Free Shakespeare in the Park returns to Central Park for 2021 summer season

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Shakespeare in the Park

NEW YORK – JUNE 25: Actors Audra McDonald, Raul Esparza, Anne Hathaway, David Pittu and Jay O. Sanders bow for a curtain call following the 2009 Shakespeare in the Park opening night performance of “Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theater on June 25, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Theater is slowly coming back to the city it’s most synonymous with — but this much-anticipated return isn’t on Broadway.

Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater will return this summer after being dormant in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival, put on by the Public Theater, returns July 5 and runs though Aug. 29, the group announced Monday.

Part of what makes the annual tradition viable is that it’s outdoors: the Delacorte Theater sits inside Central Park, near the Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle.

Merry Wives, what the Public calls “a fresh and joyous adaptation” of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, will be the sole production performed at the iconic outdoor space; traditionally, the Shakespeare in the Park season features two productions.

The play was adapted by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Saheem Ali.

According to the New York Times, which first published the news, the Public will admit 500 attendees, each of whom are to be tested beforehand, though capacity levels and details may change as regulations are adjusted over time. (The theater seats 2,000 people.)

“In partnership with City officials, health and safety experts, and with our theatrical unions, the performance schedule, safety protocols, and free ticket distribution details will be forthcoming over the next several weeks,” the Public said in a statement.

Visit the Public’s website for more information on Free Shakespeare in the Park.

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