Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alfresco Theatre

Hi guys!  Sam C. here.  (Crazy that we have TWO Sams in RSP now.  The more, the merrier, I say!)

I wanted to bring up a summer treat that I have been taking advantage of lately - alfresco theatre.  We are halfway through summer and the humidity has settled into our pores.  Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the bootie shorts to even exit an air conditioned building.  (You know I'm right.)  But I urge you, theatre-lovers to push yourself to see some outdoor theatre before summer is over.  Single tear.

Outdoor shows flood NYC public parks (and parking lots) during the warmer months.  As we know, the Public Theater hosts Shakespeare in the Park and people line up at the crack of dawn for tickets.  But you don't have to sleep in Central Park in order to score some outdoor theatre deliciousness.  No, friends.  In the past two weeks, I ventured out of doors to see not one, but two Shakespeare plays, and neither of them were at the Delacorte. 

Smith Street Stage recently closed Twelfth Night in Carroll Park, conveniently close to the F train and Shakespeare In The Parking Lot just opened Merry Wives of Windsor down on the Lower East Side.  Both productions had shining moments and less stellar ones, but due to the nature of alfresco theatre, the pitfalls didn't bother me much because of some glorious aspects of most outdoor theatre...

Alfresco theatre:

*is often FREE!!!!  How's that for a recession special, folks?  Due to the open nature of parks and outdoor spaces, companies can't/don't want to charge their patrons.  Yes, they often ask for donations, but it's your choice to donate (and you SHOULD, as we actors are poor and so we can keep providing said free theatre to you)

*allows you to bring a PICNIC!  Who doesn't love picnics?  I was prepared with guacamole, chips, sandwiches, fruit salad, sparkling water....but I was definitely eyeing the provisions of other audience members

*is completely UNSTUFFY.  Sprawl out on a mat, sit cross-legged on the grass, even perch on a free folding chair or bench.  Seating options abound.  Also, sometimes, we're running late due to trains, etc. and we can't get into a theatre because we aren't allowed and/or we don't want to be rude.  But with outdoor theatre, audience members can come and go as they please.  Kids will run around in the background; a jogger ran through the performance of Twelfth Night I saw.  Much of the fun of outdoor theatre is the environment and the randomness that can occur during each show. 

*it's about COMMUNITY outreach.  What better way to advertise a company than to provide free theatre that is available to all ages and classes because it pops up in a public park?  Most companies have a mailing list sign-up on hand, which is a smart way to go.  And if you attend a show one summer and enjoy it, chances are you'll show up the next summer and bring friends!  Bonus - outdoor theatre inspires a new generation of artists and audience members (toddlers LOVE theatre).

So go forth, dears!  Grab a blanket or a beach chair, pack a picnic basket (I might steal yours - I don't have one and I WANT one), gather some loved ones or head out solo and find some outdoor theatre near you! 

Off to find a red-checkered tablecloth....

Sam C.