FAQ: Performances of Free Shakespeare on the Boston Common

When are the performances?

The summer 2024 production of The Winter’s Tale will run from July 16 – August 4.  Performances on Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 8pm.  On Saturday, August 4, the performance begins at 6pm. There are no performances on Mondays.

What is the running time of The Winter's Tale?

2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

What ages are appropriate for The Winter's Tale?

The Winter’s Tale is considered one of Shakespeare’s romances, or ‘problem plays’. This is because it holds both tragedy and comedy together in its plot. Deep-seated jealousy, a false sense of betrayal, and desire for revenge are among the themes that the play explores, in addition to a child and mother dying, child abandonment, false imprisonment, pick-pocketing–and being pursued by a bear (while exiting.) For these reasons, we encourage you to consider whether this play may be appropriate for young children. We always recommend parents/teachers/guardians to read the play script and/or screen an earlier free performance if they are unsure.

Are there special performances or considerations for patrons with disabilities?

The Winter’s Tale will feature on-site accessible services to patrons with mobility challenges, those who are deaf, hard of hearing, and blind.

Our Services
  • American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreted Performances
  • Audio Described Performances
  • Sound Enhancement Devices
  • Large Print and Braille Programs
  • Open Captioning

Accessible Seating for wheelchairs or for those with mobility challenges and their companions are reserved in several free seating locations around the Common.

Accessible seating is also available in CSC’s Friend Section for a minimum donation of $100.


Assisted Listening Devices are available at each performance. Visit the Information Booth to obtain equipment.

Accessibility Performances

Accessibility Performance dates for all of our performances can be found on the performance page for each production.

Please arrive at the theater half an hour before the official curtain time to hear the pre-show audio description.  Pre-show descriptions are packed with details which describers don’t have time to explain once the curtain goes up.  These details include descriptions of sets, props, characters, the actors playing them, and their costumes.  They can also establish a shorthand vocabulary for what describers will call certain characters or areas of the set and will explain the stylistic conventions of the show.  In short, pre-show descriptions can greatly enhance the audio description user’s experience of live theater.

Where are the performances?

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.

Where should I park?

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.

How much are tickets?

We are proud to participate in the Card to Culture program, a collaboration between Mass Cultural Council and the Department of Transitional Assistance, Massachusetts Health Connector, and Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, by breaking down financial barriers to cultural programming.

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. 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.

The following discounts are available:

EBT: For Shakespeare on the Common: Tickets are free + free rental chairs (normally $10) to EBT card holders. Limit of 4 per family. Stage2 Community Performances: Free to all EBT participants. Use Code: Card2Culture

WIC: For Shakespeare on the Common: Tickets are free + free rental chairs (normally $10) to WIC card holders. Limit of 4 per family. Stage2 Community Performances: Free to all WIC participants. Use Code: Card2Culture

ConnectorCare: For Shakespeare on the Common: Tickets are free + free rental chairs (normally $10) to ConnectorCare card holders. Limit of 4 per family. Stage2 Community Performances: Free to all ConnectorCare participants. Use Code: Card2Culture

See the full list of participating organizations offering EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare discounts.

Are shows delayed or canceled for weather?

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 checking our Social Media accounts, @CommShakes.

Are there chairs?

A limited number of lawn chairs are available for rent in advance when you make your reservation.  Chair rentals are $10 and can be reserved here. You can retrieve your chair(s) at the rental booth. After the performance, simply leave your chair(s) set up and our staff will retrieve them.

Can I bring my own chair? If so, where can I sit?

Yes, you are welcome to bring your own chair and/or blanket to sit on.  Please note that if you have a tall chair (most typical camp-style chairs) that could obstruct the view of other patrons, you will be directed to a Tall Chair Section. If you plan to arrive early, please do not leave your chair or blanket unattended.

How do I get one of those seats near the stage?

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. For more information, click HERE.

Is there food?/Can I bring my own?

You are welcome to bring your own modest refreshments and we ask you to help us keep the Boston Common clean by picking up after yourself. For dinner before or after the performance, we encourage you to visit one of the many restaurants located in Downtown Crossing or the food trucks available on-site. Alcohol is not permitted on the Boston Common. Water and Cookies can be purchased at our merchandise stand.

Dinner-and-a-Show Packages are available HERE in parternship with our Premier Restaurant Sponsor, Boston Chops.

What else should I bring?

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 to arrive early, please do not leave your blanket or chair unattended.

Are there restrooms?

Yes, portable toilets are located near the tennis courts.

Is there merchandise available for purchase?

We will be offering a selection of merchandise including CSC logowear, and limited-edition Macbeth-specific items!

How can I support Free Shakespeare on the Common?

There are a number of ways to support CSC.  You can CLICK HERE 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.

Can I smoke on the Common?

No, there is now a smoking ban in all Boston Parks.  A $250 fine will be enforced by the Park Rangers onsite.

What else can I do in the city?

Get more ideas on what to do on the Boston Travel Guide.

Are masks required?

Masks are recommended for patrons while they are roaming about the Common.

Featured Photo: Marin Ireland and Larry Coen in As You Like It, Shakespeare on the Common 2008-Photo by T. Charles Erickson

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