A Very Public Book Launching

PlayBlog   A Very Public Book Launching
Where better to have a book party for "Free for All: Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told" than the lobby of The Public Theater itself?

Kenneth Turan, who co-authored the opus with the late Joseph Papp, couldn't think of a better place. "Ever since this book became a reality this time around, I really had hoped they’d be a party here — it was really one of my dreams," he said at The Event. "This building has had many incarnations before it was The Public Theatre. It was once headquarters for HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a charitable organization that was really founded to help people like Joe's parents. I know Joe felt a real sense of coming full circle when he came back to this place, when he bought it and turned it into The Public Theater. I first met Joe in this building in 1986, and I never dreamed it would take this long for the book to come out. But it has, and returning to this lobby tonight really brings that experience full circle for me."

The reason the book took so long was that Papp called it off — unfortunately, after Turan interviewed almost 160 people and produced almost 10,000 pages of transcript. After Papp's death in 1991, Turan maintained contact with Mrs. Papp (Gail Merrifield Papp) and, via conversations spanning several years, they reached a kind of accord about the shape and importance of the manuscript. By then, Turan had gone West and into a new medium: He's the Los Angeles Times' chief film critic.

— Harry Haun

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