It was one of those New York mid-summer stinking hot days.
It was a day to stick close to an air conditioner, very close with ‘stick’ being the operative word. Hot and humid, oppressively so! However when you only have four days in Manhattan, and don’t know when you will return, then you simply cannot justify not getting out and about – heat or no heat.
And so it was that I had dutifully spent the morning and early afternoon wandering areas of Lower Manhattan that I hadn’t explored before. Soho, Little Italy – in fact I hadn’t been north of about 10th all day and had very much enjoyed my photographic reconnoitre.
However the heat had taken it’s toll, or should that be sole. The rubber on the bottom of my shoes had actually started melting. And so it was that I stumbled across a verdant oasis. A green bastion of shady respite called Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. However I wasn’t alone. Far from it, it seemed that half of The Village was here!
To be or not to be (fearful).
As I perused for a rare free spot to rest my weary feet I pondered – hmm, closer to the homeless man kissing pigeons or the long haired kid contorting and screaming at himself. I chose the kid. I’ll take volume over a communicable disease most days.
So turns out my aforementioned ‘kid’ was in fact a drama student named Cameron and my very first encounter with a Shakespeare Busker.
Three or four days a week he hits Washington Square and recites, verbatim, passages from the works of Shakespeare. Sometimes to a crowd but often just to himself as I had first encountered him. Is this the world’s only Shakespeare busker I wondered? I have to admit Cameron was a bit of an Othello… oops, I mean to say odd fellow, but compelling nonetheless. His soliloquies were filled with bombast but also, when required, nuance. It wasn’t just the trees that were providing light and shade that day.
Cameron would take requests from the onlookers and then transcend he and audience back from sweltering contemporary New York through time to the weathered and sacrosanct boards of the Globe theatre itself. As a busker there was never any question of – to pay or not to pay, he was thoroughly deserving and his tip box filling nicely.
Do you live in New York or are planning a visit? Why not pop down to Washington Square and see if you are lucky enough to catch Cameron, quite possibly the world’s only Shakespeare busker. Regardless, a trip to this oasis among asphalt , such a restful place, just can’t be a bard decision whatever your motivations.
Washington Square Park. Greenery amidst the hustle.
You may have to sign a model release or two if you hang out here too long. Washington Square seems to be de rigeuer with film crews these days. It’s an archetypal Greenwich Village escape for the populace of Lower Manhattan. The beautiful and the less-fortunate. It really is an amazing place to plonk yourself and people-watch for a while.
And in the summer heat it’s venerable old trees become your ally from the unrelenting sun. There’s plenty of shady spots to relax, observe, paint or just rest…