New York’s Shakespeare in the Park plans to return for the summer of 2021

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The New York Public Theater announced that it plans to bring back Shakespeare in the Park, the hugely popular free theater program at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater plans to produce Wives, directed by Saheem Ali, from July 5th to August 29th. Delacorte is an open-air theater and, given the rise in vaccinations, the theater company believes it is possible to return. This is welcome news for theater buffs as Broadway is unlikely to open until after Labor Day.

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Shakespeare in the Park began as a Shakespeare Festival in 1954 and moved to Delacorte in 1961. The free tickets are distributed to a queue in Central Park, either waiting at dawn (a tradition almost as famous as the production itself) or through online and personal lotteries. Typically, the Public Theater stages two Shakespeare productions each summer and often uses the bard’s timeless works to address current political and social issues. There will be only one production this year, an adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor by Jocelyn Bioh set in a community of West African immigrants. Although the cast was not disclosed, celebrities often attend Shakespeare in the Park, including Natalie Portman, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, and Anne Hathaway.

More details, like theater capacity and ticket sales logs, will be announced in the near future. However, this is a positive step towards “the way it used to be” and a much needed morale boost. Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater, wrote in a letter to the company when it closed last year: “In more normal times, the heart of what we do is bringing a group of strangers together … telling them stories that they own make you feel less alone, less isolated, and more part of a larger community. This is our mission. “

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