IT recently enjoyed a glorious evening of scenery and greenery at the D.C. Shakespeare Theatre Company‘s annual Free for All in Rock Creek Park‘s Carter Barron Amphitheatre. The excellent production of Pericles, combined with the inherent pleasure of getting something for nothing, got us thinking about free outdoor Shakespeare and where else to find it. We did a little research and made some interesting discoveries.
Like most people, we were familiar with New York’s venerable Shakespeare in the Park. We were intrigued to learn, however, that the Public Theatre is not alone in presenting William’s works among the willows of Central Park. Other major cities where a first folio fix can be found for free include Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore and L.A.
This isn’t purely a bicoastal phenomenon, though. Skint Shakespeareans in the heartland have a host of options, from Kansas City and Lansing to Columbus and Cleveland. In fact, wittily named free Shakespeare festivals (Free Will in Louisville, Atlanta’s Shake at the Lake) are spread from New Haven to San Pedro and everywhere in between.
We must confess we were shocked (in a good way) to find so much free Billy available. We were more shocked (and in a not-so-good way) to learn how little there is in the rest of the English-speaking world. In all our searching, we located one Canadian troupe and a single Australian company providing professional al fresco Shakespeare for the masses. And in the Bard’s homeland? We couldn’t find any. To which we say: Get with it, Brits. If Texas can support two such companies, IT thinks you should be able to swing at least one.
- Nat Geo Expeditions