CHICAGO (CBS) — Wednesday marks 450 years since the birth of William Shakespeare, and to celebrate the Bard, a Chicago theater company is performing eight of his plays in 24 hours.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, at midnight, The Foundlings Theatre Company started the second annual “No Sleep Shakepseare Festival,” at the BoHo Theatre in Rogers Park.

“It’s exhausting. It’s a lot of heavy language, so it’s really mind-exhausting as well,” said co-founder Robert Francis Curtis. “If you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything.”

The festival started with a performance of Romeo and Juliet, followed by As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, an all-female performance of Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado About Nothing.

Not surprisingly, not everyone manages to stay awake the entire time.

“The Duke and the Duchess of the fest, they are the two actors that are in every single reading for 24 hours straight. They start out the festival by doing a monologue from Shakespeare; any one they want. And then we close the festival at midnight by then – after 24 hours of sleep deprivation – trying to do it again.”

Curtis said not all of the performances are classical Shakespeare.

“Some of them are doing Southern American. Some of them are doing like a New York, kind of Jewish accent, and some of them are doing British,” he said.

Curtis said performing Shakespeare allows young actors to show off their acting chops, no matter what accent they choose to try.

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