George C. Wolfe, the producer of the Public Theater and ever a man interested in issues surrounding race, class and politics, has created a news series of panels, entitled "Artists and Activism," and designed to examine the reasons and ways in which artists decide to become politically active.
The first panel will feature performance artist Danny Hoch, actor and playwright Ossie Davis and playwright Naomi Wallace, three artists who have allied themselves with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a cab driver currently awaiting execution on death row for the killing of a policeman. The forum will be moderated by Thulani Davis.
For information, call (212) 539-8791.
In other Public news: House Arrest, Anna Deavere Smith's one-woman examination of the U.S. presidency, the public and the media, will be part of the Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival's six-show season in 1999 2000.
In a Public Theater season announcement, it was formally revealed that Michael John LaChiusa's musical The Wild Party, is expected to play at a Broadway theatre in 1999-2000 rather than at the Off-Broadway, downtown Public. The tuner, inspired by Joseph Moncure March's Jazz Age narrative poem about a debauched showbiz party, had a Public workshop in early 1999.
Monologuist Smith, who plays multiple characters in the new piece, which has been in development for several years, is known for her socially aware pieces, Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Jo Bonney (Stop Kiss) will direct House Arrest in the Newman Theater, beginning March 2000. Exact dates have not been announced.
The show was previously conceived to be a multi-actor piece, and had a recent developmental staging at the Mark Taper Forum with actors, guest speakers and audience feedback. The show is now expected to be solo.
Previously announced as part of the Public season, under the producer George C. Wolfe:
€ Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood, directed by Marcus Stern, is a freely-imagined take on Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," about an unwed mother struggling to raise her children. Beginning Oct. 26 in the Anspacher Theater.
€ Tina Landau's Space, directed by the author, is the New York premiere of Landau's 1997-98 hit that played the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Landau has continued to develop the work since the Windy City staging that Time magazine called one of the year's best. A psychiatrist is challenged by the stories of three patients and their otherworldly experiences. Begins Nov. 16 in Martinson Hall.
€ Liev Schreiber as Hamlet, directed by Andrei Serban, reunites the actor and director of the Public's Cymbeline. Begins Nov. 23 in the Newman Theater.
€ Composer-lyricist-librettist LaChiusa's version of The Wild Party, drawn from the Jazz Age poem about a debauched showbiz and underworld party, is co-written and directed by George C. Wolfe, with choreography by Joey McKneeley. Previews begin on Broadway in March 2000.
€ Two Sisters and a Piano, by Nilo Cruz, directed by Loretta Greco, concerns a romance writer and her sister in 1991 Cuba who speak out against Castro and are arrested. Begins Feb. 1 in the Shiva Theater.
€ Joe's Pub, off the lobby of the Public Theater on Lafayette Street, opened in October 1998 and will continue to offer eclectic entertainment in the new season. Among expected performers are Faith Prince, Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely, Ute Lemper, Ann Magnuson, Abdullah Ibrahim and Lea DeLaria.
For information about the Public Theater season, call (212) 239-6200 or (212) 260-2400.