New York’s Free Shakespeare In The Park Summer Season Canceled For First Time In 58 Years Due To COVID-19

Jelani Alladin, 'Hercules' (2019) Joan Marcus

New York’s Public Theater has canceled this year’s free Shakespeare in the Park season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first summer in 58 years that Central Park’s Delacorte Theater will stay dark.

The 2020 summer season was set to include a production of Richard II, directed by Saheem Ali, and a return four-engagement run of Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery’s popular and critically acclaimed 2017 musical adaptation of As You Like It.

“While our stages will remain dark,” The Public said in a seven-tweet statement, “our commitment to our mission will burn brighter than ever. Our promise to you is that we will keep working tirelessly to bring you glorious work by our incredible artists.”

The Public has also canceled performances at its Lower Manhattan multi-theater venue through Aug. 31, including Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s play Cullud Wattah and all performances at the adjoining Joe’s Pub.

According to Playbill, the Public has furloughed 70 percent of full-time permanent staff, with senior leadership taking significant pay cuts.


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