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La Tortue Noire: Le Grand Oeuvre (The Great Work)
Photograph: Courtesy International Puppet Fringe FestivalLa Tortue Noire: Le Grand Oeuvre (The Great Work)

The best summer theater festivals in NYC

Sample a smorgasbord of new works at NYMF, Ice Factory and New York City's many other summer theater festivals

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
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It's festival time! Broadway takes an annual summer vacation after the rush of the Tony Awards, with only a trickle of new shows until the fall, and most major Off Broadway companies catch their breaths for a few weeks, too. But theater abhors a vacuum, so festivals rush to fill it with less expensive offerings. Some are rigorously curated, like the New York Musical Festival and Ice Factory; others are aimed more at beginners. Take some time to look through their offerings; somewhere among these dozens of shows, there's bound to be something just right for you.

Summer Theater Festivals in New York City

  • Theater
  • Shakespeare
  • price 2 of 4

The perverse Brick boldly mounts an indoor summer Shakespeare festival, featuring eight productions in rep. Selections include riffs on Coriolanus, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Hamlet, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream, plus a comedic three-play sampler called A Taste of Shakespeare.

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 1 of 4

The Tank devotes two of its theaters to stagings and readings of new work by women. The centerpiece is Alexis Roblan's Red Emma & The Mad Monk, in which a politically active 12-year-old girl gets turned on the legacy of anarchist rabble-rouser Emma Goldman; Katie Lindsay directs the official premiere of the play, which was featured in last year's ANT Fest.

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  • Theater
  • Experimental
  • price 1 of 4

The Syndicate, a theater ensemble devoted to presenting work by women and LGBTQ artists, mounts a minifestival in three parts: Bluets (Aug 25–29) stars Ellenor Riley-Condit in a solo play adapted from a book by Maggie Nelson; the First Read series hosts workshops and readings of works by queer and trans artists; and the Syndicate's collectively devised Tiny Errors at the End of the Millennium (Sept 13–16) examines end-of-the-20th-century anxiety.  

  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 1 of 4

The ninth edition of TNC's diverse fest, curated by literary manager Michael Scott-Price, features 27 works, nearly all of them local or world premieres. Selections include the darkly comedic musical The Wrong Box, the solo docudrama Arizona Justice and new versions of August Strindberg's Creditors and Henrik Iben's Hedda Gabler.

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