Waiting on the Line for FREE Shakespeare in the Park

Today I’m reporting live from the line for free Shakespeare in the Park! It’s the very first line of 2015!

Tonight is the first public performance of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

shakespeare in the park 2015

You’ve probably heard about Shakespeare in the Park. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember it’s pretty much my absolutely favorite NYC summer activity. World class, theatre, outdoors in Central Park, for FREE!

The only catch is the line.

shakespeare in the park NYC the line

The infamous line, the dreaded line, the line that scares people so they won’t even go near it.

“I hear you have to wake up at 5AM to get tickets.”

“You think I’m going to camp out in Central Park to see a play? HA!”

“I’m a New Yorker. I hate lines. Fuhgettaboutit.”

shakespeare in the park line

This mythical line is where I’m spending my morning. The New York cliché may be to think of it as a huge chore, a never-ending wait, a sentence I’ve madly chosen to serve. But sitting here right now, on a blanket in Central Park, surrounded by people who like Shakespeare, with the sight and sound of sprinklers in front of me, all I can think is it’s a beautiful morning and I get to spend it in Central Park! This is GREAT!

shakespeare in the park the line

The deal with THE LINE for Shakespeare in the Park

I did NOT join this line at 5AM. I strolled up leisurely at the reasonable hour of 9:30AM. It’s nearly an hour later and if you joined the line now, I’m pretty confident you’d still get tickets! That said, it is a Wednesday morning and tonight is the very first preview. Today is pretty much the easiest day to get tickets. Tomorrow is the second easiest. If you are a person with a normal job and can’t get out of work for a morning, this weekend is the absolute best time to go!

shakespeare in the park first on line
These were the first people in the line. They arrived at 5:30AM! But they didn’t need too!

Once reviews for The Tempest come out on June 6th, the line will get longer. The press will remind people, “Oh yeah! Shakespeare in the Park exists! I should go to that!” If the reviews are good some people will decide, “Okay fine, it’s worth my time if some critic says it’s good.” I’ve seen almost every production Shakespeare in the Park has done for the past 8 years. I confidently claim: every single production I’ve seen at the Delacorte was worth seeing, completely worth my time.

shakespeare in the park line sax player
Entertainment while on line! Every time I’ve ever waited in the line, I’ve seen this saxophone player! Sometimes he gets cranky when people don’t tip him, but he seemed in good spirits this morning. The group on the right are playing a ruckus board game.

This is Shakespeare performed in a naturalistic style by brilliant New York professional actors. Even if the director makes some weird choices, that foundation is solid. The Public Theater has been making Shakespeare accessible to New Yorkers for almost 40 years. They’re fucking good at it.

“I heard they get celebrities for Shakespeare in the Park, who are the celebrities this year??”

Some A-listers have graced the Delacorte stage. Recently Al Pacino starred  in The Merchant of Venice, Anne Hathaway in Twelfth Night, and Amy Adams in a production of Into the Woods (sometimes they mix it up from Shakespeare). If you’re at a party of theatre people, you’ll likely hear a story about someone who saw Meryl Streep in “Mother Courage” back in ’06. People camped out all night to see Meryl, that was a show it was crazy hard to get tickets for.

There are no big celebrities this year. The star of The Tempest has a very substantial film and television career, but unless you’re a huge Law and Order fan, Sam Waterston probably won’t leave you star struck. Modern Family fans will be happy to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson, theatre fans will be happy to see him return to his roots.

shakespeare in the park view from line
This was my view while waiting for 2 hours this morning. I mean, come on! How could I complain?

The best thing about the line and waiting in person is that you have a very good idea of whether or not you will get tickets. The line may look long, but unless it’s snaked WAYYYY far around the corner, your chances are very good. The theater is BIG and they give out hundreds of free tickets a day.

If I still haven’t sold you on the line, there are other ways to try to get tickets. Check out my previous post “A Former Usher’s Tips on How to Get Shakespeare in the Park Tickets”. Ushering for Shakespeare in the Park was in fact my very first job in NYC! Also check out Shakespeare in the Park’s FAQs from their website

At 11:40AM they had us pack up all our stuff, stand up and form a tight line. At 12PM they started handing out tickets. Ant 12:15PM I had 2 tickets in my hot little hand!

shakespeare in the park tickets

The morning sped by and I can’t wait for tonight! I’ll let you know how the show is!

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

4 thoughts on “Waiting on the Line for FREE Shakespeare in the Park

  1. Love your blog and thanks for the tips on the line. Definitely going to try this time. Once you are lucky enough to score the tickets, are the seats assigned or is it general admission?

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Thanks so much and sorry for this BELATED reply! I hope you went and found out for yourself that seats are assigned! And if you didn’t make it, check out Cymboline coming up later this month!

  2. You can also try the stand by line…….we got there about 5:30PM for “Tempest” and enjoyed fine weather while waiting to see if we would score tickets and sure enough by 7:45PM we had 2 standby tickets. People don’t show up, especially when tickets are free, so give it a chance, why not?
    But if this were Al Pacino or Meryl Streep, very doubtful this would happen.

  3. Yes! Wish I were waiting IN the line with you! (Remember your California roots – we wait IN lines, not ON them.)

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