One favorite summertime tradition is forging ahead despite the current COVID climate: Cincinnati's annual Shakespeare in the Park theater series will be visiting a handful of area parks to bring the Bard's classics to the public for free.
They're also adding a few new twists this year, with a cool interpretation of a drive-in theater experience at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and a few livestream and radio play options.
The most novel of this year's performances will definitely be the two shows at the Cincinnati Museum Center. They will take place in the CMC parking lot at 1301 Western Ave. in Queensgate. The first show 7-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21 will be A Midsummer Night's Dream; the second, from 7-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4, will be Macbeth.
"We will set up the show at the base of the fountain and then cars will be parked along the center and sides down the parking lot. We will transmit the audio through a radio station that people can listen to in their cars — just like a normal drive-in," says Jeanna Vella, director of marketing for Cincy Shakes, in an email. "It is the first time the Museum Center and Cincinnati Shakespeare have tried this but we are excited to get creative and give it a shot!"
Guests have to remain in their car during the performance and no public restrooms will be available.
The theater troop will continue with its regularly scheduled Shakespeare in the Park series, with the first show slated to take place Friday, Aug. 14 in Erlanger.
The COVID safety precautions will be up to each individual park venue, but guests should come prepared to social distance and with masks in hand.
"Every venue has different details but, right now, there are no tickets or advance reservations required," says Vella. "For example, Washington Park is saying that once all of their circles (the park currently has six-foot social distancing circle marked on the lawn) are filled up, the event is at capacity — but there is no way to reserve in advance."
"We are encouraging people to spread out and wear masks especially when moving around," she adds. "We are performing all shows without an intermission to also cut down at people movement. And we have streamed and radio versions of the shows for those who are not comfortable or able to come to an outdoor or drive-in performance."
As far as actual productions go, you won't have to suspend your disbelief too much when it comes to watching Romeo and Juliet exchange their sweet sins: performers will be in costume, without face masks.
"Our actors all live together as their own family or pod so they do not need to wear masks when they are performing, including intimate scenes," says Vella. "We do daily health checks and require frequent cleanings and safety standards anytime they are outside of their pod."
Here's the current Shakespeare in the Park schedule. Check cincyshakes.com for the most up-to-date information.
Live Park Performances (check COVID rules with each park before attending)
7-8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 — A Midsummer Night's Dream at Flagship Park, 1 Flagship Drive, Erlanger.
7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15 — A Midsummer Night's Dream at Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine.
7-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 — A Midsummer Night's Dream at Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine.
7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22 — A Midsummer Night's Dream at Bicentennial Park, Mulberry and Cherry Streets, Lebanon.
7-8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28 — Romeo and Juliet at Flagship Park, 1 Flagship Drive, Erlanger.
7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 — Romeo and Juliet at Montgomery Arts Commission, 10105 Montgomery Road, Montgomery.
Streaming and Radio Shows with No Audiences
7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25 — Romeo and Juliet live streamed performance from City of Fairfield Parks & Recreation with NO AUDIENCE. Watch at facebook.com.
7-8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30 — A Midsummer Night’s Dream on WXVU/WMUB 91.7.