Free Shakespeare in the park is a great reason to pack up a picnic and get our to enjoy our LA summer. (Or wherever you live if you have some outdoor summer activities, too.) I’ve got a list to ensure you have a perfect picnic when you go!
Did you know that William Shakespeare was a foodie?
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He must have been, because so many of his plays revolve around banquets and he has so many references to food in them that he just had to have been a foodie, right? Well, even if he wasn’t a foodie, I can pretend that he was, and either way, he’s one of my all-time favorite writers.
Shakespeare was such a brilliant, witty, and funny playright and author. He is responsible for so many of the words we currently use, like “obscene”, “fashionable”, and “scuffle” (and some other obsolete words and phrases, which are quite funny today.)
Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Old Zoo,
I made it a point when I was in England a few years ago, to go to Stratford-upon-Avon and visit his childhood home, and the church where he is buried. My family also ate in a restaurant that was in business when Shakespeare was still living in there (HOW COOL IS THAT?)!
If you happen to live in Baillieston, Scotland, or Arcadia, Australia, or even Wyncote, Pennsylvania, (or anywhere outside the SoCal area) our Free Shakespeare in the Park is obviously not going to be of any use to you. Unless, of course, you come to visit LA during summer (hint-hint).
Even if you’re not living in or near LA, you can still have picnics, so don’t miss “THE PERFECT PICNIC” checklist below!
However, if you are a lucky-duck who lives in the Los Angeles area, I want to tell you about a brilliant group of people who make up the INDEPENDENT SHAKESPEARE COMPANY and provide FREE top-notch performances of Shakespeare’s work in Griffith Park, from June through September.
Having seen countless performances by different troupes (including Julius Caesar at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon), it is easy for me to tell you that ISC will convince you love Shakespeare too! I have brought so many friends to performances, who loved them. Even one who said, “I don’t understand Shakespeare”, only to see him leave the play in awe: he not only thoroughly enjoyed (and understood) the play, but he couldn’t wait to go back!
Co-founders, David Melville (whose father was born in Scotland, which makes him totally cool) and Melissa Chalsma (she’s cool too), created ISC in order to provide everyone with the opportunity to experience quality theatre by performing plays for free. They really could be charging top dollar for these performances, but their mission is to provide them “to as wide an audience as possible”. I think this is not just admirable, but praiseworthy.
One of the added benefits of going to a Free Shakespeare in the park ISC play is being able to take along a picnic! The atmosphere at the old zoo area of Griffith Park on a summer evening, is one of the best you can experience in LA. In fact, my family and many friends agree, it’s just not summer until ISC’s Shakespeare Festival begins!
Attending a fabulous free Shakespeare in the park performance demands a comparable picnic. I’ve composed a checklist to help you prepare “The Perfect Picnic” complete with links to the recipes for many of the sandwiches, snacks, salads, and desserts.
The Perfect Picnic for Free Shakespeare in the Park, Hollywood Bowl or any other event
ESSENTIALS (you may prefer finding most of these items HERE)
- Blanket (preferably some form of tartan) ;)
- Picnic basket or container and cooler
- Plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, napkins (wipes are handy, too)
- Serving spoons, forks and knives.
- Bottle opener (even my Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice needed one)
- Wooden cutting board or cheese board-useful, even if you don’t bring cheese
- Small plastic bag for trash
- Jackets and blankets to keep warm-it does get chilly after the sun sets
- Manners and courtesy–ISC fans are a very well-behaved crowd :)
- (Not essential-but SO wonderful! The bottle and glass Picnic Stix seen in the photo above)
BEVERAGES of your CHOICE
MIX and MATCH to create your own perfect picnic
- Cheese board: pick your favorites! I choose from Burrata, any goat cheese, aged Red Leicester, Jarlsberg, Cheddar, Morbier, and Pecorino Piccante, for example. This time I had another little cheeseboard just for my Boursin!
- Bread, crackers, pita bread, cornbread, tortillas, pita chips, etc. -whatever carbs you fancy.
- Hummus, Tzatziki or your preferred healthy dip, with cut up veggies.
- Sandwiches, sandwich rolls, panini (I love a fresh white roll or bread with just salami and pecorino cheese) or pizza.
- Heartier Fare: Sausage Rolls, Chicken Tenders, Arancini, Italian Sausage Skewers, Scotch Potatoes, Chicken Satay, Grilled Polenta, Bacon and Potato Frittata
- Salads: my favorites are—Caprese, Avocado and Tomato, Italian Bean Salad, Mixed Green Salad with Breaded Goat Cheese, Garden Salad, Green Garlic Potato Salad
- Snacks & Sides: Bruschetta (assemble at picnic), Sweet Potato Chips, Pickled Eggplant (to eat with bread) Spicy Cole Slaw, Lupini, Olives, Veggie Plate
- Fruit: strawberries, melon, cherries, apricots, etc., fruit kebabs (see photo below), fruit salad, dried fruit (figs, dates, etc.),
DESSERTS/SWEETS and HOT BEVERAGES (for intermission!)
- Hot Cocoa (I love Perugina, Green & Blacks, or hot chocolate made with melted (real) chocolate, coffee, or hot tea in a Thermos. Remember, it does get chilly
- Your favorite cookies-sometimes I bring GF Peanut Butter Cookies, Madeleines, or Meringues
- Your favorite slices of cake, or cupcakes are perfect for picnics: Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, Banana Nutella Swirl Bundt Cake, Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes, Pumpkin Carrot Cupcakes, Election Cake, Decadent Chocolate Torte (GF)
- Desserts that I love for picnics: Sticky Toffee Pudding, Strawberry Tarts, Limoncello Tiramisu, Apple Turnovers
- Sweet Snacks like Caramel Crunch Popcorn, Homemade Crunchie Rocks, Homemade Mounds
So that, my friends, is my guide in deciding how to put together your Perfect Picnic! I can tell you that when you have chosen and loaded up your basket, you’ll have a feast worthy of serving to Shakespeare himself!
INDEPENDENT SHAKESPEARE COMPANY…
Calendar, Map & Directions, etc. www.independentshakespeare.com
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Find them on Yelp, and once you’ve seen a play, don’t forget to leave a glowing review!
And in case you’re wondering, this is the perfect picnic spot for Shakespeare in the Park in LA: Griffith Park, in the old zoo area. I’ll be there this summer, come say hi!
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We are going to a Shakespeare Gala evening too – in the UK! Picnic in the grounds of a beautiful old house and its gardens, with wandering performers – man on stilts; another trailing a wooden box trailer with lots of different instruments, and playing them all at some point. Plus Morris dancers, and even some small troupes of young ladies dancing. A fun evening (when it isn’t raining! :-) of course). Followed by an open air presentation where we, the audience sit in elevated terraces under canvas – a marquee sort of thing. This year it is “The Winter’s Tale”. Looking forward to it in early July.
Love all the foodie suggestions, too. Always thought-provoking – what shall I cook/prepare? Thank you Christina.
How I would LOVE to join you, Val!! Sounds like my perfect summer evening! Our Shakespeare troupe still aren’t performing yet, but I hope they will be soon! Enjoy your evening and hope it doesn’t rain (we NEVER have that issue)!
Hello Christina, love your recipes. Noticed in this article you mentioned not being able to see Shakespeare in the Park in Baillieston, Scotland. Am Baillieston born and bred, now living outside of San Francisco. Was so pleased to see my hometown in your post.
Keep up the good work (are you from Glasgow)? Go Scotland team!
Small world! Just sent you an email. :)
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we still need to check this out!! we love going to griffith park, but haven’t heard of shakespeare in the park until you mentioned it! hopefully, one of the times we’re in LA, the dates will match up.
It’s been years since I’ve attended a Shakespeare in the Park production but I would go for that picnic alone! That looks amazing!
Thanks, Lois! It’s a bit wet tonight, but hopefully will be going tomorrow!