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Arts Watch: Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot is Back on the Pavement at Ludlow & Broome

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Ivory Aquino and Hamilton Clancy in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’s 2010 production of “Julius Ceasar.” Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

Uptown has its Shakespeare in the Park. We’ve got our Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot. Okay, so maybe there are no trees as backdrops, moonlit skies to brighten up the stage, or celebrity actors to excite the crowds. But the Bard’s words are just as powerful and his characters just as compelling as portrayed by The Drilling Company, which has been presenting free Shakespeare for over 20 years, six of which have taken place in the Municipal Parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, right here in the Lower East Side.

That’s right, a parking lot. “It is a tremendously accessible gathering place in the heart of the city. Like most companies that do Shakespeare we are following the spirit of Joseph Papp. But putting our own spin on it by placing it in a parking lot, making an urban wrinkle,” says founding artistic director Hamilton Clancy on the company’s website.

Audience members are alerted that shows take place during open lot hours with cars coming and going. The action sometimes happens around a parked car which has been known to drive away during a performance, so the actors pause while the audience adjusts its chairs. People strolling across the lot often stop out of curiosity and ending up staying. It’s all part of the fun.

The 2012 season kicks off Thursday with 
a reworking of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Using the recent controversial SPURA development plan as its storyline, this Merry Wives is set in an imaginary “Windsor Towers,” a condo which has just gone up on the Lower East Side. The modern day characters and class clashes over real estate should resonate as very Shakespearean. Coriolanus follows on August 2nd.

Seats are available on a first come first serve basis, but folks are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets.

The Merry Wives of Windsor Towers July 12 to 28 // 
Coriolanus August 2 to 18
 // Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets (Subways: F to Delancey Street, walk one block south.)
 // Thursdays – Saturdays 8:00 PM // 
For info call 212-873-9050
 // FREE!

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