The Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park program is back with “Much Ado About Nothing,” but getting to Central Park early enough to wait in line for hours isn’t something everyone can do.
Luckily, a number of enterprising troupes also perform Shakespeare and other classical theater in the great outdoors for free. Most of these options do not require tickets or even reservations but offer just as much entertainment. Here are some alternatives to Shakespeare in the Park:
HIP TO HIP THEATRE COMPANY
See the romantic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the tragic “Richard III” under the stars. They’ll be performing at parks around the city from July 24 to August 25 at parks, which will be announced soon. hiptohip.org.
BRYANT PARK PICNIC PERFORMANCES: SHAKESPEARE
Catch the Drilling Company, which also does plays under Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, perform “Othello” near the fountain off 6th Avenue, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 and Sept. 5-7. bryantpark.org.
SMITH STREET STAGE
This Carroll Gardens-centric troupe that usually plays in Carroll Park for free presents “Romeo & Juliet” this season, at Carroll Park from June 14-30. smithstreetstage.org
CLASSICAL THEATRE OF HARLEM
This company at the Harlem School for the Arts performs the classics (last season included “Antigone,”) but also “future classics.” This summer “The Bacchae” by Euripides between July 6-28. See Dionysus, the god of wine, prophecy, religious ecstasy, and fertility, return to Thebes to clear his mother’s name and to punish the city state for barring its people to worship him. 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 the park) will put on “The Importance of Being Earnest (Two Ways)” this summer at Central Park, Carl Schurz Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park. At every other performance, the entire cast switches genders and roles. On now through June 30. nyclassical.org.
The company is playing at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in Riverside Park Thursday through Sunday nights at 6:30 p.m. The troupe will present “Antony and Cleopatra” through June 30, followed by “The D’Artagnan Romances Part Three: The Man in the Iron Mask” July 4-28 and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” Aug. 1-25. hudsonwarehouse.net.
Staged at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, Shakespeare comes alive in a new way. With 250 seats a night, the performances are done in the round on the water at Castle Clinton. This year, the company will perform “Hamlet” 6:30 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, June 13-23. shakespearedowntown.org.