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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

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 Carl Schurz Park, Upper East Side
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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.

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.

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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.

The Three Musketeers (Husdon Warehouse)
Photograph: Courtesy Susane Lee
Theater, Drama

The Man in the Iron Mask

icon-location-pin Riverside Park, Upper West Side
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Hudson Warehouse presents Alexandre Dumas's tale of a French prisoner whose identity was concealed for decades. Adapted by Susane Lee and directed by Nicholas Martin-Smith, the play is the third installment of the D'Artagnan Romances, a four-year project that has already presented two pieces about the Three Musketeers and is slated to include a future production of The Count of Monte Cristo.

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Jason C. Brown in The Bacchae (Classical Theatre of Harlem)
Photograph: Courtesy Classical Theatre of Harlem
Theater, Classical

The Bacchae

icon-location-pin Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem
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A proud Theban king goes to pieces after snubbing the Greek god Dionysus and his pack of wild women in Bryan Doerries's adaptation of Euripides' ripping tragedy. Carl Cofield directs Classical Theatre of Harlem's free alfresco production at Marcus Garvey Park, starring Jason C. Brown as the vengeful diety and featuring choreography by Elisa Monte Dance's Tiffany Rea-Fisher. 

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's As You Like It (2015)
Photograph: Courtesy Lee Wexler
Theater, Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet

icon-location-pin Parking lot behind the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, Lower East Side
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The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot returns for a 25th season of classical theater on the Lower East Side. Lukas Raphael directs the Bard's cautionary tale of ardent young lovers ground up in the gears of a family feud. 

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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; the cast includes Jonathan Cake, Kate Burton, Louis Cancelmi, Jonathan Hadary, Teagle F. Bougere, Amelia Workman and Enid Graham.

Hudson Warehouse
Photograph: Courtety Susanne Lee
Theater, Shakespeare

The Merry Wives of Windsor

icon-location-pin Riverside Park, Upper West Side
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Hudson Warehouse wraps up its 2019 season with an outdoor production of Shakespeare's minor farce, which plucks Falstaff from the Henry IV plays and plunks him down in a ribald comedy. Director Nicholas Martin-Smith updates the setting to a Borscht Belt resort hotel in the 1960s. 

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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.

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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