The Public Theater has announced the lineup for its 60th Anniversary season of Free Shakespeare in the Park at The Delacorte Theater in New York City's Central Park for summer 2022.
Richard III will kick off the season, directed by Tony nominee Robert O'Hara (Slave Play) and starring Danai Gurira (Eclipsed) in the title role. The season will continue with the return of Public Works musical adaptation of As You Like It, adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery, with music and lyrics by Taub. Woolery will direct, with choreography by Tony winner Sonya Tayeh (Moulin Rouge!). Darius de Haas, Joel Perez, and Taub will reprise their roles from the 2017 production.
“It has been over 30 years since Richard III was produced at The Delacorte, and I’m excited to bring one of drama’s all-time favorite villains back onto the Central Park stage. Richard III speaks to the dangerous machinations that we have witnessed by leaders throughout history, but most acutely in recent years in our own government," shares director O'Hara. "While navigating the projections of those around him by his decision to ‘prove the villain,’ Richard is our unreliable narrator, protagonist, and antagonist, drawing us deeper and deeper into his murderous mayhem. I am thrilled to collaborate again with the brilliant, multi-talented Danai Gurira as she returns to The Delacorte in the title role of this infamous usurper King, full of bloody confrontations, political intrigue, and familial toxicity.”
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Richard III was last seen on The Delacorte stage in 1990 with Denzel Washington as Richard. Gurira, a 2009 Tony nominee for Eclipsed, appeared in Measure for Measure at Shakespeare in the Park in 2011. She is well-known as Michonne in the AMC series Walking Dead and Okoye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
Taub and Woolery's As You Like It adaptation premiered for a five-night run in the 2017 Public Works program. It was scheduled to return for the summer season in 2020, but postponed due to the pandemic. Like the Public Works production, the summer staging will feature ensembles of community members from all five boroughs.
Of the production, director Woolery said, "Our musical adaptation of As You Like It was created in response to a shifting world post the 2016 presidential election, where polarizing opinions fractured relationships and created a culture of ‘othering’ one another. Over the last five years, our country has experienced a global pandemic, anti-racist uprising, and so much loss that has further isolated us. The nature of theatre is to gather and sit in community with one another. The heart of the story of As You Like It contains the possibility of humans being whole again through the healing power of community and its ability to gather and hold space for one another during the darkest of times. This is a dream we had for over two years and can’t wait to gather together in community, outdoors, under the stars at The Delacorte Theater."
Additional casting and dates for the productions will be announced at a later date.