Shakespeare ... in the park and elsewhere
In preparation for moving, am going through myriad boxes o' stuff, for filing and culling and better organizing. One of the articles I came across was from last summer, about DC's Shakespeare Theater and its seeking of a new artistic director ("Alas, poor Shakespeare," Washington Post).
The article discusses how audience numbers are down for classic theater. Even at outdoor festivals. Among others the article mentioned the Stratford (Ontario) Festival and the Utah Theater Festival. It didn't discuss the various Public Theater programs in Central Park in New York City.
Maybe the issue is aiming to reach new audiences in different ways.
It reminded me of a few months back, we happened to catch a documentary on one of the Maryland Public Television secondary channels--they mostly run the DIY public television Create Network on this particular channel during the day and at night, programs range from repeats of regular programs ("Time Shifting" from the main channel) and documentaries that they might be capturing from the public television World Channel, which unfortunately no PBS station in the area distributes.
Bard in the Backcountry," was produced by Montana PBS and is about a fascinating program in Montana, based at Montana State University in Bozeman, "Montana Shakespeare in the Parks," which is a traveling program putting on various Shakespeare plays in mostly small towns mostly in Montana, although they dip into some venues in Idaho, North Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming as well.
-- full video, via PBS
After a run of performances in Bozeman, they are on the road for just over two full months straight, performing every day!--doing everything, driving between shows, setting up, breaking down, maintaining costumes, etc.
Outside of the big productions in New York City's Central Park, and similarly concerts in urban parks (e.g., years ago went to a cool flamenco concert in Park La Fontaine in Montreal and it was cool to picnic while listening), I was thinking after seeing the documentary about how cool it would be to do this kind of program in a city park system, like DC.
Apparently, the Seattle Shakespeare Company does something similar in the Puget Sound, although it's a pretty tough schedule they aren't traveling nearly as far as the Montana project, and the Chicago Shakespeare Company does this too, but mostly only in Chicago.
I'm sure there are others.
And such public performance programs wouldn't need to be limited to Shakespeare necessarily.