- May 16, 2014

A Free Evening of Shakespeare in Zilker Park


I love Shakespeare. I love Zilker Park. I love picnics. And I love events that are FREE. So from the start, I was pretty sure I was going to be happy with a night out seeing As You Like It at Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theatre. This production celebrates the 30th free Shakespeare performance in Zilker Park! The City of Austin, Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Zilker Hillside Theatre coordinate with Austin Shakespeare to present this show free to the public at 8pm, Thursdays through Sundays, through May 25, 2014. 

Instead of going with my family, I opted to gather some girlfriends and go for a mom’s night out. We arrived around 7:30pm on Thursday night to find that parking was relatively easy and free. (Special event parking is $5, however no one was collecting it last night. I suggest having $5 on hand just in case.)  By 7:30pm, there was already quite a crowd that formed on the hillside, which meant we had to sit towards the back. Groups had spread out their picnic blankets and were settling in for the show. Folks with foldable chairs are asked to sit along the back wall of the hillside so as not to block the view of those on the ground. I was surprised to see a few babies and children of varying ages scattered throughout the crowd, but I was also impressed with those parents who decided to go for it. One nice aspect of attending a free outdoor play is that you can get up and exit quietly if needed without much to lose.

We brought our own snacks, which is a great idea since you’re likely to get hungry with all of those delicious-smelling picnics around you. (But beware of picnic envy. When the people on our neighboring blanket sat down with a pizza and a bottle of wine, I was a little jealous about having simply just grabbed a handful of pretzels from the pantry and a bottle of water.) But you can also buy concessions there. There were some very tasty-looking pies for sale down at the bottom of the hill!

The show started around 8pm, included an intermission around 9pm, and ended around 10:15pm. This production of As You Like It was set in a RenFaire-style. And the audience is even encouraged to attend in costume if you so desire!  As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s popular comedies and tells the story of “Rosalind, the smartest girl in the world, falling for Orlando, the most handsome boy, both of whom are banished to the forest of Arden. Through the course of the play, Rosalind must disguise herself as a boy, testing the true love of the unsuspecting Orlando. Their journey leads them to encounter a band of merry men, silly shepherds and a melancholy philosopher.” The actress who played Rosalind had a stand-out performance. 

Among my group of mama friends, there were mixed reviews of the play, but we all agreed that the experience was so very enjoyable. An evening out under last night’s big beautiful moon in the cool air (yes, really cool for May!) and enjoying the company of friends in such a lovely setting made for a terrific mom’s night out.

If you go:

  • Do be sure to bring a blanket to sit.
  • Check the forecast before you go. (We were chilly last night and needed sweatshirts.)
  • Dogs must be leashed.
  • Bring your own snacks or cash for concessions.
  • If you are curious about what items are permitted in the park, please refer to this section of the Zilker Park website.
  • While the show is free, donations of $10 are requested during intermission, so think about having some cash on hand to contribute.
  • Consider taking a flashlight with you for your return to your car (especially if you’re walking on rocky steps back to the parking lot).
  • Port-a-potties are the available restroom option.
  • The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you require special assistance, please call (512) 974-6700.

When: Thursdays – Sundays, 8pm through May 25, 2014
Where: Zilker Hillside Theatre (adjacent to Barton Springs pool) 
Cost: Free (donations requested); special event parking is $5

For more information, visit the Austin Shakespeare website.

Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 4, 6, and 8), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures. Heidi covers theatre, health and beauty topics on Austin’s LiveMom.com. And you can browse her literacy-focused kids activities on her blog, Read ‘Em and Leap.