Each summer, people far and wide descend on Central Park for a showing of Shakespeare in the Park. The showings are insanely popular, not only because they are Broadway level performances of Shakespeare plays, but because they're free. If there is anything in the world that New Yorkers love, it is free things.
The whole idea of Shakespeare shows was started in 1954 by Joseph Papp, and it was known as the New York Shakespeare Festival. He started with Shakespeare workshops, and moved on to free productions held on the Lower East Side. The plays moved to a lawn in front of Turtle Pond in Central Park. Naturally, Robert Moses (former parks commissioner and namesake of 400,000 state parks, roadways, and playgrounds) demanded that a fee be charged for these productions to cover the cost of "grass erosion." They all went to court (politics, man), and Moses gave up and apparently said, "let's build the bastard a theater."
That theater became The Delacorte Theater, an open-air amphitheater located near the 81st Street entrance in Central Park. With a backdrop featuring Belvedere Castle and Turtle Pond, this is a beautiful place to see a show. The first show at the Delacorte was The Merchant of Venice, held back in 1962. Since its creation, the Delacorte has put on more than 100 plays and musicals. Stars like James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, and Anne Hathaway have starred in different productions.
Because The Public Theater relies on private donors, they are able to put on Shakespeare presentations completely for free. Free tickets to anything in New York City means that finding tickets can be a little bit of a challenge. So, how do you go about getting 1 of the 1,872 seats at the Delacorte? Shakespeare in the Park tickets are available in the following ways:
I was lucky enough to win two tickets to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was in this production when I was a high school freshman, so I was excited that it was a play I already knew and understood.
One of the cool things about Shakespeare in the Park is that productions start before sunset, and as the sun goes down and the lights come on, you get a really awesome view.
This year's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream runs until August 13th. If you get the chance to enter for tickets, I highly recommend checking it out. This play is extremely funny (way funnier than I remember it being in high school), and seeing free Shakespeare in the middle of Central Park is one of the cooler experiences I've had since taking on this list!