Besides the famous Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park there are several other companies performing Shakespeare for free around NYC. One of my favorites is New York Classical Theatre and their productions that take place in different parks throughout NYC. This summer they performed The Tempest in Battery Park.
rtb and I stopped off for dinner first. Before dinner I sat at the Vietnam Memorial on Water Street and then found a sandcastle sitting on One New York Plaza.
We ate at one of the restaurants that line Stone Street – a short cobblestone street that is closed off to traffic and filled with tables from all the restaurants – and each of us had a lobster dish. Then we walked over to Battery Park.
Someone gave us programs at the doors of Castle Clinton and told us the doors would open at 6:45pm. We walked over to some benches and looked out over the harbor. We could see the Statue of Liberty and a few tall ships in the harbor.
At 6:45 a group of us went inside Castle Clinton and sat down in the courtyard. The Castle has low walls and you can see the downtown skyline. We were asked not to take photos during the performance so I hope my descriptions suffice.
It opened with the three Ariels each pulling on a rope so that it formed a V – the bow of the ship. Antonio, King Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian, and others rock back and forth as the ship is caught in the tempest and the rope ties them up and they are dragged out the doors as the ship crashes.
The magic of that opening set a really high bar for the rest of the play.
We were introduced to Prospero, and Miranda and then turned around and met Caliban. The children in the audience loved him. A few times throughout the play he would sit next to someone in the front row and rub up against him/her.
Ferdinand meets Miranda and they fall in love (with a little help). When Prospero left he told us they would be leaving this way (through the castle doors) but we would be leaving through that portal (pointing to the back door).
Next we are in a small circle courtyard and we watch Ariel stop Antonio and Sebastian from killing Alonso and Gonzalo. Greg Brostrom (Sebastian) brought a natural style to the play that I really liked. Out of everyone in the play, he is the one that I expect to see on Broadway or in movies and television in the future.
The acting is part Shakespearean and part contemporary language and nowhere was that more evident than when Trinculo and Stephano made their entrances. But first Caliban came past a statue (where some children were playing) and we could hear them scream as he walked past them and they all teased each other as he came up to us carrying the firewood.
Then we walked over to a wooded area when Ferdinand was working for Prospero and when they left we watched Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban get drunker. In each new scene Trinculo was wearing fewer clothes. For one scene change he told us to follow him. When the audience didn’t move right away he scolded, “Come on!”
The next scene took us to the World War II Memorial. There is a huge statue and slabs of concrete with the names of soldiers lost in the Atlantic Ocean. One of the Ariels stood up on the statue and it felt a little disrespectful to me. But it did make for a powerful scene.
We turned around and the wedding took place with sunset over the NY harbor behind us. Sailboats and tall ships were circling the Statue of Liberty. It was gorgeous.
There was some kind of dance thing going on at Governor’s Island. You could hear the beats across the harbor and they were loudest when we were right on the water facing the island.
The final scenes took place in the castle courtyard and when Prospero asked us to applaud loudly we did so without hesitation.
Ariel….Rin Allen, Molly Densmore, Kelly Gibson
Fredinand….Daniel Patrick Smith
King Alonso….Clay Storseth
Director was Sean Hagerty. Artistic Director Stephen Burdman made the announcement and he was assisted by his adorable son.
As we left there were fireworks going off somewhere in New Jersey. I don’t know if that was part of the last hurrah for Maxwell’s or not but it was a cool ending to the evening.
By Carene Lydia Lopez