Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier

Chicago, Illinois, USA

To strengthen the connection between actor and audience in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s new seven-story home, we designed a 525-seat thrust theatre with three galleries surrounding the players, creating exceptional intimacy. With audiences on three sides of the stage and stacked from floor to ceiling, every face becomes a live piece of scenery, reflecting, framing, and shaping the action on stage. The narrow site constraints of Chicago’s Navy Pier aided the theatre’s intimacy—creating an audience chamber that’s only 54 feet wide. The thrust stage is backed up by a stagehouse and features a fully trapped stage. The theatre was proclaimed by Sir Peter Hall, founder of England’s Royal Shakespeare Company, as one of the best Elizabethan-style theatres in the world. The 88,000 square foot building also includes a 200-seat studio theatre, rehearsal hall, support spaces, offices, and multi-use spaces for educational workshops, seminars, and outreach programs. Since opening, Chicago Shakespeare Theater has grown into one of the largest theater companies in the city, hosting over 600 performances each year.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier
Credit: James Steinkamp Photography
Credit: Steinkamp/Ballogg Photography
Credit: Steinkamp/Ballogg Photography
Owner

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Company

Architect

VOA Associates

Acoustician

Talaske

Users

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Company

Seat count

200, 525

Construction type

New construction

Theatre type

Courtyard theatre, Drama theatre, Flexible theatre

Services

Programming, concept design, theatre planning, and theatre equipment design and specification

Completion

1999

Venue website

chicagoshakes.com

Credit: Steinkamp/Ballogg Photography
Credit: Steinkamp/Ballogg Photography
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier
Credit: Steinkamp/Ballogg Photography

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