Shakespeare in the Park doesn’t start until June 25, and if you’ve gone in past years you know that even when that wait is over, you’ll still have to wait in line for ages to get the show tickets. But even though the heat might be tempting you to duck into a nice cool theater, remember, it’s only going to get worse, so you might as well be outside while you can. And there are a surprising number of theatre companies who are getting the jump on the Public Theater, which puts on Shakespeare in the Park, on the outdoor thing. You’re not likely to have to wait in line much for these, either.

2005_05_arts_asyoulikeit.JPGAlthough Gothamist thinks it would be interesting to see more contemporary plays staged outside, the Bard is pretty much the go-to guy for these sorts of things. New York Classical Theatre is performing As You Like It in a mobile production in the upper reaches of Central Park. Audience members are advised to attend in comfy clothes and shoes since they have to follow the action, much of which actually does take place in a forest, making the park setting especially apt. NY Classical Theatre is doing another production later in the summer, of Moliere’s Scapin; it’s a less-produced work of his, so Gothamist may have to venture out of nice air conditioned theaters to catch it.
Photo by Miranda Arden.

2005_05_arts_gentlemen.JPGThen there’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, about two friends and their diverging paths in love and life, in a version by Boomerang Theatre Company that’s been updated to the 1920’s. Each weekend the production goes to a new park; this week is its first, and it’s in Central Park as well, though further south than As You Like It (how funny would it be if the casts of these productions started to collide, especially since they’re moving around?).

Getting a bit of distance from those shows, thematically and literally, is Henry V, which is being produced in the Inwood Shakespeare Festival in Inwood Hill Park (and in parks in Queens and the Bronx on two days). Performances of Shakespeare’s sprawling 15th century history play have already begun, and in July they are to be followed by Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. The company promises plenty of fight scenes in both, always a good sign.

There are a couple of shows going on that aren’t exactly in the park, but still in open air (they’re also not free, but don’t let that stop you. Troilus and Cressida (the Elizabethan bard’s take on the original Greek bard’s Trojan War) is being performed in full by the American Theatre of Actors in the courtyard of their midtown theatre complex. And on the lightship Frying Pan, Slant Theatre Project has Pericles, another foray by Shakespeare into the world of the ancient Greeks to follow the title character’s exploits, political and romantic and otherwise. Quite a few scenes in the play actually take place on ships, so it should be interesting to see them performed on the Frying Pan, which has been hosting some really good stuff lately.

Finally, since Gothamist likes to provide alternatives on days when the roundup has a theme like this one, if Shakespeare outdoors doesn’t appeal to you then you might head to Collective:Unconscious, where Project D is producing two Japanese-themed/inspired plays: Chinatsu Kudo’s D and Darren Anderson’s Danger Man or A More Beautiful Heaven. D is a “metaphysical mystery thriller” and Danger Man is a tribute to Yakuza-style Japanese films (it’s performed in Japanese, with English translations read audibly). Some people say that Shakespeare wrote about every human situation and emotion, but if there’s something that he missed, these plays might be a good place to look.

Details: As You Like It is on Thurs.-Sun. evenings at 7 until June 26. It starts just inside the west 103rd street entrance of Central Park.
The Two Gentleman of Verona is at 2pm this Saturday and Sunday inside the west 69th street entrance to Central Park (see map). Next weekend it’s in Riverside Park.
Henry V is playing on the peninsula of Inwood Hill Park (see map). It goes until June 25, with performances this week on Wed., Thurs. and Sat. at 7:30.
Troilus and Cressida plays until June 25, Wed.-Sat. 8pm, American Theatre of Actors, 314 W. 54th.
Pericles runs through June 28, but just on Mon. and Tues. 7:30pm at the Frying Pan, Pier 63.
D and Danger Man open on Thursday and run through June 26, with performances Thurs.-Sat. at 7pm and Sat./Sun. 2pm. Collective:Unconscious, 279 Church St.