The Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF) is thrilled to be back at the Ewing Cultural Center this summer! The excitement of the 2021 season feels like a warm hug from an old friend: Actors are being cast, sets and costumes are being designed, and we cannot wait for delicious picnic dinners on the lawn. Thanks to protocols approved by the state of Illinois and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we can feel comfortable gathering together again for theatre under the stars.

Over a year ago, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival made the difficult decision to cancel its 2020 season due to the pandemic. Theatres across the world shuttered their doors. With the emergence of coronavirus (COVID-19), we have become accustomed to the very same concerns Elizabethan theatregoers knew so well: self-isolation, social distancing, and the looming specter of the unknown. Thankfully, and with great jubilation, ISF will be back at the Ewing Cultural Center this summer with two productions, The Winter’s Tale and Measure for Measure.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) safety guidelines, the two biggest challenges we face this summer are a reduced seating capacity and the need for a backstage heating and cooling system that improves airflow, thus keeping our company members safe and healthy. We have therefore embarked on a capital improvement project to replace the backstage system. With the support of the Ewing Cultural Center and several generous patrons, we are moving forward with this project. However, we have a long way to go to support the cost of this much-needed improvement.

Gifts to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival Back on the Boards project will ensure that ISF continues to produce energetic new interpretations of theatrical works with the Shakespeare canon as our inspiration. “With mirth and laughter,” we will see you in July!