Friday, September 18, 2009

Shakespeare in the Parking Space

As a New Yorker who sometimes keeps a car in the city, I am normally not in favor of anything taking up a parking space other than a car. Today, however, I have to make an exception. New York City is taking part in an international event called Park(ing) Day. (

The idea is to convert conventional parking spaces into engaging, people-friendly public spaces for one day a year. The aim is to spark discussion on the importance of parks and public space in normally auto-clogged cities like New York. Parking spaces all over New York have been transformed into art installations, exhibits, or performance spaces, like "Shakespeare in the Parking Space", which I made a special trip to see.

In a spot located on Columbus Avenue between 60th & 61st Streets, some Fordham University students set up a simple platform and a bench (all one really needs to perform Shakespeare) and treated passersby to sonnets, monologues, some contemporary poetry, songs and the inevitable "original rap". Some of the Shakespearean selections included Hermia and Helena from Midsummer (pictured below), Juliet Act 4, scene 2, a marvelous St. Crispen's Day speech from Henry V delivered with all the gusto only a college boy can muster, and even a female Hamlet.

Hard-boiled New Yorkers, normally too busy to even look up from their Blackberries, stopped to listen, laugh, applaud and take pictures, including a group of construction workers on their lunch hour (pictured below).

I must admit my word-nerd, classical theatre-loving heart was moved to see this earnest group of students performing Shakespeare as it was meant to be: in the open air for the masses. I doubt Shakespeare could have anticipated the noise from buses and ambulances whizzing by, however.

It's good to know that if I don't get any work after completing my MFA in classical acting, I can always high-jack a parking space to perform.

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At 8:18 PM, Blogger judy said...

Great post. SOOOO glad you're back. Of course, it took Shakespeare performed on the streets of NYC by earnest acting students to prod you, and I applaud them for it.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Alison Franck said...


I think you should start "Shakespeare in Zabar's"...oh, wait, it's the recession: "Shakespeare in MacDonald's"...people WANT Dinner Theatre!

At 12:07 AM, Blogger Diane said...

Great post. Only in NY!


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