Shakespeare in the Park set to return to Central Park theater this summer

“Much Ado About Nothing” at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in 2019.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

A time-honored New York City tradition is returning this summer after taking a hiatus due to COVID-19.

Shakespeare in the Park will return to the Delacorte Theater, located in Central Park, starting July 5 and running through Aug. 29. The theater will host performances of an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor,” written by Jocelyn Bioh.

Bioh’s adaptation, called “Merry Wives,” is set in South Harlem among a community of West African immigrants, celebrating Black joy, vitality and laughter. The show will be directed by Associate Artistic Director and Resident Director Saheem Ali. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shakespeare in the Park cancelled its 2020 season. Performances of “Richard II” and a musical adaptation of the pastoral comedy “As You Like It” were slated for that season. In an effort to give New Yorkers a taste of Shakespeare in the Park amid the lockdowns, the Public Theater worked with WNYC to broadcast the performance of “Richard II” as a podcast for on-demand listening. The Public Theater also teamed up with PBS/Thirteen to rebroadcast the 2019 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“This became a New York icon, but it’s a New York icon not just because it’s a wonderful theater, not just because it’s free, but because it represents us and our ideals, a place for everybody. So, for this to be coming back is a great harbinger of better things to come in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I have to tell you for a lot of people there were many, many painful difficult realities last year but the absence of arts and culture, the sense that the thing that gave us the most hope and spirit was gone, that was in many ways one of the most painful realities. But I am happy to say the Bard is back in Central Park, and 2021 is going to be wonderful, and people will be able to come back and enjoy.”

Information regarding ticket info, performance schedules and COVID-19 guidelines are expected to be announced in the next several weeks. The performances will be held in partnership with New York City officials, health and safety experts, and theatrical unions.

For more information, visit publictheater.org.

Updated at 4:01 p.m.

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