Behind the Scenes at Los Angeles Shakespeare in the Park How to Stage a Classical Play Outdoors


When the world shut down during the global pandemic, it seemed to amplify all the outdoor activities society had taken for granted. But once the outdoors began to open up again, people could return to their fun times with increased gratitude and excitement. New frontiers have begun to open up from that dark season and among them is the option to put on a classical play outdoors. Let’s delve into the process of making this kind of production a success. Here’s how Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park happens.

Finding A Venue

An outdoor play doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the park. Any sprawling green space that’s open to the public can be a great fit. Among the available options, wedding venues rise to the top. These spaces have all the ideal conditions. Most wedding venues tend to be easily accessible to the public, hosting a variety of necessities that the crowd your play will pull could need. Without getting ahead of yourself, the best space doesn’t need to be expensive or exclusive. The major concern is that it can host the number of people you anticipate will attend your outdoor play.

Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park has long used parks for their setup. This strategy works excellently and the audience begins to gather early in the afternoon to enjoy the play. Thanks to the efficient use of space, this strategy allows people to settle in comfortably throughout the showings. While the audience is required to bring their own chairs if they don’t want to settle down on the grass, the space still serves well due to the openness. Especially for organizers looking to reassure audience members battling pandemic jitters, a park could also be an excellent choice for an outdoor play.

Prepare The Infrastructure

Once you’ve found the perfect spot for your outdoor play, then you can begin to think about the necessary structures you’ll require to construct. The purchase of construction supplies would be wise. These structures include, but are not limited to the stage, structures to support or hold decorative elements, and facilities for your audience to use. Among these preparations, also having a shelter in place in case of rain or bad weather can take your outdoor play from good to great. Essentially, once you have a venue, it’s up to your production team to make the space inviting for your guests.

For an established production like Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park, the audience is usually aware of how to prepare based on the forecast for the auspicious weekend. This amazing show sets up a stage that supports the cast and allows the play to go on seamlessly. Though this production is free admission and open to the public, the production company raises money through purchases made by the audience. If you’re hoping to generate an income through the sale of snacks and merchandise at your play, setting up these structures should also be taken into consideration.

Begin Building the Set

One allure of outdoor plays is the sets these plays employ to tell their stories. Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park has a gorgeous set, prepared by a team that dedicates their energy to ensuring this set’s beauty. Utilizing friendly budgets, this outdoor play leverages years of play production experience with the rustic comfort of simplicity. Nostalgia may be a huge selling point of the outdoor play, calling back memories of high school plays without all the messy drama. An important value shines through this aspect of this well-loved play: it doesn’t have to be extravagant; it just has to be well done.

Sure, the talent is the true heart of the story, but the set is the world where the story takes place. By using metal fabrication, you can create sculptures that evoke the epic tales you want to bring to life. While the appeal of an outdoor play is found within its minimalist approach, having a beautiful set allows you to capture bigger audiences. This could also have a positive impact on your bottom line and allow you to recoup the funds you’ve spent on the production process.

Lean Into The Trees

What’s an outdoor play without trees? While trees provide great cover on the warm days of summer, as the weather cools down in the fall, it can almost seem as if trees beat the purpose of being outside. The cold breeze flows through the branches, dropping leaves everywhere, maybe even onto your precious set while the paint is still wet. The frustration is understandable. However, trees are your outdoor production’s friends. Without them, your audience would be left bare to harsh winds and cold weather. So, how can you leverage this relationship in a way that is mutually beneficial?

Tree companies could avail a valuable array of solutions for you. Among some possible options, these companies create foyers that give your production an edge of style. Tree companies can also help you ensure that your production is safe, especially if it’s taking place in a grove of trees. If you’re feeling adventurous, some production companies even host plays in the trees as an immersive experience. While Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park doesn’t go quite so far, the whimsical idea of a play happening in the trees should get the ideas flowing about how your outdoor play can partner with the trees.

Set Up Your Lighting

Stage lighting is a vital part of any theater experience. And this remains the same for your outdoor play. With the proper kind of lighting installation, your stage will allow the cast’s performance to shine. As with the trees, lighting can allow the branches to be used as a guide through your play area. And if your outdoor play is happening towards the evening and into the night, you will need good lighting to ensure safety and minimal accidents. Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park uses the park lighting to the best of its ability, while also employing strategic lighting of its own.

Ensuring quality lighting installation is vital for the success of your outdoor play. How unfortunate is it when faulty wiring causes an important stage light to go off during a moving scene. The lighting you choose impacts your ruction, allowing it to rise above the standard of other outdoor plays. Investing in the right personnel and equipment is a choice you won’t regret. Lighting is one of those items you want to forget about during the play. And that’s how you’ll know it’s working.

Make Sure Everything Is Waterproof

As opening night inches closer and closer, the excitement begins to fuel the decisions of the moment. The rehearsals become more passionate and even the decorators begin to put in that extra work to make the set magnificent. As a safety measure, ensuring the elements of your structures are waterproof is essential. Sure, you wouldn’t want water damage to ruin the delicate painting and the coverings which adorn the stage. But, especially with electrical implements, avoiding accidents is a serious matter. This is where waterproofing service comes in.

For a production that already has a couple of years under its belt, Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park also uses simple techniques to ensure water damage is not among the pressing concerns of the night. This play, like many other outdoor plays, utilizes the voices of the cast, rather than wireless microphones or other similar technologies. By using the age-old tradition of voice projection, these productions avoid accidents of this kind altogether. This kind of ingenuity only adds to the cozy feel of an outdoor play. Besides being a preventative measure against water damage, voice projection also captivates audiences, ensuring that every member of the audience hangs on to the words of the cast.

Begin Preparing For Opening Night

At this point, all the building blocks for a good show have been laid in place. The structures are stable and ready for the audience. The trees are adorned in light. The stage is set and protected against the weather elements. Invitations and flyers are circulating, letting the public know that something special is about to happen. If you have the funds, getting a fork lift to bring in bales of hay for your guests to get comfy on is a great idea.

People typically set up as they please when Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park is happening. But the preparations you make for your first show tend to make an impression on your audience. This isn’t to say you should break the bank, but small, affordable comforts will have your show sold out all through its run as word of mouth spreads. By the second run of your production, the reputation of the show will speak for itself, allowing you to invest further in the aspects of the play you believe deserve more attention.

Make Your Space Useable

A space can be comfy and still lack necessary items that increase its utility. Consider a small dumpster rental to ensure you leave the venue in much the same state you find it. Design items like arch kits may seem like they only serve an aesthetic purpose, but they also guide people through spaces, inviting them towards your entrance and putting them at the vantage point where they can decide where they want to sit. Think about the needs of people with disabilities to make the space accessible to all. Create areas where people with children can easily move around without interrupting the program. These final touches could establish your outdoor play alongside Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park and other renowned outdoor theater experiences.

Make Arrangements for Post-Show Cleanup

The show must go on until it’s done. And once it’s over, your production crew has the responsibility of handling the setdown process. Everything that can be salvaged and reused can go into storage. For this stage of the process, hiring a cleaning service can take the mundane aspects of the work away from your crew, leaving your people to focus on salvaging what can be saved and carefully setting aside delicate equipment. Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park may not have to employ these steps, but once you get all the steps of your production working seamlessly, you will not have to encounter these growing pains repeatedly.

Depending on the different services you’ve hired, you could find that the setdown process happens much more swiftly than the process of preparation. Developing good working relationships with service providers is a way you can guarantee longevity for your outdoor production, allowing it to showcase local talent year after year. Essentially, the secret lies in considering all the moving parts and delegating what activities can be delegated to service providers you can trust to deliver quality service.


Outdoor plays are coming back with a vengeance. As people plug back into their communities, anyone putting on a show that brings people together can be sure to rally many more around their cause. Preparing for such a production is no mean feat. And attaining the seamlessness of Los Angeles Shakespeare In The Park could require time and expertise, but this shouldn’t discourage anyone with a dream of putting on a show.

With the right equipment and the correct process of preparation, you could create something that people hold dear within the community. By wisely utilizing various services, venues, and products available to you, your outdoor play can grow into something special. By following these tips and creating a culture that works for you and your crew, your outdoor play could become a hallmark of the fall season.

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