The Delacorte Theater is the summer home of the Public Theater. Each season, more than 100,000 people from across the country, and around the world, enjoy free performances at this open-air theater.
Tickets are free. Theater-goers need only wait on line — a New York City tradition for more than 45 years.
In 1954, Public Theater founder Joseph Papp began producing a series of traveling Shakespeare productions. Papp’s Shakespeare Workshop found a permanent home in the 1960s on the lawn in front of Central Park’s Belvedere Lake (now Turtle Pond). Philanthropist George T. Delacorte, Jr. donated funds to replace the theater’s folding chairs and portable stage with a permanent amphitheatre. In 1962, the Delacorte Theater officially opened with a production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice starring George C. Scott and James Earl Jones.
In addition to thirty-five works by Shakespeare, The Delacorte has been home to The Public Theater's productions of other classic works with actors such as Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Dreyfuss, and Kevin Kline.