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The Public Announces Fall Public Forum and Public Shakespeare Initiative Line-Up

The Public Announces Fall Public Forum and Public Shakespeare Initiative Line-Up

The Public Theater announced today the Public Forum and Public Shakespeare Initiative fall line-up that will explore the intersection of art, ideas, and action and illuminate the study and performance of Shakespeare's works. Highlights of the upcoming season include a conversation with playwright David Henry Hwang, political scientist Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and former United States Ambassador to the Netherlands Cynthia Schneider; a closer look at acting in Shakespeare's plays with actress Lily Rabe; a gathering inspired by Ntozake Shange's groundbreaking choreopoem for colored girls... featuring Ifa Bayeza, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Camille A. Brown, and Dianne McIntyre; an in-depth discussion of Shakespeare's stories of disruptive female desire and resistance withprofessor Jenny C. Mann and actors Lily Santiago and Aneesh Sheth; the continuation of monthly Civic Salon gatherings; and more.

PUBLIC FORUM is The Public Theater's space where art, ideas, and action collide. Now in its 10th season, Public Forum creates exciting opportunities year-round for communities to engage deeply with current events, original thinkers, and the most pressing questions of our time. Throughout each season, Public Forum energizes civic responsibility by inviting people from all backgrounds to share, converse, and connect. Public Forum hosts one-night-only events, special performances, post-show discussions, and town hall conversations, and curates events with the Public Shakespeare Initiative.

PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE INITIATIVE offers a wide range of programming which includes larger Public Shakespeare Presents evenings, blending incisive commentary by scholars and other thinkers with appearances by artists of all disciplines; intimate Public Shakespeare Talks, giving audiences unique insight into the artistic and intellectual processes of leading Shakespeare practitioners working in the theater; Artist Development Programs, to cultivate some of the most visionary artistic minds working on Shakespeare today; and Education Programs, specifically the Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble, which The Shakespeare Society co-founded with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children over a decade ago, and which has offered hundreds of elementary and middle school students the opportunity to develop their confidence, knowledge, and creativity through the transformative experience of bringing Shakespeare's words to life onstage in the 12 Shakespeare productions the Ensemble has presented.


Monday, October 21 at 7:00 p.m. | Newman Theater

As nativism spreads and borders close, does the power of cultural diplomacy still have an impact around the world? In association with The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, Public Forum will discuss the theater of politics and the politics of theater in a changing international landscape with playwright David Henry Hwang(Soft Power at The Public Theater this fall), Harvard University political scientist Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics), and former United States Ambassador to the Netherlands Cynthia Schneider.


Monday, October 28 at 7:00 p.m. | Newman Theater

Are Shakespeare's plays sex-positive? What do his stories of full-blooded, sexually active female characters like Juliet, Hermione, and Cleopatra tell us about how love and sex shape the lives of women and unsettle the world around them? How might we mobilize Shakespeare's stories of disruptive female desire and resistance to speak to our own lives and moment? Join Cornell University professor Jenny C. Mann, actors Lily Santiago and Aneesh Sheth, and more for an illuminating evening of commentary, readings, and discussion.


Monday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. | Martinson Hall

The groundbreaking choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf inspired a generation of Black womxn artists, creatives, and thinkers, but the legacy of Ntozake Shange's spirit extends far beyond the stage. Public Forum gathers a multigenerational group of Black womxn, including Ifa Bayeza, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi,Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Camille A. Brown, and Dianne McIntyre for an evening of celebration, creativity, and joy. Part conversation, part ritual, PUBLIC FORUM: LEGACY LIVES ON will center the voices and experiences of Black womxn and bring new voices in dialogue with Shange's world.


Monday, November 25 at 7:00 p.m. | Anspacher Theater

"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you," Hamlet entreats; and so begins some of the most famous acting advice ever given, immortalized by a playwright whose work is imbued with an intimate knowledge of, sense of humor about, and reverence for the player's art. Join us for this second installment of our series as we sit down with Lily Rabe and learn from her what portraying some of Shakespeare's most bold and complex heroines-including Portia, Rosalind, Beatrice, and Imogen, all in Free Shakespeare in the Park-has taught her about the Bard's plays, her own craft, and being human.


Monday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m. | Shiva Theater

In 2019, Angelo's chilling rejoinder-"My false o'erweighs your true"-echoes like never before, and will be heard by audiences across the city via the Mobile Unit's upcoming production ofMeasure for Measure this fall. At this event, join the Public Shakespeare Initiative and cast and creatives from the Mobile team as we explore, together, this most vexing of Shakespeare's "problem plays," and the process by which Mobile artists will bring it to life for all of us here in NYC.


Sunday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. | Joe's Pub

Public Forum's holiday tradition returns, featuring a new cast! The Bayard family experiences one hundred years of Christmas dinners, experiencing triumph and heartbreak, birth and death, and a changing world-while some things, like family and tradition, forever remain constant.


Monday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m. | Anspacher Theater

Is King Lear a sacred text? Why is it that, in spite of its story of unbearable loss and wisdom gained too late, we can feel a spiritual presence coursing through its lines? How does the play's poetry-in its various attempts to recover, retell, or at least name the values that a corrupt and morally blinded world opposes and outlaws-point towards something transcendent? Join commentators, and spouses, Christian Wiman (poet, Yale Divinity School professor, and author of My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer) and Danielle Chapman (fellow poet, Yale professor, and author of Delinquent Palaces) for a moving exploration of poetry's ability to come to terms with the worlds of suffering, injustice, and despair.


Sunday, September 22 at 12:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 13 at 12:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 17 at 7:00 p.m.

Join Public Forum for free monthly gatherings where everyone can come together in the spirit of community to nurture their minds and bodies. Each month will feature a different theme driven by artists, musicians, poets, activists, and civic organizers who are using their voices to create change in their communities. Past Civic Salon keynote speakers have included playwright Lisa Kron, NPR's Maria Hinojosa, Artistic Director of the Women's March Paola Mendoza, playwright Jessica Blank, activist Edafe Okporo, ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, and more. Civic Salons are free and open to the public with an RSVP through The Public Theater's website. RSVPs will open immediately following the previous Civic Salon. Joe's Pub will offer a full food menu available for purchase.


Additional Public Forum programming includes Artist Talkbacks, Speaker Series Panels, Audience Conversations, and the online resource Digiturgy. In Artist Talkbacks, members of the cast and creative team will take questions from the audience about the show and their process following selected performances during the season. Speaker Series presents 20-to-30-minute panel discussions after the performance with experts discussing a topic from the show, and Audience Conversations feature a member of The Public's artistic staff leading the audience in a conversation with each other about the show and its themes and ideas.Digiturgy provides byte-sized digital content used to further explore the themes and ideas present in The Public Theater's plays. For the most up-to-date schedule of post-show programming, please visit

The Public Shakespeare Initiative's educational programming will also include the continuation of Teaching Teachers, a series of free professional development workshops for teachers of all schools and grade levels in NYC. Recent workshops have focused on the plays Othello, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as topics including Shakespeare's genres and directing young people. Sessions have been led by scholars from Barnard College, Northwestern University, CUNY, and West Point, and have also featured professional directors and other theater practitioners. For the latest on upcoming workshops,

Support for the collaboration of The Shakespeare Society and The Public Theater provided by the New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund.

The New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund (NYMAC) encourages and supports mergers, acquisitions, joint-ventures, and other types of formal, long-term collaborations between nonprofits in New York City. NYMAC's funders include Altman Foundation, The Booth Ferris Foundations, The Clark Foundation, The Heckscher Foundation for Children, The Lodestar Foundation, The New York Community Trust, SeaChange Capital Partners, and a number of philanthropic individuals.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

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