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Shakespeare-in-the-Park is a term often used to refer to open air performances of Shakespeare's plays, and most notably in a park atmosphere. This is slightly different to the notion of open-air theatre, since the latter does not necessarily take place in a park, but simply in a theatre with no roof.

See also Open-air Theatre

The general concept

This kind of performance has a history that goes back to Shakespeare's own time and has been popular right up to the present day. Many court performances for instance would take place in open-air spaces at court.

In the past century or more it has become a feature in most countries across the world, wherever the bard is honoured and studied.

Often this is linked to a Shakespearean Festival, such as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, founded in 1935.

One of the most famous of such creations, the first specifically bearing the title Shakespeare-in-the-Park, was created by Joseph Papp in 1962, in Central Park New York. Though it was by no means the first, it is today rather unique in that this famous and eagerly supported Public Theater series, performed in the Delacorte Theater, consists of free, large-scale productions of works by William Shakespeare (as well as the occasional musical or non-Shakespearean drama), featuring major (and expensive) film and stage performers. (Among them have been Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Blythe Danner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George C. Scott and Denzel Washington.)

For more on the international history, see "Shakespeare-in-the-Park", Wikipedia[1]. However, the reader is warned, the current entry is a partial and somewhat parochial overview, heavily skewed towards North America and patently ignoring open air performances of the plays in Africa and Southern Africa (see below).

Shakespeare in South African parks

Given the fine summer weather in the country, open air presentations are extremely popular, particularly in view of the open-air character of most pre-colonial performance forms.

Specific open air Shakespeare activities:

See the entries on the following venues:



The Open Air Theatre, Durban

Oude Libertas Theatre


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