Shakespeare in the Park is a theatrical event managed by The Public Theater. The Public Theater was firstly founded as the Shakespeare Workshop by the American director Joseph Papp in 1954. He was touring New York presenting a series of Shakespeare Workshops but he wanted to establish a theater in Central Park where to place some of Shakespeare`s plays for free. He started to raise funding to establish a venue near the Turtle Pond in Central Park. In 1962 the Delacorte Theater was officially founded and it became home to the annual festival Free Shakespeare in the Park. The first edition of the event was in 1962. The first presented production was The Merchant of Venice.
The idea behind the festival is to develop the American theater and to provide accessible theatrical experience to all New Yorkers. Free Shakespeare in the Park is the most visited theatrical event in NYC. The space in front of the Delacorte Theater is always crowded with people who wait to get their free tickets. One person can receive up to two tickets to a given performance.
Although the event is dedicated to the work of Shakespeare, some of the presented productions are written by other authors – The Seagull, Electra, Peer Gynt, Hair. People can often see some of the most famous actors on the stage of Delacorte.
Each summer New Yorkers can observe between one and three of Shakespeare`s works during the festival. Many plays from this theatrical event have gone on to Broadway. Here are some of the best productions:
Julius Caesar is a tragedy written by Shakespeare in the 16th century. It is based on true events from Roman History. The plot is about the conspiracy against Caeser which leads to his murder.
The production performed in 1987 on the stage of Delacorte was directed by Stuart Vaughan. Martin Sheen and Al Pacino played the roles of Brutus and Marc Antony. In 2017 the play was placed again. Its director was Oskar Eustis. Because of similarities between the actor who played Caeser and the American president Donald Trump, the production provoked a negative reaction.
Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare. It tells the story about the twins – Viola and Sebastian who are separated because of a shipwreck.
In 2009 Twelfth Night is one of the staged productions during the Free Shakespeare in the Park festival. Its director is Daniel Sullivan. The famous American actress Anne Hathaway plays the role of Viola.
Mother Courage and Her Children
It is a 20th-century play written by the famous German dramatist Bertolt Brecht. It is considered as the greatest anti-war drama production of all time. Brecht wrote it in resistance to the rise of Fascism and Nazism.
The plot is about the Thirty Years’ War in Europe during the 17th century. Mother Courage is a nickname of the canteen woman Anna Fierling who loses her three children in the war – the same war she is determined to make her money from. The play is staged during Shakespeare in the Park festival in 2006. Meryl Streep is in the role of Mother Courage.
Shakespeare in the Park is courtesy to The Delacorte Theater!