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Free outdoor theater this summer in New York

Can’t get into Shakespeare in the Park? Here’s a complete guide to other free outdoor theater you can find in New York.

Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park)
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park)
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Public spaces come alive with free outdoor theater in New York City in the summer, and especially with the plays of William Shakespeare. The top destination, of course, is the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, where the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park presents excellent productions that among New York's best things to do in the summer. But you can also enjoy plays by Shakespeare and other classical masters elsewhere in the city: in Brooklyn, at Bryant Park, even at a parking lot in the Lower East Side. You might be surprised by the magic that can come from wonderful words, inventive actors and a mild summer breeze.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do outside in NYC

Free outdoor theater in NYC

Hamlet: Princess of Denmark
Photograph: Courtesy the Drilling Company
Theater, Shakespeare

Hamlet: Princess of Denmark

icon-location-pin Bryant Park, Midtown West
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The Drilling Company begins its sixth season at Bryant Park with a gender-shifted accoount of Shakespeare's wordy tragedy, where a ghost and a prince meet and everyone ends in mincemeat. Karla Hendrick directs a cast led by Jane Bradley as the mopey Dane.

The cast of Much Ado About Nothing in rehearsal
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing

icon-location-pin Delacorte Theater, Central Park
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Kenny Leon directs an African-American cast in Shakespeare in the Park's first 2019 offering: a modern-dress account of the Bard's tart-tongued rom-com about two too-witty longtime enemies whose friends plot to get them together. Grantham Coleman and Danielle Brooks portray the squabbling main couple;.

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Jed Peterson (Gwendolen) and Kristen Calgaro (Jack) in New York Classical Theatre's reversed-gender The Importance of Being Earnest
Photograph: Courtesy Jody Christopherson
Theater, Comedy

The Importance of Being Earnest: Two Ways

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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New York Classical Theatre mounts a free alfresco production of Oscar Wilde's dazzlingly epigrammatic upper-class farce, directed by Stephen Burdman. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the production features conventional casting; on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the entire cast switches roles to play characters of the other gender.

Ian M. McDonald
Photograph: Courtesy Dena Rae Civello
Theater, Shakespeare

Hamlet: Viking Prince of Denmark

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Black Henna Productions, in association with Theatre Beyond Broadway, moves among several NYC parks with a 90-minute adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy about revenge and procrastination. This version, which stars Ian McDonald in the title role, emphasizes the story's Viking roots by moving the action back 500 years to the 10th century. 

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Antony and Cleopatra (Hudson Warehouse)
Photograph: Courtesy Hudson Warehouse
Theater, Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra

icon-location-pin Riverside Park, Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, Upper West Side
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Hudson Warehouse begins its 2019 summer season at Riverside Park with a new account of Shakespeare's intercultural romantic tragedy, featuring Ben Farmer and Emily Sarah Cohn in the title roles. George K. Wells directs a production that merges modern and ancient elements.

Noah Anderson and Katie Willmorth in Romeo and Juliet
Photograph: Courtesy Chris Montgomery
Theater, Shakespeare

Romeo & Juliet

icon-location-pin Carroll Park, Carroll Gardens
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In its 10th year of free theater in Carroll Park, Smith Street Stage presents Shakespeare's family-feud tragedy, in which rebellious teens have sex and score drugs from a local priest. Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy directs this modern-dress account.

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Shakespeare in the Park
Photograph: Courtesy Michal Daniel
Theater, Shakespeare

Coriolanus

icon-location-pin Delacorte Theater, Central Park
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The second play in Shakespeare in the Park's 2019 season is this rarely performed tragedy, in which the hoi polloi of Rome turn against an arrogant war hero (and lifelong mama's boy) when he refuses to show off his scars. The reliably insightful Daniel Sullivan directs the production; casting has not yet been announced. 

The Rover
Photograph: Courtesy Neal Bennington
Theater, Shakespeare

Mere Flesh and Blood

icon-location-pin Prospect Park Music Pagoda, Prospect Park
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Torn Out Theater, colloquially known as Naked Shakespeare in the Park, specializes in nude productions of the classics, presented in the open air and free of charge. This summer it returns to Prospect Park with a collection of scenes from its previous three shows—HamletThe Tempest and The Rover—as well as selections from other works.

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Bryant Park Picnic Performance Shakespeare
Photograph: Courtesy Andrew Fassbender
Theater, Shakespeare

Othello

icon-location-pin Bryant Park, Midtown West
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The Drilling Company wraps up its 2019 Bryant Park season with an account of the Bard's fast-paced tragedy of jealousy and misplaced trust, in which a villain preys on the insecurities of a Moorish war hero married to a white woman. 

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