no Shakespeare in the Park for me

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you may have followed my mini saga this morning as I attempted to get a pair of free tickets to tonight’s performance of Twelfth Night, starring Anne Hathaway, at the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. She’s been getting spectacular reviews, which is nice, but that’s not why I wanted tickets. It’s free Shakespeare. In Central Park. I’ve attended many Shakespeare in the Park productions, and it’s always lovely sitting outside in the Delacorte Theater on a summer night being serenaded by the Bard. So to speak.

This year, though…
The last time I saw Shakespeare in the Park, in 2006 — when Liev Schreiber was playing Macbeth — I was in line for tickets by about 7:30am, and there were only a few dozen people ahead of me. The Public Theater distributes tickets for that night’s performance — limit of two per person — starting at 1pm, but the line always fills up way before that. (The first year I tried for tickets, ages ago now, I showed up at 10am, and was told there was no point in waiting, the line was already so long that I’d never get tickets.)

So I showed up for the line today a little before 7am, with my brother Ken, who Facebook’d this on his way to meet me this morning:

Ungodly; out the door while still it’s dark
To queue for tix to Shakespeare in the Park

It was madness. The line was blocks long, snaking through the paths of Central Park, looping around and back on itself more than once. And it got worse when the NYC Parks people tried to organize it a bit, tried to straighten out the loops and tighten up the line: people started either getting legitimately confused and lost, or were taking the chance to jump ahead.

Whatever: it was all moot, because only a few minutes later, a guy from the Public Theater came to tell us that there was no chance in hell that the folks as far back on the line as we were would be getting tickets.


Ken and I talked to some people near the front of the line as we were leaving the park: they’d been there since 5am, the people at the very front since 4am. Which means they would wait eight or nine hours for tickets to a play that runs maybe two and a half hours.

I’m not sure that that’s not too high a price to pay for free tickets.

Twelfth Night closes on Sunday, and I don’t have another day that I can devote to waiting in line (and organizing things so I could do so today was a semi-major undertaking), so there goes my chance for Shakespeare in the Park for this summer.

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