The Public Theater has announced that artistic director Oskar Eustis will helm this summer’s first free Shakespeare in the Park staging. Eustis, who is an educator, director, and dramaturg, will direct Julius Caesar, to be followed by Midsummer Night's Dream, helmed by the Public’s resident director, Lear deBessonet.
Continuing its 55-year tradition of free theatre in Central Park, the Public will stage Julius Caesar May 23–June 18 at the Delacorte Theater and Midsummer Night's Dream July 11–August 12.
Last seen on the Delacorte stage 17 years ago, Shakespeare’s political masterpiece Julius Caesar tells the tale of a power-hungry leader and the band of patriots who oppose him. The production will be followed by the bard’s popular comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, a story of young love, fantasy, and fairies.
“There is no difficulty in the world that Shakespeare can’t address,” commented Eustis in a press statement. “In our troubled times, the majesty of Julius Caesar, and the joy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are as necessary as beauty. I’m delighted to welcome Lear deBessonet to her Shakespeare in the Park debut; it will be a show to remember.”
Eustis has been at the Public since 2005, where in addition to being at its helm, he has directed the New York premieres of Rinne Groff’s Compulsion and The Ruby Sunrise, and Larry Wright’s The Human Scale. DeBessonet is the founder of the theatre’s Public Works programs and is currently represented on the New York stage by the Encores! revival of Big River.
Since 1962 over five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at the Delacorte Theater as part of Shakespeare in the Park—often featuring great stars of the stage and screen. The initiative was conceived by Public founder Joe Papp as a way to make theatre accessible to all. Bank of America continues its support by being the lead sponsor for the 11th year in a row; the Jerome L. Greene Foundation has joined as the lead foundation supporter.
Further details of casting and creative teams for both 2017 productions will be announced at a later date.
The Public also announced that its annual gala at the Delacorte will be titled Hair to Hamilton, a star-studded one-night-only event celebrating 50 years of revolutionary musicals from the downtown theatre.