Free Outdoor Shows Make Shakespeare Doable with Kids

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Hudson Warehouse's Much Ado About Nothing

We'd all like to introduce our kids to Shakespeare, but do we really dare to shell out 40 bucks, or whatever, only to risk the walk of shame back up the aisle if our kid turns out not to be able to handle it? Luckily there are free outdoor Shakespeare performances in New York City this summer up the proverbial wazoo, perfect for dipping your toe into the Shakespearean waters to see if your children can brave the Bard risk-free.

And I'm not talking about the free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, either. Yes it's technically free, but it's not risk-free. If you spent 6 hours on line, you are NOT walking out of that show. Plus they are doing Hamlet this season which is hardly a kid-friendly introduction to Shakespeare.

Here are five ways to enjoy Shakespeare with your kids this summer:

New York Classical Theatre: Shakespeare on the Run
All Summer Long, Beginning May 31
Central Park and Battery Park
FREE

There's no question that the most fun Shakespeare performance for kids would be New York Classical Theatre's Shakespeare on the Run. These performances bring the action to life as actors move throughout the ark performing one scene after another while the audience chases them to keep up with the action. Catch Cymbeline starting May 31 in Central park at West 103rd St and Central Park West or Macbeth starting June 26th in Battery Park, starting June 26th. There are also several family workshops offered to make these performances even more kids-friendly. Family workshops introduce children to classical theater through fun and games. Participants will learn the story of the play, how to get ready for the show and get a chance to act from the script.

Check the whole season schedule to find out about showtimes, open rehearsals and family workshops.

Inwood Shakespeare Festival
June 4-21, 7:30 PM
Inwood Hill Park
FREE

Bring a blanket to these free Shakespeare performances under the stars. What could better help your children internalize the ultimate romance of Romeo and Juliet than to watch it cuddled with mom and dad under a starry night sky. The MooseHall Theater Company will also be performing, La Boheme in June, Zorro in July and host a children's concert on June 9th. Check the website for details on all these performances and directions.

Urban Youth Theater: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Friday, May 30 & Saturday, May 31 | 7:30 pm Sunday, June 1 | 3 pm
Abrons Art Center at the Henry Street Settlement 466 Grand Street
$10 for Adults/$5 for Students

This is neither indoors, nor free, but the Urban Youth Theater's rollicking production of Shakespeare's popular romantic comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream deserves a mention for it's unique staging. The show is set in present day NYC and performed by kids. While keeping Shakespeare's classic language intact, Athens is now a scaffold-ridden street in midtown Manhattan and the enchanted forest is a street you would find in the East Village - with the fairies as a raucous band of skateboarding street performers.

Boomerang Theater Company: As You like It
July 19-August 10
Enter Central Park at W 69th Street
FREE

HudsonWarehouse: Much Ado About Nothing
July 10-August 3
Riverside Park Soldiers and Sailors Monument at West 89th St.
FREE

Keep it light with these comedic Shakespearean productions. Boomerang Theater Company performs As You Like it and Hudson Warehouse, Much Ado About Nothing, which should be familiar territory for little kids who are the kings of much ado about nothing.

Shakespearean Graphic Novels Whether you want to prep the story before you go to one of these shows, or you want to skip the show and just stick to reading Shakespeare, there are some very good graphic novel versions of the Bard now.

Try the Manga version of Romeo and Juliet set in modern day Tokyo, but with original Shakespearean dialogue (albeit slightly abridged) or Macbeth in comic form.

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