Free things to do in NYC: Theater

Find free theater shows in New York City.

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Shakespeare in the Park

  • Free

8pm. Delacorte Theater, Central Park at 81st St. As it did last summer, the Public Theatre is running two plays in repertory at the Delacorte. The grown-up fairy tale All’s Well That Ends Well, which follows resourceful Helena’s gambit to win the heart of snooty Count Bertram, is probably more kid-appropriate than Measure for Measure, which might be too raunchy and Machiavellian for children weaned on Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Ages 10 and up.

  1. Central Park, at 81st St
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Sun Aug 17
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Broadway in Bryant Park 2014

  • Free

The July 24 edition includes scheduled performances by the casts of Phantom of the Opera, Piece of My Heart, Cinderella, Avenue Q and Bullets Over Broadway.

  1. Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Thu Jul 24
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Broadway in Bryant Park 2014

  • Free

The July 31 edition includes scheduled performances by the casts of Rock of Ages, Once, Holler If Ya Hear Me and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.

  1. Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Thu Jul 31
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Broadway in Bryant Park 2014

  • Free

The August 7 edition includes scheduled performances by the casts of Jersey Boys, Heathers and 50 Shades! The Musical.

  1. Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Thu Aug 7
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Broadway in Bryant Park 2014

  • Free

The August 14 edition includes scheduled performances by the casts of Matilda, On The Town, Mamma Mia! and Motown—The Musical.

  1. Sixth Ave, between 40th and 42nd Sts
  2. Thu Aug 14
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Free seat of the day: Wallace Shawn

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Like us, you're waiting impatiently for some brave producer to bring Wallace Shawn's latest play, Grasses of a Thousand Colors, to New York. Until that happens, this event wlll have to suffice (plus the New Group's revival of Marie and Bruce in the spring). is tonight at 7pm at the Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. Seats are free, but they'll go fast. Among those reading will be Bob Balaban, Peter Carey, Deborah Eisenberg, Josh Hamilton, Sakina Jaffrey, Fran Lebowitz, Emily McDonnell, Julianne Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Wallace Shawn, Mark Strand and Frank Whaley. This event is sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center for the Humanities, Haymarket Books and Theatre Communications Group.

The author's voice: John Guare at the CUNY Graduate Center

  • Free

Critics were quite divided over John Guare's latest play (and his first new show on Broadway in 18 years), A Free Man of Color. We'd heard grumblings in advance that early previews were running way too long, that the play was a mess, that the reason the Public Theater passed on it in 2008 was due to script trouble. (Sounds like a highbrow Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, no?) We don't know much about the backstage drama in the creation of this ambitious, large-canvas period piece (ravishingly directed by George C. Wolfe), but when we reviewed it a few weeks ago, we were perplexed but impressed. Now comes word that this Monday at 6:30pm, Guare will be appearing at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, in the CUNY Gradute Center (at 34th St and Fifth Ave). Guare will discuss the Lincoln Center Theater production with author and professor David Savran. We know Guare to be a witty, candid and fulsomely erudite fellow, so this (free!) event is well worth catching.

Free things to do today: Baked goods, theater readings and Japanese film

  • Free

ComedyBuns and PunsHost Jonathan Powley loves baking and comedy, which is why he feeds audience members homemade buns in between his guests' stand-up sets. The free Jell-O shots, however, probably have more to do with masochism than love. TheaterBarn Reading SeriesThis 11th annual reading series from the good folks at LAByrinth Theater Company includes new work from Adam Bock, Bob Glaudini, Israel Horvitz and Daniel Harnett. FilmAge of AssassinsSuperspy shenanigans have rarely seemed so silly as in this pulpy thriller featuring sought-after diamonds, ex-Nazi creeps and J-cinema superstar Tatsuya Nakadai mugging it up while on the lam from goons. See all free things to do today See more than 300 free things to do in NYC

Ohio Theatre looks backward and forward at the Segal Center this Wednesday

  • Critics choice
  • Free

I have a history with the Ohio Theatre, formerly of 66 Wooster Steet—not just as a critic who has seen dozens of productions there over the past decade. In a previous life, I was a "downtown" actor, appearing in a succession of experimental (read: bat-shit insane) plays by various auteurs and oddballs. One hot summer, at the Ohio Theatre's Ice Factory festival, I was in Rich White Farmers, a piece devised and directed by Robert Cucuzza. The script was built from found text—a panel discussion that Harper's Magazine had convened with a bunch of Republican strategiests after the momentous 1994 midterm elections. Audiences liked watching a bunch of guys in suits freak out around a table, going into dance breaks, pulling faces and making silly random noises—basically being absurdist cutups. I loved performing in the spacious, welcoming Ohio, full of possibility and in a perpetual state of seeming unfinished. And even if there was no air-conditioning, and we sweated through our cheap suits and fought hard not to wipe rivers of perspiration from our eyes, it was a great time and the best company to have. This unsolicited stroll down memory lane was prompted by news that tomorrow night at 6:30, there will be a panel discussion at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center (at the CUNY Graduate Center, Fifth Ave and 35th St) about the Ohio's 29-year history of developing and presenting experimental work. On the panel will be first, Ohio's guiding spirit, Robert Lyons, and Tim Maner (Tiny

Provincetown Playhouse open house on Saturday

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Tomorrow from noon to 5pm, the reopened Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal St between 3rd and 4th Sts) will have an open house with live piano music and tours of the 88-seat venue. The Playhouse is a landmark site in American theater history, where Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell and others presented cutting-edge work as part of the "new stagecraft" movement (roughly 1915 to 1925). In later decades, the Playhouse would be home to Edward Albee's The Zoo Story (1960) and Charles Busch's Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (1985). Highlights of the renovation include preservation of the Provincetown volume, footprint, and brick structural walls; restoration of the facade to a 1940s look with original signage and cast-stone occuli; and preservation of seat row end pieces. A new lobby exhibition on the history of the Playhouse and its Greenwich Village neighborhood will also be unveiled. The news sent us to our copy of The American Stage (included in our holiday-book lineup) and we found an interesting essay from Djuna Barnes in 1929. Barnes briefly acted with the Provincetown Players in her early bohemian days, and wrote a number of one-act plays. In this essay, "The Days of Jig Cook," she recalls those fervent years. "The world has grown a little older, the fat man even fatter, the local sponge has died, at a ripe old age at that, since the Provincetown Players used to write and act their own plays in their Greenwich Village stable; the girls who used to fight to get into the Prov

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