In an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Public Theater has canceled its summer programming—including the free Shakespeare in the Park season in Central Park, its production of Erika Dickerson-Despenza's Cullud Wattah, and Joe's Pub performances—through August 31.
The 2020 Shakespeare in the Park lineup featured a production of Richard II, directed by Saheem Ali, followed by a return, four-week run of Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery's musical adaptation of As You Like It, previously seen at the Delacorte as part of the 2017 Public Works program.
In light of the new economic circumstances, The Public also announced that it will furlough about 70 percent of its full-time, permanent staff, and that senior leadership will take significant pay reductions to ensure the long-term viability of the institution.
Though its doors are temporarily shut, The Public has continued to provide online programming in the weeks since the shutdown. Virtual offerings includes Suzan-Lori Parks live streaming her work sessions from home, a Soft Power virtual listening party on YouTube April 17, the ongoing Brave New Shakespeare Challenge, featuring Public alums recording their interpretations of passages from the Bard (also on Youtube), and free archival performances from the Joe's Pub stage.
The Public's June 1 gala will also be held in a new virtual format, with more details to come.