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Chicago Shakespeare set to play in the parks

See “Taming of the Shrew” in open-air venues as the Bard intended beginning July 29 in Chicago Park District parks. Here is a listing of the entire run.

South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. July 29 at 4 p.m.; Tuley Park, 501 E. 90th Pl. July 30 at 3:30 p.m.; Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton St., July 31 at 4 p.m.; Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St., Aug. 1 at 3:30 p.m.; Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Sacramento Ave., Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 4 at 4 p.m.; Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Dr., Aug. 5 at 4 p.m.; Gateway Park on Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Aug. 6-8 at 6:30 p.m.; Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave., Aug. 10-11 at 6:30 p.m.; Garfield Park Conservatory*, 300 N. Central Park Ave. Aug. 12 at 3 p.m.; Ridge Park*, 1817 W. 96th St., Aug, 15 at 6:30 p.m.; Frank J. Wilson Park, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave., Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 18-19 at

* in case of rain, show is canceled

Updated: July 13, 2012 6:14AM

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, the Boeing Co. and a number of other sponsors, is about to embark on an ambitious new citywide project that will bring free performances of “The Taming of the Shrew,” one of its much-heralded 75-minute “Short Shakespeare” productions, to 11 different parks throughout the city this summer.

The project, which will involve a total of 17 performances during July and August, is designed to “break down barriers to arts participation” by bringing cultural events directly to a full gamut of the city’s neighborhoods.

Productions of the Bard’s plays in open-air settings are as old as the plays themselves, with many of Shakespeare’s works performed at such outdoor venues as the Globe in Elizabethan London. In New York, producer Joseph Papp began the tradition of outdoor Shakespeare performances with a 1956 production of “The Taming of the Shrew,” subsequently establishing a summertime venue for Shakespeare performances at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park that continues to this day. In the Chicago area, full-length outdoor Shakespeare productions have been staged as part of the Oak Park Festival in Austin Gardens since 1975 (“Richard III” begins performances there July 19), as well as by First Folio Theatre at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook (“The Merchant of Venice” begins July 14), though both companies charge for tickets.

Chicago Shakespeare’s first summer tour will begin July 29 with its traveling production transported by a specially equipped truck carrying a portable stage. The parks scheduled for visits (“rain or shine” in most cases) include the South Shore Cultural Center (July 29), Tuley Park (July 30), Dvorak Park (July 31), Austin Town Hall Park (Aug. 1), Humboldt Park (Aug. 3-4), Douglas Park (Aug. 5), Gateway Park on Navy Pier (Aug. 6-8), Welles Park (Aug. 10-11), Garfield Park Conservatory (Aug. 12), Ridge Park (Aug. 15) and Frank J. Wilson Park (Aug. 17-19).

Directing “Shrew,” which spins around a quintessential battle of the sexes, will be Rachel Rockwell (who has triumphed in recent seasons with productions of “Enron” at TimeLine Theatre and “The Sound of Music” and “Ragtime” at Drury Lane Oakbrook). Reprising their roles from the show’s winter run at Chicago Shakespeare’s home base on Navy Pier will be Ericka Ratcliff as the volatile Katharina, and Matt Mueller as Petruchio, her macho suitor.

For additional information and a full schedule visit

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