Open air concerts, patio seating, group bike rides… in case you haven’t noticed, it’s summer in Buffalo, and with the deluge of outdoor events that begin to fill up your weekend schedule comes the annual tradition of outdoor theater in the form of Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Celebrating 40 years of iambic pentameter in the park this summer, SDP is presenting the classic love story of Romeo and Juliet and the hilarious cross-dressing comedy Twelfth Night to its Buffalo audiences. Thousands of people from Buffalo and beyond enjoy free Shakespeare every year, but for those who haven’t joined in the fun up ‘til now, here are some tips about how to make the most of your trip to the park!
Firstly, the Bard. The Swan of Avon. Billy Shakes. You can say the guy’s name, but Shakespeare and his words might seem daunting if all you know are the plays you read and didn’t understand in high school. But that’s high school, and reading a play in a classroom is completely different from a live performance. Take sword fighting, for instance. When the Capulets and Montagues meet in the streets of Verona in the first scene of Romeo and Juliet, all you read is a bunch of “I bite my thumb at you”’s, followed by the italicized stage direction They fight. When you watch that scene played out, it’s tense stare-downs, chest-thumping threats and then- the swords come out! How often do you get to see people fight with swords? Never, I think is the answer, and still only very rarely if you’re a samurai. SO, tip #1, read the synopsis of the play, get the main characters names in your brain and maybe even look at the most famous quotes of the play (there are a ton in every single play), and then sit back and enjoy the show! You don’t have to understand every word, it will all make total sense when a professional actor as opposed to your 10th grade English teacher is reciting the work.
Next: BYOS- Bring your own seating! Unlike a regular theater performance, park shows do not provide seats, only a lovely hill on which to perch. If you aren’t fond of dewy shorts and the probability of bugs crawling about your person, bring that old blanket you use for picnics, or that beach chair you use for watching your landlord mow the lawn. Anything you use will help you keep comfortable and enjoying the show, rather than brushing ants off your knees, and it will also help you claim your hill spot if you have to leave it for a bathroom break.
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Then, while sitting on your picnic blanket and thinking about how wonderful that wine was that spilled and left that red stain in the corner last summer, bring out the libations for a complete poetic evening. Picnicking and enjoying the beverage of your choice is highly encouraged at this event, and yes that means open container laws bend for the Bard. Snacks, beer, even complete meals are enjoyed on the hill every year to the tune of “If music be the food of love, play on!”
Next, remember that while the sun is shining during the day and baking us to a perfect 80 degrees, this is still Buffalo and the temperature can drop 30 degrees within 30 minutes of sundown. Keep sweatshirts, sweatpants, extra blankets or scarves on hand for when the sun dips below the horizon right around intermission. It’s not unlikely to sweat for the prologue and goosepimple for the epilogue. And you may as well add to your preparation for the elements sunscreen and bugspray. Think of your visit to Shakespeare in Delaware Park as a short camping trip with extra swashbuckling and couplets.
Now both shows run Tuesday through Sunday for four weeks each, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to make a memorable night (or several memorable nights) of this fabulous event. Try going on a busy Friday night when as many as 800 people pile together for a good view and park passersby wander in and out; or check out a quieter Wednesday evening to relax and break up the week. It’s a cheap and unique date (especially Romeo and Juliet), a family friendly show, and it might just end up being the highlight of your season! So perhaps most importantly, bring friends to share the experience with. And second most importantly, bring a little cash to donate to the company (they’ll visit your picnic blanket at intermission, don’t you worry) so that Shakespeare in Delaware Park can continue providing quality classic theatre for another 40 years!
Performances run Tuesday-Sunday, curtain at 7:30pm every night, no matinees
Romeo and Juliet
Dates: 6/18/15 – 7/12/15
Directed by Tom Loughlin
Starring Jonas Barranca and Kathleen Denecke
Dates: 7/23/15 – 8/16/15
Directed by Steve Vaughan
Starring Tim Newell, Jordan Louis Fischer, Norman Sham and Greg Gjurich
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