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BWW Exclusive: Creation of the Public Theater Explored in JOE PAPP IN FIVE ACTS

The new documentary is set to air on Friday, June 3 on PBS.

The creation of The Public Theater is explored in American Masters: Joe Papp in Five Acts. The new documentary is set to air on Friday, June 3 on PBS.

In an exclusive clip, watch how Papp turned a dilapidated building into what The Public Theater is today.

Once starting as the Astor Library, which became the first free public library in New York, the building had been converted into a place for homeless Jewish people after World War II by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. In the 1960s, the building evolved into a permanent space for The Public Theater.

Directed, produced, and written by Tracie Holder and Karen Thorsen, the film tells the story of this indomitable, street-wise champion of the arts. As founder of The Public Theater, Free Shakespeare in the Park and producer of groundbreaking plays like Hair, A Chorus Line and for colored girls..., Papp believed great art was for everyone. Papp's stages held up a mirror to society with work that reflected the reality of people's lives.

Featuring rare footage from the 50s to Papp's death in 1991 and up-close scenes from the performances themselves, American Masters: Joe Papp in Five Acts tells his story without narration. His great accomplishments and his own, often tumultuous, personal history are told by the artists he helped create-and, in some cases, tried to destroy-including James Earl Jones (the Star Wars trilogy, The Lion King), Kevin Kline (Dave, A Fish Called Wanda), Larry Kramer (playwright, The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me), Mandy Patinkin (Sunday in the Park with George, Homeland), Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now, West Wing), Meryl Streep (Sophie's Choice, Mamma Mia), Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction) and George C. Wolfe (director Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, former Artistic Director of The Public Theater), among others.

Watch the exclusive clip here:




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