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CombatingthePrivilegeofArt:AnAssessment ofCommunityAccesstoTheatre ByLinaRenzina ThesisAdvisors,ProfessorAmyE.

Hughes ProfessorLeeQuinby

INTRODUCTION Change:ascitizensandmembersoftheworldweareconstantlytryingtochangethe qualityoflifeontheearthweinhabit.Politicalclout,aleadershipposition,orwealtharenot easilyaccessiblefortheatrecreatorsoraudiences,especiallythosewhohavebeenextremely oppressedbytheirsociety.However,theatreprovidesauniqueplatform:sometimes,itcan evensparkamovementordiscussiononacertainpoliticaltopic.Itcanbecreatedbyanyone; therearenorulesaboutwhocancreatetheatre.Buttherearerulesaboutwhocancreate certainkindsoftheatre,whereandwhocancomeseeit.Manydonothaveaccesstoculture, forreasonsofsocialclass,raceorreligion.Theideaofaccessibilitytocultureisaradicalideain itself,whetherornotatheatrecompanycommittedtothisgoalissociallyconscious.Low incomeneighborhoodsoftensufferfromalackofculture,whichiswhytheatreisfrequently viewedasreservedfortherich.Bothpractitionersandcommunitieshaverecognizedthe problemandhavebeguntodowhattheycantohelpsolveit.Duetothelackofaccessibilityto theatreincertaincommunitiesandtheneedforthesecommunitiestorecognizeandsolve problems,agrassrootstheatremovementbeganinthe1970s.InspiredbytheworkofAugusto Boal,companiesaroundthecountrypracticegrassrootstheatretechniques.JanCohenCruz,a crucialplayerinthegrassrootsperformancecommunity,asserts,"Communitybasedartisa fieldinwhichartistscollaboratingwithpeoplewhoselivesdirectlyinformthesubjectmatter, expresscollectivemeaningitspansperformancescommittedtosocialchangealongwith thosewhosepurposeistheconservationoflocalcultures,sometimesbothatonce.Itspractices rangefromgrassrootsoralstorytellingtoformaltechniquescreatedbyprofessionalartists (LocalActs1).CohenCruzdescribescommunitybasedtheatre,itsmaingoalsaretoconnect

withtheaudiencesandartistsinacompletelyinnovativeway,thattheywontfindsittingata Broadwayshow. TheriseofcommunitybasedperformancewasdefinitelyinfluencedbyAugustoBoals workin1970sBrazil.Boalarguedthatstructureddramatictragedies,whichAristotlebelieved werethebuildingblocksofWesterntheatre,didnotappealtoawideaudience.Thiswas becausetheatrecompaniescateredtothewealthy,andthoseoutsideofthatsocialclasswere ignored.Ifonlythosewithprivilegehaveaccesstoart,theycannotusethismediumtomakean impact.Cruzrecognizesthisgrowingissue:Whilegrassrootstheatersmaynotadvocate changeperse,theircommitmenttoaudiencesofeveryclassandraceiscontraryto mainstreamtheateraudiencecompositionofthewealthiest15%ofthepopulation(Ecology 14). Boalsworkandscholarshipsparkedcompaniesallaroundtheglobetostarttheirown communityorientedensembles.Eachofthegroupsexploredinmyresearchhavevarious missions;however,theyallsharethesamevision:thataccessibilityandconnectiontothe audienceiscrucial.Thesecompaniesinteractdirectlywiththeaudiencetheyarespeakingto andoftentheaudienceisinvolvedincreatingandimplementingthepieces.Thiskindof connectiontotheartiscrucialforaudiencememberswhootherwisedonothavetheaccessto theatre.Itgivesthemaplatformwheretheycanspeaktheirmindsandvoicepoliticalandsocial concerns.Inaddition,thekindoftheatrethatgrassrootscompaniesoffergivesaudiencesthe opportunitytorelatetotheworkbeingdoneandnotfeeldisconnectedfromtheart. Artistswhoworktofostercommunitythroughgrassrootsperformancesbelievethat thistypeofworkcannotbedonewithinalargeinstitution.Doingtheimportantandeffective workthatgrassrootsartistsdoinlargerinstitutionalcontextsisoftenfrustrating.Itcanbe

difficulttofindabridgebetweenthekindsofintimatecommunityworkthatgrassroots performanceentailsandbringthattoamoremainstreamaudience.Nevertheless,some theatercompaniesstrivetodoso.Forexample,ThePublicTheater.Boalbeganformulatinghis influentialideasaboutthetheateroftheoppressedin1971,butThePublicTheaterinNew YorkCitybeganasagrassrootsinitiativein1954andstillcontinuestoday.Itsworkappealsto mainstreamaudienceswhilealsobridgingthegapbetweenthosewhowouldnotthinktocome tothetheatreandconnecttothework.Althoughthekindofcommunitybasedtheatrethat Boalconceivedandsmallnicheorientedcommunitiesaroundthecountryareproducingare vastlydifferentfromThePublic,ThePublicshistoryandworkchallengesCruzsassumption thatonlysmallcommunitybasedtheatrecancultivateadiverseaudienceandexpandaccessto art. JosephPapp(thecreatorofTheNewYorkShakespeareFestivalandfounderofThe PublicTheater)andAugustoBoalneverinteracted.Theybegantheirworkatdifferenttimes,on differentcontinents,andcreateddifferentformsoftheatre.However,Boalsresponsetothe politicalandsocialclimateinBrazilandPappsresponsetotheculturalclimateinNewYorkCity arerootedinthesamebeliefthatallpeopleshouldhaveaccesstoculture.AsDavidLowey, AssistantDirectorofTheCapitalProjectCampaignatThePublicTheater,notes: Therearedefinitelystrainsofthatsamenotion[Boals]inthehistoryofThe PublicTheater,althoughthereisamurkiersenseofwhereculturecamefrom.So Boalthinksthatcultureexistswithinthepeoplealready,andJoePappsaysthat cultureis[a]birthrightthateveryoneshouldbeabletoparticipatein.

Loweyiscommentingonthetrickycomparisonbetweenthecommunitybasedtheatre movementandtheprogrammingatThePublic.However,contrarytoCruzsassertions,The PublicTheaterisacasestudyofamainstreamtheatreservingthecommunitythrough grassrootsinitiatives.Inthisthesis,Iarguethatgrassrootstheatrecanbedoneinan institutionalsettingandthatalargetheatrecompanycanmakeahugesocialimpactonits communitybyincreasingaccessibilitytotheatre.AstudyofThePublicspast,presentand futureactivitiesissignificantbecauseitpresentsanoteworthygapinresearchthathasntbeen filledtodateaboutcommunitybasedtheatre.Myinterviewswithcurrentstaffmembers contradictmanyscholarsofgrassrootstheatre,suchasCohenCruzandSonjaKuftinec.While scholarssuchasCohenCruzandKuftinecassertthatcommunitybasedtheatrecannotthrive withinlargeinstitutions(which,theyassert,arebuiltoncorporatemodels),ThePublicTheater inNewYorkCitysuccessfullypursuesgrassrootsinitiativesthroughitsmissionandextensive programming.ThePublicTheaterhasbeenverysuccessfulinfosteringindependent, experimentaltheatrewhilealsoprovidingaccesstothosewhowantaccesstoit.ThePublicisa uniquecasestudyofamainstreamtheatrebringingarttoall. ThewordaccessibilityiswhatIhaveandwilluseanumberoftimesthroughoutmy thesis.Whatdoesitmeanforarttobeaccessibleforaudiencesandartists?Alotispackedinto theterm,includingrace,classandprivilege.Alackofprivilegeresultsinalackofaccessto resources,andthisisthereasonwhytheatreisnotgenerallyviewedasanaccessibleart form.InthisthesisIassessthecommunitytheatremovementanditsattemptstofindwaysto connectwithaudiencesandartistswhoareoppressed.First,Iprovidesomebackgroundon whatBoaltermedthetheatreoftheoppressed,whichisnecessarytounderstandthe

philosophicalfoundationsofhowgrassrootstheatrecompaniesfunctiontoday.Ithendiscuss threegrassrootscompanieswhoseworkiscrucialtothemovementintheircommunities;these companiesareCornerstone,TeatroPregones,andWagonBurner.Furthermore,Icritique scholarsofthecommunitytheatremovementwhobelievethateffectivegrassrootstheatre cannothappenwithinlargeinstitutionsbyusingThePublicTheaterinNewYorkCityasacase study.Drawingonfirsthandaccountsandhistoricaldocuments,IanalyzehowThePublicspast andpresentinitiativesandprogrammingresemblesagrassrootstheatremovementwithina largeinstitutionalsetting.Lastly,IevaluatehowsuccessfulThePublichasbeeningiving audiencesandartistsaccesstotheatreandwhythisaccessiscrucialtoNewYorkCityandthe world. THETHEATREOFTHEOPPRESSED InordertoconceptualizehisnotionoftheTheatreoftheOppressed,Boalanalyzes whereAristotelianconceptsofdramabeganandwhyAristotlesconceptsoftheatreare flawed.HebeginsbyfocusingonAristotlesPoetics.Aristotlewritesthattheaudienceshould experiencecatharsisintragedyandachievethatcatharsisthroughseveralrealizationsofwhat virtueis.BoalwritesthattheatreischangeandAristotlesconceptoftragedycompletely contradictsthatethos:"Theatreischangeandnotsimplepresentationofwhatexists:itis becomingandnotbeing"(28).BoalfindsAristotlesconstructionproblematicbecauseitdoes notofferthespectatortheopportunitytoparticipateintheart.Inotherwords,inAristotelian theatretheaudienceisdisconnectedfromwhatishappeningonstage:itisnotrelevantintheir livesandexistsinaseparateworld.However,inBoalstheatretheaudiencemustconnectwhat

ishappeningonstagetotheirownlives,andmanytimesactuallyparticipateincreatingthe performancethemselves. AfterdelineatinghisissueswithAristotlesPoetics,Boaladvanceshisthesisby discussinghowBertoltBrechtchangedthetheatrewiththecreationofEpicTheatre.Epic Theatre,amovementthatoriginatedintwentiethcenturyGermany,completelyrevolutionized thetypicalAristoteliandrama.Brechtwantedtoalienatetheaudiencefromthecharacters insteadofemotionallyconnectingthem.Thisgoalwasaccomplishedthroughtheuseof unconventionaltheatricalelements,suchasbreakingthefourthwallandtheuseofnon realisticdesigns.BrechtwascrucialininspiringBoalsworkandcontributingtotheimportance andformationofsocialtheatre.Brechtstheatrewasdefinitelygroundinsocialchange,for examplehiscontroversialpieceMotherCourageandHerChildren.AtthebrinkoftheSecond WorldWarin1939,BrechtwroteMotherCourage,anantiwar,antifascistplayaboutamother withthreechildren,duringthethirtyyearswarandherdeterminationtomakemoneyfromthe war.Theplayspokeoutdirectlyagainstthewar,whileincorporatingBrechtsstyleofepic theatre.BoalsideaswereclearlyinspiredbyBrechtsstyleandwork,hesays"Brecht contendsthatthepopularartistmustabandonthedowntownstagesandgotothe neighborhoods,becauseonlytherewillbefindpeoplewhoaretrulyinterestedinchanging society..."(Boal105).Boalassertsthenotionthatthosewhodonothaveaccesstotheatre, peoplewhoareintheneighborhoodsaretheoneswhoneeditthemost,theoneswhoneed wanttochangesociety. Althoughheunderstoodthattheatreshouldbe,atitsheart,sociallyaware,Boalstill struggledwiththeproblemofaccessibility;thatis,thematterofhowtomaketheatreavailable

toallpeople,regardlessofclass.Heasserts,Theaimsoffeudalartwerethesameasthoseof theclergyandnobility:toimmobilizesocietybyperpetuatingtheexistingsystem(55).Boal usesBrechtspoem,OntheEverydayTheatre,toinformhisview,commenting,"Artis immanenttoallmen,notonlytoaselectfew;artisnottobesold,nomorethanarebreathing, thinking,loving"(109).InBoalsview,artshouldbeavailabletothepeople,notjustthosewho canaffordtobuytickets.ItisthisbeliefthatdroveBoalswork.Inthe1950sand60s,whenhe wasartisticdirectoroftheArenaTheaterinBrazil,Boalbeganworkingwiththecommunityto stageperformancesinstreets,churchesandfactories.Hewantedtoinvolvethosewhowere oppressed,andotherwisewithoutaccesstoart,inthecreativeprocess.Hestrivedtoshow themthattheycouldhaveavoice.In1971,Boalwantedtodealwithlocalissuessuchas povertyandoppressionresultingfromtheBraziliandictatorship.Boalsufferedgreatlyforhis actions,ashewastorturedandexiledfromBrazil. Inshort,theTheatreoftheOppressedfosterscooperativeanddemocraticformsof interactionamongitsparticipants.Theaudienceisapartofthetheatre,notjustwatchingit.As Boalwrites,Thepoeticsoftheoppressedisessentiallythepoeticsofliberation:thespectator nolongerdelegatespowertothecharacterseithertothinkortoactinhisplace.Thespectator freeshimself;hethinksandactsforhimself!Theatreisaction!Perhapsthetheatreisnot revolutionaryinitself;buthavenodoubts,itisarehearsalofrevolution!(Boal155).Outofthis emergedthewordspectactor.Thespectactoristheaudienceandtheaudienceistheactor. Thespectactormanifestsitselfonstageandintheaudience.Thismeansthattheaudience takespartinthecreationofthepieceonstage.Theyarefreetocontributetothetheatrewith theirthoughtsandopinions.

AsBoalconceivesit,theTheatreoftheOppressedhasseveralsubgenres.Theseinclude ForumTheatre,InvisibleTheatreandImageTheatre,NewspaperTheatre,andLegislative Theatre.Eachhasitsownexercisesandmethodsofinvolvingtheaudienceintheaction.A facilitator(orJoker)isresponsibleforguidingtheactionandexplainingtherulesofthe games.InvisibleTheatreinvolveseventhosewhodonotknowtheyarecreatingtheatre.For example,twopeopleonthestreetwillcreateasceneaboutasocialproblem.PersonAyellsat PersonBandaccusesthemofstealingtheirwallet.ThenPersonC(whoisabystander) becomesinvolved.Inthisexample,PersonChasnoideathatthisisnotinfactarealscene; s/heisreactingtothecircumstancesbecauses/hebelievesitisactuallyhappeningandnot somethingstagedbyPersonsAandB.InForumTheatre,thegroupdecidesonasocialproblem orscenario.Thesceneisthenplayedoutwitharesolution;otherspectactorsmayintervene, suggestanothersolutionorreplacetheactorandperformitthemselves.Everyonemustreact truthfullyunderthecircumstances.InImageTheatre,animageiscreatedthatisinspiredbya socialproblem;spectactorsmayaltertheimageastheyseefit.Thevarioustacticsofthe TheatreoftheOppressedcreateuniqueexperiencesforcommunitieswhoseopinionsareoften invisible.Italsogivesthemaccesstothoughtprovokingtheatricalexperiencesthattheywould nothavehadotherwise. ItisimportanttonotethatTheatreoftheOppressedisnotaplayoraproduction. Itisarehearsalforrevolution,asBoalenvisionsit,toshowpeopletheycanfightbackagainst oppressionintheirlives.Boalwrites,"Ibelievethatallthetrulyrevolutionarytheatricalgroups shouldtransfertothepeoplethemeansofproductioninthetheatresothatpeoplethemselves mayutilizethem.Thetheatreisaweapon,anditispeoplewhoshouldwieldit"(122).Inspired

byBoalswork,theatrecompaniesbegancreatingtheirowncommunitybasedtheatrethat requireditsparticipantstobeinvolvedandopinionatedinordertobeginchangingtheir circumstances(asIdiscussinthenextsection,someofthembeingCornerstone,Teatro PregonesandWagonburner).Clearly,Boalsworkandresearchcontinuestohaveimportant, longlastingeffectsonhowtheatermakersusetheatreasasocialtool. COMMUNITYBASEDTHEATREENSEMBLES CohenCruzassertsthatahugeproblemfacingcommunitybasedtheatreensemblesis audiencecultivation:Problematicforthefield,thetermsgrassrootsandcommunitybased oftenevokeinaccurateimages(Ecology16).Cruzexplainsthataudiencesareturnedofffrom thiskindofworkmainlybecauseofignoranceandmisinformation.Mainstreamaudiencesfeel likeensemblegrassrootscompaniesdonothavethestructurethatanonprofitcompanyhas andthereforedonotconsiderthemprofessional.Somealsobelievethatitisrewardingfor theparticipants,butnotfortheaudience.Alargecomponentofwhattheseensemblesdois thecreationoforiginalplays.Thewritersatthecompanywillcreateacollaborativepiecewith communitymembersinput.Whiletherearecurrentlyoverfiftygrassrootsensemblesinthe UnitedStates,therearethreediversegroupswhoseworkincultivatingtheatrefortheir communityhasbeenrathersuccessful.TheyareCornerstoneTheaterCompany,Teatro PreonesandWagonBurnerTheaterTroop. Cornerstone,aLosAngelesbasedcompanywitha$1millionbudget,wasfoundedin 1986.Theeighteenmemberensemblewritesandperformsnewplaysandadaptationsof classics.BillRuach,formerartisticdirectorandmember,explainsthatthecompanystrivesto

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involvethecommunitydirectlyincreatingtheplays.Thistypeofinitiativeemulatesthework thatBoalbegan.Ruachsays,"Thecompany'saestheticistoincludethecommunity'sdialogue withitselfinthescript,whichcallsforopposingvoicesandlayersofmeaningandavital richness.Multiplicityofviewpoints:it'sessentialtoourmission"(Cornerstone74).Whilesome believethatCornerstoneprovidesasocialservicetothecommunity,Ruachdisagrees:"The socialserviceaspectisoftenoverstressed.Infactwehavedeliberatelystoppedemphasizing that.Themajorityofcommunitiesthatweworkwitharelowerincomeanddon'thaveaccess toprofessionaltheater,that'strue,buttheworkisjustasmuchaboutwhatwearelearningas artists:It'samutualexchange"(Cornerstone75).WhatisdifferentaboutCornerstoneas comparedtoothercompaniesthatdograssrootsworkisthattheyalsoadaptplaysforthe communitytheydonotsolelyperformoriginalworks.Thisoffersadifferentkindof communitybuilding,oneinwhichtheartistsandaudiencearediscoveringclassicalplaysand writers.Thisisextremelyimportantwhencultivatinganaudiencethatotherwisewouldnot havetheabilitytobeinvolvedintheatreatall.SinceCornerstonesproductionsfeature professionalartists,communitymembersandaudiencemembers,itoffersafacetof communitybuildingthroughtheatre. RuachbelievesthatwhatmakesCornerstonesospecialandeffectiveissomething aestheticaboutthevarietyofagesandbodytypesandlifeexperience,adiversitythatispartof thefabricofthework,andthatswhatmakesitpowerful(Cornerstone80).Cornerstones worktravelsaroundthecountryandoneofitsmaincommunityengagementinitiativesisthe InstituteSummerResidency.Astheirofficialwebsitestates,thisprogramoffersanopportunity toexperiencecreatingtheaterandexploringstrategiesforcommunityengagementforall

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artistswhowanttobeinvolved.Forexample,theopportunitytobecomeinvolvedinthe companysInstituteSummerResidency(asummerlongworkshop)isnotbasedon professionalismorexperience;communitymembers,regardlessoftheirbackgroundor qualifications,arewelcome. Cornerstoneoftenpartnerswithschoolsandcommunitycenterstocreatetheirwork. Morerecently,playwrightPeterHowardworkedwithLosAngleshighschoolstudentsandfood serviceworkerstocreateLunchLadyCourage."[We]wonderedabouttherelevanceandvalue ofthisartformweloved,"Howardrecalls,"topeoplewhowerenotlivinginmajorurbanareas andgoingtoelitecollegesandhadhabitualtheatergoingontheirminds.Sowesetoutonthis adventuretotestandtoexploresomeofourfavoriteplaysincommunitiesthatweperceived asperhapshavinglessaccesstolivetheater"(Raden).HowardexplainsthatLunchLady CourageisaresponsetohungerandisverymuchinspiredbyBrechtsMotherCourageandHer Children.SinceBrechtdefinitelystimulatedthistheater,itisfascinatingthatCornerstoneis tyingtheirworkbacktohim,evenin2013. UnlikeCornerstone,TeatroPregonoesworkdoesnotstemfromtheatricalmaterial. Oftenfrustratedbythesocialstructureoftheirsurroundings,theensemblemembersofTeatro PregonesstrivetocreateatheatricalcommunityforLatinosintheBronx.RobertH.Leonard writes,ForTeatroPregones,communityisagatheringofpeoplearoundsharedtraditions, commoncultureandacommitmenttotheaterasaplaceforideas,growthandjoiningof forces(TeatroPregones147).TeatroPrenoesfocusesonLatinoaudiences,andthisisbecause membersexpressfeelingignoredwithintheircommunity.ItsaestheticisinformedbyArtistic DirectorRosalbaRolonsPuetroRicanroots,theirsourcematerialisnontheatrical,andplays

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areusuallyperformedinSpanish. Companymembersareconstantlydiscussingtheideaofcommunity,especiallywhen thatcommunityisbasedaroundasimilarmissionincreatingart.Rolonwantsartiststo understandthedistinctionbetweencommunityandneighborhood:audienceand communityarethesamethingforus.Ouraudiencecomesfromthecommunitythatweserve, andforus,communityandneighborhoodarenotthesamething(TeatroPregones149). Furthermore,ensemblememberJorgeMercedpointsoutthatcommunityisaspacewhere dialogueamongartistsistakingplace(TeatroPregones151).TeatroPregonesdefinitely providesaservicetotheircommunityoftheSouthBronx.Theirperformancespacesincludea varietyofunions,schoolsandchurches.In2009,thecompanycelebratedtheirthirtieth anniversarywithanewmusicalcalledAlohaBoricua.BasedonashortstorybyManuelRamos Otero,AlohaBoricuafollowsthestoryofoverfivethousandPuetroRicanswhotraveledto Hawaiiattheturnofthecenturytoworkinthesugarcanefields.Thestoryistoldthrough differentstylesofsong,includingreggaetn,rockandbomba.Companymemberssaythatthe storyistoldinEnglishandSpanishtobetterservethecommunity.Whileitsmembers understandthatthecompanystillhasalongwaytogo:Westillhavemuchtodo,saidRoln. Insteadof25showingsofaplay,Iwouldliketodo60.Iwouldalsolikeanactingspacewhere youngLatinoscouldtrainintechnicaltheater,indesign(GarcaGmez).Butthecompanyhas definitelycontributedtotheartscommunityoftheSouthBronxinawaythatnomainstream companycould. WhencomparedtoCornerstoneandTeatroPregones,WagonBurnerTheaterTroops versionofcommunitybasedtheatreisratherunconventional.IncontrasttoCornerstoneand

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TeatroPregones,ithasnotheatrespace,nospecificlocationanddefinitelynoadministrative structure.Thistroop,agroupoftwentypeople,isntbasedanywhereanditfocuseson workshopsandtouringtobringtheirworktopeoplearoundtheUnitedStates.Theirmaingoal istoraiseawarenessaboutNativeAmericansoppressioninawhitemansworld.Their approachtothecreativeprocessisuniqueandtheycreatetheirpiecesasanensemble.Itisa smallcompanyservinganextremelyspecificaudience:NativeAmericansandothersconcerned abouttheNativeAmericancommunity.Theirworkisofteninspiredbylettersand conversationsaboutNativeAmericanhistory.WagonBurnerfeelsthatitsidentityasa grassrootsinitiativeisextremelycomplicated,muchliketheidentityofNativepeople.Artistic DirectorLeAnneHawemostrecentlyconductedaworkshopattheSinteGleskaUniversitywith studentstocreateacommunitytheaterpiece.Topicsrangedfrompoliceharassmentto healthcare.Thestudentsfeltextremelyinspiredandincludedbythiswork.LindaFryeBurnham writes,WagonBurnerhasanintimateconnectionwithacommunitythathasbeenscattered acrosstheU.S.Inasense,thewholecountryistheirhome(5).Leonardcomments,The questionsofeffectorimpactoftenassumesimpactingabroad,mainstream,whiteaudience whosevalues,tastesandneedscanbepredicted(Wagonburner194).Here,heisreferringtoa challengethatWagonBurnercomesacrossquiteoften:explaininghowthiscompanycanhave animpacteventhoughitdoesnotattractmainstreamaudiences. THEPUBLICTHEATER:APUBLICCOMMUNITY Boalandscholarsofgrassrootstheatreagreethatinordertoliberatethespectator,the audiencemustbecomeapartoftheart.Theymustrespondandcreateit;theymustforma communitytosparkareaction.CohenCruzrecognizestheflawsinatypical,hierarchical

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administrativestructure:Incontrast,mainstreamtheaterasaninstitutioncarriesawhole apparatusofhierarchy.Thoseabletoleveragethemostmoneyareontop,betheyproducers orstarsCommunitybasedensemblesstriveforamoreegalitarianideal(Ecology6).Iargue thatThePublicTheaterisuniquebecauseitisthemostrelevant,mostaccessiblemainstream theatrecompanyinNewYorkCity.Indeed,IsuggestthatThePublicTheater'sprogramming closelymirrorsacommunitybasedtheatreexperience.Obviously,thegoalofnicheoriented grassrootscompaniesispreciselynottobemainstream;theyarenotalwaysinterestedin reachingawideaudience.Theyexistinsmalltownsandcommunitiesthatareyearningfora personalconnectiontotheatre.Similarly,theartscommunityofNewYorkCitydependsonThe PublicTheater'sprogramming;thecompanyprovidesaservicetothecity.Inaddition,The PublicTheater,whenitwasfounded,didnotaimtobecomeaninstitutionbutsimplywanted toprovideaccesstoShakespeareanplaystoallthepeopleofNewYork,eventhosewhocould otherwiseaffordtoattendthetheatre.Communitybasedtheatreensemblesaroundtheworld justsimplydonothavethetypeofimpactthatalargeinstitutioncan. ABRIEFHISTORYOFTHEPUBLICSROOTS WhileacompletelookatThePublicshistoryisnotimportanttotheargumenthere, therearemonumentalmomentsthatfurtherexplorethecontributionthatthiscompanyhas madetodiversecommunitiesinNewYorkCity.Theseincludecrucialproductionsthatshaped ThePublicTheatersinfluenceonAmericantheatre,includingHair,AChorusLineandThe NormalHeart.ThePublicTheatercametobeinthe1950s,beforeBoalandsmallgrassroots theatreensembleshadrisentoprominence,evenbeforeOffBroadwaywasinexistence.Joe

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PapprevolutionizedAmericantheatreandfewwhocameafterhimhavehadthesameimpact. KennethTuranwrites,InhisyearswiththeShakespeareFestivalandtheparallelPublic Theater,JoehadmadetheaterinAmericanbothaccessibleandessential(Papp,Turan1). PappwasborninapovertystrickenNewYorkneighborhood(Williamsburg,Brooklyn)to Yiddishspeakingimmigrantparents.Papprecalls,Icamefromacertainkindofpovertylevel, whichwasreallybelowthatofmostofNewYorksJews.Ivealwaysfeltthatdistinction.Ive alwaysfeltslightlyremovedfrom,forinstance,theworldofBroadwayandtheShuberts.Ican talktothem.Illwalkwiththem,butasShylockwouldsay,Iwonteatwiththem(Papp,Turan 89).AlthoughPappdidnotconsiderhimselfanacademicperson,helovedreading.He frequentedthepubliclibrary,andthere,hediscoveredShakespeare. In1953,PappandafewofhisfriendscollaboratedonaproductionatTheEmmanuel PresbyterianChurch.Pappsays,Ijustwantedtogetsomeactorstogetherandexperiment withdoingShakespeare.WhyShakespeare?Intermsoftheater,heisamaster;thereisno greaterwriterforthestageintheEnglishlanguage,andthathappenstobeafact.Youcantbe aneducatedpersonunlessyouhavemorethanapassingfamiliaritywiththeworksofWilliam Shakespeare(Papp,Turan61).AttheChurch,theydidfiveproductionsandsoonafter expandedandmovedtheensembletotheEastRiverParkAmphitheater.Thefirstproductionin thatspacewasJuliusCaesar.AfterTheEastRiverAmphitheater,Pappfeltthattheyshould travel:Afterall,Shakespearedidboth,hehadhisowntheater,andhealsotouredfromtime totimeIwantedtobringShakespearetothepeople,thatwasthewholeidea.Ihadtoreach thethousandsofpeoplewholivedanddiedintheirneighborhoods(Papp,Turan99).Inmany respects,Pappwantedtobringarevolutionarytheatretothepeople.However,Pappstheatre

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wasalsodifferentthanBoals.Pappbelievedinstagingclassicalandcontroversialproductions, nothavingtheaudienceactuallyparticipateintheperformance.Whiletheydiddivergein termsofstyle,theirgoalsweresimilar. Pappbeganbybringingtheatretoneighborhoodparks,anactofcommunityservice

thatcloselyreflectsagrassrootsinitiative.However,asthecompanygrew,Pappwantedto settledown.ThisledtohisdesiretobuildTheDelacorteinCentralPark.Theideaofbuildinga theatreinthemiddleofthecitysmostfamouspark,letaloneonethatdidnotcharge admission,wasunheardofatthetime.Aparkisacommunitygatheringspace,freeofcharge, opentoallnotunlikethetheatrethatPappstrivedtoproduce. Similarly,thebuildingPappchoseasThePublicsdowntown,yearroundhomeisalso tiedtothetheatresrootsandmission.ThebuildingatAstorPlace(425LafayetteStreet)was thefirstlibraryinNewYorkCity,theAstorPlaceLibrary.Whatcouldspeakmoretoaccessibility thanaplacethatonceofferedfreebookstoall?WhenPappwalkedintothespaceandsaw materialsleftbehindbytheHebrewImmigrantAidSocietyaplacewhereEasternEuropean Jewishimmigrantscameforhelpaftertheylefttheirhomecountriesandemigratedto Americahefeltahugeconnectiontothespaceandknewitwastheplacetobeginhistheater company(Epstein). DuringPappstimeasartisticdirector,ThePublicstagedthreegroundbreaking

productionsthatinfluencedandservedthetheatrecommunity:Hair,TheNormalHeartandA ChorusLine.Hair(1967)wasthefirstproductiontobemountedat425LafayetteStreet.Papp tookahugeriskproducingthismusical,whichwasstillindevelopmentwhenitcametohim. AccordingtoEpstein,Pappfelt,ItwastrulythemostlivingofalltheatersthatexistedinNew

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York.Ithadapointofview.Itwasalive.Ithadanattitudetowardsocietyandlife,andtomea theatermeansnothingwithoutthat(201).Inaddition,whenhippieculturewasgrowingand resistancetotheVietnamWarwasatitspinnacle,Pappwantedtofacilitatepoliticalandsocial discussion.Pappcommented,Iamlookingforplaysthathavesomepassionatestatementto makethatiscommensuratewiththetimewearelivingin(Epstein202).Hairwasthatpiece forThePublic,ashowunlikeanythingthatNewYorkhadseenbefore;incorporatingwar politicsandfreeculture,itwasariskyproductionforafirstshowpresentedbyanewtheatre. ButPappknewthattheshowaddressedcrucialtopicsofconcernfortheaudiencesandartists thathewantedtoreach.Althoughtheshowwasabouthippies,itstargetaudiencewasanyone whoopposedtheVietnamWar.PappwantedtogiveNewYorkerssomethingtothinkabout and,possibly,toseetheworldfromadifferentperspective. Similarly,AChorusLine(1976)wasanextremelyuniqueproduction,onethatclosely resemblescommunitydevisedperformance.PerformingartistMichaelBennettbegan gatheringstoriesaboutdancersforthispiece.Thedancerswerecrucialtocreatingthepiece andalsoperformedinit.ThePublicputasignificantamountofmoneyandeffortintoshaping theproductionandwhenitwasanextremesuccessandplayedonBroadwayforsevenyears,it helpedsustainthetheatreuntiltheproductionclosed.SinceThePublicisanonprofittheater company,alloftheproceedswentbackintothecompany,andAChorusLineallowedthe companytothrivefinanciallyandcontinueproducingriskypieces;itbroughtinalmost$30 millionoverthecourseofitsrunonBroadway(Papp,Turan38892). PlaywrightLarryKramerwroteTheNormalHeart(1985)asacalltoactionforthe queercommunitytofighttheAIDSepidemic.Pappswifeandthenliterarymanager,GailPapp,

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advocatedforthepieceandbelievedthatitwasanextremelyimportantplaytoproduce.The restofthecountryseemedtobeignoringtheepidemic,andKramerandPappwouldnotstand forthat.In1985,theplayopenedandbecamethelongestrunningproductionatThePublic, andeventhoughtheylostmoneyontheproduction,Pappkeptitrunningforalongtime becausehefeltitwasimportantforaudiencestoseeit.Itwasarevolutionarypiecetobeput onstageatthetimewhenAIDSwasnotawordthatmanykneworspokeabout,andwhenNew YorkCityhadamayor(rumoredtobeahomosexualmanhimself)whodidnotacknowledgethe existenceofsickgaymen.Pappcomments,Everynightaftercurtain,ten,twelve,orfifteen youngmenwouldsitintheirchairsandbeunabletomove,absolutelystunned.Andseveral otherpeopleintheaudience,mostlymen,wouldgooverandsitwiththatperson,putanarm aroundhim(Papp,Turan531).Thispiecewasveryimportanttoseveralcommunitiesatthe time:thetheaterscene,gaymenwhofeltignored,andthosewhoweregrapplingwithAIDSat thetime. ThePublicsimpactdoesnotjustresonateonstage,butinthestreets,too.Thefirst interactionthatThePublichadwithpoliticalactivismmayalsobeitsmostfamousPapps controversialconflictwithRobertMoses,theparkscommissionerin1958.WhenPappinitiated theconstructionofTheDelacorte,heknewhewouldnotbechargingadmissionforhis productions.Mosesdidnotagree.HepressuredPapptobeginchargingforperformances, especiallysincehefearedthattheaudiencesweretramplingonthegrass.Pappdecidedtofight MosesdespitethefactthatthecommissionerwasextremelypowerfulandPappwasstillinthe earlystagesofhiscareer.Pappdidnotbackdown,andeventuallywonhisfighttokeep ShakespeareintheParkfreeforthepeople.

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POSTPAPP EvenafterPappspassingin1991,ThePublicTheaterisstillcommittedtoupholding Pappsoriginalmission.Onthecompanysofficialwebsite,ThePublicTheatersmissionreads asfollows: AstheonlytheaterinNewYorkthatproducesShakespeareandnewworkin equalmeasure,ThePublicTheaterisdedicatedtoachievingartisticexcellence whiledevelopinganAmericantheaterthatisaccessibleandrelevantthrough productionsofchallengingnewplays,musicalsandinnovativestagingsofthe classics.Conceivednearly60yearsagoasoneofthenationsfirstnonprofit theaters,ThePublichasservedasanadvocateforthetheaterasanessential culturalforceinleadingandframingdialogueonimportantissuesofourday. ThesecoredemocraticvaluesinformallaspectsofThePublicsactivities.Toward thiseffort,ThePubliccontinuestobeguidedbyaphilosophyofinclusion,which takesonmanyformsnontraditionalcastingofproductions,educationand developmentinitiativesforartistsfromdiversebackgrounds,outreachto studentsandaudiencesthroughoutNewYorkCity'sfiveboroughs,humanities endeavorsthatprovideasocialandculturalcontextfortheworkswepresent, andproductionsthatreflectandspeaktotheissuesandinterestsofour surroundingcommunity.Ticketpricesforperformancesarekeptloworfreeof chargeinordertoattractabroadaudience,andeveryperformancespaceisADA accessible,withfreesignlanguageinterpretedandopencaptioned

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performancesofferedduringsummerproductions.ThePublic'sprogramsalso cultivateconnectionsamongitsmanyconstituenciesbetweenartistsand audiencesandacrossethnicities,agesandexperiences.Theseconnectionsare fundamentaltotheworkoftheinstitutionaswellastothedevelopmentof futureartistsandaudiences,andthusthehealthofthetheatercommunityasa whole. ThreeartisticdirectorshaveservedatthehelmofThePublicsincePappsdeath:JoAnne Akalaitis(199293),GeorgeC.Wolfe(19932004)and,currently,OskarEustis(2004present). Eventhoughtheleadershiphaschangedovertheyears,CastingAssistantRebeccaFeldman commentsthateventoday,theoriginalmissionisstillatthecoreoftheorganization.Feldman says: Idothink,though,thateachartisticdirectorandstaff[carries]thatmissionout differently.Therearealotofwaystointerpretwhatitistorepresentthe populationasawholeandalotofwaystoaccomplishhearingimportantvoices onstage.Someartisticdirectors'visionshaveresonatedwithmemorethan others,butIbelievetheyallservethemissionequally.AndIknowthatIcan trustallofmycoworkerseverysinglepersoninthebuildingtobedevotedto themission. Feldmandefinitelytouchesonanimportantpointwithintheorganization.Whileartistic directorschange,thereisdefinitelyasenseofcommunityamongthestaffmembersthere; everyoneworkshardtosupportthemissionofthetheatre.Thestaffreallybelievesinthe programmingthattheyarecreating.

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InaspeechdeliveredattheTheaterCommunicationsGroupconferencein2006, OskarEustis(thecurrentartisticdirector)said: Thevoicesthatneedtobereflectedonourstagesarenotthevoicesofthefew, butthevoicesofthemany.Thegreatdemocratizingpowerofthetheatreneeds tobeunleashedbythenonprofittheatre,notconstrained.Thatmeansthatthe nonprofittheatreis,ofcourse,differentthanthecommercialtheatre.Not opposed,butdifferent.ThegreatestartistoftheWesterncanon,Shakespeare, wasnotthepropertyofpeoplewhohadmoneyorofpeoplewhohadeducation orofpeoplewhowerebornhere.Shakespearewasthepropertyofeverybody. (4) PappsvisionlivesonthroughEustis,whoactivelycultivateswhatPappwouldwishtosee,were hestillalive. Currently,EustisisverymuchdevotedtosupportingPappsoriginalvisionforThePublic.

Ina2012articleinAmericanTheatre,Eustisexpresses,ThePublicisheretomaketheaterthat matters.ItsatheatrethatsallaboutdemocracyHe[Papp]didntjustturntheauditorium overtothepeopleheturnedthestageovertothepeople(Soloski26).Eustisismoredevoted topoliticalandAmericanissuesthananyotherartisticdirectorinThePublicshistory,bringing insuchworksasPassingStrange(2007)byHeidiRodewaldandStew,therevivalofHair directedbyDianePaulus(2008),InTheWake(2010)byLisaKron,TheAgonyandEcstasyof SteveJobs(2011)byMikeDaisey,TheIntelligentHomosexual(2011)byTonyKushner,and more. Byutilizinganinhousecastingteam,ThePublicstrivestobringinarangeofstoriesby

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artistsfromdiversebackgrounds.Cruzpointsouttheimportanceofdiversityinthearts: Communitybasedtheatersmanifestadeepbeliefinthepowerofthearttobringdifferent peopletogether,andtheresultisthatstereotypesarecrackedopenintheunfoldingoftheart (Ecology19).FeldmansaysthatsincecastingisoneofthefewdepartmentsatThePublic whoseseniorstaffhasbeenaroundsincePappstime,itiscompletelycommittedtopreserving Pappswishesaboutnontraditionalcasting.Thisisacrucialcomponentofprovidingaccessto artistswhoareunderrepresentedinmainstreamandmonochromaticculture.Thecasting departmentfullysubscribestotheideathataudiencememberswanttoseethemselves representedonstage.Feldmanpointsoutthatshenoticedanincrediblyspecialexperience duringthe201213seasonsWildWithHappy,writtenbyandstarringColemanDomingo. Domingo,anAfricanAmericangayartist,wroteasemiautobiographicalstoryabouthismother inthemidstofherpassing.Theproduction,stagedintheLuEstherspace,broughtinadifferent audiencethanthedowntownspacehadseenallseason.AsanAfricanAmericanartist, DomingobroughtinamorediverseaudienceforThePublic.

WhenEustisacceptedthepositionofartisticdirectorofThePublicTheaterin2005,he madeaconcertedefforttobringthetheaterbacktoitsroots.Oneofthewaysheachievedthis goalwasthroughtherevitalizationoftheMobileShakespeareUnit.TheMobileShakespeare Unit,nowenteringitsthirdseason,isdirectlytiedtoPappseffortsatcommunityoutreach. EustisbelievesthattheMobileUnitiscrucialtothemissionofThePublic;asheoncetoldAlexis Soloski,therefoundingoftheMobilewasaboutrealizingthatShakespeareintheParkno longerreachesthepeopleitwasoriginallyintendedto.Wehavetogobackouttothem.We wenttoprisons,halfwayhouses,batteredwomensshelters(qtd.inSoloski28).Theatre

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professionalsrehearseandperformaShakespeareplaywithminimalset,propsandlighting. Theytravelinavantoroughlytwentylocationsinallfiveboroughs.Theselocationsinclude communitycenters,homesfortheelderly,andprisons.Loweysaysthatstaffandaudience responseregardingthemobileunithasbeenincredibleandhewishestheycouldexpandthis kindofwork.HewantsThePublictobringshowsbacktothecommunitiesandevenbackinto theLowerEastAmphitheater,whereitstartedsomefiftyyearsago.Eustissaysthatareturn couldbearoundthecorner:Iwillbeverysurprisedifwedontendupwithafullseasonof Mobileworkwithinthenexttwoorthreeyears(qtd.inSoloski28).Papphimselfsawthe importanceofbringingtheatretocommunitiesthatwouldnotbeexposedtoShakespeare otherwise.Papponcesaid,CriticsoftenclaimIminconsistent,thatIhavenocentral aesthetic.WhatisconsistentinmyworkisthatIhavealwayswantedtoprovideaccesstothe besthumanendeavortothegreatestnumberofpeople.Ibelievethatgreatartisforeveryone notjusttherichorthemiddleclass.WhenIgointoEachHarlemorBedfordStuyvesantandsee thekidswhocometoourshows,Iseenothingsoclearlyasmyself(qtd.inEpstein18).His passionanddesiretobringtheatretoallnomatterofraceandclassisstillveryimportantto ThePublicandcontinuestoliveonthroughhissuccessors. Anothercurrentinitiativegearedtowardfosteringcommunity,theCapitalProject Campaign,isa$40millionrenovationcampaignthatbeganovertwelveyearsago,whenThe PublicwasstillunderthedirectionofGeorgeC.Woolf.Whilethecampaignhasseveralstages andisstillverymuchindevelopment,thefiftiethanniversaryofThePublicsawaclosetoa hugeoperationtorevitalizethelobbyandoutdoorfaadeof425LafayetteStreet.Themain goalofthepreviouscampaignwastorenovatethespace,andwhileaudienceslovedtheold

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space,itneededtoberenovatedbecauseofitsage.Previously,thewallsinthelobbyhadthe titlesofShakespeareanplayswrittenonthem;thesewerereplacedwithwhitewallsandlarge signsindicatingtheentrancestothesixperformancespaces.Inadditiontopractical renovationsrequiredinthebuilding,suchasthefixtureoftheleakyroof,expansionofthe bathrooms,andcreationofgreenroomareas,thecampaignhadagreaterpurpose:toserve notonlyitsaudiencesandartistsbutthelargercommunity.Theadditionofarampinfrontof thetheatrenotonlywaslegallyrequiredforAmericansforDisabilitiesActcodes,butalso reflectedtheopenforallideaattheheartofthetheatresmission.TheideabehindPublic Openisthatanyoneiswelcomethroughthedoors.Oneofthemaingoalsoftherenovationis tomakethebuildingmoreaccessibleandprovideaspacethatnurturesthediverseaudiences andartistswhoenter.LoweysaystheprogramisaboutReimaginingthewaythepeopleenter thespaceandhowtheyaretreatedoncetheyareinthemainpartofthebuilding.Theporosity andneedforgreaterspacewithinthelobby,butalsotheideathatthosefrontstepsbecome thebeginningofthelobby,soessentiallythecultureofThePublicTheaterspillsoutintothe sidewalkandinvitedtheaudienceinside.Loweyalsonotesthatwhenaudiencescomeinside, thereisaplacetomixandminglewitheachother.Duetotherobustnessofprogramming, audiencesfromUnderTheRadarandthosewhocometoJoesPubhavetheopportunityto meetandtalkaboutthearttheyjustexperienced.Aslightlyunexpected(andslightlycriticized) aspectoftherenovationprojectisTheLibrary,thenewrestaurantlocatedonthesecondfloor ofthebuilding.TheLibrary,whichderivesitsnamefromthefactthat425LafayetteStreetused tobeapubliclibrary,isnotaveryfinanciallyaccessiblerestaurant:thepricesforcocktailsand mealsarehigh.

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WhilesomemaysaythatnotallofThePublicsprogrammingisaccessibletoeveryone,

staffmembersadmitthatthecompanyisalwaysaworkinprogress.Mostoftheworkis affordable,or,atleast,moreaffordableincomparisontootherNewYorktheatres.For example,thePublicLabinitiativelowersthecostoftheatergoingbyproviding$15ticketsforall audiences.Originallymeanttopresentworksindevelopmentwithscaleddownproductions, PublicLabactuallypresentsfullscaleworkforafairprice.Inaddition,ticketstotheUnderthe RadarFestivalareonly$20,andprovidetheaudiencewiththeuniqueopportunitytointeract withinternationalartists.Andmostobviously,ShakespeareintheParkisstillatthecoreofthe organizationsmission.In2012,ShakespeareintheParkcelebrateditsfiftiethanniversary, whichattractedasignificantamountofattention.Forexample,aphotoshootbyAnnie LeibovitzforVanityFairtookplaceatTheDelacortefeaturingMandyPatinkin,JesseL.Martin, BlytheDanner,LilyRabe,JonathanGroff,JerryStiller,AnneMeara,DonnaMurphy,Audra McDonald,JamesEarlJones,JesseTylerFerguson,MerylStreep,KevinKlineandOliverPlatt. ThefeaturearticlealsoincludesashortcommentarybyplaywrightTonyKushner.Kushner comments: WhenJoePappcreatedtheDelacorteTheater,hestakedoutaborderland betweenthenaturalworldandtheworldofdreams.For50summers,we patronsofthePublicTheatersfreeShakespeareintheParkhavewaitedlong hourssittinginthegrass,inhalingdustfromnearbysoftballorsoccer gamesWealwayscomebackbecausethegoodnightsattheDelacortehavea rare,peculiarmagic.Windstirsthetrees,theskiesdarken,thestagefillswitha blendingofrealandartificialmoonlightthenoneofourcountrysgreatest

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actors,workingforsubminimumstepsforwardtospeakthebestandmost beautifulwordseverwritten,revealingaspectsofourselvesweneverexpected toencounterinCentralPark.Boundariesdissolvebetweenactandaudience,self andpark,artandnature.Wediscoveranewhowporousboundariesalwaysare. (101) TheparkstillcontinuesthetraditionoffreeShakespeareforthecityofNewYork;however,in recentyearsThePublichasexpandedtheprogrammingtoincludeotherclassics.In2006,a stagingofBrechtsMotherCourageandHerChildrenwithMerylStreepandKevinKlinedidnot meetwithuniversalcriticalacclaim,butitallowedthepeopleofNewYorktoseetwooftodays mostcelebratedactors,liveonstage,forfree.BenBrantleyofTheNewYorkTimeswrote,If youeverwantedtowatchonewillowyhumanbeinglifta12tonplayontohershouldersand holditthereforhours,evenashermusclesbuckleandbreathcomesshort,jointhelineof hopefulswaitingattheDelacorteTheaterinCentralParkforcancellationstoseeMeryl Streepburningenergylikeasupernovainthetitlerole.Noothertheatercollective,ensemble orinstitutioncanclaimtoofferthiskindofexperiencetotheircommunity,andthatisradical art. Thatsaid,theShakespeareintheParkprogramhassometimesbeencharacterizedas

hypocriticalbecauseitisnotaccessibleenough.Criticspointoutthatthepeoplewhoreallylack accesstogood,affordabletheatrecannotwaitinlineintheparkallday.TwowaysthatThe Publicisworkingtochangethesystemisthroughtheintroductionofanonlinevirtuallottery andthroughboroughdistribution.BoroughdistributionoccursduringtheShakespeareinthe Parkseason;themarketingdepartmentatThePublicgoestovariousneighborhoodsinthecity

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togiveoutfreeticketstothateveningsshows.Thishelpsreachaudiencememberswho otherwisewouldnothavetheopportunitytowaitinthegeneralparkline.VictoriaTeague,a memberofthemarketingteamduringthefiftiethanniversaryseason,spokeabouther experiencesduringboroughdistribution:Thepeopleinlineweregreat,too;theywerea differentcrowdthanthelineattheparkbuttheywerejustasexcited.Wehadafewcranky people,justlikeinthepark,butI'mgladtohavehadtheexperienceofmakingthedecisionof howtohandlethemonthespot.Teaguesaidthatshehadtheopportunitytovisiteach boroughandthattheticketswererandomlydistributed.Loweyagreesthatborough distributiondoesagreatjobofprovidingaccessforcommunitiestoseeShakespeareinthe Parkwhootherwisewouldnotbeabletowaitinline.However,Loweydreamsofatimewhen ThePubliccanprovidetransportationfortheirshows,bothdowntownandinthepark.Hefeels thatthiswouldreallybringpeopleoutoftheirneighborhoods,whichsomeneverdreamof leaving,andbringthemtoplacestheywouldntnormallyfeelcomfortablein,neighborhoods liketheEastVillageortheUpperWestSide. Finally,thePublicForum,aninitiativechairedbyJeremyMcCarter,isaconversation withartists.PreviouspanelshaveincludedconversationswithTonyKushner,Stephen Sondheim,RachelMaddow,AlecBaldwinandSusanLoriParks.Whileitisticketed,arecent changeisthattheforumsareuploadedtoYouTube.com.Thevideosarereallyimportantfor thecommunitytobeabletoaccessonYouTube,sincetheticketsarentthemostaffordable.

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PUBLICWORKS InApril2013,ThePublicTheaterannouncedtheirnewestinitiative,PublicWorks. Accordingtotheirofficialsite,themaingoaloftheinitiativeistodeliberatelyblurtheline betweenprofessionalartistsandcommunitymembers:itwillcreatetheaterthatisnotonlyfor thepeople,butbyandofthepeopleaswell.Thedirectoroftheprogram,LeardeBessonet, beganherworkatTheOldGlobeinSanDiegoonacommunitybasedproductionofThe Odyssey.Thatprojectwascenteredontencommunitypartnershipsandstarredthreeunion actorsand200SanDiegans,andservedasahugeinspirationforherworkwithThePublic. deBessonetexplains,TheDNAofPublicWorkshasbeenpartofThePublicfromthebeginning, Ithinkthemandatetofigureouthowtobridgethe,sortof,everwideninggapbetweenmany NewYorkersandtheatreissomethingthatThePublichassetupforitselfanditwantstofinda waytodo.Theinitiative,whichhasbeenbrewingintheinstitutionforsometimenow,has beenintheplanningstagesforayear.deBessonetstatedthatthefirststepswereidentifying whichorganizationstheprogramwantedtopartnerwithandthatthosepartnershipswere crucialincultivatingPublicWorks. Foritsdebut,theprogramistoproduceacommunitybasedproductionofTheTempest, workinginpartnershipwithfivecommunityorganizationsfromaroundthecity.These organizationsareChildrensAidSociety(Manhattan);DreamYard(Bronx);Fortune Society(Queens);BrownsvilleRecreationCenter(Brooklyn);andDomesticWorkersUnited(all boroughs,includingStatenIsland). Inadditiontotheorganizationsparticipationinthe productionofTheTempest,whichwilltakespaceinearlySeptember,ThePublicisworkingwith eachorganizationonworkshopsandclasses.Forexample,artistsareleadingdanceclasseswith

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theBrownsvilleRecreationCenter,achorusfortheChildrensAidSociety,andShakespeare withDreamYard.deBessonetmentionsthateachpartnershipistailormade,basedonthat companysneedsandmembers.TheDNAofPublicWorkshasbeenpartofThePublicfromthe beginning,Ithinkthemandatetofigureouthowtobridgethe,sortof,everwideninggap betweenmanyNewYorkersandtheatreissomethingthatThePublichassetupforitselfandit wantstofindawaytodo.However,whyistheprogramspecial?Therearemanyprograms aroundthecitythatbringtheartstounderservedareas.Butnooneisdoingitquitelikethis, withinapowerfulandlargeorganization.deBessonetexpresses,WhatisdifferentaboutPublic Worksisthatalotprogramsaroundthecityhavestuffforyouth,butthereisnothingfor anyoneolderweretryingtocreateatrulyparticipatoryeventswherepeoplewhousuallydo notfeelincludedintheartsfeelthisfullsenseofbeingtotallyathomeandwelcome.While deBessonetunderstandsthatthisisahardgoaltomeasure,sherealizesthatthisiscrucialfor theprogram.Shealsospeaksaboutadesiretosupporttheworkthatotherorganizationsare alreadydoing,whethercommunitybuildingorhelpingmembersrebuildtheirlivesafter incarceration. PublicWorksistrulyarevolutionaryprogramhappeningatThePublic.Thisinitiativeis, essentially,ThePublicsgrassrootstheatre.PublicWorksisanongoingprogramandwhile thereisonemainstageshowayear,thepartnershipsareongoing,anddeBessonetisfocused onlongtermratherthanprojectbased)work.PublicWorksisagrassrootstheatrestructure withinamainstreaminstitution. AUDIENCES

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Whilethetheatresaudienceshavedefinitelygrownandchanged,theconsensusis

thatThePublicsaudiencesareincrediblydiverse,especiallyincomparisontoanyother theatricalinstitution.InthedocumentaryJoePappin5Acts,rarefootagefromthefirst productionpresentedatTheDelacorterevealsanextraordinarydiversityintermsofage,race, andclassintheaudience.Onespecific,powerfulimageisthatofasmallAfricanAmericanboy enthralledbyJamesEarlJonessperformanceinTheMerchantofVenice.Thisimagesoclearly demonstratesthepowerandimportanceofthegroundbreakingworkthatbeganatThe Delacortein1962.Obviously,todaythetheaterneedstodrawinacertaincaliberofaudiences tomaintainitsfundingandclout.Feldmannotes: ThePublicholdsauniquepositionasatheatrethatoccupiesthemiddle groundbetween,forinstance,LaMaMaandBroadway.It(hopefully)appealsto multiplekindsoftheatergoersinthatwayandsometimesfunctionstobridgethe gapbetweentwotypesoftheatreartthatareseenasvastlydifferent.AndI thinkthatisawonderfulthing.ButIdoalsonoticethatouraudienceismore diverseandmoreareflectionofthecitywhenthewritersandactorsaremore diverse,andIwishwecoulddoabetterjobofgettingallpeopleinthedoorfor allprojects.IdoalsothinkthattheShakespeareintheParkaudiencehas changedasthoseshowshavebecomeahotticketandhavebecomeharderto getintoforthosewhoitwasfirstaimedatpeoplewhodon'totherwisehave opportunitiestoseeShakespeareactedbywonderfulactorsanddirectedby wonderfuldirectors.

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ShakespeareintheParkdefinitelyprovidesauniqueopportunitythatcouldnotbereplicated byanyothergroup. UNDERTHERADAR TheUndertheRadarfestivalworkstobringartistsfromaroundtheworld,whoare otherwiselimitedintheirhomecountries.TheUndertheRadarFestivalhasproducedthe worksofBelarusFreeTheatre,acompanyofartistswhofocusonthecontroversialpolitical turmoilofpresentdayBelarus.Asanextremelypoliticallyturbulentcountry,Belarusdoesnot haveartisticfreedom.WhenBelarusFreeTheatercametotheEastVillagetoperformtheir pieceGenerationJeans,theyreceivedextremebacklashfromBelarussiangovernment.Ina recentNewYorkTimesfeaturearticle,LarryRohterwritesthatthetroupehadtoescape BelarusillegallyduetotheirpersecutionbytheK.G.B.ArtisticDirectorNataliaKolyadasays, Wevehadtoleavethecountryinsmallgroups,andnotinanofficialfashion,letsputitthat way(qtd.inRohter).Sincethen,UndertheRadarproducedthreeoftheirpiecesintotal,in 2011andonein2013.ThePublichasprovidedaforumfortheseartiststhattheydesperately needandcannotgetintheirowncountry.Inaddition,itprovidesanincrediblyunique experiencefortheaudiencesatThePublictolearnfirsthandaboutanextremelyoppressed groupofartistsandwhattheyareexperiencingintheirpoliticallytumultuousnation.ThePublic fullysupportsBelarusFreeTheatreanditsartists,somuchsoastotakeittothestreets.Eustis himselftookpartinaprotestforthefreedomofthosewhowerearrestedduetotheirart.Ata rallythattookplaceonJanuary19,2011,Eustissaidtothecrowd,Weareherebecausethisis oneoftheveryrareoccasionswhenatheatrecompanyisthemostprominentspokesperson

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fortheirpeople.TheFreeTheatreofBelarusarenotonlybrilliantartiststheyhave courageouslytakenononeofthesacredandraretasksthatthetheatregetstotakeon;to speakforthosewhocantspeak,todrawattentiontothosewhoneedattentiondrawntotheir plight.WerehereinsolidaritywiththeFreeTheaterofBelarusandweareincrediblyproudto beinsolidaritywiththem(Christopherson3:1547). SUCCESSVS.ACCESS ItisimportanttorecognizethatwhileThePublicisdefinitelyauniquecasestudyamong theatrecompaniesinNewYorkCity,itisnotunflawed.Thereisnoabsolutelyaccuratewayto measureitssuccessinprovidingaccessibilitytothecommunity,andthereisalwaysroomfor improvement.Loweysuggestsonestepwouldbetophysicallybringingaudiencestothe theatreforfree,actuallyprovidingtransportationtoandfromtheirhomes.Anotherwayin whichThePubliccanworkoncultivatingitsaudiencesisthroughadigitalmarketingcampaign. WhileThePublicisindeedactiveonsocialmedia,withover20,000followersonTwitterand 20,000Facebookfans,theydonothavealargesocialfollowing(comparedtootherarts organizations)orofferinteractivewaystoconnectwiththeiraudience.Inaddition,their websiteisveryoutdatedandnoteasytounderstandandnavigate.Overall,whileThePublic has,arguably,themostsuccessfulnonprofitcampaignincultivatingacommunityofdiverse audiencesandartists,thereisroomforimprovement.

CONCLUSION Unfortunately,ThePublicisanexceptioninthetheatricalcommunityinNewYork,in

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termsofcreatinggrassrootstypework.Noothercompany'sworkcanrivalthecontributions thatThePublicmakestothecommunityofNewYork.ThisismainlyduetoShakespeareinthe ParkandthediversesettingofNewYork.Althoughgrassrootstheatrecompaniesareeffective atengagingandfosteringcommunityamongaudiencesandartists,ThePublicdemonstrates thatlargeinstitutionsarecapableofdoingthesame,andcanreachanevenwideraudience. ThestructureatThePublicfacilitatesthetypeofworkthatgrassrootscompaniesareaimingto do,butonalargerscale.Thesecompaniesarecounteractingthelargeinstitutionsthatonly catertoprivilegedaudiences.Whiletheydothat,theirvoiceisnotloudenoughandtherefore oftentheirworkdoesnotreachthemasses.However,themainstreamtheatrestructurestill hasalongwaytogotofosterandserveadiversegroupofaudiencesandartists. 34

WorksCited Boal,Augusto.TheatreoftheOppressed.NewYork:TheatreCommunicationsGroup,1985. Print. Christopherson,Jody.OskarEustisandTonyKushnerspeakonbehalfofBelarusFreeTheatre. Onlinevideoclip.YouTube.11Jan.2011.Web.20Feb.2013. Brantley,Ben."Mother,Courage,GriefandSong."TheNewYorkTimes.22Aug.2006.15Dec. 2012<http://theater.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/theater/reviews/22moth.html>. CohenCruz,Jan.LocalActs:CommunitybasedPerformanceintheUnitedStates.New Brunswick,NJ:RutgersUP,2005.Print. CohenCruz,Jan."TheEcologyofTheaterInCommunity:AFieldTheory." Introduction.Performingcommunities:Grassrootsensembletheatersdeeplyrootedin eightU.S.communities.Ed.RobertH.Leonard,AnnKilkelly,andLindaFrye.Burnham. Oakland,CA:NewVillageP,2006.324. "CornerstoneTheaterCompany."CornerstoneTheaterCompany.Web.01Apr.2013. deBessonet,Lear.DirectorofPublicWorks,ThePublicTheater.Personalinterview.11Apr. 2013. Epstein,Helen.JoePapp:AnAmericanLife.Boston:Little,Brown,1994.Print. Feldman,Rebecca.CastingAssistant,ThePublicTheater.Personalinterview.15Dec.2012.

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Burnham,LindaFrye."CommunityBuilding:AnUndiscoveredArtsMainstream."2002 ConferenceProceedings(2002):19.Print. Eustis,Oskar."OskarEustisSeizestheMoment."InterviewbyAlexis Soloski.Http://www.tcg.org/.N.p.,Dec.2012.Web.Jan.2013. <http://www.tcg.org/publications/at/issue/featuredstory.cfm?story=1&indexID=2>. GarcaGmez,Pablo."TeatroPregonesMarks30YearswithNewMusical,'AlohaBoricua'"NY DailyNews.MortimerZuckerman,3Nov.2009.Web.26Apr.2013. JoePapp:InFiveActs.Dir.TracieHolderandKarenThorsen.2012.Film. Kuftinec,Sonja.StagingAmerica:CornerstoneandCommunitybasedTheater.Carbondale: SouthernIllinoisUP,2003.Print. Kushner,Tony,andAnnieLeibovitz."SplendorinThePark."VanityFair.4July2012:10001. Leonard,RobertH.,AnnKilkelly,andLindaFrye.Burnham,eds.PerformingCommunities: GrassrootsEnsembleTheatersDeeplyRootedinEightU.S.Communities.Oakland,CA: NewVillage,2006.Print. Lowey,David.AssistantDirectorofCapitalProjects,ThePublicTheater.PersonalInterview.17 Dec.2012. Raden,Bill."ANewPlayAbout...LAUSDSchoolLunch?"PublicSpectacle.BethSestanovich,27 Mar.2013.Web.25Apr.2013. Rohter,Larry."EscapedFromBelarus,ActorsRaiseVoices."NewYorkTimes.5Jan.2011:C1. Print. Teague,Victoria.Marketing.ThePublicTheater.PersonalInterview.17Dec.2012.

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"ThePublicTheater."PublicTheater.16Dec.2012 <http://www.publictheater.org/content/blogcategory/17/138/>. Turan,Kenneth,andJosephPapp.FreeForAll:JoePapp,ThePublic,andTheGreatestTheater StoryEverTold.NewYork:Doubleday,2009.Print.

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