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The Yard: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s New Stage

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March 20, 2017

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is the world-renowned entertainment staple at Navy Pier that has brought innovative twists to Shakespearean classics for years. The theater brings unique theatrical productions to Chicago and to Navy Pier, but it’s about to being something even more unique to the public: The Yard.

What exactly is The Yard? It’s the most exciting innovation from Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. It will be a third, year-round performance venue for the wildly successful theatre company. The theater already offers the intimate 500-seat Courtyard Theater that is inspired by early modern English theaters as well as Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare that is a 200-seat studio offering the perfect setting for experimental shows.

The Yard is unique from all of those. It will be a fully flexible artistic platform that redefines the traditional relationship between artist and audience by creating a space that can move according to the needs of the production. It will allow the scale and vision of each production to shift according to the directors’ vision based on its moveable parts. What will this look like? The project designed by UK-based theater and acoustics consultancy firm Charcoalblue and Chicago-based Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture. The Yard consists of a movable set of 9 “towers” which can create a variety of performance arenas according to the needs of the show. The seating can thus range from an intimate 150 to a large 850.

The flexibility these 35,000 pound towers give is “state-of-the-imagination” technology to the venue that won’t limit artistic needs as venues sometimes can do. The Yard will have a two-level lobby that connects to Chicago Shakespeare’s current lobby and offers patrons a brand new space that they can gather before and after performances. The lobby’s floor to ceiling windows offer the best views of Navy Pier’s harbor the gorgeous Chicago skyline.

Set to open in the fall of 2017, The Yard will bring Chicago Shakespeare Theater together to be a three-theater campus that will offer more productions, more artistic opportunities, and increase the service of the theater to the public.


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