Shakespeare in the Park is a free NYC summer tradition organized by The Public Theater. It takes place at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
This year, the production is Hamlet. It’s about a crestfallen prince who decides to take revenge on his brother. To get tickets, you can enter a digital lottery on the TodayTix app.
1. The Open Sky
There’s something magical about experiencing live theater outdoors, whether you’re soaking in a Broadway musical at the historic Fabulous Fox in Grand Center or watching Shakespeare plays under the stars at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This summer, Montgomery Parks is offering a new way to enjoy Shakespeare in the Arb at the Nichols Arboretum with “Parks Playhouse.”
Founded in 1962 by The Public Theater’s visionary Joseph Papp, the series showcases free, large-scale productions of Shakespeare’s works, and has featured some of the most accomplished actors including Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In 2023, the series presents the classic drama Hamlet with Tony Award nominee Ato Blankson-Wood in the title role.
The theater experience is enhanced by the beauty of nature, with the open sky as backdrop and the sounds of birds chirping or the breeze carrying the enchanting melodies of the performances. This outdoor magic is available at parks and community centers throughout Prince George’s County, making it more accessible to everyone who wants to experience the joy of great theatre.
The popularity of these productions means that tickets can be difficult to get, but there are ways to increase your odds of securing seats, including attending the first week of the run of the show. The Public hates canceling the shows, so they often just continue even if it’s raining (though you may want to bring a poncho). The digital lottery for free tickets is held on each day that there’s a public performance through the TodayTix app.
2. The Sound of Music
Shakespeare in the Park is a New York City summer tradition that has become world famous. It is hosted each year by the Public Theater in Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre and is free to attend. However, if you are a Supporter Plus member of the Public Theater you may reserve seats for each performance.
The theater experience is enhanced by the natural setting. There is a real sense of magic when you are immersed in the scene as the actors recite their lines under the stars. The sound of the surrounding trees and birds adds a wonderful auditory dimension to the performance that helps to transport you into the story. In addition, the natural surroundings can create unexpected interruptions to the flow of the play.
It is no wonder that the productions have become a favorite of so many people. The idea behind this type of theatre was that theatre should be available to the masses and not just to those who could afford to go to the swankier productions. This is the inspiration behind other outdoor Shakespeare festivals that have started around the world including Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach.
When you plan on attending a Shakespeare in the Park performance it is a good idea to arrive early for the show. Seats are always in higher demand at the beginning of the run of a production. Another tip is to try and attend shows that are not scheduled during peak vacation time.
3. The Lights of the Night
Whether it’s the bright starry sky or the soft glow of lanterns, there is something about outdoor theater that creates an intimate atmosphere that draws audiences in. This is especially true when it comes to Shakespeare in the Park, a beloved NYC summer tradition that takes place at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This year, director Kenny Leon is bringing a fresh take to the Bard’s Hamlet at the iconic stage, creating an enthralling experience under the stars.
If you are looking to attend the show, tickets are available for free through the digital lottery on the TodayTix app for most public performances. To enter, visit the app before 8:00 pm on the day of the performance and follow instructions. Winners will be notified on how to retrieve their ticket. If you would like to reserve your seat in advance, become a Supporter Plus with a donation of $300 or more.
Seeing the play under the stars in the beautiful setting of Utah’s Sundance Mountain resort is an experience that you won’t forget. The story of a princess from the cinders who finds her prince in the most unexpected way is sure to captivate audiences of all ages, and there are few experiences that can compare to enjoying theatrical magic outdoors under the stars.
4. The Sense of Community
Shakespeare in the Park is more than just a theatrical event. It inspires communities to connect with one another and celebrate the magic of art in the outdoors. It also challenges theater companies to make theatre accessible and engaging for all. The nature of outdoor theatre allows actors to engage with audience members and build strong relationships that transcend the stage. It is this connection that draws actors to this type of work.
In the beginning, Shakespeare in the Arb struggled. The first weekend performances drew only two hundred people, but the second week was more successful and it became clear that there was a demand for this type of outdoor entertainment. It was at this point that Matthaei-Nichols staff introduced some of the now vital resources for Shakespeare in the Arb including a golf cart, a cash register and bathrooms.
It is the nature of outdoor theatre that allows audiences to experience the joys and hardships of life as if they were part of the story. This is a big reason why so many people love to attend these performances.
This summer, enjoy the mesmerizing performance of Hamlet at NYC’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park. You can reach this iconic theater easily by entering the park at 81st Street and Central Park West. The line for the show is free, but you may be required to present proof of age or a disability in order to gain entry.