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Shakespeare in the Park alternatives: See the Bard’s work without the lines

Because not everyone has the time or energy to wait in line for free tickets.

Smith Street Stage puts on free or low-cost

Smith Street Stage puts on free or low-cost performances each summer. Photo Credit: Chris Montgomery

The highly popular Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park program returns next week with "Othello," but not everyone has the time or energy to wait in line in the morning to score free tickets.

Luckily, a number of enterprising troupes (usually full of young actors working in informal settings with limited production values) also perform Shakespeare and other classical theater. These options are free and performed outdoors around the city, and some do not require tickets or even reservations. Here are some alternatives to Shakespeare in the Park:

BRYANT PARK PICNICS: SHAKESPEARE

Catch the Drilling Company, which also does plays under Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, performing the bard's classics —"A Midsummer Night's Dream," (Fridays and Saturdays through June 2 at 7 p.m.), followed by “Twelfth Night” and "Macbeth" —  on the park's upper terrace, between 40th and 42nd streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues. bryantpark.org.

SMITH STREET STAGE

This Carroll Gardens-centric troupe that usually plays in Carroll Park for free presents "A Midsummer's Night Dream" this season, at Carroll Park from June 20 to July 21 and at the Actors Fund (tickets required) July 11-15. smithstreetstage.org

BOOMERANG THEATRE COMPANY

Directed by Sara Thigpen, "Twelfth Night" will play a limited outdoor engagement at the Lawn in Central Park (69th Street and Central Park West). With the park's green setting, props and costumes, the production may transport you into Shakespeare's world. June 15-July 16. boomerangtheatre.org

CLASSICAL THEATRE OF HARLEM

This company at the Harlem School for the Arts performs the classics (last season included "The Three Musketeers,") but also "future classics." This year, the company presented "Sancho: An Act of Remembrance" by Paterson Joseph, a timely story about an African man born on a slave ship who rose to prominence as an abolitionist, composer and gentleman in 18th century England. While that show is over, the organization continues to put on readings and performances you won't want to miss. cthnyc.org.

NEW YORK CLASSICAL THEATRE

Billing itself as “New York City’s only all-free professional theatre,” this itinerant company (which asks the audience to follow the cast around an expansive terrain) will put on "Romeo and Juliet" this summer at Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, The Battery, Carl Schurz Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Rehearsals are also open to the general public. June 5 - July 29. newyorkclassical.org.

HUDSON WAREHOUSE

The company is playing at the Soldiers' and Sailors' monument in Riverside Park Thursday through Sunday nights at 6:30 p.m. beginning June 7 with "Romeo and Juliet," followed by "The Three Musketeers: Twenty Years Later" and "Hamlet." hudsonwarehouse.net.

THEATER 2020

This Brooklyn Heights theater company is turning both the Great Room Theater at ART NY and Cadman Plaza Park into the setting of modern day Shakespeare comedy, "As U Like It." Theater 2020 is known for its five-year stint in Brooklyn Bridge Park and will return in June. May 25-June 10 at ART NY and June16017 at Cadman Plaza Park. theater2020.com.

HIP TO HIP SHAKESPEARE

Whereas similar companies may perform at just one or two outdoor locations, Hip to Hip will take “Henry IV, Part 2,” "King Lear" and "All's Well That Ends Well" to parks in all five boroughs, Jersey City and Southampton. Performances begin with a special preshow for kids. July 26-Aug. 26. hiptohip.org.

SHAKESPEARE DOWNTOWN 

Staged at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, Shakespeare comes alive in a new way. This year, the company will perform "A Midsummer's Night Dream," 6:30 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, June 14-24. shakespearedowntown.org.

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