Meryl Streep Donates $1 Million to The Public Theater in Honor of Joseph Papp and Nora Ephron

October 4
8:04 PM 2012

Meryl Streep Donates $1 Million to The Public Theater in Honor of Joseph Papp and Nora Ephron

Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham announced today that Public Theater alumna and Academy Award winner Meryl Streep has donated $1 million to The Public Theater. The announcement was made on Thursday evening at a special reception for artists and Public Theater "family" to celebrate the completion of the $40 million revitalization of its downtown home at Astor Place.

"I give this gift in honor of the founder of The Public Theater, my friend and mentor Joseph Papp, and in remembrance of one of the theater's Board members and greatest supporters, my friend Nora Ephron," said Meryl Streep.

"Meryl is as great a citizen as she is an actor," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "Joe Papp founded The Public in the belief that great theater belonged to all the people. It means an enormous amount to us that the greatest actor of our time supports that mission."

A physical expression of the Company's core mission of sparking dialogues, fostering artistic development and experimentation, and increasing public accessibility, the revitalization project opens up the landmark building to the street and community, and transforms the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. It also enables The Public to continue to build on Papp's vision from new works to Shakespeare, professional development programs for artists in all phases of their careers, and programs like the Mobile Unit that bring theater into the community.

For more than 35 years, Streep has been performing at The Public Theater's downtown home at Astor Place and at the Delacorte Theater uptown in Central Park. Her first roles included Trelawny of the Wells in 1975 and Henry V in 1976, directed by Papp. Most recently she appeared in The Public Theater's 50th Anniversary Gala at the Delacorte Theater in June where she played "Juliet" opposite Kevin Kline as "Romeo" in a benefit reading of the classic play.

The Public Theater's $40 million revitalization of its downtown home at Astor Place was unveiled today and will be celebrated throughout the month with a series of events – many of which are free – designed to engage the entire New York community and marking a rededication to its founding principles. For more information on The Public's rededication celebration and events, visit

Meryl Streep's Public Theater credits include the 50th Anniversary Gala at the Delacorte in June; the Shakespeare in the Park production of Mother Courage and Her Children at the Delacorte in 2006; The Seagull directed by Mike Nichols; Trelawny of the Wells; Henry V; Measure for Measure; The Cherry Orchard; The Taming of the Shrew; Taken in Marriage; and Alice at the Palace. Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award 17 times, and has won it three times, most recently for her role in The Iron Lady. Her first film role was in the 1977 film Julia, and the following year she was nominated for her first Oscar for her role in The Deer Hunter. She went on to win the Academy Award for her performances in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice. Her additional film credits include Silkwood, Out of Africa, Ironweed, A Cry in the Dark, Postcards from The Edge, Death Becomes Her, The House of the Spirits, The River Wild, The Bridges of Madison County, Before and After, Marvin's Room, One True Thing, Dancing at Lughnasa, Music of the Heart, The Hours, Angels in America, The Manchurian Candidate, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Prime, Prairie Home Companion, The Devil Wears Prada, Dark Matter, Rendition, Mamma Mia!, Doubt, Julie & Julia, Fantastic Mr. Fox, It's Complicated, Hope Springs, and the upcoming August: Osage County.

The revitalization of The Public Theater's downtown home at Astor Place will physically manifest the Company's core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences by dramatically opening up its landmark building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. Designed by Ennead Architects and constructed by Westerman Construction, the project encompasses enhancements to the building's interior and exterior while preserving the historic structure. Key elements of the design include infrastructure updates to the 158-year old building, as well as construction of new exterior entry stair and glass canopy; installation of ramps for improved accessibility; an expanded and refurbished lobby; the addition of a mezzanine level with a new lounge, designed by the Rockwell Group; expansion and remodeling of restroom facilities; and comprehensive exterior restoration, ensuring stability of the landmark façade.

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 and 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, new and experimental stagings at The Public at Astor Place, 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 explored in Public productions. 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 Affairs.


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