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Winter's Tale (2014)


ast summer, I cut my Labor Day weekend short to return to the city to attend the final night of the Public Works performance of Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. With a cast of 200 and a limited run of 3 performances, this play marked the close of the outdoor Public Theater season. I knew nothing about it ahead of time, but Jan Gura, my friend who works in development at The Public, invited me and promised it would be special. That was an understatement. Like many New Yorkers, I am no stranger to joyous evenings of The Public’s Free Shakespeare in the Park. But this Public Works Participatory Theater program underscores their commitment to being a theater of, by and for the people in a way that extends the meaning of Free Shakespeare in the Park beyond a performance created by world-class theater professionals. Participatory Theater done this way bodes well for the future of arts innovation. It illustrates how non-profits collaborating in creating extraordinary theater can extend the boundaries of engagement in the arts and add a fresh dose of creativity to storytelling.

THE POWER TO CHANGE Now in its fifth season, Public Works brings diverse New Yorkers together from all five boroughs to create an unforgettable civic experience. This is one of the clearest examples of how theater has the power to change lives, tell stories and connect us to the current issues and challenges we face in our city and country. Public Works is The Public’s initiative that enables New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to become creators, artists, and performers, not just spectators. Working with partner non-profit organizations across the City, diverse communities attend workshops, classes, performances and actively create Participatory Theater thereby enabling them to discover, develop and showcase their talents. I sat spellbound when watching community ensemble members, ballet dancers, hip-hop dancers, Mexican folk dancers, brass band players, bubble artists, taiko drummers, gospel singers, taxi drivers and professional Broadway and film actors interpret Shakespeare in a totally original and thoroughly spellbinding way. The premise of Public Works is that theater breaks down the boundaries separating us from each other in daily life through the deliberate blurring of the line between professional artists and community members. It underscores that the arts are interracial, intercultural, intergenerational, and inspirational. The success of Public Works has been great enough to spawn offshoots in Dallas, Seattle, and Detroit. 56 | OUR CITY, YOUR LIFE | AUGUST 2017

Twelfth Night (2016) Twelfth Night (2016)

Profile for New York Lifestyles Magazine

New York Lifestyles Magazine - August 2017  

New York Lifestyles Magazine - August 2017