25th Anniversary of Free For All!

A Midsummer Night's Dream

September 1 – September 13



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5 ways to get tickets:
  • Tickets for each performance of The Winter's Tale will be made available to the public on the day of the show by visiting Sidney Harman Hall as well as through an online lottery system. To receive more information about the lottery, sign up to receive email notifications.  Seating is general admission. If you would like specific seats please arrive early. We open the doors to the theatre a half an hour before the start of the show.

    Become a Subscriber
    All 2013-2014 Season Subscribers have the ability to reserve seats in advance. Each subscriber can reserve two (2) Free For All tickets for every subscription seat they hold and have the ability to exchange their tickets.
  • Join Friends of Free For All
    Gifts starting at $200 allow Friends to secure reserved seating in advance, receive program recognition and access our Patrons Lounge which includes complimentary beverages and snacks!
  • Enter the Online Lottery 
    For each performance, a select number of seats are given away to lucky lottery winners.

    The lottery for each performance will be open from 12:01am to 8:00pm on the day PRIOR to an evening performance and TWO DAYS PRIOR to a matinee performance. For example, any time after midnight and before 8:00pm on Thursday, you will be able to enter the lottery for both the Friday evening performance and the Saturday matinee performance. 

    Winners will be chosen at random. The time you enter the lottery has no bearing on your chances of winning. Only one entry per account will be considered for the drawing. All entrants will receive an email after 8:00 p.m. the night before the performance.  We use an online email system called WordFly, and it may take a few hours before you receive your email depending on your own systems refresh time.
  • Get in line instead of online
    Every day STC will give away up to 200 tickets to the public in our Ticket Line at Sidney Harman Hall beginning approximately two (2) hours prior to curtain. Limit is two (2) tickets per person.  Remember to get there early! The line usually starts forming around 4:00 p.m. for evening shows and around 10:00 a.m. for matinee performances.
  • Follow STC on Social Media
    Our Facebook and Twitter fans can tell you from experience that we like giving stuff away. Start following STC and keep an eye out for chances to secure VIP seating for the Free For All!

The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All is a much-loved Washington tradition, offering free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the general public. STC is thrilled to celebrate the 25th production of the Free For all  with one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Each summer, with the help of numerous community-minded sponsors, the Shakespeare Theatre Company presents a series of free Shakespeare performances. Started in 1991 to bring free Shakespeare to new and diverse audiences in the Washington metropolitan area, the Free For All presented Shakespeare under the stars at the Carter Barron Amphitheater. In an effort to make Shakespeare completely accessible for all residents of D.C. Metro area, the Free For All was brought to downtown D.C. in 2009 and now resides at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall.  To date, the Free For All has reached more than 583,000 area residents and counting.

Citizens for Shakespeare has helped thousands of area students and community members gain access to Shakespeare’s plays. The Shakespeare Theatre Company Free For All's unique contribution to the community was recognized with The Washington Post Distinguished Service Award in 1992 and the 1997 Public Humanities Award presented by the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.

Free For All is a highlight of Washington's theatre season, a traditional outing that attracts the city's most diverse audience. Championed by Shakespeare Theatre Company  Artistic Director Michael Kahn and founding chairman R. Robert Linowes, and made possible with invaluable support from The Washington Post, Philip L. Graham Fund and a committed group of community-minded sponsors, the Free For All proved an enormous success its first year, attracting more than 2,500 theatregoers each night. Succeeding summers have seen the Free For All build on its early promise, with audiences flocking to see some of Shakespeare's greatest plays—All’s Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Henry V and King Lear—performed by the Shakespeare Theatre Company's actors and such guest artists as Sabrina LeBeauf, Kelly McGillis and Harry Hamlin.

Former Chair of the National Endowment of the Arts Jane Alexander, a frequent attendee at Free For All productions, enthuses about the program's importance to Washington: "I remember once when I was at the Free For All, there was a couple sitting next to me with a very, very young child, and I began to talk to them and I asked: 'Why are you here?' And they said, 'Where else would we have the opportunity to introduce our child to Shakespeare and be able to afford it?'" Alexander sums up the sentiments shared by Kahn, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the many generous individuals, foundations and corporations who make the Free For All possible each year: "The Free For All is a wonderful success for everybody involved ... not just for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, but for the entire city."

Past Free For All Productions

  1. 2014: The Winter’s Tale
  2. 2013: Much Ado About Nothing
  3. 2012: All’s Well That Ends Well
  4. 2011: Julius Caesar
  5. 2010: Twelfth Night
  6. 2009: The Taming of the Shrew
  7. 2008: Hamlet
  8. 2007: Love's Labor's Lost
  9. 2006: Pericles
  10. 2005: A Midsummer Night's Dream
  11. 2004: Much Ado about Nothing
  12. 2003: Hamlet
  13. 2002: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  14. 2001: King Lear
  15. 2000: The Merchant of Venice
  16. 1999: The Merry Wives of Windsor
  17. 1998: All's Well That Ends Well
  18. 1997: Henry V
  19. 1996: Measure for Measure
  20. 1995: Twelfth Night
  21. 1994: Comedy of Errors
  22. 1993: Much Ado about Nothing
  23. 1992: As You Like It
  24. 1991: The Merry Wives of Windsor

We kick off the season with the 25th Anniversary of the annual Washington tradition, Free For All, bringing back Ethan McSweeny’s stunning “ghost light” production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Love, magic, and wonder fill the air in this must-see Shakespeare classic. Set in the ruins of an abandoned theatre, McSweeny’s Midsummer intermingles dream and reality, shadow and spectacle, mysterious metamorphoses and literal flights of fancy in this feast for the imagination.

Synopsis

Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, anticipate their wedding. Egeus enters the court and implores Theseus to force his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius. Hermia, however, loves Lysander. Theseus gives Hermia an ultimatum: marry Demetrius, enter a nunnery, or be put to death as Athenian law dictates. Hermia and Lysander, left alone, resolve to flee to the woods that night. Hermia’s friend Helena enters and laments her unrequited love for Demetrius, who only has eyes for Hermia. Meanwhile, a group of Athenian working men resolve to put on a play, in the hopes that they will be chosen to perform at Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding celebrations.

In the forest outside Athens, a fairy and Puck, a mischievous spirit, discuss the quarrel between Oberon, the Fairy King, and Titania his Queen. Oberon enters and demands custody from Titania of a changeling child in her care, but she swears never to give him up. After Titania storms off, Oberon decides to take revenge by making Titania fall in love with a beast. He orders Puck to find a magical flower, whose juice causes a person to fall in love with the next creature he or she sees. Meanwhile, Demetrius enters, looking for Hermia and spurning Helena’s advances. Overhearing their conversation, Oberon orders Puck to squeeze the love-juice in Demetrius’ eyes. Entering Titania’s bower as she sleeps, Oberon then squeezes the love-juice onto her eyes. Puck, meanwhile, sees Lysander sleeping, mistakes him for Demetrius and squeezes the flower’s juice onto his eyes. Waking, Lysander spots Helena and falls in love with her.

After Puck happens upon the rehearsal of the Athenian working men, he transforms the head of Bottom, a weaver, into that of an ass’s.  Bottom’s companions flee, and Bottom inadvertently wakens Titania, who, enchanted by the love-juice, falls in love. Elsewhere, Oberon realizes that Puck mistook Lysander for Demetrius, and orders him to correct his error by enchanting Demetrius. Puck does so, leading the four all over the forest, until, exhausted, they all lie down to sleep. Puck then squeezes the juice onto Lysander’s eyes, so that he will love Hermia again.

Titania, having entertained Bottom, falls asleep with him in her bower. Oberon enters with Puck and, waking Titania, releases her from the juice’s power. Titania agrees to give Oberon the changeling boy, and Puck removes Bottom’s ass’s head. In another part of the forest, as day approaches, Theseus and Hippolyta enter with a hunting party. Seeing the four young lovers asleep on the ground, Theseus wakes them and approves the new matches. They leave for Athens. Bottom awakens and recounts his dream. Rushing back to Athens, Bottom promises his companions that their play will be played at court that evening.

At the wedding celebration, Theseus selects the working men’s play, “Pyramus and Thisbe,” to be performed. The working men perform their play, to the great amusement of the court. After the play’s conclusion, the lovers retire to bed. Puck enters and declares that he will chase away any evil spirits. He is followed by Oberon and Titania, who bless the marriage beds. The play ends with an epilogue by Puck, addressed to the audience and asking for their applause.

Free For All FAQ

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your Free For All experience!

What is Free For All?
The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All is a much-loved Washington tradition, offering free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the general public at Sidney Harman Hall in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter. 2015 marks our 25th production.

So, it's really free?
Completely 100% FREE. Tickets cost nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Totally free Shakespeare? How is this possible?
Free For All is made possible by many incredible community-minded sponsors and partners, as well as individuals just like you! If you're interested in supporting the Free For All so we can continue to provide quality productions, consider joining the Friends of Free All. You get great benefits as well as the satisfaction of knowing you're helping to provide totally free Shakespeare for future generations.

Is the Free For All family friendly? 
Our intention is for Free For All to be family friendly. Some performances will be more suitable for older children than younger ones.  Guardians should bring children out into the lobby if they are restless.  PLEASE NOTE:  Babes in arms are not allowed in the theatre.  We do request that children be five years of age or older.  Every person entering the theatre must have a ticket. If a child will be sitting on someone’s lap, they still must have a ticket. Exceptions cannot be made.

How many tickets are available?
There are 769 seats in Sidney Harman Hall. For each performance, a certain number of seats are designated to Friends of Free For All, students and other community partners through numerous outreach initiatives.

A minimum of 200 seats will be offered to the general public for each performance through our Ticket Line as well as many more given away through our Online Lottery.

How can I get Free For All tickets?
There are a number of ways you can secure tickets for the Free For All:

  1. Join Friends of Free For All
    Gifts starting at $200 allow Friends to secure reserved seating in advance, receive program recognition and access our Patrons Lounge which includes complimentary beverages and snacks!
  2. Enter the Online Lottery 
    For each performance, a select number of seats are given away to lucky lottery winners. See below for details.
  3. Get in line instead of online
    Every day STC will make at least 200 tickets available to the public in our ticket line at Sidney Harman Hall beginning two (2) hours prior to curtain. Limit is two (2) tickets per person.  Remember to get there early! The line usually starts forming about four (4) hours before curtain up.
  4. Follow STC on Social Media
    Our Facebook and Twitter fans can tell you from experience that we like giving stuff away. Start following STC and keep an eye out for chances to secure VIP seating for the Free For All and updates on ticket distribution.

How does the Online Lottery work?
A block of tickets will be given away on our website via the ticket lottery for each performance. Entries can be submitted at ShakespeareTheatre.org by selecting your performance on our online calendar.  

You may enter the daily lottery for each performance between 12:01 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. the day PRIOR to the performance you are interested in attending. (i.e. if you are interested in an 8:00 p.m. Saturday performance, you may enter the lottery starting at midnight on Friday morning through 8:00 p.m. Friday evening.  For the matinee performance on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., enter the lottery starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday morning.  The lottery will close Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m.)  

Winners will be chosen at random. The time you enter the lottery has no bearing on your chances of winning. Only one entry per account will be considered for the drawing. All entrants will receive an email after 8:00 p.m. the night before the performance. Limit two (2) tickets per winner.  We use an online email system called WordFly, and it may take a few hours before you receive your email depending on your own systems refresh time.

If I win tickets through the online lottery, when can I pick them up?

Winners may pick up their tickets in the Sidney Harman Hall lobby beginning two (2) hours prior to curtain on the day of their performance at the reception desk. All tickets MUST be picked up no later than 30 minutes prior to curtain. Any unclaimed tickets will be released to the ticket line.

All attendees MUST be physically in their seats no later than 10 minutes prior to curtain. Any empty seats will be filled in by standby patrons. PLEASE NOTE: Jackets and bags do not count as bodies when we begin filling seats with standby.

What if I’m a member of Friends of Free For All?
Friends of Free For All who have not already received their tickets may pick up their tickets at the Sidney Harman Hall Box Office the day of the performance.

All tickets MUST be picked up no later than 15 minutes prior to curtain. Any unclaimed tickets will be released to the ticket line.

All attendees MUST be physically in their seats no later than 10 minutes prior to curtain. Any empty seats will be filled in by standby patrons. PLEASE NOTE: Jackets and bags do not count as bodies.

What happens if I win tickets through the online lottery, but cannot attend that performance?
Lottery winners may not exchange tickets. Tickets will be forfeited and you must enter the lottery again for another performance. If you find you cannot attend, simply reply to the winner email you receive and let us know. We’ll release your tickets to the stand by line.

Friends of Free For All may exchange their FFA tickets for other available FFA performances.

What happens if I don't win tickets through the online lottery?
Fear not! If you didn't win tickets for the performance you want, a block of tickets is held for the general public and given away each day at the theatre for that day's performance. Simply come to Sidney Harman Hall and join other Free For All-ers in the Ticket Line.

And remember, you can always re-enter the online lottery for any Free For All performances left during the run.

Talk to me about this Ticket Line.
Our Ticket Line is the best place to get in the spirit and share your love of Shakespeare, theatre or free stuff with other Free For All-ers. We'll be giving away coupons for local eateries and other fun stuff! You can also enter to win tickets to other fabulous STC productions and other swag given away before every show.  At least 200 seats will be made available to give away to the Ticket Line for each performance.

I want to bring a group of people to the Free For All.  How do I obtain tickets?  
The ticket line is the only way to ensure a large number of tickets.  Remember that you can only receive two tickets per person.  So, if you want 10 tickets total, you need to bring at least five people with you to get all 10 tickets.  As the seating is general admission, it will be important for your party to enter at the same time to ensure you can sit together.  The closer you arrive to show time, the less chance you have of being seated in a group.

Once I have my tickets, when can I take my seat?
Lobbies will open one hour prior to curtain and you may enter to use the restrooms or purchase concessions. The house will open 30 minutes prior to curtain and you may then take your seats.

All attendees MUST be physically in their seats no later than 10 minutes prior to curtain. Any empty seats will be filled in by standby patrons. PLEASE NOTE: Jackets and bags do not count as bodies.

Public restrooms: where are they?
Sidney Harman Hall restrooms will be accessible one hour prior to curtain for patrons who receive tickets. Public facilities are located in the National Portrait Gallery (located on F Street NW between 7th and 8th Streets NW) during museum hours (11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.).  We do apologize, but we cannot allow patrons access to our restrooms until one hour prior to curtain.

Where can we get a bite to eat?
Penn Quarter is full of great restaurants for pre- or post-theatre dining. Visit our Dining Page for suggestions and make reservations through Open Table.

Concessions will be available beginning one hour prior to curtain and during intermission. The Kahn-bo is a fan favorite.

Ok. You've convinced me. Now, how do I get there?
The easiest way to visit Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW) is by taking Metro, the area’s extensive and easy-to-use public transportation system. Sidney Harman Hall is a block from the Gallery Pl-Chinatown and Judiciary Square stations. For Metro maps and times visit wmata.com.

Several parking garages are located around Sidney Harman Hall; rates and closing times vary, so please check with each individual garage.

For more information, click here.

Free For All 2014 Schedule of performances

S M T W T F S
August
17 18
  • 7:30 PM
19
  • 7:30 PM
20
  • 8:00 PM
21
  • 8:00 PM
22
  • 2:00 PM A
  • 8:00 PM
23
  • 2:00 PM
  • 7:30 PM
24
25
  • 7:30 PM OC
26
  • 7:30 PM
27
  • 12:00 PM
  • 8:00 PM
28
  • 8:00 PM
29
  • 2:00 PM
  • 8:00 PM
30
  • 2:00 PM
31
           

A - Audio Described Performance Aug 23, 2:00pm

OC - Open Caption Performance Aug 26, 7:30pm

Patrons requesting Audio Described (8/23) or Open Captioned (8/26) accommodations may email stcbox@shakespretheatre.org or call the Box Office at 202-547-1122.


The Free For All
Ticket Lottery



The lottery has ended.

Many thanks to all of those who participated in this year's Free for All.



Friends of Free for All

Citizens for Shakespeare