Aug. 3, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A Woodside-based production company is hosting a series of free outdoor Shakespeare plays throughout Queens over the next two weeks.
The Hip to Hip Theater Company will host the shows — called Free Shakespeare in the Parks — at public parks in Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria, Bayside, Flushing and Fresh Meadows.
The company will stage Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing and his epic romance The Adventures of Pericles at the parks.
The series, now in its 15th year, will feature nine performances in total.
The first play will take place at Sunnyside Gardens Park Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with a performance of The Adventures of Pericles. The play is being directed by Jason Marr, who founded the Hip to Hip Theater Company in 2007 with his wife Joy.
The Adventures of Pericles will also be staged at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City Saturday, at Crocheron Park in Bayside on Aug. 11 and at Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows on Aug. 18 – with all three shows starting at 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the first showing of Much Ado About Nothing will take place at Crocheron Park in Bayside Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The play comes to Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria at 5 p.m. Sunday and to the Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing on Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Much Ado About Nothing, which is being directed by Joy Marr, will be staged at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City on Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and at Sunnyside Gardens Park on Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
The events are free and open to the public with past series drawing thousands of spectators.
No tickets are required, and attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs.
The Adventures of Pericles tells the story of a young prince who leaves home to escape death.
He then sets sail on an odyssey of romance and spectacle only to seemingly lose his daughter and wife. Years later he returns home and reunites with his family.
Jason says The Adventures of Pericles is a wild and experimental play by Shakespeare, who was born in 1564 and died in 1616.
“The play’s central message of keeping hope alive in the midst of unfortunate circumstances has particular resonance today,” Jason said.
Meanwhile, Much Ado About Nothing explores a plot to break up one couple and to make two other protagonists fall in love.
The play Joy said, is an original romantic comedy and yet seems contemporary.
“With themes of wit, honor, power, gossip, and even toxic masculinity, the play stands as a testament to what we gain as individuals when we allow ourselves to love and be loved,” Joy said.
The Hip to Hip Theater Company was founded by Jason and Joy with the goal of promoting the theatre arts, particularly the works of Shakespeare, in local communities.
This year the company will also perform at parks in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island and Jersey City. The company also provides theatre workshops for children.
Free Shakespeare in the Parks is funded, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.