In New York City the Public Theater has just concluded its annual performances of Shakespeare in the Park. This year’s productions at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park were All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. Lots of attention is paid to these annual summer offerings, which have recently featured noteworthy stars such as Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Kevin Kline, Anne Hathaway and Al Pacino.
The notion of presenting Shakespeare’s plays outdoors no doubt stems from his original venue, London’s Globe Theatre, which was partially open to the elements. While the Public (which began its life a half-century ago as the New York Shakespeare Festival) is the best known proponent of this mode of presentation you can find free outdoor public performances of Shakespeare’s plays everywhere from Australia and Canada to New Zealand and Singapore. And right here in Cincinnati, too.
Thanks to our own Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, productions of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be coming to area parks during August and September. The latter play is a particular favorite since its setting is in a magical forest around Athens where lots of tomfoolery and mischief occurs, so it feels quite natural to watch it surrounded by trees and wildlife. It’s also fun to watch the actors make use of what’s available in a particular park pavilion or other settings. (Midsummer Night’s Dream will be presented at Fountain Square on Aug. 21 at 4 p.m., which should be fascinating, given the surroundings.)
CSC’s productions feature six versatile actors, members of the company’s acting ensemble, who play two or three roles in each production. After the schedule of the park presentations concludes in late September, Julius Caesar and Midsummer Night’s Dream will continue traveling, but then to local schools, community centers and other performing arts locations during the year.
CSC partners with Cincinnati Parks and Recreation to present performances at Eden Park and Burnett Woods. A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens at Seasongood Pavilion on Aug. 12 (7 p.m.), and the same venue will host Julius Caesar on Sept. 2. Midsummer will be offered at Burnet Woods on Aug. 26. In all, 14 performances have been scheduled for these locations as well as parks in Madeira, Colerain, Glendale and Monroe, and in the Kentucky cities of Burlington, Edgewood and Bellevue. (Info: cincyshakes.com/shakespeare-in-the-park.html)
If you prefer your Shakespeare indoors, you might want to attend an HD presentation of a production of one of Shakespeare’s history plays, filmed a year ago at London’s Globe Theatre. Henry IV, Part I was screened earlier this week, but you can still catch Henry IV, Part II on Aug. 18 at Showcase Cinemas at Deerfield, Springdale or Western Hills. On Sept. 15, you can see the rarely produced Henry VIII. Info: fathomevents.com. Coincidentally, CSC will produce Henry VIII early in 2012, as well as opening its season on Sept. 9 with Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, about Sir Thomas More’s conflict with the same ebullient, powerful and willful Henry.
Shakespeare and summer: It’s a fine place to park.
CONTACT RICK PENDER: [email protected]