Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Now Playing on the Lower East Side: Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

Here on the Lower East Side, there seems to be an endless variety of opportunities to see some art, experience some culture, and just have a great night out. One of the most interesting events going on in our neighborhood this summer is Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, a festival of free Shakespeare plays produced in the Fringe-adjacent municipal parking lot at Broome and Ludlow Streets.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is the creation of The Drilling CompaNY, an off- and off-off-Broadway production company that has been in operation since 1999. Intended as a downtown alternative to the Public Theater's well-known Shakespeare in the Park (which is also free, but for which one has to wait in line all morning for even a chance of getting tickets), the productions are sparse in the way of sets and costumes -- just as, of course, they would have been in Shakespeare's time -- but feature talented local actors and innovative directors, and promise a great night of theater in an unlikely setting.

This summer's season began with Love's Labour's Lost, an early comedy of the Bard's. This production imagined the action of the play occurring not at the Royal Court of 16th century France, but among aspiring rock stars at the Burning Man festival. Currently running is Julius Caesar (this blogger's personal favorite Shakespeare play), in which the main characters vie not for control of the Roman senate, but for leadership of an urban school board. Two of the most important figures in the play, Cassius and Mark Antony, are played by women.

The final performances of Julius Caesar happen this weekend, Thursday through Saturday nights at 8 pm. Chairs are provided but audience members are encouraged to bring their own if they prefer. Admission is free. While you're in the neighborhood, stop by Fringe and say hello!

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