Chicago Shakespeare Theater will bring a new innovative stage to Navy Pier

The Yard Featured

By Katina Beniaris

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced a $35 million project that will add a third stage to its home base on Navy Pier. Named The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, the new venue will open in fall 2017.

“It is a quite incredible vision, and as a city that re-imagines theater, this will anchor the revitalization of Navy Pier on its centennial,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference March 2 at the theater.

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Mayor Emanuel speaks about the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. (Katina Beniaris/MEDILL)

The new theater will transform the white, tent-like Skyline Stage, adjacent to Chicago Shakespeare’s current building. The Yard will open with seating that can range from 150 to 850.

“The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare completes our campus, offering a new kind of venue, one that allows us the freedom to reconfigure and recalibrate a playing space each time we use it.” said Barbara Gaines, the theater’s co-founder and artistic director.

The Yard will be funded through a $15 million investment by Navy Pier, Inc., and $20 million in capital funding from Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Our City, Our Shakespeare Campaign.

Board Chair Sheli Z. Rosenberg said that fund-raising though the theater’s capital, artistic and endowment programs has already  secured $44.4 million, 73 percent of the project’s overall $55 million cost.

“It’s a sustainable and cost-conscious project,” said Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s executive director. “We will construct a fully enclosed, indoor theater chamber beneath the landmark white dome utilizing existing stagehouse and backstage support spaces.”

The design and construction team includes Charcoalblue, a UK-based theater and acoustic consulting firm, with clients such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and Sydney Theatre Company; the architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, and local construction company Bulley & Andrews.

“The development of the Yard is the natural progression of our growth there,” said Navy Pier, Inc. CEO Marilynn Gardner. “For Navy Pier, it marks a significant milestone of our centennial vision. A vision that calls for more evening and year-round entertainment.”

Construction of the theater will begin this spring.

Photo at top: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture renders The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier. (Chicago Shakespeare Theater)