Public Theater Free Mobile Unit Returns With MEASURE FOR MEASURE
Continuing its commitment to bringing free Shakespeare to the community and strengthening audience engagement with the arts, The Public Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, will mount its MOBILE UNIT again this fall with a free three-week tour to venues across the city of Shakespeare's MEASURE FOR MEASURE, directed by LA Williams.
The Mobile Unit's free tour (October 24-November 16) brings Shakespeare and other works to audiences who have limited or no access to the arts by visiting correctional facilities, homeless shelters, social service organizations, and other community organizations. Following the tour to the five boroughs, there will also be a free three-week engagement of MEASURE FOR MEASURE in The Public's Shiva Theater running Monday, November 18 through Sunday, December 8, with an official press opening on Friday, November 22.
The complete cast of MEASURE FOR MEASURE features Jasmine Batchelor (Isabella), Nora Carroll (Escalus/Juliet), Toccarra Cash (Lucio), Alfie Fuller (Pompey), Adrian Kiser (Angelo), Gabrielle Murphy (Provost), LaTonia Phipps (Mariana/Overdone), Grace Porter (Duke), and Phumzile Sitole (Claudio/Elbow).
"The Mobile Unit is at the heart of The Public's mission," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "I am thrilled to introduce Karen Ann Daniels, our new head of the Mobile Unit, and welcome the brilliant and fiery LA Williams to his Public directorial debut. Their work will thrill audiences across the greater New York area."
This season, The Public's acclaimed Mobile Unit transports communities of the five boroughs to the vibrant streets of New Orleans for a bold new production of Shakespeare's MEASURE FOR MEASURE directed by LA Williams. It's 1979, Mardi Gras has been officially cancelled, yet the community is still celebrating. Temporarily left in charge by the Duke, the upright and uptight Lord Angelo has decided to crack down on the city's debauchery, arresting young Claudio for impregnating his fiancée Juliet before their wedding. When virtuous Isabella, Claudio's sister, hears of his death sentence, she begs Lord Angelo for mercy. But hypocritical Angelo propositions her instead, leaving Isabella with an impossible choice: save her soul or her brother's life. In this timely production, lovers and leaders in disguise reveal how those in power take advantage of those without it - asking the question, can the law be both just and merciful?
"Measure for Measure resonates with some of the greatest challenges of our time: injustice, abuse of power, redemption, and mercy. It ultimately asks: can or should the law be compassionate?" said Director of Mobile Unit Karen Ann Daniels. "It also initiates an exciting new chapter for Mobile Unit, the intentional gathering together to share stories as a catalyst for reflection and joyful celebration of our common humanity."
In 2019, the MOBILE UNIT celebrates the 62nd anniversary of its inaugural mobile tour in 1957 which began with a production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Joseph Papp with Bryarly Lee and Stephen Joyce in the titular roles. The 1957 Mobile Unit tour received early support from New York City authorities. Stanley Lowell, then deputy mayor, was an early champion for free theater and mobilized city resources and departments to support Papp's production. The first Mobile Unit rolled up to performance venues across the city in borrowed Department of Sanitation vehicles with a wooden folding stage mounted to a truck bed and portable seating risers to accommodate 700 people per venue. The city's Parks Department permitted performances in local parks across all five boroughs. Subsequent productions included A Midsummer Night's Dream (1964), Henry V (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1965), Macbeth (1966), Volpone (1967), Take One Step (1968), Ti-Jean and His Brothers (1972), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1973), and Unfinished Women Cry in No Man's Land While a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage (1977), among many others.
This modern reimagining of The Public Theater's original Mobile Theater is inspired by Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis, MN. In the fall of 2018, the MOBILE UNIT toured nationally with a Mobile Unit National Tour of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat to communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The tour extended beyond performances by actively interacting with audiences in community engagement activities on the issues and conversations most alive in their communities.
Recent MOBILE UNIT productions include The Tempest (2019); A Midsummer Night's Dream (2018); Henry V (2018); The Winter's Tale (2017); Twelfth Night (2017); Hamlet (2016); Romeo & Juliet (2016); The Comedy of Errors (2015); Macbeth (2015); Pericles, Prince of Tyre (2014); Much Ado About Nothing (2013); Richard III (2012); and Measure for Measure (2010). This program reinforces The Public's commitment to the ongoing exploration of Shakespeare's canon, along with the Public Shakespeare Initiative; the recent Public Works productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It staged at The Delacorte Theater for free; Free Shakespeare in the Park; and The Public's other affordable productions at its downtown home at Astor Place.
Dates marked with * are open to the public with RSVP at publictheater.org
October 24 - Pelham Fritz Recreation Center, Manhattan *
October 25 - Lenox Hill Neighborhood House/Women's Mental Health Shelter, Manhattan
October 28 - Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center, Queens *
October 29 - A.R.R.O.W. Field House, Queens *
October 30 - Roy Wilkins Recreation Center, Queens *
November 1 - Queensboro Correctional Facility, Queens
November 2 - North Brooklyn YMCA, Brooklyn *
November 5 - Edgecombe Correctional Facility, Manhattan
November 6 - Brownsville Recreation Center, Brooklyn *
November 7 - Queens Public Library - Central Branch, Queens *
November 8 - St. Paul's Chapel, Manhattan *
November 9 - Faber Park Recreation Center, Staten Island *
November 12 - Taconic Correctional Facility, Westchester
November 14 - Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center, Bronx *
November 15 - New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Manhattan *