Produced by the Public Theater, the New York Shakespeare Festival (or Shakespeare in the Park) is a yearly event held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Attendance is free and you can get tickets on the day of the performance. The festival includes two productions over the course of the summer. The first of the series, which was held May 28 through June 30, 2013, was the Comedy of Errors.
The second show started on July 23 and will run through August 18, 2013. This performance is a fabulous song-and-dance adaptation of another early Shakespearean comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost. The play is about a group of men who agree to forsake sex for scholarly pursuits (guess how that turns out). The team behind the show is writer-director Alex Timbers who was at the helm of the recently closed Peter and the Starcatcher, along with composer Michael Friedman who last collaborated on the very fun Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. If anyone can dust the cobwebs off an old story with style, it’s these two!
History of the Festival
The event was initially conceived by director-producer Joseph Papp in 1954. He started with a series of Shakespeare workshops then moved on to free productions on the Lower East Side. Eventually, the performances moved to a grassy area in front of Turtle Pond in Central Park. In 1959, parks commissioner Robert Moses demanded that Papp and his company charge a fee for the productions to cover the cost of “grass erosion.” A court battle ensued.
Papp continued to fight Moses and eventually won his enduring respect and the quote “well, let’s build the bastard a theater.” Following this, Moses requested funds from New York City for the construction of an amphitheater in Central Park. In 1961, the Delacorte Theater was built. The first show held in the theater in 1962 was Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, starring James Earl Jones and George C. Scott.
Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are FREE and are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park at noon on the day of the show.
Free tickets will also be available through the Virtual Ticketing lottery, accessible at the website below on the day of the show.
Date of the current performance:
July 23 to August 18, 2013
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.