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Commonwealth Shakespeare Company presents professional productions of Shakespeare to Boston audiences during the summer when local theatre companies tend to be on hiatus from their regular seasons, but when there are record numbers of people in the city. Now entering its 24th season, CSC’s Free Shakespeare on the Common has become an annual Boston tradition, modeled along the lines of “Shakespeare in the Park” in Central Park and the many other free outdoor summer Shakespeare events throughout the city.
Beginning in the summer of 1996, CSC Artistic Director, Steven Maler collaborated with the City of Boston, the Boston parks and Recreation Department, and the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs to present a free outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Copley Square. This event was described by Ed Siegel of The Boston Globe as “fully engaging, with one of the most diverse audiences ever seen in Boston.” Midsummer was chosen as one of the top ten productions of 1996 by the Globe, and Mr. Maler received the Eliot Norton Award for his outstanding direction. Carolyn Clay of The Boston Phoenix wrote, “how proud it is for Boston to finally offer free Shakespeare.”
Following the success of Midsummer, CSC presented Romeo and Juliet at the newly renovated Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common in August of 1997. Performing annually at the Parkman Bandstand — centrally located, handicapped-accessible and accessible to all by public transportation — C