FREE Shakespeare on the Common

The Tempest

Directed by Steven Maler
Summer 2021
Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common

Free Shakespeare on the Common:The Tempest Postponed Until 2021

Due to the continued effects of COVID-19 on Boston and its community, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is postponing its production of ​The Tempest ​on the Boston Common until July 2021 with the same artistic and design team, as scheduling allows, including Tony Award nominee John Douglas Thompson* as Prospero, Remo Airaldi* as Antonio, Nora Eschenheimer* as Miranda, actor/playwright John Kuntz* as Trinculo, Nael Nacer* as Caliban, Richard Noble as Alonso, Fred Sullivan, Jr.* as Stephano, and Michael Underhill as Ferdinand. Scenic Design is by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos and Jeffrey Petersen, Costume Design by Nancy Leary, Lighting Design by Eric Southern, and Sound Design by David Reiffel.

Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler says “Over the past eight weeks we’ve watched the pandemic evolve with an optimism that, whatever the circumstances, we as a Company and community would come together to share ​The Tempest,​​ Shakespeare’s meditation on the torturous violence of usurpation, the wrenching betrayal of brothers, and the pain and release of forgiveness​. However, ​CSC’s first priority is the health and safety of our staff, artists, and the community; ​and despite the generally positive public health trends, it’s become clear that there is no path forward to produce an event this summer on the scale of Shakespeare on the Common.  Deep in my heart, I feel the urgent need for communion, I long for the healing balm of togethernessand I ache with the innate human need to share stories. Art, literature, and community have never felt more necessary, so we will not fall silent. Our team is committed to using this summer to advance CSC’s mission of celebrating ideas and language that invite civic dialogue, eliminating barriers to bring theater to diverse audiences, and inspiring young artists and audiences. Though I sharply feel the loss of the summer we were planning, I see it as a pause – one that hopefully allows a deeper, richer production next summer and a chance for us to redirect our energies to areas of greatest need and opportunity.”

As announced in March, production staff and artists engaged for the production will be paid this summer despite the postponement.

In lieu of presenting ​The Tempest​ on the Boston Common this July, the team is developing a host of other activities and programming. The team is exploring performing pop-up live and online performances, developing educational materials for ​The Tempest​ and CSC’s Stage2 production of ​A Midsummer Night’s Dream​ (rescheduled to spring 2021), and deepening CSC’s commitment to racial equity in all aspects of its work. The company will also support CSC’s annual Apprentice Program which has moved to a virtual format this summer. Now in its eleventh year, CSC’s Apprentice Program brings together pre-professional actors from across the country for Shakespeare training and professional development opportunities. This year an unprecedented forty students will engage in training on Shakespeare’s text and voice, as well as masterclasses with local and nationally renowned artists from CSC’s past productions. The online training will culminate in public virtual presentations of scenes and monologues.

Further information will be announced in the near future as plans develop.

Directed by Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler and featuring Boston and New York’s finest actors, The Tempest, Shakespeare’s final play, transports the audience to a mysterious and enchanting island inhabited by a host of colorful characters. In this tale of magic, betrayal, revenge, and family, the wise and powerful Prospero struggles to maintain the world he’s created as order is thrown off balance by those around him: his curious daughter, Miranda; a man who’s just washed ashore, Ferdinand; the half human, half monster, Caliban; two fools, Stephano and Trinculo; and the mystical spirit of the air, Ariel, among many others. With elements of tragedy and comedy, this “brave new world” is a charming escape to revel in under the stars for the 25th production of Free Shakespeare on the Common.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.

Now entering its 25th season, CSC’s Shakespeare on the Common has become an annual Boston tradition, modeled along the lines of “Shakespeare in the Park” in Central Park and the many other free outdoor summer Shakespeare events throughout the country.

Beginning in the summer of 1996, CSC Founding Artistic Director, Steven Maler collaborated with the City of Boston, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs to present a free outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Copley Square.  This event was described by Ed Siegel of the Boston Globe as “fully engaging, with one of the most diverse audiences ever seen in Boston.” The production was chosen as one of the top ten theatrical events of 1996 by the Boston Globe, and Mr. Maler received the Eliot Norton Award for his outstanding direction.  Carolyn Clay of the Boston Phoenix wrote, “how proud it is for Boston to finally offer free Shakespeare.”

Following the success of its first production, CSC presented Romeo & Juliet at the newly renovated Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common in August of 1997. Performing annually at the Parkman Bandstand — centrally located, handicapped-accessible and accessible to all by public transportation — CSC has become one of Boston’s most attended annual arts events.  Each summer CSC welcomes approximately upwards of 50,000 people to our shows on the Boston Common, and over the past 25 years CSC has performed for over 1 million audience members.

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

MBTA

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

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.

Videos

Click below to view a video about transportation options

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.  Chair reservations begin in late spring. Online reservations can be made up to 5 hours prior to the performance. with all proceeds going directly towards the cost of the production.  Online reservations can be made up to 5 hours prior to the performance.  Friends Section chairs are pre-assigned.  All donations are NON-REFUNDABLE.  Proceeds from the Friends Section help keep Shakespeare on the Common free for all!

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is committed providing equal access to Free Shakespeare on the Common through its access and inclusion program.  Our staff is equipped to assist patrons of all abilities.  A limited number of tall chairs, accessible seating areas, assisted-listening devices, and Braille and large print programs are available at each performance by visiting the Information Tent.

Anyone needing special accommodations is encouraged to contact CSC in advance at 617-426-0863.

The Tempest will feature on-site accessible services to patrons with mobility issues, those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired.  Check back for dates and times to be posted.

Accessibility Programming Vendors and Partners
Braille Programs: Perkins Library
Audio Description Equipment: Terry Hanley Audio
Assisted Listening Devices: McCoy Audio Systems

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

Accessible Seating for wheelchairs or for those with mobility impairments and their companions are reserved in several free seating locations around the Common.  Click here for a map.

Accessible seating is also available in CSC’s Friend Section for a minimum donation of $60 before performance weeks and $75 during the run of the  performance.

Braille and large-print programs are available at each performance.  Visit the Information Tent to obtain a copy.

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

When are the performances?

Summer 2021

Performances are FREE and open to the public.
Tuesday–Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm (off Mondays). One 3pm matinee.

What ages are appropriate for The Tempest?

Parents know their children best. Please reach out at 617-426-0863 with specific concerns.

Are there matinee performances?

There will be a 3pm matinee.  Check back for date and time.

Are there special performances or considerations for patrons with disabilities?

The Tempest will feature on-site accessible services to patrons with mobility issues, those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired.  Check back for dates and times to be posted.

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

Accessible Seating for wheelchairs or for those with mobility impairments and their companions are reserved in several free seating locations around the Common.  Click here for a map.

Accessible seating is also available in CSC’s Friend Section for a minimum donation of $75.

Braille and large-print programs are available at each performance.  Visit the Information Tent to obtain a copy.

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

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.

MBTA

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?

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.

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 calling the Weather Hotline at 617-426-0863.  Information will also be distributed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When should I arrive?

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.

Are there chairs?

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.

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 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.

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.  Friend Section seats will be available for purchase in mid-spring. For more information, click HERE or call 617-426-0863.

Is there food?/Can I bring my own?

Yes, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck and Earl of Sandwich are present during all performances.  Additional food trucks will be available at select performances. For your convenience, we encourage attendees to bring cash for food and concessions, although most food partners 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.

Our Food Truck Schedule will be posted here for The Tempest.

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 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.

Are there restrooms?

Yes, portable toilets are located near the tennis courts.

Is there merchandise available for purchase?

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.

How can I support Free Shakespeare on the Common?

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.

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.

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