The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Amphitheater may be the most famous theater one can find in Central Park, but it is not the only theater company taking advantage of the city’s best free stage. Two other companies will be performing this weekend, both also free. And for these shows, you don’t even need to book tickets — just show up!
First up are the Spontaneous Shakespeare Players, who will be performing Hamlet at Summit Rock, located near the 86th Street park entrance at Central Park West. The SSP theater company is known for performing as closely to the way in which Shakespeare plays were performed in the Elizabethan Age, for those who like an authentic Shakespearean experience. Catch them at 12pm on Saturday, June 22nd, or 3pm on Sunday, June 23rd.
If Shakespeare isn’t your thing, why not see Chekhov’s The Seagull, which is being performed by The New York Classical Theatre company. Set against the backdrop of The Pool, this performance is “roving” — starting on one side of the mini-lake, and ending up on the other. It’s fun, and very much suitable for the ADD-inclined (ahem, yours truly), not only because it physically moves around, but because of the marvelous distractions of the other goings-on in the area.
At last weekend’s performance, across the lake by which the play is set, six children tumbled, giggled and rolled their way down the hill. Moments later a dog-walker cuts through a gap in the audience, and the action shifts to five rottweillers working in unison to carry a prized 5-foot-long stick (it was actually more like a log). By no means are these distractions so successful because of the quality of the show – the play itself is first-rate, as praised recently by The New York Times. Rather than take away from the performance, these distractions add a fun element to the experience (although the actors may not feel as enthused).
The Seagull will be played at 7pm on June 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Find it by entering the park at the 103rd Street entrance at Central Park West.