Startup theater shows Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Astoria and Long Island City

Poster courtesy of Rude Grooms

A Queens-based startup theater is bringing a slice of Shakespeare to Astoria and Long Island City this summer.

Rude Grooms announced that they are returning for a second year to offer a free production of “Romeo and Juliet” in August. As part of their Commons Series, the theater company will show William Shakespeare’s classic at Rainey Park, Queensbridge Park, Astoria Park and Plaxall Gallery.

In the past, the “Startup Theatre Experiment rooted in the Elizabethan Tradition” has put on productions of “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Twelfth Night” at local parks and art spaces in the borough.

“The show is a 90-minute, family-friendly romp with live acoustic music that features award-winning professional artists and is completely free. By activating familiar spaces in new ways and bringing world-class performers out into our communities, our Commons Series is an act of shared imagination that tears down barriers of entry into artistic programming, barriers between actor and audience, and barriers between audience members themselves,” said Montgomery Sutton, actor-manager and Rude Grooms’ Master of the Revels.

Rude Grooms partnered with Long Island City Artists at the Plaxall Gallery and the Astoria Park Alliance to produce the play while Queens Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council provided funding.

“Encountering ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as a teenager cracked Shakespeare open for me for the first time. Its enduring resonance with audiences young and old alike reconnects us to our shared humanity, an impulse which is at the core of our Commons Series: free performances of timeless stories in active public spaces to strengthen our Queens community through cultural engagement,” Sutton said.

Previews for the performances are on Aug. 14 and the play will run from Aug. 16 to 25. Anyone interested will have several opportunities to see the production: Wednesdays at Rainey Park, Thursdays in Queensbridge Park, Saturdays in Astoria Park and Sundays at Plaxall Gallery.

All performances are at 6:30 p.m. with additional 1:30 p.m. matinees hosted at the Plaxall Gallery. Rude Grooms encourage theatergoers to make seat reservations, which are required for preferred seating areas. Rude Grooms patrons will receive access to premium seating areas and VIP seating and other perks will be available in the coming weeks as part of the production’s crowdfunding campaign. Sign up for the mailing list at rudegrooms.com to find out when online reservations and the crowdfunding campaign launch.

All performances are free and open to the public. For more information, visit rudegrooms.com.

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