, will pay tribute to each of Shakespeare’s plays through a dish or a meal inspired by a theme or a line. (The child meat pie from Titus Andronicus will not be represented.)
“We want Chicagoans to come together through Shakespeare,” Sayegh says. “In a time when people are feeling divided, this will be the bridge that brings people closer.”
Shakespeare 400 Chicago, various times, various locations, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, shakespearechicago400.com, prices vary.