Theater in New York City’s parks — not to mention its parking lots — is a summer tradition that got a whole lot more interesting in 2016. That’s when Torn Out Theater burst onto the scene with its naked Shakespeare in the park productions. First up was an all-female version of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest that challenged its audience to see female bodies without overtones of sexuality. Last summer, it was an all-male production of Hamlet that challenged the idea of the male body as a weapon through the story of Hamlet.
For their summer 2018 production, Torn Out Theater is going in an entirely different direction. Instead of taking on another of Shakespeare’s works, they’ve chosen playwright Aphra Behn’s The Rover, set during the annual bacchanal that is Carnival in Italy.
The production announced it plans in Time Out. The troupe's artistic director, Pitr Strait, tells the magazine the show will explore themes of sexual freedom and romantic relationships. The cast will be mixed-gender for the first time, and while objective remains normalizing nudity in a non-sexual way, the show will be “an exploration of the way that we do sexualize each others’ bodies.”
In an email to Metro, Strait further elaborated on the theme, saying the troupe is looking to connect with New York’s sex worker community to collaborate on the production. “One of the things we love about The Rover is its empathetic and human portrayal of a sex worker (Angelica, one of the main characters of the play), especially noteworthy considering the play was written three and a half centuries ago,” he says.
“We've always been interested in how our theater work can have an impact beyond the traditional arts sphere, so we're looking into the possibility of partnering with one of the great support systems for sex workers in the city,” he adds. “Hopefully, this will both help us create a relevant and accurate narrative and connect us to more underrepresented communities in New York City.”
The shows will once again be performed in Brooklyn at Prospect Park’s Music Pagoda. Seating is first come, first served; chairs will be available to rent if you’d rather not sit on the ground for the whole show. Arrive early — Torn Out Theater doesn't sell tickets to its shows, though donations are welcome.
Performances are scheduled for Aug. 16-17 and 23-24 at 5:30 p.m., plus matinees on Aug. 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 2 p.m.