Tony Award-winning director and former Public Theater artistic director George C. Wolfe was set to direct the racially charged historical work with a cast led by Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright. A Free Man of Color would have filled the late winter slot on the Public season schedule.
"A Free Man of Color is a great play that deserves a great production; artists like John Guare and George C. Wolfe are the best we have and should get the best," explained Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. "The current harsh economic climate means we cannot produce Free Man this season within The Public's fiscal parameters. This is a tough and disappointing decision, but one we made with great thought and care, and one that will ensure The Public's health and stability."
The Public notes that a loss of several key donations was the undoing of the large-scale production. The Public is still committed to producing A Free Man of Color next season.
A Free Man of Color is set in 1802 New Orleans and conjures such historical figures as Napoleon, Josephine, Jefferson and Talleyrand, among others.
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The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.