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LaChiusa's 'FIRST LADY' Follow-Up with Mary Testa and Rachel Bay Jones, THE ODYSSEY Musical Adaptation & More Set for The Public's 2015-16 Season

Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham announced the line-up today for The Public's 2015-16 season, continuing the theater's six-decade tradition of producing theater that is accessible to all. The Public stages Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental works in equal measure while engaging a wide range of audiences and artists at its six downtown theaters at Astor Place, including Joe's Pub, as well as the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Beginning in September, The Public's 60th season will include two world premiere musicals; a free Public Works musical adaptation of The Odyssey at the Delacorte; new plays by Robert O'Hara, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Sarah Burgess; the return of Gob Squad; the 12th edition of the acclaimed Under the Radar Festival; two Mobile Shakespeare Unit tours that bring Shakespeare to those that have little or no access to the arts; a dynamic and engaging Public Forum line-up; and New Work Now!

OSKAR EUSTIS has served as the Artistic Director of The Public Theater since 2005, celebrating his 10th Anniversary this season. During his tenure at The Public, he has produced such acclaimed pieces of theater as the revival of Hair; Twelfth Night with Anne Hathaway; The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino; Tony Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide To Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures; Stew and Heidi Rodewald's Passing Strange; The Apple Family Plays by Richard Nelson; Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeannie Tesori; Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Alex Timbers; Father Comes Home From The Wars by Suzan-Lori Parks; Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton; and created new community-based initiatives designed to engage audiences like Public Lab, Public Studio, Public Forum, Public Works and a remount of the Mobile Shakespeare Unit.

"The Public Theater's new season reflects all the core values of the organization Joe Papp founded: inclusion, dramaturgy, fearlessness, artistic excellence, and continuity," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "New friends and old family members, experimental theater and musicals, classics and new plays. The new season is a brilliant continuation of The Public's story."

The Public's 2015-16 season will begin in September with a free Public Works musical adaptation of Homer's THE ODYSSEY, conceived and directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet, with music, lyrics and book by Todd Almond. Following last season's acclaimed Public Works' The Winter's Tale that featured over 200 actors and community members, THE ODYSSEY will once again be an unforgettable community event that will run for four nights only, September 4-7, at the Delacorte Theater.

Following the success of Hamilton, Fun Home, and Here Lies Love, The Public will present two world premiere musicals beginning in the fall with the new musical FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE by Michael John LaChiusa, a follow-up to his acclaimed First Lady Suite. Directed by Kirsten Sanderson, LaChiusa's director for First Lady Suite, initial casting for this world premiere musical includes Rachel Bay Jones, Theresa McCarthy, Betsy Morgan, Isabel Santiago, Carly Tamer, Mary Testa and Barbara Walsh.

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the creative team behind the smash hit Passing Strange, return to The Public in May with a thrilling new musical directed by Joanna Settle, THE TOTAL BENT. This world premiere musical is about the passions that divide a father and son as they make their music and make their choice between salvation and selling out.

The season will also feature five new plays beginning with BARBECUE, written by Robert O'Hara and directed by Kent Gash. Tarell Alvin McCraney returns to The Public with this poetic and piercing new play HEAD OF PASSES, directed by Tina Landau, who previously directed McCraney's In The Red and Brown Water at The Public in 2009.

Thomas Kail, director of the hit musical Hamilton, will return to The Public in March to direct Sarah Burgess' DRY POWDER, a viciously, deliciously funny new drama about the people molding and messing with the American economy.

After its acclaimed run of KITCHEN (You've Never Had It So Good) in 2012, Gob Squad returns to The Public with the American premiere of BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, this October. They created this ambitious and poignant project over the course of the past two years with 8-14 year olds from around New York City.

The Public's celebrated Public Forum series, curated by Jeremy McCarter, returns for its sixth and most adventurous line-up to date. This season, the hugely popular Drama Club - a "book club for plays" where great actors and great thinkers read and discuss a short play - will feature "Lorca in New York", translated by Nilo Cruz, adapted from Poet in New York by Federico Garcia Lorca; exploring modern women in power via dramatic depictions of Egypt's famous queen in "An Evening with Cleopatra"; and Forum's annual holiday presentation of Thornton Wilder's "The Long Christmas Dinner". The Forum season will also continue with thought-provoking standalone events over the course of the year.

The Mobile Shakespeare Unit, under the direction of Stephanie Ybarra, The Public's Director of Special Artistic Projects, is designed to bring free Shakespeare to the community and strengthen audience engagement with the arts. It will go on the road twice next season, beginning with a fall tour to the five boroughs of ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah. The spring Mobile Shakespeare Unit will tour ROMEO & JULIET, directed by Public Works director Lear deBessonet.

The Under the Radar Festival, curated by Co-Directors Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang, will celebrate its 12th edition in January with some of the most exciting new artists from around the world. This year's edition will feature, among many other groundbreaking shows, the Belgium and French production GERMINAL, by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort and produced by L'Amicale de production.

THE PUBLIC THEATER MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM offers patrons the opportunity to purchase significantly discounted tickets to shows and events throughout the year for an annual $65 (tax-deductible) donation. Memberships are available at or by calling 212-967-7555. Single tickets for the 2015-16 season will go on sale later this year.


Public Works at the Delacorte Theater
Musical Adaptation of Homer's THE ODYSSEY

Conceived and directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet
Music, lyrics, and book by Todd Almond
September 4 - 7, 2015

The Public Theater's Public Works program creates ambitious works of participatory theater in partnership with community organizations from all five boroughs of New York City. This year, Obie Award-winning director Lear deBessonet and lyricist/composer Todd Almond, the team behind the acclaimed Public Works productions of The Tempest and The Winter's Tale, join forces again to create a breathtaking new musical adaptation, THE ODYSSEY. Inspired by the historical pageantry movement of the early 1900s-known for blending mass spectacle with community engagement-this final work in deBessonet and Almond's grand trilogy reimagines the Greek epic with Public Works' signature blend of professional actors, community members and special guests. Man-eating Cyclops, a sorceress that turns sailors to beasts, and the deadly sweet song of the Sirens explode onto the stage with spectacular dance numbers in this joyful, larger-than-life musical about finding your way home-no matter where fate may lead you.

World Premiere

Written by Robert O'Hara
Directed by Kent Gash
September 22 - November 1, 2015

The O'Mallerys have gathered in their local park to share some barbecue and straight talk with their sister Barbara, whose spiral of drugs and recklessness has forced her siblings to stage an open-air intervention. But the event becomes raucous and unpredictable as familial stereotypes collide with hard realities, and racial politics slam up against the stories we tell-and maybe even believe-about who we were and who we become. Kent Gash directs this new play that proves family can be a bigger vice than any other addiction.


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
November 2 - 22, 2015

Kwame Kwei-Armah, who directed The Public's 2013 production of Dominique Morisseau's Detroit '67 and the 2013 Mobile Shakespeare Unit's Much Ado About Nothing, returns to direct the fall Mobile Shakespeare Unit tour of ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. This romantic fairytale will tour the five boroughs followed by a limited three-week engagement at The Public.

World Premiere

Written by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Kirsten Sanderson
October 6 - November 15, 2015

Tony nominee Michael John LaChiusa imagines the inner lives and dreams of America's best-known daughters with a funny and moving follow-up to his 1993 Public musical First Lady Suite. A historical fantasia in four parts, FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE follows Patricia Nixon and daughters Tricia and Julie, Roselyn and Amy Carter, Betty and Susan Ford, Patti Davis and mom Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush and daughter-in-law Laura as they strive to live meaningful lives in the public eye, while dealing with the complex private relationships all of us face with our parents and children. Directed by Kirsten Sanderson, this wholly captivating new musical with a lush, sweeping score is a deeply felt new work about mothers, daughters and the surprising discoveries we make about one another as we grow.

Initial casting for this world premiere musical includes Rachel Bay Jones, Theresa McCarthy, Betsy Morgan, Isabel Santiago, Carly Tamer, Mary Testa and Barbara Walsh.

American Premiere

Created by Gob Squad
October 17 - November 29, 2015

UK and Berlin-based Gob Squad's last show at The Public was an Under The Radar sensation. This season, Gob Squad returns with the ambitious and poignant BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, created over the course of the past two years with 8-14 year olds from around New York City. From behind the safety of one-way mirrors, the audience witnesses seven lives lived in fast forward, from angst-ridden teens to hunched geriatrics. As we adults try to stop the process of aging and preserve youth as long as we can, the children peer into the future and nostalgically back at their recent past, as they prepare to leave childhood behind forever. A must-see experience from this internationally acclaimed theater collective. The Belgian version of BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES was produced by CAMPO (Belgium) and premiered in 2012.

January 6 - 17, 2016

Curated by Co-Directors Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang, this highly-anticipated 12-day festival in January showcases cutting-edge theater from around the U.S. and the world.

GERMINAL (First Show Announced of the Festival)
Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort
Produced by L'Amicale de production (Belgium/France)

On an empty stage, four intrepid performers begin to construct the world from scratch. With ingenious theater magic, they gleefully invent laws of physics, philosophy, music, language and codes for social interaction. One of the most talked-about pieces in the international performance circuit in recent years, GERMINAL uses the theater as a whimsical metaphor for human civilization.

World Premiere

Written by Sarah Burgess
Directed by Thomas Kail
March 1 - April 10, 2016

DRY POWDER is the viciously, deliciously funny new drama about the people molding and messing with the American economy. The same week his private equity firm forced massive layoffs at a national grocery chain, Rick threw himself an extravagant engagement party, setting off a publicity nightmare. Fortunately, Seth, one of Rick's managing directors, has a win-win deal to invest in an American-made luggage company for a song and rescue his boss from the company's PR disaster. But Jenny, Seth's counterpart, has an entirely different plan: to squeeze every last penny out of the company, no matter the human toll. The game is on in Sarah Burgess' gripping, razor-sharp new play about the price of success and the real cost of getting the deal done. Thomas Kail directs.

New York Premiere

Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Tina Landau
In a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
March 15 - April 24, 2016

Tarell Alvin McCraney, MacArthur Award-winning playwright of the acclaimed Brother/Sister Plays, returns to The Public with an astonishing, deeply moving new drama about family, acceptance and the power of faith. At the mouth of the Mississippi River, Shelah's family and friends have come to celebrate her birthday and save her from a leaking roof. But in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job, unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah must fight to survive the rising flood of life's greatest challenges. Regular Public Theater collaborator Tina Landau directs this poetic and piercing new play.

World Premiere

Text by Stew
Music by Heidi Rodewald and Stew
Directed by Joanna Settle
May 10 - June 19, 2016

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony Award-winning show Passing Strange, team with director Joanna Settle to bring you their thrilling new musical, THE TOTAL BENT. A riotous new show at the crossroads of the sacred and profane, survival and liberation, gospel and rock 'n' roll. When a British record producer arrives in Montgomery, Alabama to hook Marty Roy, a young black musical prodigy, he launches us back into Marty's tumultuous upbringing. The son of a gospel star and self-proclaimed healer, Marty spent his childhood writing the songs that have made his charismatic father famous. But in an America on the verge of social upheaval, with an unrelenting appetite for celebrity, Marty finds himself at odds with his spiritually forceful father as he strives to make a name for himself-no matter the cost. A funny, fiery, one-of-a-kind show, THE TOTAL BENT is about the passions that divide a father and son as they make their music and make their choice between salvation and selling out.


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet
May 10 - May 29, 2016

This spring, The Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which strengthens community engagement with the arts by bringing free, world-class productions of Shakespeare to communities all across New York City, will present Shakespeare's timeless tale of ROMEO & JULIET. In some of the most romantic language ever written for the stage, young Romeo and Juliet become fortune's fools when the ancient grudge between their families forces them to sacrifice all for the chance to be together. Obie Award winner Lear deBessonet directs the classic tale of star-cross'd lovers caught between the world outside the bedroom window and passion as boundless as the sea. This production will tour the five boroughs followed by a three week sit-down engagement at The Public.

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