Today is the first day of summer, and one of the best things about summer is that theater companies across the country are all suddenly stricken with the urge to perform the works of Shakespeare outside, usually for free. If you look around your area, you’ll probably find some group or school or band of itinerant actors declaiming in iambic pentameter at a park, beach, zoo or other open space. Here are a few I was able to dig up in just a few minutes on the google-box. Most of these are outdoors, so plan on packing a blanket, picnic, and maybe some folding beach chairs.
The Independant Shakespeare Company presents their annual Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival beginning June 27, though their first play isn’t by Ol’ Bill; instead, they’re opening with Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer or The Mistakes of the Night. The classic comedy, first presented in 1773, will be joined in repertory with two of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, Macbeth and As You Like It. The series runs through September 1. http://iscla.org/
Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival offers Henry IV at Towsey Canyon Park as part of the LA SummerFest. Performances are free. July 13, 14, 20, 21, and August 3, 4 at 7:00. PM. http://www.scshakespearefest.org/ http://www.lasummerfest.org/
Shakespeare by the Sea will present All’s Well That Ends Well and King John at 22 different locations this summer, including Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, Chino Hills, South Pasadena, Whittier and Woodland Hills. Performances are free. http://www.shakespearebythesea.org/
Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, based at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, opens the 17th season of their annual Shakespeare Festival with The Tempest on June 28. The play The festival, which also includes multiple performances of Hamlet, runs through August 4. Tickets for adults are $20, youth and children under 18 are free. http://www.kingsmenshakespeare.org/
Here’s a helpful list so you can find your friendly neighborhood Shakespeare company, courtesy of the Shakespeare Fellowship.