Update: Both Hamilton and Camelot have cancelled performances tonight. See the latest show cancellations here.
At New York City's annual summer tradition, Shakespeare in the Park, the show usually goes on, rain or shine. But this week, with the wildfire smoke from Canada engulfing the city and making the air quality hazardous, it seems the show will not go on. The Public Theater has announced that its Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet, which was to begin performances this week, will be cancelled through Saturday. The show had a dress rehearsal June 7, and its first two performances June 8 and June 9. Those have been cancelled. As of now, performances will begin June 10.
"We hope to resume performances this weekend but will continue to closely monitor the ongoing situation in the days ahead and will share more on The Public’s website and social media channels," said the Public in a statement provided to Playbill.
It's an appropriate call considering that Shakespeare in the Park takes place in the Delacorte Theater, an open-air venue in Central Park. The Public's announcement comes on the heels of a number of performance disruptions today due to the poor air quality in NYC. Earlier Wednesday, during the matinee of the Broadway solo show Prima Facie, star Jodie Comer stopped her performance a few minutes in, saying she couldn't breathe and left the stage. The show resumed with her understudy Dani Arlington.
Then the Off-Broadway Vineyard Theatre cancelled its performance of the play This Land Was Made, also citing the "hazardous air quality conditions in NYC." The Off-Broadway musical Lizard Boy also cancelled its performance tonight.
Actors' Equity Association president Kate Shindle is also encouraging any actors or stage mangers who feel unsafe performing, to notify the union, tweeting, "Because the wildfire smoke is so widespread and varies so much, it’s very important that someone let your business rep know if you feel unsafe rehearsing or performing, wherever you are. After regular business hours, call the emergency hotline at 888-802-5307. Our union can step in if an employer is insisting the show go on despite dangerous conditions."
In addition to the Canadian wildfires, which are the primary contributor to current climate conditions in the city, New Jersey has also recently experienced a string of wildfires with thousands of acres burning since last week. The New York area is currently under an Air Quality Red Alert as issued by the National Weather Service, and flights were grounded at LaGuardia Airport earlier today. With projections indicating that air quality is likely to get worse and remain unhealthy to breathe through tomorrow, the issue could continue to cause trouble for Broadway ahead of the Tony Awards this weekend.
Read the full statement from the Public Theater below.
Unfortunately, The Public Theater has made the decision to cancel today’s rehearsal and dress rehearsal as well as the first two performances of the Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet on Thursday, June 8 and Friday, June 9 due to the ongoing issues of air quality and the added effect it is having on finalizing the production at The Delacorte Theater.
As the air quality continues to evolve, we are closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the city and the Parks Department. Although we rarely make a cancellation call of Free Shakespeare in the Park early, to ensure the safety of our company, crew, onsite staff, and audience members, a decision was made to cancel before the show starts. We hope to resume performances this weekend but will continue to closely monitor the ongoing situation in the days ahead and will share more on The Public’s website and social media channels. We look forward to sharing this production with you throughout the summer.