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Between farmers' markets, sword fights, local sports leagues and flea markets, Clark Park is constantly abuzz with activity. This summer, a local theater company will provide even more action for students staying on campus with its third-annual free show in the park.

Shakespeare in Clark Park, which has been producing free shows since 2006, will perform As You Like It this summer from July 30 to Aug. 3.

Marla Burkholder, an actress who works in Philadelphia and one of the artistic directors of the show, said they have nearly finished casting and just begun a series of production meetings.

The set design for this summer's production, according to Burkholder, will focus on the line between civilization and the wild by incorporating elements of the park to create natural scenery.

Burkholder said she came up with the idea with co-artisic director Maria M”ller as a way to fill the lull in conventional theater performances between fall and spring shows.

Once they had the concept in mind, Burkholder said it wasn't difficult to narrow the location down to Clark Park, located at 43rd and Baltimore streets.

"It's kind of a unique park in that it's well taken care of by the neighborhood around it, but it's not as programmed as the Center City places are like Riittenhouse and Washington Square," she said.

Drawing local residents together, Burkholder said, is what they aim to do.

"It's about a community event in the summer that's free, casual and you can bring a picnic to," she said. "It's a reason to be in the park and at the same time enjoy some quality theatre."

A total of about 2,000 people came to see last year's show.

That's not to say that the show's location, among the trees of Clark Park, has never presented any problems.

Burkholder admitted that it's a struggle to create a completely portable set that can be transported to and from the park every day of the show on a "shoe-string budget."

Although all the actors and production are unpaid, Burkholder said money is a major constraint for the project.

For the first time this year the show's budget will include grants from local groups - including the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, University City District and Spruce Hill Community Association.

Shakespeare in Clark Park used the money from the UCD grant to buy a banner to promote the show, Burkholder said.

Previously, the show's budget primarily came from a collection of donations at the previous year's show and from family and friends.

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