See Shakespeare In the City This Summer, Without the Hassle

Measure for Measure (July 14–August 9, Battery Park, August 11–12, 14–16, Brooklyn Bridge Park) put on by New York Classical Theater. (Photo: Miranda Arden)
Described as “a moving experience in more ways than one,” the plays put on by the New York Classical Theater are in a multitude of non-traditional public spaces throughout the city. The company’s “panoramic theater” style allows for the audience to immerse themselves in the play, becoming active spectators—quite similar to the actual cast members. Besides for putting in their own input, audience members can also arrive early to watch rehearsals before the show.
The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor (July 22- Aug 16) put on by the Hip to Hip Theater Company in various parks throughout Queens, the Bronx, Jersey City, and Southampton. (Photo: Julian Voloj)
Founded by Queens-based actors Jason and Joy Marr, the non-profit theater company, Hip to Hip, was born out of the founders shared vision to impact lives through great theater—paired with familial spirit. As a family-oriented company, Hip to Hip is not only free, but seeks to provide theater goers of all ages with the opportunity to engage in the company’s communal “hip to hip” style.
The Tempest (July 3-26) put on by the Classical Theatre of Harlem at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Garvey Park. (Photo: Jill Jones)
The Classical Theatre of Harlem has been showcasing both traditional and new playwrights since 1999. With free productions throughout the summer (plus theater education programs that run throughout the year) the Rodgers Amphitheater is a fabulous alternative to still see a Shakespeare production outdoors. Plus, the recent redesign of the venue offers a floating roof canopy above the stage and a much wider stage.
As You Like it (July 9-26) and Macbeth (July 30- Aug 15) put on by The Drilling Company in the parking lot behind The Clemente (Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center), located at 114 Norfolk Street. (Photo: Jonathan Slaff)
Staged this year at 114 Norfolk Street behind the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center on the Lower East Side, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has become a much loved summer tradition in the city since its inception in 1995. This is the first year in its new location after the off-off-broadway acting troupe was forced to leave its former space in the Municipal Parking lot at Ludlow and Broome Streets. With its new parking lot, audience members can still bring their own chairs and blankets to enjoy the show just like before. Also, for a spin on the play, director Hamilton Clancy is adapting his “As You Like It” production into the classical Victorian era.
Romeo and Juliet (July 17-Aug 2) and The Taming of the Shrew (Sep 4-20) put on by The Drilling Company in Bryant Park. (Photo: Rosalie Baijer)
When the Drilling Company isn’t producing plays in parking lots, it’s also taking on Bryant Park. So if one isn’t so keen on sitting on hard concrete with a just a picnic blanket for comfort, this alternative offers plenty chairs. Not only that but the New York Public Library serves as possibly one of the best backdrops in the city for a Shakespeare performance.

Shakespeare in the Park is a timeless staple to a traditional summer in New York City. However, with this long lasting tradition comes the inevitable hours spent in treacherous lines, often standing in the brutal heat and fighting off angry crowds.

While the much loved Delacorte Theater has been putting on free Shakespeare performances for 52 years (this summer’s production is the fairytale Cymbeline) there are actually a growing number other unconventional ways to enjoy free Shakespeare performances throughout city—without the hassle. So, as we encouraged last year, take a look at these alternatives and smugly pass your fellow New Yorkers sweltering outside the Delacorte on your way to watch Romeo and Juliet in Bryant Park.

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