Coronavirus Update New York City: Shakespeare in the Park returning this summer

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Shakespeare in the Park is returning this summer following a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the free outdoor series returning to the Public Theater's Delacorte Theater in Central Park in July.

The company will stage "Merry Wives," a 12-actor, intermission-free version of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," adapted by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Saheem Ali.

It will have an eight-week run starting on July 5, rather than the usual two-play season starting in May.

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As of now, the 2,000 seat Delacorte Theater can only admit 500 people, if they are tested.

The production will be set in Harlem, with the character Falstaff as an African-American seeking to woo two married women who are immigrants from West Africa.

The show will run through August 29.

Merry Wives will be "a celebration of Black joy, laughter, and vitality," the Public Theater said.

The performance schedule, safety precautions, and ticket distribution will be finalized and announced in the coming weeks.

Actors' Equity Association, the labor union that represents many of the performers, is "eagerly working" with the Public Theater on Shakespeare in the Park, and considering dozens of requests for other outdoor performances.

"We are eagerly working with the Public and many others on safety protocols that will allow for theatre performances to happen this summer," Actors' Equity Association said in a statement. "When enough vaccine is available for everyone, a fully vaccinated company will have less risk, which will mean streamlined safety protocols and a faster return to work. "In the meantime, Equity reviews its safety protocols on a regular basis to ensure safety protocols keep up with available science. In the last few weeks for example, Equity's safety protocols were revised to add recommendations for at-home COVID testing, which is reliable and convenient for producers. Equity is also encouraging public officials to make sure that arts workers are prioritized for vaccines as they lift capacity restrictions on live event spaces."

Throughout the pandemic, Actors Equity barred its members from working on most performances.

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