East River Park Ampitheatre: An ancient tradition revived.
On a summery evening in June 1996, William Harris attended a performance of En Garde Arts’ production of The Trojan Women: A Love Story, by Charles Mee, which combined an ancient Greek tragedy about the end of the Trojan War with Virgil’s love story of Aeneus and Dido. Harris was fascinated by the venue, a 1939 New Deal project overseen by legendary Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. The building had suffered greatly during New York’s 1970s financial crisis. During the first act, the audience went backstage, where vandalism added to the feeling of being in post-war Troy. For the second act, the audience sat on wooden benches under the stars and near enough to the river to hear the boats, a romantic setting for the Aeneus-Dido relationship to unfold. Since then, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has rebuilt the East River Amphitheater. The city regularly schedules music, dance, and theatrical performances there.