July 06, 2010

Shakespeare in the Park

One of the Summer in New York things I have always wanted to do, but have never been able to, is to see a performance of the Shakespeare in the Park series. Last year’s headliner was Anne Hathaway in Twelfth Night, a performance my friends and I unsuccessfully attempted to see. Our attempt was well-planned, too; we knew we would have to camp out early for the free tickets to the evening show, so we arrived at the Central Park ticket booth around 8am on a weekday. As we approached the shuttered booth and didn’t see anyone nearby, we laughed at ourselves for our excessive punctuality – oh, what fools we were. Upon further exploration we found the actual start of the line, which was littered with people in sleeping bags and tents. 10+ snaking Park blocks later, we found the end of the line and waited an hour or so, only to be turned away for lack of tickets. All was not lost that day last summer, however; my friends and I spent a lovely day exploring the Cloisters and getting pizza in Brooklyn (was that a year ago already?!).

Moral of the story: get there even earlier than 8am if you want to see a Shakespeare in the Park show. And, in New York, celebs + culture + free = impossible to get into. The tradition of Shakespeare in the Park is, of course, a double edged sword: the fact that the shows are free is great in that it opens the conversation (in theory) to anyone and everyone; in practice, however, only the most committed and die-hard fans/ people who have whole days to spend waiting in line can actually participate.

Point being: I do not want this to happen again this summer. The Winter’s Tale and The Merchant of Venice (starring Al Pacino!) are onstage until the end of July, so I only have a few weeks left to right the wrongs of summers past. In the WSJ this past weekend, a review appeared entitled “Knocking Shakespeare Out of the Park.” If I (and millions of other New Yorkers) hadn’t already been interested in the performance, this review certainly would have wooed me. The reviewer writes, “Not only is this the best Merchant of Venice I've ever reviewed, but it's one of the finest Shakespeare productions I've ever seen, period.” Wow.

Stay tuned to find out if I actually get to see Pacino as Shylock.

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