Monday, July 07, 2008

double, double, toil and trouble - free summer shakespeare

Last year I wrote about New York Classical Theatre’s free summer Shakespeare and their workshops for kids. Last night we went to see their performance of Macbeth at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, though we did not go for the workshop. I happen to think the Castle Clinton location is nicer than the space they use in Central Park – fewer mosquitos. As for the play itself, I thought it was nicely done. The chap of NY Classical’s performances is that instead of everyone sitting in one spot and watching the actors perform on a stage or lawn, the actors move through the park from scene to scene and the audience follows. Last night we were part of a fairly large audience and there was a lot of movement from place to place, so you had over a hundred people running from spot to spot to keep up with the actors. The kids loved it, but my wife thought the constant movement disrupted the continuity of some scenes. I brought a copy of the play with me, so it was easier for me to follow, and would advise the same if you choose to go. Our experience has been that If you want to catch the classic Public Theatre performance of Shakespeare in the Park, be prepared to give up half of your day waiting on line to get tickets, and get ready for a long night because those performance start at 8:00 and end late. I must admit that the few performances we have caught have been amazing, with a lot of spectacle to jazz things up. On the other hand, if you are willing to sit through a more plain vanilla Shakespeare while gaining the flexibility of being able to show up 10 minutes before the play starts and bring along your kids to expose them to some Shakespeare, these NY Classical park performances are a great opportunity to enjoy some free theatre. Performances start at 7:00 and Macbeth was done by about 8:45, so you will even make it home in time for a late ma’ariv.

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