Shakespeare in the Park: It’s Free

One of my most favorite experiences in New York City was when my brother and I went to a Shakespeare in the Park production of “Pirates of Penzance.” We packed a picnic lunch and headed to Central Park to stake out our spot in line for our free tickets. Yes, free. It’s stunning to think of it. Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt played the leads. Yes, yes, this was eons ago, but the thing is, Shakespeare in the Park is still free. The process for getting tickets is streamlined it seems, but it still takes a bit of work and planning ahead.

Here’s how to get them. Even though the Delcorte Theater starts passing out tickets at 1 p.m. on the day of the show and the Public Theater passes them out between 1 and 3 p.m. I’d get there earlier than that. That’s what we did when we brought our picnic. We went about 11:00. [The photo of the line posted on Flickr by petitsoeur on July 5 says underneath it “even the early birds don’t score a ticket. . .”] Maybe these days you need to get there even earlier. The crowd can be interesting so waiting around can be an experience on its own. The Shakespeare in the Park folks monitor the lines starting at 10 a.m.

The good thing is, since the tickets are given out only on the day of the show, this is an equal opportunity venture. No one gets to call ahead or have someone save them a spot. Also, each person can only get two tickets so no one can hoard. I like that.

If you’re planning on being in New York City anytime between August 7 and September 9, put this on your to do list. This is when the next play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being performed.