Did you know that we can thank William Shakespeare for such words as “majestic,” “zany” and “puking”? The bard added more than 1,700 words to the English language thanks to his many written works. But even with such down-to-earth vocabulary, the idea of sitting through a full Shakespeare play can feel downright daunting.
That’s why Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks is the perfect solution. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater productions travel to 18 Chicago Park District locations to put on free, family-friendly plays that are only 75 minutes long. The parks range from Loyola Park on the northside to Ridge Park on the south, and intentionally represent a diverse range of communities.
This year’s show is A Midsummer’s Night Dream, the slightly trippy tale of mismatched lovers and a mischievous sprite who intervenes in their lives. CST describes its version as “acrobatic and riotously entertaining,” without the intimidation factor of a theater. And it’s a great intro for kids who might not be quite ready to sit still and quiet for long periods of time. (If they resist, you can always tell them the “puking” thing. Will loved potty humor.)
Kids also like the Shakespeare masks that are handed out (bring crayons to color) and perfect for a little selfie fun with the 450-years-young English playwright.
Best of all, if you’re looking for some family togetherness, the outdoor setting practically begs for a picnic and a blanket. Little ones and even dogs are up and about, enjoying the play at their own speed. As the bard would say: Majestic, indeed.
Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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