You have to wonder if William Shakespeare ever imagined that his works would not only outlast his lifetime but become immortal. Shakespeare festivals draw enthusiastic audiences to venues as traditional as a recreation of The Globe Theatre, a formal playhouse or casual outdoor settings with the audience reciting famous passages along with the players.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular and innovative Shakespeare festivals.
related: A cool summer break in Vermont
American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, Virginia
Will would feel right at home here. Plays are staged in a replica of The Globe, with the only concession to modern life being electric lighting instead of candles. Performances are much as they would have been in Shakespeare’s time: The audience is in, around and on the stage, with players incorporating them into the show. Performance are year-round. AmericanShakespeareCenter.com
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, Pennsylvania
This festival includes not only Shakespeare, but also other classics, musicals and children’s theater. Come this year for "Henry V," "Pericles" (as Shakespeare’s troupe would have rehearsed it), "Les Miserables," and — for the kids — "Rapunzel." Shows take place on the grounds of DeSales University, 90 miles west of New York and 50 miles north of Philadelphia. Through Aug. 2, PAShakespeare.org
Capital Classics Theatre Company, Hartford, Connecticut
Performances of well-known plays with traditional staging take place on the grounds of University of St. Joseph. This year’s production is "Romeo and Juliet." The audience is invited to bring picnics. Thursday to Sunday from July 23 to Aug. 9, CapitalClassics.org
Maine State Shakespeare, Kennebunk, Maine
This troupe performs "Twelfth Night" and "Julius Caesar" at outdoor parks and gardens in the area. On Saturdays afternoons, budding teenage thespians perform iconic scenes, coached by professional directors. Wednesday to Saturday through Aug. 22, MaineStageShakespeare.com
Shakespeare in the Valley, New Hampshire
"Two Gentlemen of Verona," "Twelfth Night," "The Tempest" and an interactive "Robin Hood" will all be performed under the stars at several venues in central New Hampshire. Performances are interactive, often tongue-in-cheek (hard to do with The Tempest, but you never know). This is the perfect antidote to “Boring Shakespeare Syndrome.” ShakespeareInTheValley.com
Delaware Shakespeare Festival, Wilmington, Delaware
This family-friendly production of "The Taming of the Shrew" is under the stars on the grounds of Rockwood Park. It’s a relaxing atmosphere with minimal sets and costumes. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic. Come early to find a good spot and enjoy pre-show entertainment. July 17 to Aug. 2, DelShakes.org
Saratoga Shakespeare Company, Saratoga Springs, New York
This one has three different shows at outdoor venues, including comedy and adventure with" Love’s Labor’s Lost" and "Comedy of Errors" and the fanciful “Shipwrecked,” with “true” tales of surviving flying wombats and a man-eating octopus. Who needs Jurrasic Park? SaratogaShakespeare.com
For more summer travel tips, go to www.insightguides.com.