Chicago Street Theatre Brings Shakespeare to the People

The Valparaiso Parks Department and Chicago Street Theatre united the night of July 10th to expose the city of Valparaiso to its yearly dose of Shakespeare. The festivities began with a street fair much like those surrounding the very first stages to host William Shakespeare’s work, over five hundred years ago. As the sun, set the curtains rose on the set of Hamlet.

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“Our mission is to celebrate theatre and the arts with the community,” said the Theatre’s Director of Marketing, Eric Brant. “It’s amazing that this is the fourth year we have been able to do this; this idea of wanting to share Shakespeare’s work with the community... And it gets bigger every year.”

The actors are just as enthused. Shakespeare in the Park is a big project for the Chicago Street Theatre, since they must fit it into an already tight season. They also have to create a set that can be moved to and from the park, raised and taken down for each dress rehearsal and show.

“Doing any show outdoors is tricky because of the elements, like unexpected noise. Things you can control in an indoor setting,” actor Jason Kaplan, who will be playing Laertes said.

Brant said that the production is volunteer heavy. The actors and crew devote their time to something they are passionate about and it makes for a stunning performance.

“One of the things I love about Valpo is that we have these big cultural events that bring in a lot of people,” said Michael Pals, cast as Horatio, “It’s great to be a part of something that brings the community together.”

This is the first year that the Parks department of Valparaiso was a part of production. They had been debating their role for a few years and this time they knew they needed to be involved.

The Director of Special Projects and Event Operations, Dan McGuire, said, “It is great exposure, to see what kind of talent there is in Valpo.”

As the crowd ventured the preluding festival you could feel the anticipation building. Everyone shared the same sense of awe as the play began. Shakespeare in the Park did a stunning job of immersing its guests, turning a classic play into a dynamic experience.