Honorary OBE to Shakespeare Theater's Gaines
You can't call her a "Dame." But Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is about to be awarded the next best thing -- an Honorary OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), by decree of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The prestigious award, to be presented in a Feb. 10 ceremony at the Washington residence of Britain's Ambassador to the United States, will be bestowed on Gaines for "her unique contribution strengthening British-American cultural relations," most notably overseeing the creation of "a dedicated Shakespeare company with a prominent, [$25 million] permanent home."
Gaines, who began her theater company in 1986 in a pub in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, has since overseen its growth into a massive, multifaceted operation housed on Navy Pier, with a current annual budget of $12 million.
As part of the theater's exchange program she has brought many British theater artists (among them Edward Hall, Mark Rylance and Simon Callow) to the Midwest. Her company's production of "Pacific Overtures" traveled to London's Donmar Warehouse, and Gaines serves on the artistic directorate of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.
The Chicago Shakespeare production of "Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2," to be directed by Gaines, will be part of this summer's Royal Shakespeare Company presentation of the playwright's complete works in Stratford-upon-Avon.