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'Shakespeare In The Park' Returns Live and In-Person To Thornden Park

François James

An early summer tradition is returning to Syracuse’s Thornden Park for the next two weekends, providing fans of live theater one of the few in-person options they’ve had over the past year or more.  Syracuse Shakespeare in the park will mark its 19th season with a production of Troilus and Cressida. 


Director Anne Margaret Childress says it’s a tragic love story.  We caught up with her in the Thornden Park Amphitheater.

“So Troilus and Cressida fall in love, to be torn apart by war. Cressida’s father has gone to the side of the Greeks, and so Cressida gets exchanged for a Greek prisoner because her father wants her returned to him,” said Childress

Aaron Alexander plays Troilus.

“Considering this is during the Trojan War, you can imagine the sorts of difficulties that Troilus and Cressida face as they try to be together,” said Alexander.

He and Childress say there are parallels that can be drawn to today’s political strife.

“We have so many people divided on this side and that side. Well how does that affect people’s relationships? And so nowadays we have so many people fallout over people’s political opinions that we just say ‘Oh yeah well, that’s to be expected.’ But really what should be expected is that love should win out,” said Childress

“And of course even during the show there are moments where people from opposing sides treat each other with mutual respect. And not just Troilus and Cressida, several other soldiers,” said Alexander. 

The theater company is known for being true to the bard, with historically accurate costumes and period music.  Last year, the pandemic forced their June performance online, but their August show was live.  This year, space is limited to 200 ticket holders per show, which must be reserved in advance.  Masks are optional for vaccinated patrons, but those who are unvaccinated must wear a mask.  Fever checks will be taken at the gate.  Aaron Alexander is glad there are safety precautions, even if it's outdoors.

“[Because] honestly, while I do enjoy having people come to see the work that we put into the show, it is good to have them smile and laugh and cheer. What’s even more important is for them to be healthy,” said Alexander

The first performances take place this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 5:30, and Sunday at 2.  Admission is free, but patrons can elect to donate five dollars or more when reserving tickets online at  Premium ticket packages are also available, which include front row seating and food..  Attendees are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs or blankets


Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at