I am trying to win the lottery. This is folly. I do not usually have a right-place-right-time kind of aura. Okay, there was the time I played tennis with NPH, but other than that, no. Luckily this is not like Portia’s lottery. If I don’t win, I won’t be cast out of NYC. But if I win? I’ll be spending the evening with a guy named William in a horrible storm. One might even call it a Tempest.
Every summer The Public Theater stages one of Shakespeare’s plays in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. They call it (wait for it) Shakespeare in the Park.
What’s past is prologue. ~William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Shakespeare in the Park started in 1962 as a way to make Shakespeare, and theater in general, accessible to all. It’s f-r-e-e. Hence the lottery.
There are several ways to get tickets.
Option A: The Lazy Method. You enter online for a virtual drawing. Easy = everyone does it = you have to be very fortunate. We’ve already established this is not me. I refer you to paragraph one of this post.
Option B: The I-Have-All-Day Method. Line up at the theater; distribution is at noon until they run out of tickets. People begin lining up hours before. Sorry, William, I only do that for Bono.
Option C: The Bingo Method. This involves a trip to The Public Theater’s main location in Nolita. You drop a slip of paper into a canister and wait anxiously while names are plucked one by one. There are no set number of tickets available each day. This is where I wait now with my evening’s fate hanging in the balance.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. ~William Shakespeare, The Tempest
The theater interns (or possibly volunteers) begin with the obligatory spinning of the canister. A few dozen of us are milling about, hoping that the odds will ever be in our favor.
“It’s good karma to be happy for the winners,” one of the interns says as he calls the first name. “Richard Mayweather.”
Richard pops out of the crowd like Drew Carey has just called his name on The Price Is Right. The rest of us clap politely to bring forth positive vibes. One woman shouts, “Yay, Richard!” So we get into it. Each time a name is called we hoot and holler.
Then…my name is called! I’m so excited I nearly brake into a jog. I’m mentally preparing my acceptance speech, but the intern just hands me a voucher for two tickets as he moves onto the next name. (I would like to think that I broke my cycle of karmic near-misses, but as it turns out, everyone’s name was called today.)
Your tale, sir, would cure deafness. ~William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Over the years, Shakespeare in the Park has drawn big names to the stage: Meryl Streep in The Taming of the Shrew, Kevin Kline in Much Ado About Nothing (among others), Anne Hathaway in Twelfth Night, and John Lithgow as King Lear to name a few. Tonight, I’m seeing Sam Waterston as Prospero (formerly of Law & Order) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as the jester (Modern Family).
All this star power is exciting, but I find the theater itself the most enchanting aspect of Shakespeare in the Park. The Delacorte is a small — maybe a few hundred people — outdoor theater in Central Park. I love that I can feel the soft breeze and hear the leaves on nearby trees rustle. The sky isn’t completely dark when the show begins. Soon, though, the mosquitoes are buzzing around the stage footlights and we wonder how the actors can keep their concentration. When Ferdinand says, “Hark, there is a noise from above,” and a helicopter flies overhead, we can’t help but laugh. Even Ferdinand breaks character and chuckles.
There’s something about experiencing a Shakespeare play live, especially in this setting. You’re miraculously transported from an urban jungle and washed up on a small island after a terrible storm.
Have you seen any plays recently? Shakespeare?
Have a great weekend, everyone!