Monday, June 05, 2006

The Public Theater at 50

The Public Theater at 50

Last Thursday, The Public Theater in New York announced exciting details of its 2006-07 season that includes its original touchstone -- Shakespeare -- along with new works by some of the most exciting playwrights of our time, including Neil LaBute, Suzan-Lori Parks and my personal favorite, Craig Lucas. With superb acting talent featuring Kevin Kline, Brian Dennehy, Ed Harris and the previously announced Philip Seymour Hoffman (LABrynth's Jack Goes Boating), it's clear that The Public is kicking off its 51st year in style.

Currently home to the acclaimed production Stuff Happens, The Public Theater was founded 50 years ago as the Shakespeare Workshop by Joseph Papp, who also started the renowned New York Shakespeare Festival in 1954. Thanks to his magnificent vision, New Yorkers from all walks of life have been able to enjoy free stagings of Shakespeare in Central Park -- a tradition that continues to this day. As a lasting legacy to Papp, today's The Public Theater "continues to be dedicated to achieving artistic excellence and developing an American theatre that is accessible and relevant to all people."

Productions from The Public Theater have collectively won 38 Tony Awards, 135 Obies, 37 Drama Desk Awards, 18 Lucille Lortel Awards and 4 Pulitzer Prizes. The Public was the launching pad for 49 Broadway shows including such critically-acclaimed hits as That Championship Season, A Chorus Line, The Pirates of Penzance, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, Topdog/Underdog, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Take Me Out and Caroline, Or Change.

First up this fall will be Kevin Kline in a yet-to-be-announced Shakepeare play directed by the venerable James Lapine. There is already much speculation over which of The Bard's classics will be mined by Kline and Lapine (Kline has previously appeared at The Public in such productions as Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, and two version of Hamlet).

Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep each will perform this summer as part of The Public's Shakespeare in the Park productions, while Brian Dennehy will make his debut next summer in the revered program.

Among the other offerings:

  • Wrecks by Neil LaBute with Ed Harris (U.S. premiere) in October, 2006
  • Durango by Julia Cho (World premiere) in November, 2006
  • Emergence-SEE! by Daniel Beaty (New York premiere) in November, 2006
  • Passing Strange by Stew in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald (World premiere) in January, 2007
  • The Singing Forest by Craig Lucas (New York premiere) in Spring, 2007
  • 365 Days / 365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks (New York premiere)
This would be an exceptional year to venture Off-Broadway and downtown -- or to Central Park -- for The Public Theater's offerings.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for ticket information.

Related Stories:

Casting Call (Week Ending May 21, 2006) (May 21, 2006)

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