Free outdoor theater this summer in New York

Can’t get into Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater? Here’s a complete guide to the free theater you can find outdoors in New York City.



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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Photograph: Courtesy of the artist

Each summer the city’s parks and other public spaces come alive with outdoor theater, and especially with the works of William Shakespeare: sparkling comedies, devastating tragedies, sweeping history plays and enchanting romances. Of course, the biggest producer of free outdoor theater is the Public Theater at the Delacorte, where Shakespeare in the Park presents top-notch productions, including August’s King Lear.

RECOMMENDED: All Shakespeare in the Park stories

But maybe you don’t have all day to wait on line for a ticket to Shakespeare in the Park. No worries! With less of a time commitment, you can enjoy free theater outdoors—mostly works by the Bard, but also a few others—elsewhere in the city: in Washington Square Park, on Roosevelt Island, even at a municipal parking lot in the Lower East Side. So find a play you want to see, pack snacks and juice (or something stronger) and give it a shot. The productions aren’t as polished as those at the Public, but you may be surprised by the magic that can come of wonderful words, an enthusiastic troupe of actors and a mild summer breeze.

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