If Shakespeare had only known how well he’d go over from a lawn chair. Theater in the park is one time-honored tradition you’re bound to find wherever summer high culture has a place. And, oh, does it have a place in Brooklyn. This summer, we’ve got all the outdoor drama we need, with the old Bard a-plenty in the wilds of Prospect, a strung-up beauty and some darkly comic nights in the Slope. And it’s all free.
Piper Theatre is a company devoted to great theater and all the valuable community-building (for young and old) that comes along with it. This summer’s big shows, on the spooky grounds of the Old Stone House, are The Nocturnes, a ghostly world premiere inspired by a tale from mystery writer John Connelly; and The Book of Liz, a comedic nun’s tale by Amy and David Sedaris. Piper’s shows are happening now, so you can start off the summer with some decidedly un-Shakespearian fare if you’re so inclined. The Nocturnes: Jul. 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, 8:30 pm; The Book of Liz: Jul. 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 8:30 p.m., Old Stone House/Washington Park, Fifth Ave. between 3rd and 4th Sts.
Brave New World Shakespeare Festival
With a focus on productions of classic and neglected works by playwrights ranging from Ibsen to Pinter, Brooklyn-based theater company Brave New World Repertory Theatre turns to one of the lesser of Shakespeare’s works, As You Like It, for this year’s summer season. The pastoral comedy, which follows a young noble woman’s struggle to escape from her uncle’s repressive court in favor of finding love and safety in the remote forests of England, is full of famous Shakespearean dialogue, made especially enjoyable under the shade of Prospect Park’s Oriental Pavilion, which has ample seating to protect theater-goers from the grueling summer heat.
Jul. 22, 29, Aug. 5, 12, 5-7 pm, Prospect Park—The Oriental Pavilion, Parkside Ave. & Ocean Ave.
EBE Ensemble’s Shakespeare in the Pagoda
Sponsored in part by Arizona Iced Tea, this troupe’s first outdoor performance features two of the Bard’s greatest tragedies: Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar. If you prefer doomed romance over political deception, or vice versa, each play is performed once each day so you can see one or the other, or both back to back. Live music, site-specific touches and sound effects are meshed together to draw you even further into the drama. If you go, don’t forget to bring a blanket or chairs, otherwise folding chairs can be rented for a few bucks… but what’s the fun in that? Jul. 25, 30, 31, Aug. 6, 7, 1 pm and 4 pm daily, Prospect Park—1887 Music Pagoda, Empire Blvd & Ocean Ave.
Rebellious Subjects Theatre
Keeping with their mission to provide unconventional adaptations of classic theatre for free (something we can definitely get behind), this delightfully peculiar theatre company brings the tragedies of Henry IV and Henry V together for a two-part performance that may be some of the most epic theatre you’ll check out this summer. Using the pagoda as a centerpiece, the actors take the show out into the woods of Prospect Park while the audience, placed in various areas around the “stage,” takes in the action from all angles.
Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 22 through Sept. 6, 4:30 pm each day, Prospect Park—1887 Music Pagoda, Empire Blvd & Ocean Ave.
City Parks Foundation Puppetmobile Presents: Sleeping Beauty
This travelling puppet stage offers simple, short productions of classic fairy tales that are sure to charm audiences young and old. This summer’s production of Sleeping Beauty, the tale of Princess Aurora and her long hair, comes to life with marionettes that are just as engaging as the time-worn story itself. The production is geared specifically for ages 2-8, though audience members of all ages are welcome.
Aug. 13, 10:30 am-12 pm, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1, Old Fulton St. & Ferman St.