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The Public Has Announced Spring Public Forum and Public Shakespeare Initiative Line-Up

The Public Has Announced Spring Public Forum and Public Shakespeare Initiative Line-Up

The Public Theater (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis; Executive Director, Patrick Willingham) announced today the spring Public Forum and Public Shakespeare Initiative 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 closer look into the world premiere play Coal Country with members of the creative team; a preview of the upcoming Free Shakespeare in the Park season, featuring cast and creative team members; a conversation about William Shakespeare and Spanish playwright Lope De Vega; a discussion featuring Palestinian and Syrian artists and activists discussing migration and displacement; the continuation of monthly free 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 appearances, 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, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. | Joe's Pub

Read at school by almost every American student and long-valued by conservatives and liberals alike, Shakespeare's plays provide a rare common ground for civil discussion. However, as brought to vivid life in the pages of James Shapiro's forthcoming Shakespeare in a Divided America, Shakespeare has also been the site of some of our bitterest disagreements. Professor Ayanna Thompson sits down with Shapiro, The Public's Shakespeare Scholar in Residence, to discuss his latest book. By better understanding Shakespeare's role in American life, might we begin to mend our bitterly divided land?

Monday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m. | Anspacher Theater

Documentary theatermakers Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen spent years interviewing survivors and family members of victims about the Upper Big Branch mining disaster of 2010 to develop their new play COAL COUNTRY. Members of the creative team, industry experts, and community organizers from Appalachia will dive deep into the process of bringing this harrowing real-life experience to the stage.

Monday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m. | Anspacher Theater

In 16th and 17th century England and Spain, the theater was uniquely prized-and feared-for its ability to imagine, articulate, and test ideas about political, religious, sexual, and social life. Shakespeare and Lope De Vega, two of the greatest playwrights of their respective nations, harnessed this power to interrogate and explore the worlds around them in ways that still resonate today.

Cornell University professor Philip Lorenz and a cast of actors gather for an evening of readings and commentary exploring Shakespeare and Lope's differing and converging dramatic achievements-as well as the quixotic efforts of their fellow genius, Miguel de Cervantes, to achieve theatrical greatness.

Monday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. | LuEsther Hall

In association with The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University

As our world becomes increasingly polarized, geopolitical, humanitarian, and environmental crises threaten to displace a record number of people around the globe. Through conversation facilitated both live and digitally, PUBLIC FORUM: (DIS)PLACEMENT will hold space for Palestinian and Syrian artists and activists who are navigating migration, exile, and the search for home.

Monday, May 4 at 7:00 p.m. | Newman Theater

Free Shakespeare in the Park remains one of New York City's-and the world's-most enduring, joyous, radical, and democratic cultural institutions. The Public Shakespeare Initiative invites members of the cast and creative teams from summer 2020's Park productions to give special insight into their work on Central Park's most iconic stage.

CIVIC SALONS | Joe's Pub (Free with RSVP)

Sunday, February 23 at 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 22 at 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 19 at 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 16 at 12:00 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, and Audience Conversations. 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. For the most up-to-date schedule of post-show programming, please visit

Public Forum will host Artist Talkbacks on Thursday, February 27 and Thursday, March 26 following the 8:00 p.m. performances of Coal Country; Tuesday, March 24 and Friday, April 3 following the 7:00 p.m. performances of The Vagrant Trilogy; and Thursday, April 2 and Friday, May 1 following the 7:30 p.m. performances of The Visitor.

The post-show Speaker Series will take place on Thursday, March 5 following the 8:00 p.m. performance of Coal Country; Wednesday, April 22 following the 7:00 p.m. performance of The Vagrant Trilogy; and Friday, May 8 following the 7:30 p.m. performance of The Visitor.

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 topics including Shakespeare's genres and directing young people, and plays including Measure for Measure. Sessions have been led by scholars from CUNY, Cornell University, and West Point, and have also featured professional directors and other theater practitioners. For the latest on upcoming workshops, visit

In addition, on Friday, May 15 and Sunday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m., The Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble will celebrate its 13th year with two invited performances of the joyous romantic comedy MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at venues in the Bronx and Manhattan. These performances mark the culmination of a year of study and rehearsal by the 50 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders participating in the Ensemble program, which is offered by the Public Shakespeare Initiative in collaboration with its vital community partner, the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, which co-founded the Ensemble with The Shakespeare Society in 2007.

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