The Chicago Youth Shakespeare Ensemble (CYSE), is the city of Chicago’s only professional youth Shakespeare company, offering teen artists ages 14 -19 the opportunity to train, collaborate, and perform Shakespeare’s plays while earning a stipend and professional credit for their work. The ensemble includes young actors as well as contributing youth artists who work behind the scenes to incorporate original music, poetry, spoken-word, dance, photography, and other artistic elements into our Shakespeare productions. CYSE members represent many different communities, ethnicities, cultures, and life experiences. Together, they create a unique, artistic ensemble fueled by collaboration, innovation, and a diverse range of creative approaches and ideas. The annual season follows the academic calendar, and runs from September through the end of April.
As a member of the Ensemble, my knowledge of Shakespeare, theatre, acting, myself, and the world we live in grew drastically! I learned more than I could have ever imagined.
At CYS, our goal is always to make Shakespeare's work more accessible and relevant to young artists and audience members. We are committed to providing youth artists of all backgrounds with a safe, supportive, and inspiring creative environment, and to ensuring that audiences of all income levels can attend our performances. We also believe in putting teenagers in the driver's seat where they belong. For these reasons, CYS productions are conceived collaboratively by the ensemble members themselves. CYS staff, along with visiting professional artists from Chicago's rich theatre community act as facilitators, rather than directors - providing artistic training, guidance, and support throughout the process.
I felt like I was always being pushed artistically in ways that would improve me as an actor. And, I learned through this program to be the person to push myself.