The Shakespeare Project of Chicago: Free Readings of Shakespeare in Chicago Area

The Shakespeare Project of Chicago wraps up its 22nd Theatrical Reading Season with free reading performances of Shakespeare’s comedy of young love coming of age, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST, running May 5-9, 2017, at six Chicago-area venues.   The King of Navarre and his three loyal subjects decide to retire from the world to study and swear an oath to forsake the company of women for three years. Immediately, the Princess of France and her three lovely waiting women arrive on a diplomatic mission. Will the King and his followers remain true to their oaths?




SYNOPSIS:  King Ferdinand of Navarre’s “no fun” edict includes scholarly endeavors, quiet contemplation and complete commitment to chastity for three entire years. His closest courtiers reluctantly sign on. But this is a comedy and it doesn’t take long for everyone to figure out that the whole thing is a bad idea and rules are meant to be broken—especially when the French Princess and her beautiful entourage arrive on the scene. The young men’s studies soon give way to secret letters and amorous vows as the women set out to teach the men a thing or two about love. The puns fly and the playwright’s wordplay take flight in this playful romantic comedy about young love with a surprising conclusion where real-life lessons are suddenly revealed.


Admission is free and seating is limited. All performances are preceded by an introduction to the play that commences 15 minutes prior to curtain.


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Performance schedule:

  • Fri, May 5 at 7 p.m., Niles Public Library, 6960 W. Oakton St., Niles (registration required, 847-663-1234)
  • Sat, May 6 at 10 a.m., The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago
  • Sat, May 6 at 2 p.m., Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette
  • Sun, May 7 at 2 p.m., Highland Park Public Library, 494 Laurel Ave., Highland Park
  • Mon, May 8 at 6:30 p.m., Vernon Area Public Library, 300 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire (registration required, 847-634-3650)
  • Tue, May 9 at 7:15 p.m., Mount Prospect Public Library, 10 S. Emerson St., Mount Prospect (registration required, 847-253-5675)


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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 21 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.


The Shakespeare Projects’s 2016/17 Theatrical Reading Season kicked off in September with HENRY V, directed by J.R. Sullivan, followed by KING JOHN, directed by Peter Garino, and Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s THE CHANGELING, directed by Steve Scott.


The Shakespeare Project of Chicago’s Theatrical Readings are fully staged performances featuring members of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.  Barbara Zahora, the Shakespeare Project’s associate artistic director, directs a cast that includes Brynne Barnard (Katherine/Jacquenetta), Jose Antonio Garcia (Don Armado), Peter Garino (Boyet/Dull), Brian J. Gill (King of Navarre), Lydia Berger Gray (Princess of France), Jack Hickey (Holofernes), Peter Eli Johnson (Moth), Robert MacLean (Longaville), Kim Richard Mowrey (Sir Nathaniel), Christopher Prentice (Berowne), David Skidmore (Costard), Grace Smith (Maria), Amanda Tanguay (Rosaline) and Tristien Marcellous Winfree (Dumaine).  Music and sound design are by George Zahora and Michelle Shupe is the assistant director.


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