The idea of outdoor theater is so appealing in the summertime – picnics, friends, perhaps a little wine and, if you’re lucky, an engaging show.
But this is the Bay Area, where July and August can mean midsummer winter, with fog, chilly breezes and a hint of snow. OK, so no snow, but sometimes it feels downright arctic when you’re shivering under a blanket trying to soak up some Shaw or Shakespeare of San Francisco Mime Troupe.
That said, when you venture out for some al fresco theatrics – and really, you should – you need to be prepared. Dress in layers and be prepared for hot and sultry weather that might, in a moment, turn into Anchorage in deepest February.
If you’d like to venture out for some free Shakespeare, you might try Woman’s Will’s Romeo and Juliet. The all-female troupe is consistently rewarding. Here’s their schedule:
Shows are at 1 p.m. July 28 at San Felipe Park, Hayward; 6 p.m. July 28 at Centennial Park, Pleasanton; 1 p.m. July 29 at Fremont Central Park, Fremont; 6 p.m. Aug. 3 at Yerba Buena East, San Francisco; 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at Yerba Buena East; 1 p.m. Aug. 5 at Rengstorff House, Mountain View; 8 p.m. Aug. 9 and 10 at Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland; 1 p.m. Aug. 11 and 12 at Dolores Park, San Francisco
Contact: (510) 420-0813; www.womenswill.org
Or you could try some swashbuckling with Shotgun Players’ annual free show in Berkeley, The Three Musketeers. Continues through Sept. 3 at John Hinkel Park, Southampton Avenue off The Arlington. 4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays (plus Sept. 3). Contact: (510) 841-6500; www.shotgunplayers.org.
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s touring production this year is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show is at Cupertino’s Memorial Park Amphitheater through Aug. 5 then moves San Mateo’s Central Park Aug. 11-26; and the tour finishes up Sept. 1-23 at San Francisco’s Main Post Parade Ground Lawn in the Presidio. Contact: www.sfshakes.org.
If you’re in the mood to pay for the privilege of seeing outdoor theater, then check out California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda. The company’s first two shows of the season, Richard III and Man and Superman, have been excellent. Next up is Marivaux’s The Triumph of Love directed and with a new adaptation by Lillian Groag. The show previews Aug. 8-10 and opens Aug. 11 and continues through Sept. at the Bruns Amphitheater. Tickets are $15 to $60. Call (510)548-9666 or visit www.calshakes.org.