Our Story

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company began in 2002 with a small group of artists committed to changing how people think about Shakespeare, by producing shows that allowed audiences to connect to classic works in whole new ways – ways that are fresh, innovative and sustainable. CSC is devoted to exploring the question “What makes Shakespeare so great?” The assumption is that this quest will probably never be resolved. That is why we invite the audience along for the journey. What is it about this work that resonates? What has lost its meaning? Why do we care and why should we?  CSC also produces classical plays by other playwrights of stature.

Now celebrating its 17th season as a Maryland theatre company and its 5th season in Baltimore, CSC has become a leader in the Maryland cultural community.  In CSC’s short history, it has gained a reputation for innovative, energetic and popular productions that bring audiences closer to the artists and the art-making process. The company is known for engaging and entertaining audiences in unique and intimate performance environments, and for making opportunities for conversations among audiences, artists and the wider community. In addition to performing the works of Shakespeare, CSC’s talented artists bring fresh perspective to other great classics.

CSC’s new indoor cultural center, located near the Inner Harbor in Downtown Baltimore,  opened in September 2014. This achievement was made possible with the support of devoted audiences and individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental partners. CSC transformed a 19th Century landmark bank building into a modern 260-seat theater inspired by Shakespeare’s Globe. The inaugural Season for Celebration opened with a week of festivities, including a ribbon-cutting on September 15, 2014, and a gala reception and performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on September 20, 2014. 

The cultural center includes The Studio at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, which opened in 2017 next door at 206 E. Redwood Street, in the historic Merchants Club building. The Studio is the new home of CSC’s acting courses and workshops for adults and youth. The adult programs include courses for personal growth, community engagement, fun, and professional development. For youth, CSC offers acting, theatre craft and design disciplines, critical analysis of plays, and day camp programs.

To the delight of loyal patrons who have shared this journey, CSC will continue performing outdoors every summer at its longtime home in the picturesque PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City, Md. Each summer, thousands join CSC under the stars for festival-style productions of Shakespeare’s works in an enchanting, family-friendly setting where picnics and wine are welcome.

The staff and artists at CSC are attempting to create a new model for what a “theater company” is – one that connects to its community and its neighbors in an open way, and one that serves all members of the community including those who don’t have easy access to the arts.

Behind the scenes, CSC takes pride in its artistic and proficient organizational management. More than 50 artists, led by the Founder and Artistic Director Ian Gallanar, Managing Director Lesley Malin and a vigorous Board of Trustees, are the major forces behind CSC’s success. Their collaboration is the foundation on which this arts organization has built its popularity and attracted the attention of media from around the country including CNN, Money Magazine, American Theater Magazine, Arrive Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun.

CSC’s professional artists also work with other Baltimore and District of Columbia theater companies including Synetic Theater, Everyman Theatre, Taffety Punk, Rep Stage, The Shakespeare Theater, The Folger, WSC Avant Bard, Gala Hispanic, The American Shakespeare Center, The Bay Theatre Company and others.

CSC is a Folger Shakespeare Library affiliate theatre and a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA), the international organization for professional Shakespeare theaters.  Mr. Gallanar is president-elect of the Shakespeare Theatre Association. The company is a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization.