Depending on what type of entertainment you and your date enjoy, the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival might just be your cup of tea.
Even though I have never been super-into Shakespeare (and I hated reading that stuff in grade school), I always find these Shakespeare-in-the-park events quite enjoyable anyway, and a really good date experience.
With regard to this particular production, it is done in the original Old English. I usually start out completely lost, but by the end, I get the gist of what is going on. Seeing the characters acting out the play (as opposed to just reading it), helps a lot.
But note, these plays are LONG, so be prepared.
The Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival runs every summer from June to September. To get there, check out the map on their website, and follow the signs once you get there. The upper parking lot fills up quickly, but there is one just below it that has plenty of space. From there, it is a short walk to the outdoor theater.
Restrooms are available (it’s a real restroom, not porta-potties, thank goodness). There’s also a tent selling some light snacks and drinks, but don’t expect to get dinner there.
The audience has a wide age range, from young artsy hipsters to senior citizens and everything in between. You won’t feel out of place no matter what age you are.
What to Bring
This experience is sort of like a “poor man’s Hollywood Bowl”. You bring a beach towel or blanket to sit on, and some snacks or dinner and drinks. Some people bring beach chairs, but the majority sit on the ground. I personally find the chairs mildly offensive; if you do sit on a chair, you should sit near the back. Legally, alcohol is prohibited, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from imbibing. I didn’t see any enforcement.
The thing that almost everyone forgets the first time is a jacket! Usually, when you drive out there, it’s pretty hot. But, it gets quite chilly in the hills at night. Bring a good jacket or a couple of blankets! If you take only one thing from this article, let it be this!
I would also suggest bringing a flashlight, and field glasses (binoculars) if you have them.
Dogs are not permitted.
As I said, I don’t know much about Shakespeare, but the performances seem really good to me. The lighting is professional and the sound system enables everyone to hear clearly. The costumes and sets are usually modern (updated from Shakespeare’s time).
Shakespeare’s plays are quite long. The play we saw, Taming of the Shrew, started at 7 PM. There was an intermission at 9 PM, and I think it ended around 10 PM or so. If you don’t like sitting in one place for long periods of time, this event is not for you.
At the end of the performance, you’ll be asked for a donation, which is totally warranted given the amount of work required to put on a professional show like this.
Griffith Park is not the only place hosting Shakespeare in the Park! Google around for other Shakespeare-in-the-park performances.
If you and your date are into Shakespeare, or even just into checking out this novel experience one time, you’ll really enjoy this high-quality production. If you’re on a tight budget, even better.
On the other hand, if you prefer fast-paced entertainment with explosions, special effects, and superheroes, a movie might be a better option. I have nothing against that – sometimes I’m in that mood as well!
Hope this was helpful. What was your experience at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival like?