14 Free Shakespeare Plays in New York City This Summer
While the posh set flees to the Hamptons, one of the great pleasures of staying in New York City during the dog days is all the great free Shakespeare. Here are 14 productions you'll want to see as you sweat out the summer months:
1. The Taming of the Shrew – Shakespeare in the Park (through June 26)
The most professional of the free summer offerings, this year's Shakespeare in the Park features Janet McTeer and Cush Jumbo in Phyllida Lloyd's all-female production of the Bard's popular makeover comedy. In the last several seasons, Lloyd has helmed acclaimed all-female productions of Henry IV and Julius Caesar.
2. Much Ado About Nothing – Hudson Warehouse (through June 26)
Shakespeare's great battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy returns to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park (it was last presented there in 2008) under the direction of Hudson Warehouse founder Nicholas Martin-Smith.
3. The Two Gentlemen of Verona – Inwood Shakespeare Festival (June 8-25)
Moose Hall Theatre Company takes on Shakespeare's early comedy of cross-dressing and intrigue. It's worth the trek to northern Manhattan as this may very well be your last chance to see the company perform on the peninsula at Inwood Hill Park: After this season, it goes on hiatus to raise funds for a permanent venue.
4. The Tempest – Smith Street Stage (June 8-26)
Smith Street Stage brings magic and mystery to Brookyln's Carroll Park with this play about the exiled Duke of Milan (played here by an actress) and daughter, Miranda.
5. A Midsummer Night's Dream – New York Classical Theatre (through July 17)
New York's "runaround Shakespeare" company presents this summertime favorite in its uniquely panoramic style. If you miss the June run at the company's usual spot (the 103rd Street pool in Central Park), catch the production when it tours to Battery Park City, Prospect Park, and Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side in July.
6. Lysistrata: Let's Make America Great Again – Hudson Warehouse (June 30-July 24)
All right, so this adaptation of Aristophanes' classic isn't Shakespeare, but the subtitle was too enticing to ignore. Hudson Warehouse presents sweaty politics in Athens on the eve of the (probably equally dramatic) political conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia.
7. Midsummer Night's Dream – Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (July 7-24)
Tired of the bucolic trappings of Shakespeare in the Park? Try Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, which starts its season with a presentation of the Bard's popular summertime romp in the parking lot behind the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center on Manhattan's Lower East Side. No car required.
8. The Winter's Tale – New York Classical Theatre (July 18-August 14)
Audiences are invited to Sicily and Bohemia in this panoramic production, set to play the Battery and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
9. Troilus & Cressida – Shakespeare in the Park (July 19-August 14)
Shakespeare in the Park visionary Daniel Sullivan directs Shakespeare's rarely produced tragedy, set in the waning days of the Trojan War.
10. As You Like It – Shakespeare in Bryant Park (July 21-23)
This steampunk variation on the Bard's comedy of love and mistaken identity played Shakespeare in the Parking Lot last season. Featuring original music by Natalie Smith, the production has now found a new Forest of Arden: Bryant Park.
11. As You Like It & Julius Caesar – Hip to Hip Theatre Company (July 27-August 28)
The Woodside-based Hip to Hip Theatre Company is definitely the most well-traveled of the outdoor Shakespeare troupes in New York City: The wandering players plan to visit 13 venues with their repertory productions of As You Like It and Julius Caesar. That includes stops in four boroughs, Jersey City, and the Hamptons.
12. Othello – Hudson Warehouse (July 28-August 21)
Hudson Warehouse rounds out the summer with this tragedy of jealousy and racial animosity in Venetian Cyprus.
13. The Merchant of Venice – Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (July 28-August 14)
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is using this season to spotlight powerful women in Shakespeare's plays. "Watch what we do with the characters of Portia and Jessica," the company teases on its website. This drama of debt, justice, and "the quality of mercy" certainly offers fertile ground for bold directorial choices.
14. Measure for Measure – Shakespeare in Bryant Park (September 1-18)
The Drilling Company closes out the summer (which officially ends September 21) with Shakespeare's famously problematic play about strict morality and abuse of power in Vienna.