July 18-August 5
Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Steven Maler
Performances are FREE and open to the public.
Tuesday–Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm (off Mondays)
Matinee performance on Saturday, August 4 at 3pm
Plan Your Trip including Parking, Accessibility and FAQ’s!
Shakespeare’s searing drama chronicles the ruthless ascension of a king and the devastation he leaves in his wake as he gains power over the realm.
Free Shakespeare on the Common is made possible each year through a combination of grants, sponsorships, and donations collected through the Friends Section program. The Friends Section consists of lawn chairs set in front of the stage for your convenience. Individuals can reserve a chair at a performance with a donation of $60 per chair, with all proceeds going directly towards the cost of the production. After July 17th, chairs increase to $75 during performance weeks. Online reservations can be made up to 5 hours prior to the performance. Friends Section chairs are pre-assigned. All donations are NON-REFUNDABLE and NON-TRANSFERABLE. Proceeds from the Friends Section help keep Shakespeare on the Common free for all!
Faran Tahir returns to Boston where he was first seen as Oberon in the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s very first production of “Free Shakespeare on the Common” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Copley Square. He has recently played the title role of Othello at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC to rave reviews, and has performed in over 50 roles in major theaters across the US in classical and contemporary roles, including the A.R.T. The Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club. He has also appeared in 20 films and over 75 television roles. Recent film credits include the President in “Elysium” (2013), with Matt Damon and Jodi Foster; “Escape Plan” (2013), starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone; “Star Trek” (2009); and as the unforgettably vicious nemesis in “Iron Man” (2008), opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. Tahir’s work on television spans across all genres, with recurring roles on “Scandal”, “Prison Break”, “Once Upon a Time”, “12 Monkeys”, “American Crime”, “Satisfaction”, “Dallas” a
Steven Maler is the Founding Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC). At CSC he has been directing Free Shakespeare on the Boston Common productions since 1996, including Love’s Labour’s Lost, King Lear, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, All’s Well That Ends Well, Othello, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Henry V, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and Romeo & Juliet. In collaboration with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, he directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring the Overture and Incidental Music of Felix Mendelssohn, as well as concert stagings of The Boys from Syracuse and Kiss Me, Kate at Boston’s iconic Hatch Shell.
Other CSC works include his current critically acclaimed production of Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, the world premiere of Jake Broder’s Our American Hamlet, and the world premiere of Robert Brustein’s The Last Will. He directed Peter Eötvös’s operatic treatment of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (U.S. Premiere) and Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face, The Turn of the Screw at New Repertory Theatre, Santaland Diaries and Chay Yew’s Porcelain at SpeakEasy Stage Company, Top Girls and Weldon Rising at Coyote Theatre, and The L.A. Plays by Han Ong at A.R.T. His New York City credits include the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of Without You, written by and starring Anthony Rapp. The production has been seen in Boston, Edinburgh, Toronto, London and Seoul.
He received the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence as well as for Best Production, Twelfth Night; Outstanding Director, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Best Production, Suburbia; Best Solo Performance, John Kuntz’s Starf***ers (which also won Best Solo Performance Award at New York International Fringe Festival).
His feature film “The Autumn Heart”, starring Tyne Daly and Ally Sheedy, was in the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
William Shakespeare was a renowned English poet, playwright, and actor born in 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon. His birthday is most commonly celebrated on 23 April, which is also believed to be the date on which he died in 1616. Shakespeare was a prolific writer during the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages of British theatre (sometimes referred to as the English Renaissance or the Early Modern Period). Shakespeare’s plays are perhaps his most enduring legacy, but they are not the only things he wrote. Shakespeare’s poetry has also remained popular to this day.
Shakespeare’s work includes 38 plays, 2 narrative poems, a collection of 154 sonnets, and other poems as well. No original manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays are known to exist today, and about half of Shakespeare’s plays are only available to us because a group of actors in his company collected them for publication after his death. These writings were brought together in what is known as the First Folio (‘Folio’ refers to the size of the paper used). It contained 36 of his plays, and none of his poetry. Shakespeare’s legacy is as rich and diverse as his work; his plays have spawned countless adaptations across multiple genres and cultures, and his plays have had an enduring presence on stage and film.
His writings have been compiled in various iterations of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by different entities, which usually include all of his plays, his sonnets, and his other poems. From Stratford to London and beyond, William Shakespeare was and is one of the most important literary figures of the English language.
Eric Southern is an OBIE award winning designer for theater, opera, and dance. New York: After the Blast, Bull in a China Shop, The Harvest, Ghost Light (LCT3); Sell/Buy/Date (
Jessica Pabst: Broadway: Marvin’s Room, The Heidi Chronicles. Recent Off Broadway; The Amateurs (The Vineyard Theatre) Marjorie Prime, The Whale (Lucille Lortel Award; Playwrights Horizons). The Ruins of Civilization, Taking Care of Baby, Murder Ballad( Manhattan Theatre Club) . Fortress of Solitude (The Public Theatre ) as well as Lincoln Center, Second Stage, Primary Stages, Atlantic Theatre Company, The New Group and The Juilliard School. Regional: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf, Two River, Dallas Theatre Center, Children’s Theatre Company, and Center Theatre Group.
Nathan Leigh has designed sound and composed original music for over 300 plays at theatres including New York Theatre Workshop (Nat Turner In Jerusalem), Red Bull Theatre (The Duchess of Malfi),Huntington Theatre (Skeleton Crew), American Repertory Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Group, The Debate Society (Gothamist: Best Sound Design 2007 for The Eaten Heart), Stoneham Theatre (IRNE Best Sound Design 2009 for Strangers On A Train), and Central Square Theatre (IRNE Best Sound Design 2010 for The Hound of the Baskervilles). With Kyle Jarrow, Nathan co-created the musicals Big Money (WTF Boris Segall Fellowship 2008) and The Consequences (World Premiere 2012 at WHAT). With the Liars and Believers ensemble, Nathan Leigh composed scores for adaptations of Song of Songs and Icarus. With Megan Sass, he is the composer and lyricist for The Mad Scientist’s Guide (NYC Fringe 2015). Nathan’s latest solo album is Ordinary Eternal Machinery.
Kevin Schlagle returns to CSC after previously working on The Two Gentlemen of Verona, King Lear, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Other theatre credits include Huntington Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater, New Repertory Theatre, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. His opera credits include Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Baroque, Boston Opera Collaborative, Guerilla Opera, New England Conservatory, BU’s Opera Institute, and Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. He holds a BFA in stage management from Boston University and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Jenna Worden is delighted to return to CSC after stage managing Old Money, Death and the Maiden and Our American Hamlet. She has worked extensively with Gloucester Stage Company, both as a stage manager and props master. Favorite GSC credits include To Kill a Mockingbird, Out of Sterno, and The Flick. In addition, Jenna has worked with WGBH, Phoenix Theatre, and Childsplay AZ. Jenna works as Programs Coordinator of Brighter Boston, a non-profit partnership providing teenagers with professional internships in technical theatre and event production. She earned both her BA in Theatre Studies and BSEd in History from Northern Arizona University.
Alex Schneps is a director, writer, actor, teacher, production & project manager, and all-around wearer of many hats. For Commonwealth Shakespeare Company: Associate Production Manager for the 2017 Shakespeare on the Common production of Romeo & Juliet. Other recent and noteworthy credits: directed Will Eno’s Tragedy: a tragedy at the Boston University School of Theatre; assistant directed Ideation at New Repertory Theatre (dir. Jim Petosa). As an AEA actor: Good (dir. Jim Petosa) at New Repertory Theatre; Romeo & Juliet (dir. Darko Tresjnak) at Hartford Stage; The Winter’s Tale (dir. Nick Hutchison) at Shakespeare’s Globe Education in London; Prelude to a Kiss (dir. Peter DuBois) at Huntington Theatre Company. In addition to his work with CSC, Alex is pursuing his MFA in Theatre Education at Boston University, where he teaches acting for non-majors. He also holds an MA in Classical & Contemporary Text from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and a BS in Film & Television from Boston University. He was recently the recipient of a BU Arts Initiative Research Grant to fund a solo project on loss, memory, and heritage.
Hannah Pryfogle is a Boston transplant from the beautiful Bay Area of California. She is a proud alum of Emerson College, where she studied musical theatre and arts management. She is the Patron Relations Coordinator for Fresh Ink Theatre Company and directs throughout the city. Hannah has previously been on staff with such companies as Lyric Stage, SpeakEasy Stage, and the American Repertory Theater. She is an avid solo traveler and mental health advocate.
Performances take place at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common, across from the AMC Loews Boston Common movie theater on Tremont Street.
Download a map of the Free Shakespeare on the Common site
Updated: May 22, 2018
The summer 2018 production of Richard III will run from July 18-August 5. Performances on Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8pm. Sunday performances begin at 7pm. There is a 3pm matinee on Saturday, August 4. There are no performances on Mondays.
There will be one matinee performance of Richard III on Saturday, August 4 at 3pm.
Yes, CSC will offer ASL-Interpreted, Audio-Described, and Open Captioned performances of Richard III this summer. Stay tuned for complete schedule.
Performances take place at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common, across the street from the AMC Loews Boston Common movie theater on Tremont Street.
If you are traveling via the MBTA, there are several stations located within steps of the Boston Common.
Green Line: Boylston or Park Street stops
Orange Line: Downtown Crossing or Chinatown stops
Red Line: Park Street or Downtown Crossing stops.
Parking is available in the Boston Common Garage. (Zero Charles Street, Boston, MA) Be sure to pick up a discount parking coupon from one of the tents or from one of our ambassadors. These coupons, provided by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, extend a discount to our patrons and proceeds go directly to CSC.
All performances of Shakespeare on the Common are FREE and open to the public. We offer a limited number of reserved chairs in our Friends Section located near the stage at each performance. Click HERE for more information. (link to Friend Section tab) In order to help us keep Shakespeare on the Common free for everyone, we encourage all who attend to consider leaving a donation to support our production.
Audience and actor safety is our main concern. In cases of heavy rain or lightning storms, we will cancel. Audiences can get weather updates on the homepage of our website or by calling the Weather Hotline at 617-426-0863. Information will also be distributed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Some patrons arrive as early as 2-3 hours before the performance to stake out their spot. There is plenty of room on the Boston Common, however, and you will be able to find room no matter when you arrive.
Lawn chairs are available for rent in the chair rental tents on either side of the stage. Chair rentals are $5, plus a $5 deposit that will be returned to you when you bring back the chair after the performance.
Yes, you are welcome to bring your own chair and/or blanket to sit on. Please note that if you have a tall chair that could obstruct the view of other patrons, you will be directed to a Tall Chair Section. Click HERE to view a detailed seating map. If you plan to arrive early, please do not leave your chair or blanket unattended.
Shakespeare on the Common is always FREE and open to the public. A limited number of reserved chairs will be available in our Friends Section for each performance. Friend Section seats will be available for purchase in mid-spring. For more information, click HERE (link to Friends Section tab) or call 617-426-0863.
Yes, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck and Earl of Sandwich are present during all performances. Additional food trucks will be available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. CSC concessions including bottled water and candy directly support Free Shakespeare on the Common. For your convenience, we encourage attendees to bring cash for food and concessions, although we do accept credit cards. You are welcome to bring your own food and we ask to help us keep the Boston Common clean by picking up after yourself. Alcohol is not permitted on the Boston Common.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket to sit on, a light sweater, mosquito repellent, and an umbrella if the forecast calls for rain. If you plan on attending a matinee performance, we suggest you bring a hat and sunscreen for your protection from the sun. Bringing cash is very much recommended for concessions, although we do accept credit card as well. If you plan to arrive early, please do not leave your blanket or chair unattended.
Yes, portable toilets are located near the tennis courts.
Yes, T-shirts, sweatshirts, blankets, and other items are available for purchase at the tents on either side of the stage. 100% of the proceeds benefit Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.
There are a number of ways to support CSC. Donations will be collected on the Common or visit. You can also CLICK HERE or call us at 617-426-0863 to learn more about how you can make a donation. Free Shakespeare on the Common is possible thanks to the support of friends like you.
No, there is now a smoking ban in all Boston Parks. A $250 fine will be enforced by the Park Rangers onsite.