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.
The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.