The Public Theater returns digitally this fall with a slate of free programming, including a four-part radio play, streamed concerts from Joe’s Pub, and several community and education projects. Among the notable works are Anne Washburn’s Shipwreck, directed by newly appointed Associate Artistic Director Saheem Ali, starring Raúl Esparza, Joe Morton, and more.
The season kicks off with the Public Forum’s summit “Creative Activism: A Day of Art, Ideas, and Action” September 23. A day of panel discussions, workshops, performances, and keynote addresses, the event is designed to connect audiences with the artists and activists who are making change in today’s world, including Dominique Morisseau, Alison Stewart, and Claudia Rankine.
Up next is the broadcast of Kiki & Herb: Seeking Asylum! September 24 at 7 PM ET. Created by Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman, the 2016 concert follows the cabaret duo after their mishap-laden travels through Asia led them straight back to Joe’s Pub.
A new documentary Under the Greenwood Tree then debuts October 7 at 8 PM ET. The film follows Public Work’s 2017 musical production of As You Like It and its planned remounting in 2020, which was canceled due to the pandemic. The Bard’s comedy was co-adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery, with music and lyrics by Taub, choreography by Sonya Tayeh, and direction by Woolery. Check out a trailer for the film here.
A new work created and performed by Samora Pinderhughes and Jack DeBoe for Joe’s Pub, Venus Smiles Not in the House of Tears, premieres October 9 at 8 PM. Directed by Christian Padron and Kassim Norris with choreography by Amanda Krische, the work explores romance, grief, and memory in relationships past.
Civic Salons then returns October 13 at 7 PM for a virtual hangout where artists and audiences come together through song, poetry, text, and speech. Additional sessions are planned for November 16 and December 14.
Later in October is Washburn’s Shipwreck, with exact dates to be announced. Joining Esparza and Morton in the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company co-production are Mia Barron, Brooke Bloom, Phillip James Brannon, Bill Camp, Rob Campbell, Sue Jean Kim, Jenny Jules, Bruce McKenzie, Jeremy Shamos, and Rich Topol. The play centers on a group of liberal friends gathered at an upstate farmhouse on what starts out as a beautiful day. As the weather outside grows increasingly apocalyptic, and the conversation within grows precariously honest, the group discovers that in turbulent times, every dinner invitation comes at a cost.
On the eve of the election, Public Forum presents We the People November 2 at 8 PM, featuring online performances and commentary from resident artists and special guests. A post-election day concert from Toshi Reagon streams November 4 at 7 PM.
A number of education opportunities return this fall, including the #BARS workshop lab series created by Rafael Casal and Tony winner Daveed Diggs (Hamilton). #BARS returns in October with Casal, Diggs, and Chris Walker hosting monthly online masterclasses. The team will release creative prompts on Instagram ahead of time so artists can prepare from home. Also returning is Suzan-Lori Parks’ #WatchMeWork From Home on select Mondays at 5 PM and the Brave New Shakespeare Challenge, presented biweekly on Fridays at 2 PM. In addition, the Hunts Point Children’s Shakespeare Ensemble plan to remotely mount A Midsummer Night’s Dream to begin the school year.
“Now, more than ever, we need what the theater has to offer: hope, truth, joy, solidarity, beauty. The artists of The Public Theater have responded to the multiple crises we are facing—racial, medical, economic, and political—with courage and immense creativity,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “Though times are difficult, The Public will not stop striving to fulfill its mission. This season, we reaffirm our commitment to amplifying artists of color, to anti-racism both on and off of our stages, and to creating new works that respond to the demands for racial reckoning and justice that continue resounding throughout the nation.”
On top of the theatrical presentations and educational opportunities, The Public will launch a number of social justice initiatives. Among them are “Say Their Names,” an artist installation covering the entire facade of the theatre in Cooper Square, curated by Garlia Cornelia Jones, that includes at least 2,200 names and accompanying sentences of Black lives murdered at the hands of the police. In addition, the Mobile Unit in Corrections will bring the tools of theater into the daily lives of incarcerated communities. Launching in October with “Hip-Hop vs. Shakespeare” and created and conceived by Malik Work and Mobile Unit Community Programs Manager Praycious Wilson-Gay, the series aims to activate creative thinking, and develop skills of writing and performing verse while encouraging a life-long passion for learning.
For more information on the upcoming season, visit PublicTheater.org.