As the nation's foremost theatrical producer of Shakespeare and new work, The Public Theater is dedicated to achieving artistic excellence while developing an American theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays, musicals and innovative stagings of the classics.
Founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, The Public is an American theater in which all the country’s voices, rhythms, and cultures converge. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public is dedicated to embracing the complexities of contemporary society and nurturing both artists and audiences, as it continues Joseph Papp's legacy of creating a place of inclusion and a forum for ideas.
The Public Theater produces new plays, musicals, productions of Shakespeare, and other classics in its headquarters on Lafayette Street (the former Astor library, which opened as The Public Theater in 1967 with the world premiere of the musical Hair) and at the Delacorte Theater, its permanent summertime home of free Shakespeare in the Park each summer. The Public's newest performance space, Joe's Pub, has become an important venue for new work and intimate performances by musicians, spoken-word artists, and solo performers.
In addition to its theatrical programming, The Public trains the next generation of classical performers through the Shakespeare Lab, an annual summer acting intensive. It also presents New Work Now!, a play reading series that has become a nationally recognized showcase for emerging writers and established artists.
The Public Theater’s mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe’s Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park.
The Public Theater's productions have won 42 Tony Awards, 151 Obies, 41 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. Fifty-four Public Theater productions have moved to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls...; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of HAIR; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice.