Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
"...one of the community's treasures." Los Angeles Times
Join 50,000 of your fellow Angelenos for LA's favorite* summertime event!
Since 2004, Independent Shakespeare Co. has been bringing our community together for free performances. This summer, join us for great theater in Griffith Park along with special events and special guests.
And it's all free (donations gratefully accepted.)
*the Dodgers are pretty awesome, too.
Romeo & Juliet
June 25 - July 26
Thursdays-Sundays at 7:00
**ADDED PERFORMANCES: Thursday, 9/3; Friday, 9/4 and Sunday, 9/6**
Adolescent bliss spins out of control in this imaginative staging of the most famous love story ever told.
This new adaptation incorporates an original rock score and design that is equal parts fairy tale and punk. A live band and athletic performances create a Romeo and Juliet that explodes off the Griffith Park stage.
Independent Shakespeare’s production of Romeo and Juliet ...is an overwhelming success with it’s completely fresh interactive presentation. Here we have absolute beauty, intelligent comedy and painful tragedy unequivocally balanced. " Gia on the Move
...imbeds the classic tale with surprises, leaving the audience laughing and spellbound until the pitiful end. Stage Raw
Much Ado About Nothing
July 30 - August 30
Thursdays-Sundays at 7:00
It's the summer of 1945 in Messina. Don Pedro and his battalion are enjoying a much-needed respite in Leonato's villa. The young and naive Claudio and Hero fall in love and get engaged; Don Pedro plays Cupid between Beatrice, Hero’s sharp-tongued cousin, and confirmed bachelor-for-life Benedick; and Don Jon plots against any and all happy endings. Bursting with romance, full of eccentric characters, and set to a swinging soundtrack, it's a perfect summer evening in Griffith Park.
Shakespeare’s famous treatise on love...played out with an enjoyably raucous abandon. Arts in LA
To a significant extent the players and audience merged and the level of pure fun, happiness, laughter and joy saturated the venue and ... provided what all shows must provide, real entertainment. Examiner.com
With your family, friends, and a picnic to share, it’s a guaranteed good time, and one of the best ways to spend a summer night in LA. Celebrate summer! Shakespeare in LA
Our performance site is at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park.
Ample free parking is available. Look for the hot pink signs directing you to the parking lots near the Merry-Go-Round. Parking lot 2 is the closest to the performance site, but do be prepared for a bit of a walk up a hill.
Downloadable Parking map is here.
Please note: as with anywhere in the city, don't park against curbs painted red and look out for "no parking" signs! Griffith Park has fire lanes and they are serious about enforcing them!
Plan your evening
- We welcome children at our performances! But please be advised, these are not Shakespeare performances edited or changed for children. Shakespeare wrote about the human experience, and his plays include examples of sexuality and violence, and deal with adult themes. Email us and we'll be happy to answer any specific questions you may have about particular performances. And please, keep your children with you at all times.
- There is an uphill walk from the parking areas to our performance site. If you have mobility challenges, please call us at 818-710-6306 to make arrangements.
- Don't forget your picnic! (Note: alcohol is prohibited in Los Angeles City parks.)
- Dress in layers as it gets chilly in the evening.
- We have a concessions tent with hot and cold beverages, cupcakes, kettle corn and light snacks. Cash and credit cards accepted.
- We encourage your consideration of those around you! Low seat beach chairs (legs lower than 3") are welcome behind our chair line. The lower area closest to the stage is reserved for those with picnic blankets.
- As a courtesy to those around you, we ask you to leave your four legged friends at home.
- You may find that bug spray and sunscreen are also helpful to bring with you.
- For disabled access, please call us at 818-710-6306 for information and to make arrangements.
Special events throughout the summer. All are FREE!
Players in the Park/Teatristas en el parque: workshops for families.
These interactive workshops are high energy and introduce participants to the plays & characters. You'll also meet some of the actors and take a backstage tour.
Before Romeo & Juliet - Sunday, July 12 & Saturday, July 25. 5pm.
Before Much Ado About Nothing - Sunday, August 9 & Saturday, August, 22. 5pm.
Reservations for Players in the park are encouraged and can be made here.
Salon Series: discussions at the intersection of Shakespeare and contemporary culture
These Paper Bullets!
Sunday, August 2 at 5:45pm
In the Old Zoo before the performance
How do you drag Much Ado into the 21st century even if you’re setting it in the 20th century?
Ready, steady, go! These Paper Bullets is a modish riff on Much Ado About Nothing which is having its West Coast Premiere at the Geffen Playhouse this fall.
Join playwright (and Pulitzer Prize finalist) Rolin Jones and The Geffen Playhouse's Amy Levinson to discuss the process of adapting Shakespeare's play and integrating the music of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong.
Sigh No More: Nostalgia for the Good War
Saturday, August 8 at 6:00 pm
“The first casualty of war is the truth,” Aeschylus said. His observation is as true of the “merry war” between Beatrice and Benedick as it is of World War 2, the “good war” against the background of which this summer’s ISC production of Much Ado about Nothing is set. Dare we sigh for honesty when even the best of wars frustrates our nostalgia for it? What observations about love, war, and truth can we take home from the dance at the end of the play? Reservations recommended: call (818) 710-6306 or email Sarah.
In the Studio
Wednesdays, August 5 and 12
by Richard Creese
Performed by Ryan Vincent Anderson
Directed by Jeffrey Wienckowski
This one-man play tells the story of Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor who fled 1825 New York to conquer the European stage. There, he inspired a successful campaign to end slavery in the British Empire.
The Studio is located at:
3191 Casitas Ave. #168
Los Angeles, 90039
Directions & map are here
Symphony In The Glen
September 5th at 7:00 pm
Our third year collaborating with Symphony In The Glen!
Signifying Nothing will delight audiences with symphony music, Shakespeare and Commedia dell'Arte. The program will begin with Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, interspersed with Shakespeare performances by ISC company members. During the second half, Commedia characters will invade the Old Zoo for Mozart's raucous pantomime, Pantalone and Columbine.
Pre-show performances by our Festival Arts Partners
Come to the park early to enjoy these curtain-raising acts
Performances begin at 6:30pm
Honey Whiskey Trio
Sunday, July 5 before Romeo and Juliet
The Honey Whiskey Trio explores harmony in folk, bluegrass and any melody that catches the ear. Through their powerful, yet sweet harmonies, body percussion, haunting melodies and vitality on stage, Honey Whiskey Trio captivates and moves audiences. These storytellers in song found their roots in vocal jazz, all singing in Pacific Standard Time, CSU Long Beach’s award winning vocal jazz ensemble. This foundation in jazz gives Honey Whiskey Trio an inherent flexibility to their sound, allowing them to change and adjust their tone to best fit the mood of each song. In 2013, after singing together for only 5 months, Honey Whiskey Trio won the Harmony Sweepstakes National Competition, also winning Audience Favorite. They have gone on to headline the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, the Women's A Cappella Association's SheSings Festival, the South Eastern Minnesota A Cappella Festival, and be featured artists at the FAR-West Folk Festival, the Rogue Valley Roots Festival, the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival,and the Shedd Institute for the Arts. Called “One of the most talented vocal harmony groups performing today” by John Neal, Harmony Sweepstakes executive producer and ”One of the very best arrivals this year on my stage. Solid in every way and fully entertaining” by Bob Stane, of The Coffee Gallery Backstage, Honey Whiskey Trio is a group you don’t want to miss experiencing live.
July 17, 18, 19 before Romeo and Juliet
August 14, 15, 16 before Much Ado About Nothing
Invertigo Dance Theatre is a Los Angeles contemporary dance company. We produce dance theater that tells compelling stories, while creating a playful and thoughtful relationship between dancers, musicians and audience. Founded in 2007 by Artistic Director Laura Karlin, Invertigo has performed original evening-length shows and shorter works all over Los Angeles, in such venues as the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Ford Amphitheatre, Alex Theatre, LACMA, Odyssey Theatre, Broad Stage and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Invertigo has been praised as "engaging" by the LA Times and named one the "top six trend-setting companies to watch in LA” by Dance Spirit Magazine. In October 2014, Invertigo premiered After It Happened, a full evening work of dance, theatre and live music, which ran for 10 sold-out shows over 3 weeks. The show was named at the top of LA Weekly’s Top 10 Dance Performances in 2014 and it was in the Bitter Lemons Top 10 Best of Los Angeles Theatre. Invertigo is thrilled to be returning to share the stage with our ISC family! We first worked with ISC in 2008 and have grown up alongside this wonderful company.
MKM Bollystars Dance Co.
Sunday, August 2 before Much Ado About Nothing
The expression of one’s inner light, the ages old story of a soul, driven by the sparks of passion, magical like the stars…” MKM Bollystars Dance Company was established in Calgary in 2010 and in Los Angeles in 2012. A dynamic dance company it prides itself for its high quality performers, contemporary choreography, and authenticity of both eastern and western dance styles. Energetic, graceful, and passionate, the company comprises of versatile industry dancers straight out of Hollywood. A strong collaborative team of dancers, each performer is well-versed in multiple dance styles, with strengths in diverse areas of expertise, from Bharata Natyam (an Indian Classical dance form), to Ballet, Salsa to Flamenco, Hip Hop to Tap. A rich dance heritage spanning over five decades, the leadership of visionary artistic director Shivani Thakkar, and a cultural and creatively diverse team, provide the backbone for what transpires to be truly memorable and statement driven work. Past credits include performances at the Hollywood Bowl for the LA Philharmonic, Skirball Cultural Center, Paramount Pictures, Calgary 2012 opening ceremonies, Mayor of Calgary’s Evening of Excellence Awards, Indian Film Festival Los Angeles for three consecutive years, and have been featured on Breakfast Television Calgary, OMNI Television Bollywood Top Ten Show Opener, and in the Calgary Herald.
Thursday, August 6 before Much Ado About Nothing
Founded in 2006 in Los Angeles by Artistic Director Amy “Catfox” Campion, Antics creates multimedia urban dance performances that leverage the expressive capacity of hip hop. Antics’ work transforms vital stories and ideas into moving visual metaphors through breakdancing, locking, popping, krumping, DJ’s, MC’s, spoken word, poetry, theater, graffiti art, and film. Antics consists of 10 company members who represent the best street dancers in Los Angeles. Antics is committed to innovating the realm of hip hop dance theater as well as participating in community education through exciting and engaging residencies, workshops, and lecture/demonstrations. Antics has been featured at the San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest, the J.U.i.C.E. Hip Hop Dance Festival, the B-Girl Be Festival in Minneapolis, the Ford Theatres in Hollywood, the El Portal Theater, the REDCAT, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Levitt Pavilion, the Esalen International Arts Festival, World of Dance, the Pasadena Dance Festival, Dancing in the Margins Festival, B-Girl Be Festival, the LA Women’s Theater Festival, and the LA County Holiday Celebration at the Music Center as well as on Ovation TV, Strife TV, PBS, KCET, and LA36.
Cast of Fame, Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center
Saturday, August 22 before Much Ado About Nothing
The Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center is a non-profit based in the heart of Leimert Park that provides students in the community with free lessons in piano, guitar, band, drama, dance, vocals, film, music recording and playwriting. Established in 2011, they have a history of presenting quality work and keeping the integrity within everything they do. Their goal is to take over south central one house at a time as they have seen this in the over 500 students they have serviced. Registration is currently happening now for the fall semester.
The performance is an excerpt from "Fame - The Musical, the bittersweet, but ultimately inspiring story of a diverse group of students as they commit to four years of grueling artistic and academic work. Highlighted in the production are the struggles, fears, prejudices and substance abuse to the ultimate amazing triumphs! The cast depicts a razor-sharp focus as they navigate through the worlds of music, drama, and dance.
Pacific Opera Project
Sunday, August 23 before Much Ado About Nothing
Pacific Opera Project is dedicated to accessible, high-quality, entertaining opera to audiences across Los Angeles. POP-Up productions are best described as "a party where an opera happens to be playing." The idea for these "simple" productions started in November of 2012 with La boheme AKA: The Hipsters. It was put together in four days, sold-out three performances immediately, and received amazing reviews from audiences and critics. The idea was to produce shows in about a week of rehearsal, with relatively low production costs and with table seating, including wine and food all for a very low price. La boheme was followed by a sold-out run of Il barbiere di Siviglia in March of 2013. With the addition of a small chorus, the basic formula stayed the same-- bring in incredible singers for a few days of rehearsal, keep production costs low with minimal sets and just piano, and seat audiences at tables as close as possible to the stage. POP-up productions are the perfect, affordable way to introduce your friends to opera.
Los Angeles Police Concert Band
Sunday, August 30 before Much Ado About Nothing
The Los Angeles Police Concert Band serves as musical ambassador for the City of Los Angeles throughout the United States and abroad. The band has performed for presidents, kings, queens, and for inaugurations of police chiefs and mayors. Under the direction of Dr. Don Holcomb, the band has become a premiere concert band, the pride of the Police Department and the City of Los Angeles. Established in 1914, the LAPD Band was originally comprised entirely of sworn officers. Following the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, budget cuts nearly closed the band forever. But a group of civic leaders headed by Bob Ahmanson and Gene Rodenberry reorganized the band as an all-volunteer group under the direction of John Campbell. Thanks to their efforts and countless hours from dedicated staff and volunteers, the 75-member ensemble continues to maintain an active concert schedule. Many of its members are professional musicians who play regularly in local symphonies, radio and television programs, movie studios and prominent "big bands", as well as several retired law enforcement, judicial, and civil service employees.
Planning a get-together at the park? Click the button below for free custom Evite invitations for Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, plus special gatherings like birthdays, family nights and more!