â€œIf music be the food of love, play on,â€ Shakespeare begins â€œTwelfth Night, or What You Will,â€ presented for free in Central Park from Wednesday, June 5th to Sunday, July 12th, starring Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway. There are two ways to get your free tickets, as the Public Theater explains.
Tickets are distributed on the day of the performance beginning at 1PM at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park (lines form several hours early). The closest entrances to the Delacorte are at 81st Street and Central Park West or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue. There is a limit of 2 tickets per person.
A small number of tickets are also distributed online, also on the day of performance.
For those new to Shakespeare, â€œTwelfth Nightâ€ is one of Shakespeare’s 13 comedies, and its humor hinges on both cross-dressing and mistaken identity. Hathaway (â€œRachel Getting Married,â€ â€œThe Devil Wears Prada,â€ â€œGet Smart,â€ â€œBrokeback Mountain,â€ etc.) is making her Public Theater debut playing Viola. Viola is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria, and assuming the identity of a man named Cesario, is pressed into service by Orsino, the Duke of Illyria. The Duke is in love with Olivia, and asks Viola/Cesario to press his case with her. Complications ensue: Olivia falls in love with Viola; Viola falls in love with the Duke. And then Viola’s twin brother Sebastian appears, adding to the confusion. (I’m leaving out the subplots).
Here is the entire opening monologue of â€œTwelfth Nightâ€ from the Duke of Illyria, who is pining away from his unrequited love for Olivia:
â€œIf you music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again, it had a dying fall;
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough, no more,
â€˜Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh ar thou,
That notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe’er,
But falls into abatement and low price
Even in a minute. So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.â€