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Operated by the not-for-profit Public Theater, the Delacorte Theater is located in the heart of Central Park and is used primarily each summer to host free Shakespeare in the Park productions. The Delacorte Theater opened in 1962 and has a capacity of 1,800 seats. The Public Theater provides high-quality productions to patrons, who queue up early on the day of each show in an effort to secure the highly coveted tickets for that evening's performance.
The theatre is named in honor of Valerie and George T. Delacorte, Jr., who provided generous donations for its construction. The inaugural production in 1962 was The Merchant of Venice, featuring George C. Scott and James Earl Jones.
Nowadays, the Delacorte Theater is also home to Public Works which encourages citizens from all five boroughs of New York City to become involved in the creation of a production and appear on stage themselves. The rich history of Shakespeare in the Park has made it one of New York's most beloved traditions.