Shakespeare in Nineteenth-Century Chicago: An Evolving Cultural Identity

Shakespeare Playbills in Nineteenth-Century Chicago

This collection of eighty late nineteenth-century playbills from an archive at the Chicago Public Library offers a quick and vivid glimpse of the scope and variety of Shakespeare productions on offer in Chicago during this period. Most are what we would consider "highbrow" productions -- formal presentations of popular Shakespeare plays starring such leading actors as Edwin Booth, Thomas Keene, Helena Modjeska, and Julia Marlowe in elegant downtown venues such as Hooley's, the Grand Opera House, Haverley's, and McVickers. Interspersed, too, are occasional examples of more "lowbrow" excerpts such as "Burlesque Scene from Romeo and Juliet" at the Grand Opera House in 1884, and "Balcony Scene from Romeo and Juliet" at the Academy of Music in 1886.