It has just been announced that The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre will be taking over the Skyline Stage at Navy Pier, transforming it into their new performance space and naming it the Yard. The Skyline Stage is a 1500 seat concert and performance venue on Navy Pier, which has been undergoing a multiyear renovation. Chicago Shakes has been looking to expand for some time, and the attaining of the new stage will save them the cost of constructing a brand new building.
This is extremely exciting. Artistic director, Barbara Gaines announced “We are building a theater for the future”. The large white canopy of the Skyline Stage will remain to be used as a canvas for theatrical lighting. What is new is the configuration of the audience. The audience risers and seating platforms will be on large towers that can be moved and repositioned to accommodate the theatrical event. Sound proof walls will also be constructed around the venue, allowing the theatre to be used year round.
Navy Pier being a prime location for visitors, tourist, and locals makes the perfect location for a theatre because it allows access to a wider community. Expanding the theatre’s footprint is allowing greater opportunities to attract people to the theatre. My hope is that Chicago Shakes will become a “must-do” tourist attraction, exposing non theatregoers to the theatre.