The Public Theater 2013 Gala with a performance of The Pirates of Penzance
New York, NY
Delacorte Theater in Central Park
Central Park West and west 81st street
The Public Theater
The only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary, and experimental pieces in equal measure, The Public serves as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force in leading and framing dialogue on important issues of our day. These core democratic values, set in place by its visionary founder, Joseph Papp, inform all aspects of The Public’s activities.
Conceived nearly 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters, The Public has served as a model, both in terms of mission and programming, for nonprofit theaters that have blossomed throughout the country since that time. The Public engages one of the largest and most diverse audiences in New York City in a variety of venues—including the Delacorte Theater; its landmark downtown home, which houses five theaters and Joe’s Pub; and the Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City’s five boroughs.
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, the Company’s first permanent home, which marked its 50th anniversary of performances in 2012, has welcomed more than 5 million people to free performances since 1962. Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater’s precursor, produced Shakespeare free of charge at various venues—including churches, parks, and the Company’s mobile theater unit—beginning in 1954.
In 1967, Papp established the Company’s downtown home on Lafayette Street in the former Astor Library with the world premiere of the musical Hair. In October 2012, The Public completed a revitalization of the landmark building, dramatically opening it up to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for audiences, artists, and the public.