All the world’s a stage: Five places to see Shakespeare in the open air

This summer, catch an al fresco production of a Shakespeare play.

Twelfth Night, presented by Shakespeare in Clark Park, features gender-blind casting and an open-air performance. (Credit: Hannah Van Sciver)

Twelfth Night, presented by Shakespeare in Clark Park, features gender-blind casting and an open-air performance. (Credit: Hannah Van Sciver)

In Shakespeare’s day, his plays were performed at the Globe Theatre, an open-air, polygonal amphitheater in London, so it seems appropriate to restage some of the playwright’s most famous works al fresco. Throughout July and August, some of the area’s parks, castles, and, yes, a cemetery, become the boundless stages for productions of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” and other plays.

Shakespeare in Clark Park: “Twelfth Night”
Wednesday, July 25 through Sunday, July 29, 7 p.m.
“The Bowl” area of Clark Park, near the intersection of Chester Avenue and 43rd Street

Since 2005, Shakespeare in Clark Park has reimagined The Bard’s biggest works with innovative interpretations that use the park as a major player. The company, too, is committed to bringing culture to the city without a hefty price tag, so all performances are free. This year, Shakespeare in Clark Park presents a glam-rock staging of “Twelfth Night.” It’s already a gender-bending classic, in which separated twin Viola disguises herself as a man and finds herself entangled in a love triangle. In this production, there’s another twist — casting is gender-blind.

Shakespeare in the Cemetery: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Friday, July 20; Saturday, July 21; Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28; 7 p.m.
Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Ave.
Tickets: $20, $17 for members

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Set in the forest and featuring four intertwining plots, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, complete with fairies, a wedding, and actors playing actors. Local group The Mechanical Theater, which specializes in theater in historic locations, puts on this performance, which is BYO blankets, chairs, snacks, and beverages.

ShakesBEER in Pretzel Park: “Romeo and Juliet,” “Much Ado About Nothing”
Saturday, July 28; Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25; 7 p.m.
Pretzel Park, 4300 Silverwood St.

Head out to Manayunk where Manayunk Theatre Company will perform staged readings of various Shakespeare plays throughout the summer. Next up is the tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” followed by the comedy where marriage actually works out, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Bringing beer and snacks is more than encouraged.

Shakespeare at the Castle: “Romeo and Juliet”
Friday, Aug. 3 and Saturday, Aug. 4; 7 p.m.
Fonthill Castle, East Court Street and Route 313, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Tickets: $10-$18

An actual castle is the set of The Actors’ Net of Bucks County’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Famously depressing and full of quotable lines — “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” — the play will be performed in the open air, with the castle as backdrop, so bring your blankets and chairs.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: “The Servant of Two Masters”
Through Sunday, July 29, 4:30 p.m. (Sundays only) and 8:30 p.m.
College of St. Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road, Morristown, New Jersey
Tickets: $38

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the state’s only professional theater dedicated to works of the time, is staging an outdoor, translated production of Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters.” While not a Shakespeare play, it’s certainly a plot with Shakespearean qualities. (Goldoni lived about a century after Shakespeare.) The play centers on a servant who confusedly toggles back and forth while working with two masters.

This article is part of a new effort recommending things to do in the Philly region. Tell us what you think.</a

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal