Summer 2023

Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Steven Maler

In Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, an unexpected prophecy sends Macbeth on a quest to become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and prompted to action by his wife, Macbeth’s desire for power makes him blind to the cost. This murderous tale explores the consequences of our choices and questions the influence of forces beyond our control. A mainstay of the Shakespeare canon, our production of Macbeth will be directed by CSC Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler.

Audience Information
    • Performances are FREE of charge. Advanced registration is not required for this summer’s production.
    • Audience members are permitted to bring modest food items to consume at the show. Alcohol is not permitted on the Boston Common.
    • Audience members can bring their own blankets or chairs, or can rent chairs online in advance or on-site for $10.
    • Reserved premium seating in our Friends Section are available at the button below.  Check out our Friends Section page for more information.
Performance Dates and Times

The Boston Common Stage at the Parkman Bandstand


CSC provides a range of accessibility services including assistive listening devices and  large print programs at every performance, and  ASL interpretation, open captioning, and audio description at selected performances. Access performance dates TBA.

For more information about accessibility, please email audienceservices@commshakes.or

About CSC

Now entering its 26th 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 27 years CSC has performed for over 1 million audience members.

Free Shakespeare on the Common is possible thanks to the support of friends like you. There are a number of ways to support CSC. Donations will be collected on the Common or you can also CLICK HERE.


Faran Tahir

Faran Tahir has appeared in over 50 theater productions, 20 films and countless
television roles. He has a long history with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. He
appeared in the very first production of CSC in 1996 as Oberon/Theseus in A Midsummer
Night’s Dream.
Tahir was most recently seen as Baba in the Broadway production of The Kite Runner. He has also worked off-Broadway at Lincoln Center and Manhattan Theatre Club and in major theaters across United States such as American Repertory Theatre and Goodman Theatre. Tahir’s work ranges from classical to contemporary. In 2012, Tahir performed
the title role of Othello at Shakespeare Theatre Company to rave reviews. In summer of 2018, Tahir took on the title role of Richard III at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company for which he earned a nomination for Elliot Norton Awards for best actor, as well as the best actor nomination from IRNE awards. He received the 2010 Male Actor of the Year award and the 2010 Elite Asian Award in Canada. Tahir was also nominated for the Robert Prosky Award for Best Theatre Actor in 2000.
Tahir’s 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. He can be seen in three upcoming
movies, The Martial Artist, The Window, and Coup!
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 and Warehouse 13, and over a100 guest lead appearances on shows like Supergirl, Blacklist, Criminal Minds, Elementary, Supernatural, Lost, NYPD Blue, Grey’s Anatomy amongst many others. He was awarded a “Voices of Courage and Conscience Award” from the Muslim Public Affairs Council and submitted by ABC network for a 2010 Emmy Award for his performance in Grey’s Anatomy.
Tahir was born in Los Angeles. He holds a B.A. in Development Studies from University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in Theatre from Harvard University.

Joanne Kelly
Lady Macbeth
Joanne Kelly
Lady Macbeth

Joanne Kelly is from Bay D’Espoir, Newfoundland. Her recent television credits include Showtime’s “City on a Hill,” Apple TV+’s Emmy-nominated series “Severance,” and Epix’s “Godfather of Harlem.” Other favorite television credits include SyFy’s “Warehouse 13,” City TV’s “The Disappearance,” and “Slings and Arrows.” Film credits include Closet Monster, Runoff, Away from Everywhere, and The Bay of Love and Sorrows. She appeared onstage in Canada in Shakespeare by the Sea’s productions of Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Measure for Measure, HurlyBurly Theatre Company’s Macbeth, Same Plan Co-op’s Seven Stories, Castawayhorse Productions’ Oleanna, QED Theatre Co-op and Red One Theatre Collective’s Proof, and The Dynasty Collective’s House of Yes.

Creative Team

Steven Maler

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 Richard III, 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. Other CSC works include his critically acclaimed production of Naomi Wallace’s adaptation of William Wharton’s novel Birdy, 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.  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.  For CSC he has also directed one-night-only readings of iconic plays featuring Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, Blair Brown, Tony Shalhoub, Brooke Adams, Leslie Uggams, David Morse, and Jeffrey Donovan among others.  He conceived and directed Shakespeare at Fenway, an evening of Shakespeare scenes performed at Boston’s iconic Fenway Park, featuring Mike O’Malley, Neal McDonough, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Kerry O’Malley, Seth Gilliam, Zuzanna Szadkowski, Max Von Essen, Christian Coulson, Jason Butler Harner, and many others.

In collaboration with Google, he adapted and directed a first of its kind sixty minute virtual reality film of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, entitled Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit, starring Jack Cutmore-Scott, Jay O. Sanders, Brooke Adams, and Faran Tahir.  It is currently available for viewing on Boston public media producer GBH’s YouTube channel; for more information, visit

Outside of CSC, he directed Maria, Regina D’Inghilterra for Odyssey Opera, Péter Eötvös’ operatic treatment of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (U.S. Premiere) and Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face for Opera Boston, 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 prestigious Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, as well as for Best Production for Twelfth Night and All’s Well That Ends Well; 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

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.


CSC’s production of Free Shakespeare on the Common performs on land now known as The Boston Common which is on the traditional lands of the Pawtucket and Massachusett tribes, as well as the historic lands of the Wampanoag nation.

The Boston Common, in particular, has a bloody history towards Indigenous peoples that is seldom discussed. We wish to express our sorrow for this history and extend our deepest gratitude for the use of this space. We ask you to learn more about this, the process and importance of land acknowledgement, and ways to support Indigenous communities who are still here by exploring the materials we have gathered below.

Performances take place at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common, across from the AMC Loews Boston Common movie theater on Tremont Street.

For Locations of our Merch Booth, Front of House Booth, and Stage, see this Google Map.

Support for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Provided by

Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter