The latest casualty of the isolation crisis is one of New York City's most cherished cultural traditions: the Public Theater's free annual festival Shakespeare in the Park, held at the beautiful open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
Richard II had been scheduled to run from May 19 through June 21, followed by a musical adaptation of As You Like It from July 14 through August 8. Both have been canceled. In addition to Shakespeare in the Park, the Public is suspending the remainder of its previously planned productions at its flagship location in the East Village, including all shows at Joe's Pub, though August 31.
"Every summer for the last 58 years we have reveled in gathering under the stars at the magical Delacorte Theater for Free Shakespeare in the Park," said the Public in a statement. "We come together as strangers, visitors and fellow New Yorkers, as audiences and artists, and we get a glimpse of what a unified city could look like. But this year is different. This year, we must stand together in keeping our city and each other safe."
To stay connected with audiences at home, the Public continues to offer a variety of home-friendly material on its website, including filmed versions of all three plays in Richard Nelson's cycle The Gabriels, texts and games for audiences to act out at home, workshops with resident playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and archived concerts from Joe's Pub, such as Salty Brine's excellent These Are the Contents of My Head. A filmed version of last year's Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing is available through PBS's Great Performances.
A virtual version of the Public's gala on June 1 is in the works. To stay afloat, the company is furloughing 70% of its full-time staff, and its senior leadership is taking major pay cuts. If you have the resources to help, you can make a donation to the Public here.
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