Free Shakespeare in Zilker Park is an experience I look forward to every year. It combines three of my favorite things: Shakespeare, being outside under the stars on an early summer evening, and free stuff. That’s right! Shakespeare in the Park is completely free theater, although they gladly accept donations.
This is a great place to take a special someone or your group of friends, and let the Bard’s words wrap around you while the fireflies dance.
Every Why Has a Wherefore
So who are the minds behind this outdoor gem? Each year, Austin Shakespeare collaborates with the City of Austin to put on the production. Austin Shakespeare is an organization devoted to presenting high-quality theater in Austin. In addition to Zilker Park, they give performances at The Long Center and Curtain Theater.
Unsurprisingly, the group focuses on the works of William Shakespeare, but they do perform works by other playwrights. Austin Shakespeare’s overarching mission is to create dramatic works that are “fresh, bold, imaginative, thought-provoking, and eminently accessible, connecting the truths of the past with the challenges and possibilities of today.”
The Play’s the Thing
This year, The Comedy of Errors is the play being performed. It’s one of Shakespeare’s earliest and shortest plays, and also arguably one of his silliest. The farce involves multiple sets of twins, mistaken identities galore, and raucous wordplay in spades. There aren’t lasting morals and dramatic themes to unpack here; the play is straight entertainment.
This particular production is directed by Robert Ramirez, who is Head of Acting at The University of Texas Department of Theatre & Dance. When I attended the performance, the staging was simple and the costumes ornate. The acting was wonderful as the company committed fully to their outlandish characters.
Come Make Merry With Free Shakespeare in Zilker Park
Free Shakespeare in the Park productions are performed at the Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater, on the hillside across from Barton Springs Pool. Seating is on the ground, so bring a picnic blanket, plus friends and snacks, to make a night of it. If you don’t want to bring food, there are tasty treats for sale from north Austin’s Brentwood Social House.
The Comedy of Errors runs through May 27, 2017, every Thursday through Sunday. There will be an ASL interpreted performance on Thursday, May 18 (rain date May 19).
Are you ready to cast off the winter of your discontent and embrace summer’s all too short lease? Do you consider a night of free theater the stuff that dreams are made of? If so, get thee to Zilker Park to enjoy a performance during these last weeks of May (darling buds and all).
–>Keep reading: “Guide to Austin’s Zilker Park for Every Season of the Year”
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?