Theatre for a New Audience Names New Brooklyn Home Polonsky Shakespeare Center
Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director, announced that Theatre for a New Audience's first home in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District will be named Polonsky Shakespeare Center in recognition of a $10 million gift from The Polonsky Foundation.
Mr. Horowitz said, "We previously announced that our first home was a Center for Shakespeare and Classical Drama. We are now honored to name our building Polonsky Shakespeare Center. It is the largest gift we have received. It is transformational and will enable us to have a permanent home from which we can contribute to the cultural life of Brooklyn and New York."
Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, will open November 2, 2013(previews begin October 19) with Theatre for a New Audience's production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Julie Taymor with original music by Elliot Goldenthal.
With this gift from The Polonsky Foundation, the Theatre's $69.1 Million Capital Campaign has only $3.7 million to reach its goal. The Campaign includes construction of the Hugh Hardy-designed building, an endowment to support programs and operations, and funds to support the launch of the facility and its programs.
The Polonsky Foundation was created by Brooklyn-born Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky. He and his wife, Dr. Georgette Bennett, have added personal gifts to the foundation over the years.
Dr. Polonsky said, "At this stage of my life, for a kid from Brooklyn to return to New York and support a beautifully designed theatre devoted to Shakespeare, is deeply meaningful. Ars longa, vita brevis. It is a pleasure to support Theatre for a New Audience's passion and endurance."
Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky, CBE, has had a successful business career in the financial services sector and is a philanthropist with particular interests in education and the arts and humanities. He established Liberty Life Assurance Company Limited in London in 1970 and is Chairman of its successor company, Hansard Global Plc., which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. A citizen of the UK, Dr. Polonsky grew up in New York City, where he was a pupil at the Townsend Harris High School and received a Bachelor of Arts from New York University (graduating Phi Beta Kappa). Following military service in 1945-46, he pursued graduate studies at Lincoln College, Oxford, and in Paris at the Sorbonne, where, in 1952, he received his doctorate, with distinction, in Lettres. He taught languages in Heidelberg for several years before embarking on his business career. He is a member of the Board of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York and the Harry S. Truman Research Center for the Advancement of Peace, in Jerusalem. Dr. Polonsky is an Honorary Fellow and Governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has also been awarded with an Honorary Doctorate. He is a member of the Guild of Benefactors at Cambridge University, UK and was recently named a Commander of the British Empire by the Queen.
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience is an internationally recognized modern classical theatre rooted in Shakespeare. It presents Shakespeare alongside major authors ranging from Euripides, Molière and Ford to Edward Bond, Adrienne Kennedy and Wallace Shawn.
Built in partnership with The City of New York and designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center will be a sustainable, "green" building.
At its heart is the 299-seat Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, named in recognition of a $5 Million gift from the SHS Foundation. Inspired by the Cottesloe at London's Royal National Theatre, the Scripps is the first stage to be built in New York for classical repertory since Lincoln Center's 1965 Vivian Beaumont. Both intimate and epic, the Scripps combines an Elizabethan courtyard theatre and modern technology. It is extraordinarily flexible. Shakespeare can be presented on a thrust stage; another classic in-the-round or a modern drama within a proscenium. 35 feet tall, nearly twice the height of many Off-Broadway spaces, the stage is also trapped allowing entrances from below, an essential element of classical drama.
Immediately behind the Scripps is the Theodore C. Rogers 50-seat Studio for rehearsals and performances. It is named in honor of a $2.5 million gift from Ted Rogers, who was Chairman of the Theatre's Board, 1993 - 2012, and now Chairman of the Theatre's Capital Campaign.
Wrapping around Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center is a new Arts Plaza designed by landscape architect Ken Smith, which provides outdoor seating and trees, and connects seamlessly to the lobby. An interior café catered by Danny Meyer's Union Square Events offers options for informal dining. Bold banners designed by celebrated graphic artist Milton Glaser, the first graphic designer to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts, announce the plays.
The Polonsky Foundation focuses on higher education and the arts and humanities . It has endowed projects at both Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well as at Townsend Harris High School, and digitization projects at major world libraries. Polonsky Fellowships for postdoctoral researchers in the humanities and social sciences are available at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, where they are based at the newly opened, state-of-the-art Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Polonsky Foundation has been engaged with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a four-year educational program, "Exploring Shakespeare, "available via the Internet ( http://www.rsc.org.uk/support-us/difference/education.aspx). The Foundation was also a major funder of Shakespeare Uncovered by WNET on THIRTEEN.
The award-winning Theatre for a New Audience is the first American theatre company invited to bring a Shakespeare production to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2001, Cymbeline directed by Bartlett Sher opened at the RSC's Other Place. In 2007, Theatre for a New Audience was invited to return to the RSC as part of the Complete Works Festival with its production of The Merchant of Venice, starring F. Murray Abraham and directed by Darko Tresnjak. Julie Taymor's stagings for Theatre for a New Audience of The Tempest (1986) and Titus Andronicus (1994) inspired her major films Titus starring Anthony Hopkins and The Tempest starring Helen Mirren. Theatre for a New Audience also toured to Naples, Italy with its production Souls of Naples by Eduardo De Filippo, starring John Turturro.
The Theatre created and runs the largest program to introduce Shakespeare and classical drama in the New York City Public Schools. Begun in 1983, it has now served more than 125,000 fourth through twelfth grade students. The Program reaches schools in all five boroughs, including some of the City's most under served neighborhoods, and also provides professional development for teachers.
Theatre for a New Audience projects an audience of 32,000 will attend in Downtown Brooklyn with significant economic impact on the neighborhood. A recent economic impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts shows that non-profit arts and culture program attendees spend an average of $27.79 on ancillary activities such as travel, meals and shopping.
Theatre for a New Audience will relocate approximately 20 full-time jobs and another 100 part-time/seasonal jobs, including artistic positions, to Brooklyn.
When not producing its own work, Theatre for a New Audience will rent to other groups at affordable rates, bringing much needed performance and rehearsal space to the community.
"Theatre for a New Audience's new Brooklyn home will serve the people of New York City by becoming a hub for Shakespeare and world drama, attracting some of the foremost as well as most promising theatre artists," said Henry Christensen III, Chair of Theatre for a New Audience.
Theodore C. Rogers is Chair of the Capital Campaign, and Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal are Honorary Co-Chairs. Ms. Taymor first worked with Theatre for a New Audience in 1983 and directed her first Shakespeare play, The Tempest, for the Theatre two years later; Mr. Goldenthal, the Academy award-winning composer, has worked with Theatre for a New Audience on several productions.
The Theatre's three-phase Institution-Building Campaign began in 1996. In Phase I and II it raised $4 million to establish a Working Capital Reserve and expand the number of our seasonal productions. Phase III, with a goal of $65.1 Million, has the Theatre's own new home as its centerpiece: funds to construct the building, create a $10 Million endowment, and support a marketing launch and production enhancement. The total goal of all three phases of the Campaign is $69.1 million. Theatre for a New Audience has raised $65.4 Million to date. $3.7 million remains to be raised to reach the Campaign's goal.
Other leadership gifts to date have included The City of New York, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, SHS Foundation (the late Samuel H. Scripps, a longtime Board Member of the Theatre), Theodore C. Rogers, the Irving Harris Foundation, the family of Elayne P. Bernstein, Robert and the late Joan Arnow, Marlène Brody, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This past season, Theatre for a New Audience presented five productions in three locations: Much Ado About Nothing at The Duke on 42nd Street, Kafka's Monkeyand Fragments at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and Wallace Shawn's The Designated Mourner and Grasses of A Thousand Colors in a co-production at Public Theater.
The inaugural production, A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Julie Taymor with original music by Eliot Goldenthal, begins previews October 19, 2013 and closesJanuary 12, 2014. It will be followed by King Lear featuring Michael Pennington and directed by Arin Arbus, and Eugene Ionesco's The Killer featuring Michael Shannon in a new translation by Michael Feingold and directed by Darko Tresnjak.