Public Works is the Off-Broadway company's new program, which aims to build audience engagement in all five boroughs of New York City.
The Tempest will feature individuals from such diverse groups as Children's Aid Society (Manhattan); DreamYard (Bronx); Fortune Society (Queens); Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn); and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs). Participants will be cast in lead and ensemble roles alongside professional actors.
DeBessonet and Almond previously collaborated on ambitious adaptations of The Odyssey at San Diego's Old Globe, as well as Don Quixote in Philadelphia. Their new adaptation of The Tempest, which will include a 200-person cast, will be presented Sept. 6-8 at the Delacorte. Admission is free.
The production is inspired by a 1916 event at City College, which featured professional actors working with 1,500 city residents who united for an adatpation of The Tempest, billed as Caliban by the Yellow Sands.
Participants from the five organizations are currently engaged in a number of Public Theater programs, including acting workshops with Tony-nominated playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, dance classes and writing workshops. "Public Works is an opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy of New York City," deBessonet said in a statement. "In this first year we've joined with five organizations that embody some of the most innovative approaches to community building. Together we are shaping a vision of how theatre can transform a community and enrich the civic life of our city."
As previously reported, the Public's Shakespeare in the Park season features The Comedy of Errors, starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater (May 28-June 30); and the new musical adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost, directed and written by Alex Timbers with songs by Michael Friedman (July 23-Aug. 18).
PHOTO SPECIAL: 50 Years of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte