Richard Nelson's ILLYRIA, Lynn Nottage's MLIMA'S TALE, UNDER THE RADAR and More Among Public Theater's 50th Anniversary Season at Astor Place
Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham announced the line-up today for The Public's Astor Anniversary Season at their landmark downtown home on Lafayette Street, celebrating 50 years of new work at 425 Lafayette.
The Public Theater was founded in 1954 (then known as the New York Shakespeare Festival) but its permanent home in the East Village opened its doors for the first time in October 1967 with the groundbreaking new musical HAIR. In the five decades since the sun first shone into the historic Astor Place building, The Public Theater has remained fundamentally democratic, artist driven, and radically inclusive, producing, most recently, such game-changing shows as Hamilton, Fun Home, Here Lies Love, Eclipsed, and Sweat.
The iconic New York destination, which includes five theaters and Joe's Pub as well as The Library restaurant, is home to 50 years of revolutionary theater, and continues this season with new work by Richard Nelson, Elevator Repair Service, Julia Cho, Luis Alfaro, Sarah Burgess, Bruce Norris, Lynn Nottage, Rinne Groff, Shaina Taub, Laurie Woolery, as well as the continuation of year-round, community engagement programming: Mobile Unit, Public Works, Under the Radar, Public Studio, Public Forum, Emerging Writers Group, and the beloved Free Shakespeare in the Park.
"The new season is a beautiful evocation of The Public's artistic family: long-time favorites, new voices, works traditional and experimental, art that strives to reflect all the turbulence and beauty of our times," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "The Public's offerings have a range and variety that is unmatched by any theater in the country. Each of these plays participates in the great issues of the age; that is what makes them Public plays."
Patrons who join The Public Theater as a donor starting with a gift of $65 gain early access to tickets for shows and events throughout the year. To find out how you can support The Public by joining one of the donor programs visit www.publictheater.org/support or call 212-967-7555. Tickets for the 2017-18 season will go on sale later this year.
Joe's Pub at The Public is open nightly for some of the best music and performances in the city. The fall will also include a limited run ofJudy Collins: A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim at Joe's Pub in November. The Library at The Public is open nightly for food and drinks, beginning at 5:30 p.m., with an American menu created by Chefs Andrew Carmellini and John Ramirez, featuring local ingredients and New York influence.
Public Theater Productions can also be seen nationally and internationally with tours of The Gabriels, Fun Home and Hamilton as well as Public Works national launching in Seattle in September 2017.
The Public Theater'S 2017-18 ASTOR ANNIVERSARY SEASON:
FREE FOR ALL
Public Works at the Delacorte Theater
AS YOU LIKE IT
Musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic adapted by Shaina Taub & Laurie Woolery
Music & Lyrics by Shaina Taub
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Directed by Laurie Woolery
September 1 - 5, 2017
Celebrating its fifth season, Public Works is The Public's local and national initiative that invites diverse communities from across New York to join in creating ambitious works of participatory theater. This year, Public Works presents Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT in a ravishing new musical adaptation by Director of Public Works Laurie Woolery and Shaina Taub, featuring music and lyrics by Taub, the acclaimed singer/songwriter behind last season's adaptation of Twelfth Night, and choreography by Emmy nominee Sonya Tayeh. Two hundred community members and professional actors perform together on the Delacorte stage in this immersive dream-like tale of faithful friends, feuding families and lovers in disguise. Forced from their homes, Orlando, Duke Senior, his daughter Rosalind, and niece Celia, escape to the Forest of Arden, a fantastical place of transformation, where all are welcomed and embraced. Lost amidst the trees, the refugees find community and acceptance under the stars in this magical story of chance encounters and self-discovery.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
Created by Elevator Repair Service
Directed by John Collins
Featuring Rinne Groff, Lindsay Hockaday, Maggie Hoffman, Mike Iveson, Vin Knight, April Matthis, Gavin Price, Greig Sargeant, Scott Shepherd, Pete Simpson, and Susie Sokol
Co-produced with Elevator Repair Service and originally Commissioned by The Public Theater
September 18 - October 29, 2017
Elevator Repair Service, the OBIE Award-winning company behind Gatz and Arguendo, returns to The Public to celebrate their 25th season with a dynamic new production of Shakespeare's MEASURE FOR MEASURE. With athletic theatricality and Marx-Brothers-inspired slapstick, the ERS ensemble brings exciting new life to this story of impossible moral choices in 17th-century Vienna. Radical experiments with speed set the play's combination of the comically absurd and the tragically serious in stark relief, and deliver a remarkable new show that marries the company's unique performance style with the Bard's exquisitely lyrical language. ERS Founder and Artistic Director John Collins directs.
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS
Based on the Book by Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for the Stage by Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail, and Nia Vardalos
Directed by Thomas Kail
Featuring Nia Vardalos reprising her role as "Sugar"
September 19 - November 12, 2017
Following its critically-acclaimed and sold-out run last season, the uplifting and richly funny TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS returns to The Public's larger Newman Theater with Academy Award-nominee Nia Vardalos reprising the role of "Sugar." Based on the best-selling book by author Cheryl Strayed, the play TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS was praised by The New York Times as "an ideal catharsis" and "handkerchief-soaking meditation on pain, loss, hope and forgiveness." Thousands of people wrote letters asking for advice from an anonymous online columnist named "Sugar," who drew from her own life experiences to answer in a candid, often brutally honest exchange. It was later revealed that "Sugar" was Cheryl Strayed. Vardalos adapts the book, weaving together the real letters to explore the monstrous beauty, unfathomable dark and glimmering light which are at the heart of being human. Tony Award winner Thomas Kail directs this "incredibly moving" (Time Out) play about reaching out when you're stuck, healing when you're broken and finding the courage to take on the questions which have no answer. TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS is made possible with the generous support of The Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund.
Set in South Central LA, OEDIPUS EL REY is an electrifying new take on the Greek tragedy, written by acclaimed playwright Luis Alfaro. Oedipus is reimagined as a troubled Latino whose dreams of controlling his own destiny soar above the barbed wire of the prison where he's spent his life. But in a place where everyone is trapped-by desperation or fate, history or violence-no one man can change his story alone. Love, family and belief collide in this chilling, incredibly powerful new play that asks: what's fate, and what's just the system?
Playwright Julia Cho returns to The Public with a taut new drama about a teacher and student desperate to change the narrative of who they are and how their story ends. Gina was warned that one of her students would be a problem. Eighteen years old and strikingly odd, Dennis writes violently obscene work clearly intended to unsettle those around him. Determined to know whether he's a real threat, Gina compels Dennis to attend her office hours. But as the clock ticks down, Gina realizes that "good" versus "bad" is nothing more than a convenient illusion, and that the isolated young student in her office has learned one thing above all else: that for the powerless, the ability to terrify others is powerful indeed. Neel Keller directs this inventive, penetrating new drama about a single day that could end in tragedy or hope − and the endless possibilities in between.
Written and Directed by Richard Nelson
October 22 - November 26, 2017
This season, Richard Nelson, the writer-director of the acclaimed Apple Family Plays and The Gabriels, returns to The Public following a successful world-tour to reveal a forgotten chapter in The Public Theater's celebrated history. It is 1958, and New York City is in the midst of a major building boom; a four-lane highway is planned for the heart of Washington Square; Carnegie Hall is designated for demolition; entire neighborhoods on the West Side are leveled to make room for a new "palace of art." And a young Joe Papp and his colleagues face betrayals, self-inflicted wounds and anger from the city's powerful elite as they continue their free Shakespeare productions in Central Park. From the creator of the most celebrated family plays of the last decade, comes a drama about a different kind of family - one held together by the simple and incredibly complicated belief that the theater, and the city, belongs to all of us.
This fall, The Public Theater's Mobile Unit, which strengthens community engagement with the arts by bringing free, world-class productions of Shakespeare to communities all across New York City, will journey through tragedy into comedy with an enchanting new production ofTHE WINTER'S TALE, directed by Lee Sunday Evans. Dire misunderstanding changes the course of destiny when King Leontes becomes convinced that his wife is pregnant with his friend's child. The maligned wife perishes, the accused friend flees, and the cursed infant is left to die alone on the shore. But from the depths of tragedy, wondrous things can occur. What's lost is found, false identities lead to true love, and the miracle of forgiveness brings new life to the world in one of Shakespeare's most treasured romances.
Legendary Judy Collins will be performing material from her celebrated project A LOVE LETTER TO Stephen Sondheim, at a once-in-a-lifetime residency at Joe's PuB. Collins will take the audience through Sondheim's remarkable treasure-trove of music, interweaving stories of Broadway with her personal anecdotes and songs of Collins' own life that have led her to some of the greatest songwriters of our generation and have become her biggest hits - Both Sides Now, Some Day Soon, Suzanne, In My Life, and of course, Send in the Clowns!
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
January 4 - 21, 2018
Curated by UTR Director Mark Russell, the 14th edition of this highly-anticipated downtown winter festival will bring together exciting artists from around the world who are redefining the act of making theater.
ANTIGONÓN, UN CONTIGENTE EPICO (First Show Announced of the Festival)
Written by Rogelio Orizondo
Directed by Carlos Diaz
A production of Teatro El Publico (Havana, Cuba)
In the 19th century, Cuban poet José Martí expressed a deep yearning for his people's freedom, leading the slaves in their struggle for independence from Spain. Like Antigone opposing an inhuman law in classical antiquity, they rose up against colonial rule without a real chance of succeeding. Since then, the struggle for the right to humanity and independence has been a central tenet for every subsequent generation of Cubans. José Martí's gripping poetry radiates the enthusiasm and the gallows humor of those who have nothing to lose but their chains. In ANTIGONÓN, Rogelio Orizondo transposes Martí's famous verses into a modern setting. In brief scenes performers and dancers create a kaleidoscope of absurd encounters. José Martí's noble idea of freedom clashes with tough reality, but also with the manifold voices of a people able to counter this reality with wit, and grace, dignity, and the will to survive.
Playwright Sarah Burgess and Tony-winning director Thomas Kail team up again for KINGS, a hilariously blistering new play about money, politics, and the state of the American republic. Kate is a whip-smart lobbyist who doesn't waste her time on anyone who can't get elected, stay elected, and help her clients get what they want. Kate thinks Representative Sydney Millsap is a political neophyte whose staunch ideals are going to cost her a burgeoning political career. But Representative Millsap and her high-minded principles turn out to be more resilient than Washington was expecting, and for the first time, Kate is faced with a choice that might change everything for her: back the system, or back what she believes in? KINGS is a scathingly funny new play about the people at the heart of our democracy.
From Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Bruce Norris comes an epic play, featuring 16 actors in 50 roles, examining the basic beliefs upon which we've built our economy and our country. Set in the 18th century, this wild new work imagines America's first laissez-faire capitalist, a young man inspired by a chance encounter with Adam Smith to put his faith in the free market. But his path to riches becomes inextricably entangled with that of an educated slave, a man who knows from experience that one person's profit is another's loss, in this parable about the true cost of inequality. Four-time Tony nominee and three-time OBIE winner Michael Greif directs this richly imaginative, riotously funny new play about the imaginary lines between exploitation and opportunity.
Daniel Alexander Jones returns to Joe's Pub as Jomama Jones, his critically-acclaimed alter ego, in BLACK LIGHT. Commissioned as part of Joe's Pub's New York Voices program, BLACK LIGHT is a musical revival for a turbulent time. Jomama leads an intimate journey - through the darkness of personal and political upheaval, and the shards of shattered illusions - illuminated by spontaneous humor and whatThe New Yorker calls her "very particular radiance." Set to pop, soul, rock and disco, this immersive performance piece removes the barrier between artist and audience through inquiry, story and song.
Written by Lynn Nottage
March 27 - May 20, 2018
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage returns to The Public with a new drama as moving and incisive as her acclaimed Tony Award nominated Broadway play Sweat, heralded by The New York Times as a "vital contribution to contemporary drama." Taking us on a journey from the heart of Africa and around the world, MLIMA'S TALE is the story of Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the clandestine international ivory market. Following a trail of greed and desire as old as trade itself, Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and reveals the surprising and complicated deals that connect us all.
OBIE Award-winning director Robert O'Hara brings a warring King and his band of brothers to communities all across New York with The Mobile Unit's spring production of HENRY V. Insulted by the regent of France, Britain's King Henry V decides to wage war and claim the throne across the Channel. But Henry's charm only distracts his soldiers for so long before the dire stakes of their task calls into question the King's true motives and direction. Resonating from across the centuries-wherever there may be a kingdom for a stage, and princes to act -Shakespeare's drama about invasion, ego and leadership, delves into history's thorniest questions: What makes a man worthy of wearing the crown, and what does he owe the people he leads?
Rinne Groff returns to The Public with a dynamic and poignantly funny new play directed by Marissa Wolf, Director of New Works at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. On Coney Island, in the aftermath of 2013's Superstorm Sandy, a disillusioned do-gooder named Kate meets Jaap Hooft, a charismatic European film-maker who sees in the devastation wrought by the storm an opportunity to make a work of art about another disaster that struck Coney Island some hundred years before: the 1911 fire that started in the amusement park known as Dreamland, burning it to ashes from which it never arose. As Kate throws herself into the vortex of Jaap's visionary schemes, she finds beauty, pain and betrayal, and eventually herself. Breaking the boundaries of time and narrative, FIRE IN DREAMLAND is a vibrant new play that explores the astonishing things we do when faced with devastation.
Season support provided by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation provides lead support for The Public's access and engagement programming. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater's year-round activities for over two decades.
ONGOING AT The Public Theater:
FREE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park is one of the cornerstones of The Public Theater's mission. Since 1962, over five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals. This summer, The Public will present JULIUS CAESAR (May 23-June 18), directed by Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (July 11-August 13), directed by The Public's Public Works Founder and Resident Director Lear deBessonet. Lead support for Free Shakespeare in the Park provided by Bank of America, Proud Presenting Sponsor, and The Jerome L. Greene Foundation, Lead Foundation Sponsor.
PUBLIC WORKS is a groundbreaking initiative working with community partner organizations in all five boroughs. It is designed to bring community partners into the full life of The Public through workshops, classes, dialogues, invitations to shows at The Public, visits from the Mobile Unit, and culminating in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater. The community partner organizations of Public Works are Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn), Center for Family Life in Sunset Park (Brooklyn), DreamYard Project (Bronx), The Fortune Society (Queens), Military Resilience Project (all boroughs), and alumni partners Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education (Bronx), Children's Aid Society (Manhattan) and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs). Lead support for Public Works is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Tow Foundation, Ford Foundation, and The Hearst Foundation. Additional support is provided by the New York Community Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, The One World Fund, The SHS Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., David Rockefeller Fund, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
MOBILE UNIT is a reinvention of Joseph Papp's Mobile Shakespeare program, which began in 1957 to bring Shakespeare to the masses, evolving into the New York Shakespeare Festival and ultimately becoming The Public Theater. Now in its seventh year, it presents Shakespeare and other works for free to prisons, homeless shelters, social advocacy organizations, and other community venues throughout the five boroughs. The Mobile Unit has already toured Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Pericles, Measure for Measure, Richard III and Much Ado About Nothing. The Mobile Unit is made possible with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Tow Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Delta Air Lines. Additional support provided by The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Joe's Pub AT THE PUBLIC, named for Public Theater founder Joe Papp, opened in 1998 and plays a vital role in The Public's mission of supporting young artists while providing established artists with an intimate space to perform and develop new work. Joe's Pub presents the best in live music and performance nightly, continuing its commitment to diversity, production values, community and artistic freedom. The organization also offers unique opportunities like New York Voices, an artist commissioning program that provides musicians the resources and tools needed to develop original theater works, and Joe's Pub Working Group, a career development program for artists. Commissioned artists have included Allen Toussaint, Ethan Lipton, Mx Justin VivIan Bond, Kenny Mellman, Toshi Reagon, Bridget Everett and more. Joe's Pub also features seasonal dinner and bar menus from acclaimed chefs Andrew Carmellini and John Ramirez. With its intimate atmosphere and superior acoustics, Joe's Pub presents talent from all over the world as part of The Public's programming downtown at its Astor Place home, hosting approximately 800 shows and serving over 100,000 audience members annually. Support for New York Voices is provided by The National Endowment for the Arts.
PUBLIC FORUM, now in its eighth season, brings together surprising combinations of artists, audiences, and experts to explore the issues and ideas raised on our stages. Join Public Forum online and in-person for one-of-a-kind events with some of the most original thinkers of today.
PUBLIC STUDIO is a performance series dedicated exclusively to developing the work of emerging writers. In a laboratory environment, writers rehearse with actors and a director, incorporate bare-bones design elements, and open the process to an audience over a series of performances. More than a reading or workshop, but not a full production, this middle step affords early career writers the important opportunity to deepen their experience of working collaboratively over an extended rehearsal period and to see their work staged in front of an audience. Previous Public Studio plays include On the Grounds of Belonging by Ricardo Pérez González, Wild Goose Dreams by Hansol Jung, Pretty Hunger by Patricia Ione Lloyd, Teenage Dick by Mike Lew, Ping Pong by Rogelio Martinez, Fidelis by Christina Gorman,Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle, and The Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams. Public Studio was founded with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Time Warner Foundation. Continued support for Public Studio is provided by The Time Warner Foundation. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Development Fund at The Public Theater supports the creation and development of new plays.
EMERGING WRITERS GROUP is a component of The Public Writers Initiative, a long-term program that provides key support and resources for writers at every stage of their careers. In just nine years, it has nurtured numerous playwrights who have gone on to have their plays staged at The Public and elsewhere around the country. Time Warner is the Founding Sponsor of the Emerging Writers Group, and provides continued program support through the Time Warner Foundation.
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL, over the past 14 years, has presented over 208 companies from 42 countries. It has grown into a landmark of the New York City theater season and is a vital part of The Public's mission, providing a high-visibility platform to support artists from diverse backgrounds who are redefining the act of making theater. Widely recognized as a premier launching pad for new and cutting-edge performance from the U.S. and abroad, UTR has presented works by such respected artists as 600 HIGHWAYMEN, Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Belarus Free Theatre, Guillermo Calderón, and Young Jean Lee. These artists provide a snapshot of contemporary theater: richly distinct in terms of perspectives, aesthetics, and social practice, and pointing to the future of the art form. TheUnder the Radar Festival is made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation.
DEVISED THEATER INITIATIVE at The Public is one of the first of its kind in the U.S., providing support and resources to the next generation of independent artists and ensembles. The Public Theater has been a strong supporter of the devised theater movement and has helped promote the work of prominent and emerging devised theatermakers. Through The Public's annual Under the Radar Festival and year-round downtown season at Astor Place, many examples of this inventive art form have been brought to the attention of audiences in New York and around the world. The Devised Theater Initiative is made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation.
THE LIBRARY AT THE PUBLIC is open nightly for dinner and cocktail service. Chefs Andrew Carmellini and John Ramirez have created an American menu of bar snacks, shareable appetizers, sandwiches, dinner plates and desserts sourcing local ingredients and New York influence that is available in both The Library and Joe's Pub.
ABOUT The Public Theater:
The Public Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. In over 10 years at The Public, Eustis has created new community-based initiatives designed to engage audiences like Public Lab, Public Studio, Public Forum, Public Works, and a remount of the Mobile Unit. 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 by 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 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, an expanding initiative that is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences, and the community each year; and audience and artist development initiatives that range from the Emerging Writers Group to the Public Forum series. The Public's work is also seen on tour throughout the U.S. and internationally and in collaborations and co-productions with regional and international theaters. The Public is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. In October 2012 the landmark building downtown 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. The Public is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning acclaimed American musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat, and on tour with The Gabriels, Fun Home, and Hamilton. The Public has received 59 Tony Awards, 169 OBIE Awards, 53 Drama Desk Awards, 54 Lortel Awards, 32 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics Awards, and six Pulitzer Prizes.
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