In fall 2008, The Public's artistic director Oskar Eustis cancelled its planned early 2009 production, blaming the poor economic climate.
Eustis commented to the Times via e-mail: "John Guare has written a beautiful and important play. I am very happy it's being produced; audiences should get a chance to see it."
In reporting the LCT plan, the Times cited two theatre artists involved in the project. They spoke on condition of anonymity. The production has not been officially announced by Lincoln Center. An LCT spokesman contacted by Playbill.com had no comment Feb. 10.
A Free Man of Color is set in 1802 New Orleans and conjures such historical figures as Napoleon, Josephine, Jefferson and Talleyrand, among others. South Pacific is currently playing LCT's Broadway space, the Vivian Beaumont.
The Public was to have produced 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 in 2009.
"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," Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis explained in a 2008 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 noted that a loss of several key donations was the undoing of the large-scale production.
Guare had a big success with Lincoln Center Theater in 1986 when the not-for-profit revived his play The House of Blue Leaves at LCT's Off-Broadway Mitzi Newhouse Theater. It later transferred to the Beaumont and then the Plymouth Theatre. It was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Play.
LCT's 1990 production of Guare's Six Degrees of Separation, which started at the Mitzi Newhouse and then moved to the Beaumont, was nominated for a Best Play Tony, as was LCT's staging of his Four Baboons Adoring the Sun at the Beaumont in 1992.
His Chaucer in Rome was presented at LCT's Newhouse in 2001.