Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks offers the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor in Frick, Arsenal, and West Park/Allegheny Commons each weekend this September. The production uses the natural environs of each park in lieu of a set. Audience members are encouraged to bring a blanket, a chair, or stand as they follow the action around the park. All shows are free to the public.
PSIP’s productions have a contemporary, rough and tumble feel, and the actors favor a dynamic physicality that brings the text to life for the audience. The action roves about the parks; the conventional fourth wall is broken as the actors and audience share the playing space.
The Merry Wives of Windsor, one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedies, explores the themes of cuckoldry, jealousy, and schemes gone awry. Falstaff, the jolly knight known from the Henry IV plays, doubly woos Mistresses Page and Ford and is hilariously punished by the knowing women.
Director Tommy Costello, a PhD candidate at Pitt, doubles roles and experiments with cross-gender casting, creating a tightly-knit ensemble and delighting the audience. The costumes by Sarah Benedict suggest a southern-belle late 1800’s sensibility, and Music Director Ryan McMasters composes original music for the show.
Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks was started by Artistic Director Jennifer Tober in 2005 when she relocated from New York to Pittsburgh. “When I first moved here, with a lot of time on my hands, I spent a great deal of time in Frick Park, near the Blue Slide playground, and it struck me that the natural ‘amphitheatre’ at the bottom of the sledding hill was the perfect place to stage a show. Acting in outdoor Shakespeare companies is a huge part of my performance experience, and one of my favorite things in the world is doing, or watching, outdoor Shakespeare. Seven years later, we’ve expanded to 3 parks and offer Shakespeare to the public in a fresh way that many theatre-goers probably haven’t been exposed to before.”
The shows are free to the public with donations accepted. Pre-show activities include an abridged version of the play by Storyteller and PSIP Board Member Alan Irvine; there is an ASL interpreted performance for the hearing impaired, signed by Heather Gray, on Sunday September 18th in Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville.
September 3 and 4: Frick Park , Beechwood Blvd. and Nicholson St , Squirrel Hill (near Blue Slide Playground - NOT Regent Square).
September 10 and 11: West Park/Allegheny Commons, West North Ave & Brighton Rd, North Side
September 17 and 18: Arsenal Park , 39th and Butler St , Lawrenceville
September 24 and 25: Frick Park , Beechwood Blvd. and Nicholson St , Squirrel Hill
All shows begin at 2 PM and are free to the public.
Providing the Steel City with free Shakespeare since 2005.
“Bring a loved one, a blanket, and a thermos.”