Casting and Cameo Groups Announced for Free Public Works' Musical Adaptation of THE WINTER'S TALE
Following last year's acclaimed Public Works production of The Tempest, The Public Theater will continue this community-based initiative this September with a free original musical adaptation of Shakespeare's THE WINTER'S TALE. Featuring more than 200 New Yorkers from all five boroughs performing alongside professional actors and The Public's community partners, Public Works' THE WINTER'S TALE will run for three nights only, September 5-7, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Free tickets will be distributed, two per person, at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the show at the Delacorte Theater and via the Virtual Ticketing lottery at www.publictheater.org.
Conceived and directed by Obie Award winner Lear deBessonet, with music and lyrics by Todd Almond, and choreography by Chase Brock, Public Works' THE WINTER'S TALE brings Shakespeare's tale of mystery and magic to life as never before. Featuring Public Works' signature blend of professional actors, community members, and special guests, this musical adaptation will explode with authentic performances that come together to tell Shakespeare's beloved fable of hard-won joy and the promise of renewal.
THE WINTER'S TALE will feature equity actors Todd Almond (Antigonus), Christopher Fitzgerald (Autolycus), Isaiah Johnson (Leontes), and David Turner (Clown), along with cameo group performances by Sesame Street, New York Theatre Ballet, DanceBrazil, Rosie's Theater Kids, Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, Staten Island Lions, and AATMA Performing Arts. The five Public Works community partner organizations are Children's Aid Society (Manhattan); DreamYard Project (Bronx); Fortune Society (Queens); Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn); and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs, including Staten Island).
"Public Works is about pursuing a fully participatory model of theater. We have people of all ages and backgrounds coming together from across the city to tell this story," said Public Works Director Lear deBessonet. "The project both celebrates the depth of our community partnerships, and also creates the opportunity for us to work with these splendid cameo groups from all over the city - it will be a Winter's Tale with stilt walkers, Bollywood dancers, and cast members ranging from small children to elders, and also one defined by the robustness of the relationships developed over two years of community collaboration."
Tickets to THE WINTER'S TALE are free, continuing The Public Theater's long-standing tradition of free programming and community engagement. Since the opening of the Delacorte in 1962, more than five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at The Public's Central Park venue. Free tickets will be distributed, two per person, at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the show at the Delacorte Theater. Free tickets will also be available via the Virtual Ticketing lottery at www.publictheater.org on the day of the performance. You may become a Summer Supporter for a $75 tax-deductible donation and receive a reserved seat to the event. For information and to donate, call 212-967-7555.
The Public Theater, founded nearly 60 years ago by Joe Papp as one of the nation's first nonprofit theaters, has been an advocate for theater as an essential cultural force and forum for dialogue about issues of the day. As the only theater in New York producing Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental works in equal measure, The Public continues its long tradition of engaging a wide range of audiences and artists. Public Works exemplifies The Public's long-standing commitment to community engagement that is at the core of the theater's mission. It is animated by the idea that theater is a place of possibility, where the boundaries that separate us from each other in the rest of life can fall away
Public Works is made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation and the Theater Subdistrict Council, LDC. Additional support is provided by the David Rockefeller Fund, the Samuel H. Scripps Foundation, and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.
ABOUT PUBLIC WORKS:
PUBLIC WORKS is an ongoing initiative of The Public Theater that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. PUBLIC WORKS deliberately blurs the line between professional artists and community members, creating theater that is not only for the people, but by and of the people as well. Working deeply with partner organizations in all five boroughs, PUBLIC WORKS invites members of diverse communities to participate in workshops, take classes, attend performances at The Public, and, most importantly, to join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater.
PUBLIC WORKS is founded on a 360° transformational experience of theater: making theater, seeing theater, discussing theater. The five community partner organizations that have worked with The Public for the first two years of PUBLIC WORKS have taken part in the full range of Public Theater programming, including Joe's Pub, Shakespeare in the Park, Public Forum, and the Mobile Shakespeare Unit. Additionally the Public Works family gathers for monthly potluck dinners and ongoing intergenerational activities.
BROWNSVILLE RECREATION CENTER (Brooklyn) is a branch of the New York City Parks Department. With extensive resources for youth and seniors, the center offers a vibrant space to tap into pursuits artistic and athletic alike. As part of Public Works, senior citizens participate in a weekly dance and theater class led by an artist from The Public. Over the course of the first year, the seniors learned a dance that they performed in The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater. The seniors have since performed pieces from their class led by Erin Washington several times over the course of the year. The Brownsville Recreation Center received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tour of Richard III in the summer of 2012 and Much Ado About Nothing in the fall of 2013.
THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY (Manhattan) helps children in poverty to succeed and thrive by providing comprehensive support and critical services to children and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods. As part of Public Works, the Children's Aid Society Chorus (a group of teenage girls led by Kelly Campbell) attended shows at Joe's Pub, attended regular Public Theater performances, and received master classes in singing, songwriting, movement, and acting.
DREAMYARD PROJECT (Bronx) was recognized by President Obama with a 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The organization provides transformative arts education for youth in the Bronx through school-based and out-of-school programs and supports young people as they work toward higher learning, meaningful careers and social action. As part of Public Works, DreamYard youth participate in workshops and intensives in performing Shakespeare, and in generative movement led by artists from The Public, along with attending performances in The Public's season. In 2013, parents of DreamYard students also participated in weekly acting classes where they studied, rehearsed and performed scenes from Hamlet.
DOMESTIC WORKERS UNITED (all boroughs, including Staten Island) is a city-wide organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York, organizing for power, respect, and fair labor standards, and to help build a movement to end exploitation and oppression for all. As part of Public Works, members participate in a monthly reading group where the women read and discuss a different classic play each session. Members also attend performances at The Public.
FORTUNE SOCIETY (Queens) is a nonprofit social service and advocacy organization, founded in 1967, whose mission is to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarceration thus strengthening the fabric of their communities. Drawing upon the life experience of Fortune's formerly incarcerated staff and clients, they offer a holistic, "one-stop" model which includes: alternatives to incarceration, counseling, career development, education, housing services, HIV/AIDS-case management, substance abuse treatment, family services, and lifetime aftercare, among other services. As part of Public Works, members participate in a full year of bi-weekly classes in playwriting, acting, comedy, and production. The Fortune Society received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tour of Richard III in the summer of 2012 and Much Ado About Nothing in the fall of 2013.
THE WINTER'S TALE COMPANY:
LEAR deBESSONET (Public Works Director/The Winter's Tale Director) directed last season's free Public Works production of The Tempest, and has created large-scale theatrical events pairing artistic excellence with community organizing in New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Kazakhstan. She recently directed the City Center Encores! Off-Center production of Pump Boys and Dinettes, and her additional recent work includes Good Person of Szechwan featuring Taylor Mac (Obie Award, Drama Desk nom., Lilly Award, Lortel Award for Best Revival), Sherie Rene Scott's Piece of Meat at 54 Below, On the Levee for Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3 (Time Out Best of 2010) and The Odyssey at the Old Globe, a community-based collaboration featuring professional artists alongside 180 San Diegans. In May 2009, her Don Quixote, a collaboration with homeless shelter Broad Street Ministry, premiered in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Weekly Best of 2009). Other credits include Saint Joan of the Stockyards (PS122), Toshi Reagon's LINES (Joe's Pub), Takarazuka (Clubbed Thumb), Monstrosity (13P), The Scarlet Letter (Intiman Theatre), transFigures (Women's Project), In the Dark Ages (National Opera Theatre of Kazakhstan), and When I Was a Ghost (Guthrie Theater). For Ten Thousand Things, she has directed productions of My Fair Lady, As You Like It, and The Music Man that toured to prisons, community centers, and homeless shelters in Minneapolis. She created and ran the TICKETS FOR THE PEOPLE program in New York, an initiative designed to distribute tickets to non-traditional theatre-goers including immigrants, students, and seniors. In 2006, she was named one of Time Out New York's "25 People to Watch," and in 2008 she was honored with LMCC's Presidential Award for Artistic Excellence. A recipient of an NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors, she has also acted as a visiting professor at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts.
TODD ALMOND (Music & Lyrics/Antigonus) is a composer, lyricist and playwright. For The Public, he wrote the music and performed as Ariel for last season's free Public Works production of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater. His musicals include Girlfriend (Berkeley Rep., and Actors Theatre of Louisville, with songwriter Matthew Sweet, dir: Les Waters); Melancholy Play (13P, with playwright Sarah Ruhl, dir: Davis McCallum); We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Yale Repertory Theater, with playwright Adam Bock, dir: Anne Kauffman); On The Levee (LCT3, dir: Lear deBessonet); and The Odyssey (The Old Globe, dir: Lear deBessonet) and Iowa (Playwrights Horizons, 2015, with playwright Jenny Schwartz, dir: Ken Rus Schmoll). Almond music-directed and arranged Sherie Rene Scott's hit show Piece of Meat (54 Below and Hippodrome in London) and can be heard on Laura Benanti's live album In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention. He has released two solo albums: Mexico City and Memorial Day.
CHASE BROCK (Choreography) has choreographed for The Public, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, and Venice. On Broadway, he has choreographed Picnic and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. His Off-Broadway credits include Irma La Douce; Lost in the Stars; The Cradle Will Rock (Encores!); The Blue Flower (Second Stage, Lortel nomination, outstanding choreography); Tamar of the River (Prospect); and The Mysteries (Flea). He has choreographed for "Late Show with David Letterman," and "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," and for the video games Dance on Broadway (Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move); and for the opera, Roméo et Juliette (Salzburger Festspiele). His additional dance credits include The Chase Brock Experience (26 dances); and the upcoming production Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame (La Jolla Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse); and Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Alice By Heart.
CHRISTOPHER FITZGERALD (Autolycus) has appeared at The Public in The Cripple of Inishmaan. His Broadway credits include The Merchant of Venice, Finian's Rainbow, Young Frankenstein, Wicked, Amour, and Chicago. He has also been seen Off-Broadway in Gutenberg! The Musical; Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme; Saturday Night; Fully Committed; and Corpus Christi. His film and television credits include Revolutionary Road, Girl Most Likely, "Elementary," "The Good Wife," and "Twins."
ISAIAH JOHNSON (Leontes) has appeared on Broadway as the Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice and Peter and the Starcatcher. His Off-Broadway credits include the recent Encores! production of Faust, Othello, and Far From Heaven at Playwrights Horizons. His film and television credits include Life Lines: Before His Last Breath; "The Knick"; "Person of Interest"; "Homegirls"; and "Think Tank."
DAVID TURNER (Clown) was recently seen in The Foundry Theatre's production of Good Person of Szechwan, which ran at The Public in 2013. His Broadway credits include On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Arcadia, Sunday in the Park with George, The Ritz, In My Life, and The Invention of Love. His Off-Broadway credits include The Last Sunday in June; Gutenberg! The Musical!; The Butter and Egg Man; and Shakespeare (Abridged). His television credits include "The Leftovers," "The Good Wife," and "Lipstick Jungle."
SESAME WORKSHOP is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. The Workshop's mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Delivered through a variety of platforms, including television programs, digital experiences, books and community engagement, its research-based programs are tailored to the needs of the communities and countries they serve. Sesame Street began in 1969 with a simple yet revolutionary idea: to use television to help kids learn. More than four decades later, Sesame Street has become an iconic touch point for generations of American children and is the longest street in the world, stretching across more than 150 countries and all kinds of media, from books to radio to mobile devices. Led by its famously furry cast, the show addresses a wide spectrum of children's learning - ABCs and 123s, health, mutual understanding, and more - with an approach that's brilliantly adaptable to local cultures and educational needs. In its 44 seasons, Sesame Street has produced a parade of successes. Now, more than 6 million young viewers watch each week, while more than 82 million are Sesame Street "graduates." The program has won more Emmy Awards than any other show in TV history with 159 statues. For more information, visit www.sesamestreet.org.
NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET was founded in 1978 by Diana Byer. It is the most widely seen chamber ballet company in the United States and was hailed by The New York Times' Alastair Macaulay as "an invaluable company." New York Theatre Ballet is dedicated to performing contemporary and classic chamber ballets at affordable prices for all audiences, locally, nationally and internationally. NYTB has earned national acclaim for its restoration and revival of small masterworks by great choreographers including Frederick Ashton, Merce Cunningham, Agnes de Mille, José Limón, and Antony Tudor, and for its innovative 60 minute ballets based on children's literature. For thousands of young people NYTB is their first ballet. NYTB also provides training at its Ballet School NY which follows the Cecchetti syllabus. NYTB's LIFT Community Services Program provides tuition-free ballet classes and other vital help for productive learning for at-risk and homeless children.
DANCEBRAZIL. The Capoeira performers participating in The Winter's Tale previously performed with DanceBrazil under the direction of Jelon Vieira. They live in New York City and maintain a strong connection with the Capoeira Foundation and DanceBrazil by performing, teaching, and spreading Brazilian Culture in the United States. Capoeira is a martial art disguised as a dance form that originated in Africa and evolved in colonial Brazil as a means of fighting enslavement.
ROSIE'S THEATER KIDS (RTKids) is an arts education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children through the arts. We serve students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience theater, positively changing the trajectory of their lives by providing comprehensive classes in music, dance and drama; thoughtful mentoring; and structured academic guidance. Our goal is to inspire excellence, motivate learning, uplift the human spirit, build confidence, and spark a lifelong appreciation for the arts.
SHINBONE ALLEY STILT BAND brings music to new heights with a selection of Dixieland, Swing, Jazz, Rock and International tunes. A talented group of musicians who parade, dance on stilts and perform various feats of physical and musical dexterity, the ensemble includes saxophones, trumpets, trombones and drums. The Band has delighted audiences in Japan, Brazil, Israel, Venezuela, Colombia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, and the USA. www.bondst.org.
STATEN ISLAND LIONS was founded in 2004 by Master Glenn Chin. SIL started as a small group performing at local events and have grown with many new members dedicated to the art of Lion Dancing and Martial Arts. They now perform at birthdays, Grand Openings, weddings, martial arts events, charities and the numerous events for New York's Chinatown community such as Lunar New Year celebrations, Firecracker Ceremonies, Independence Day Parade, Autumn Moon Festivals and Labor Day Parade.
AATMA PERFORMING ARTS is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed dance company and performing arts institution founded by Amit Shah. A pioneer in fusing Indian classical and folk dance styles with modern forms of movement, AATMA has received tremendous accolades with the media in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, being the first US-based Indian dance company to make international headway. AATMA dancers have been said to be "technically perfect" and their choreography to be "better than the film" by Bollywood icons, Mallika Sherawat and Farah Khan. Having been reviewed by The New York Times, The Star Ledger, and various high profile publications, the media has described AATMA as "visually grand and dynamic" and their performances defined as "a kaleidoscope of color and beauty."
ABOUT THE PUBLIC THEATER AT ASTOR PLACE
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public Theater is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues-including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe's Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to its beloved, free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City's five boroughs. The Public's wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company's dedication to making theater accessible to all; Public Works, a new initiative that is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences and the community each; new and experimental stagings at The Public at Astor Place, including Public Lab and Public Studio; and a range of artist and audience development initiatives including its Public Forum series, which brings together theater artists and professionals from a variety of disciplines for discussions that shed light on social issues of the day. The Public also serves as a home for other New York City cultural programs that include The Shakespeare Society, The PEN World Voice Festival and City Center's Fall For Dance. The Public Theater is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affair. In October 2012 the landmark building at Astor Place was revitalized to physically manifest the Company's core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences, by dramatically opening up the building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. Key elements of the revitalization included an expanded and refurbished lobby and the addition of a mezzanine level with a new restaurant lounge, The Library, designed by the Rockwell Group. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater's year-round activities. www.publictheater.org