Bloomberg Speaks the Speech! Public Theater Unveils a Revitalized Home at Official Opening Ceremony

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04 Oct 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Those who have been longing to hear Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrap his nasal New-York-by-way-of-Boston accent around the Bard's verse got their wish Oct. 4, when Hizzoner spoke a few lines of Shakespeare at the official unveiling of the newly renovated Public Theater space on Lafayette Street in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

"Joy, gentle friends!" said Bloomberg, in what the Mayor joked was an audition for work, since he will be out of a job in a year's time. "Joy and fresh days of love/Accompany your hearts!" The words were from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Bloomberg was one of dozens drafted by Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis to utter various snatches of First Folio fodder in an abstract benediction of the new digs, which have transformed Joe's Pub, the lobby, the dressing rooms, the newly opened mezzanine, the bathrooms, the outer entryway and much more, at cost a total of $40 million. The other speakers were as varied as The Swan of Avon's efforts. Among them were: actors Liev Schreiber, Mandy Patinkin, Colman Domingo, Vanessa Redgrave and Jay O. Sanders; playwrights David Henry Hwang, Diane Son, Suzan-Lori Parks and Richard Foreman; composer Stew; politicians Christine Quinn and Scott Stringer; designer David Rockwell; Joe Papp's widow Gail Papp; and architect Jim Polshek.

Each selection was tailored to the speaker. "I have lived," said Gail Papp, speaking verse from Coriolanus, "To see inherited my very wishes,/And the buildings of my fancy." Eustis thought Polshek, who authored the renovation, was particularly well matched to his words. (Eustis and Barry Edelstein, the director of the Public's Shakespeare Initiative, plucked the various selections.) Taken from Henry IV, the passage went: "When we mean to build,/We first survey the plot, then draw the model;/And when we see the figure of the house,/Then must we rate the cost of erection." The lines assigned to Manhattan Borough President Stringer, from The Tempest, arguably came a close second: "Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,/Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not."


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