Shakespeare in the Parking Lot 2016: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (© Lee Wexler)

Cinephiles have plenty of excuses to spend the summer in city parks, starting with Films On The Green and Movies Under The Stars. But if you’ve sworn off going to the movies in favor of #Netflixandchill, there are plenty of other excuses to enjoy our public greenery, starting with the following free events dedicated to The Artist and The Bard.

The Artist

Prince during his legendary 2008 Coachella performance (© Micahmedia)

Wednesday would have been Prince’s 59th birthday and our own Erotic City is celebrating it. Get yourself to the Coney Island boardwalk at the Parachute Jump (which will turn purple) at 6pm to honor Mr. Sex himself by dancing to a DJ and a setting sun until 9pm.

This Friday, June 9, there’s another Prince party at Brooklyn’s Herbert Von King Park, where the Black Rock Coalition’s Orchestra and a bunch of guest artists will get down to The Artist’s oeuvre. “This soul-satisfying, booty-shaking performance,” in the words of organizer NYC Parks, “will remind us all of what music can do when the people who make it are free to create outside the lines.” The show starts at 7pm, to be followed at 8:30pm by a screening of Purple Rain, the semi-biographical 1984 rock musical for which Prince managed to win an Oscar and get nominated for a Razzie.


The Bard

William Shakespeare

In case you don’t want to huddle up in your sleeping bag at the break of dawn for tickets for Shakespeare in the Park this summer, there’s more of old Billy to be found on the greens of our city. For starters, Smith Street Stage opens their rendition of Richard III tomorrow, June 7, at 7:30pm in Brooklyn’s Carroll Park. NYC Parks describes the play as the “chilling tale of a tyrant, his enablers, and those who attempt to resist.” Ahem.


The Drilling Company is also getting political with this year’s installment of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. Artistic director Hamilton Clancy told us the company thought Richard III would be “a bit too obvious,” so they went with All’s Well That End’s Well— “a play that features a woman who holds tremendous magic because of her tremendous love,” Clancy said, “because in our time we see the same: People are stepping forward with tremendous love and trying to be a cure for the disorganization and disorientation of our lacking leadership.” The production will be mounted Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm from July 6 through July 22 at The Clemente parking lot on the Lower East Side.

Later this summer, the Drilling Company will bring Twelfth Night and The Tempest to Bryant Park on the weekends. And at 7pm on Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays from July 27 until August 12, they’ll return to The Clemente parking lot with Henry VI, Part 3, the prequel to Richard III that introduces Shakespeare’s quintessential rogue.