Monday, June 22, 2015

Shakespearean Travesty

In which we go to see The Tempest (the play) and wind up in the tempest (the weather)
"The Tempest" Ivan Ivazovsky Wikiart.Org

Dear Diaries:

Shakespeare in the Park has been a New York City fixture since the 1960s, but imagine - we'd never gone to see it!  Not that we didn't want to, but we heard that even though it was free (that wonderfully seductive adjective!), there was a catch (there's always a catch): you had to stand on line forever in the blazing heat and hope for a ticket.  Well, five days a week we have jobs, which leaves Saturday and Sunday for everything else. Never enough time, eh, diaries?
1908 The Office Museum

But Shakespeare in the Park came into the digital age, and now there's an online lottery.  So we signed up for that - (separately, to increase our chances), but didn't always remember to sign up before the daily noon deadline, and neither of us won when we did.

The Tempest is only playing till July 5, so we didn't have the luxury of biding our time.
St. Louis Gametime

So we tried a third lottery option this past weekend.  We went down to the Public Theater on Lafayette Street, where there is a daily lottery for those who show up in person.  Submit your name starting at 11:30am, and wait to hear your name starting at 12pm.  We did this over the weekend because we couldn't possibly do it on a work day.  

First we checked the weather.  New York has seen a lot of rain lately, which is great for dry earth, but very, very bad for Shakespeare in the Park.  So bad, in fact, that SITP will be cancelled in the event of rain. Or people will need ponchos or rain coats. There had been rain in the wee hours of the morning, and forecasters were making contradictory weather predictions.

But at 11am, the sun was blazing, so Valerie got all dolled up and took the bus down; Jean got all dolled up and strolled over.  One of the gents in charge told us not too many people know about this option yet (although it's on the SITP website), which explains why we both scored ticket vouchers (or two, if we wanted them).  

There is another option, and that's the $200 membership option.  That way you skip the lottery, the waiting on lines, and the limitations in the number of times you can attend.  But free is a very seductive word, and we were seduced.

Vouchers are not tickets, however, and the rules state that voucher holders have to show up at the box office between 5pm and 7pm ("NO EXCEPTIONS") to turn in their vouchers for tickets.  Valerie went home (to do laundry! really!) and Jean went to an Amy Downs hat event (to buy hats! really!), after agreeing to a 5pm meeting point in Central Park.  
Amy Downs Summer 2015 Urban Turban

The heat and humidity were merciless, so we both changed into comfort clothing (next best thing to comfort food).

We arrived at the theater at about 5:15, with nary another voucher holder in sight, so we needn't have worried, but better safe than sorry. 
Of good cheer, even without an intern or a selfie stick.

Sitting on a bench, waiting for the gates to open at 7:30, we nibbled on snacks and spoke to fellow benchers about the possibility of rain. One woman showed us her Galaxy smart phone, which showed the chance of precipitation was zero, so we were of good cheer.

Just before 8pm we were ushered in, where we had lovely seats, and lovely seat mates.  We were warned numerous times to turn off our cell phones and NOT TO TAKE PICTURES. As the play opened, a musician nearby (too nearby) struck a grand gong and numerous other percussive instruments to evoke Shakespeare's tempest and for over an hour we very much enjoyed ourselves, and the play, and Sam Waterston and his fellow actors. Parenthetically, we were very happy to see bats flitting above the stage in the twilight, a heartening sign since white nose syndrome has sent East Coast bat populations crashing. Remember bats eat insects, so they're our friends, not our enemies.

We also saw several dragonflies in performances of their own, zigzagging across the stage. 

Sometime after the intermission, though, just after Prospero joins the lovers in a fairytale ceremony, the heavens actually did open up on audience and stage, and the performance had to be stopped. Numerous people inexplicably screamed as if the bleachers had collapsed, and all of us went running for cover.
QMI Agency/Tony Caldwell - Ottowa woman in rain

Amazingly, after about fifteen minutes, the rain stopped, and we were invited to take our seats again.  But by that time, it was after 10pm and we were exhausted. We had gotten up at 8am to embark on this journey. We had arrived early at two separate locations, and had probably spent more than five hours doing what one has to do to see a three hour play for free, only to be rained on.(One fellow stander-under-the-awning said this was the second performance he'd attended in the rain; another nearby trumped that, saying it that was his third, and that non-paying guests don't get to try again.) We decided to make our way home.

Two little old ladies in Central Park on a dark and stormy night.

Gee, does that mean we're old now?
Summer Rayne Art 2014


  1. Oh rats! I'd have called it a night too, and decided the fates were not kind. xo

  2. We have been getting a lot of rain here lately, and had a doozy of a thunderstorm last night. So sorry your Tempest experience was cut short by Mother Nature, especially after all you went through to get tickets!

  3. Oh how I wish I could have attended the Amy Downs Hat Event. And I would have made my way home too! The two of you have more energy and persistence than most people of any age..