The Public Theater has announced a new community-based theater initiative, which they are calling Public Works. In this, its first year, the initiative will create a free, community-driven, original-musical adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater. Public Works director Lear deBessonet will helm the production.
The Tempest will showcase 200 New Yorkers from all five boroughs who will share the stage with professional actors and community partners in principal and ensemble roles for this three-night civic event, September 6-September 8. Participants will learn a dance to be performed at the Delacorte. They will also sing a song written specifically for them by composer Todd Almond for the production.
The five community partner organizations of Public Works for the first two years are Children's Aid Society (Manhattan); DreamYard (Bronx); Fortune Society (Queens); Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn); and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs, including Staten Island). Through working with these partners, the Public Works program will seek to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences, and the community each year.
This year's partners have already engaged in a variety of immersive Public Theater programs, including a 12-week acting workshop on the plays of Stephen Adly Guirgis that included a talkback with the playwright, a workshop on "Jobs in the Theater," and monthly reading groups of different classic plays, explored in both English and Spanish.