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The Public Shakespeare Initiative

The Public Theater is delighted to announce that it will be joining forces with The Shakespeare Society to form its new PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE INITIATIVE, under the leadership of long-time Shakespeare Society Artistic Director, Michael Sexton.

The Public Theater and The Shakespeare Society have long pursued the same vision independently; now we come together with the shared, and passionately-held belief that Shakespeare is for everyone. For 20 years, The Shakespeare Society has realized this conviction through dynamic programs designed to enhance its audience’s understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works. At The Public, its programs will find a new home, and the PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE INITIATIVE will produce and present events and programs as multidimensional as the community of Shakespeare-lovers it serves.

Its larger PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS series blends incisive commentary by scholars and other thinkers with compelling live performances by artists of all disciplines that, in combination, illuminate pressing questions and fascinating themes in Shakespeare’s plays.

Its more intimate and interactive PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE TALKS gives audiences unique insight into the artistic and intellectual processes of leading Shakespeare practitioners working in the theater, the humanities, and education.

Its ARTIST DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS cultivate some of the most visionary artistic minds working on Shakespeare today.  Past artists have included Martha Clark, Elizabeth Marvel, John Douglas Thompson, Bill Camp, Chukwudi Iwuji, and Jay O. Sanders, just to name a few.

And proudly, its EDUCATION PROGRAMS – in particular, the Hunts Point Children’s Shakespeare Ensemble, provided to children from the South Bronx in partnership with The Hunts Point Alliance for Children for a decade – offer hundreds of young people the opportunity to develop their confidence, knowledge, and creativity through the transformative experience of bringing Shakespeare’s words to life onstage.

With the PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE INITIATIVE, The Public Theater and The Shakespeare Society are committed to serving and growing our shared community – reaching out in every direction to include more students, teachers, artists, scholars, audience members and others – to celebrate together the astonishing depth and breadth of humanity that Shakespeare captures with such beauty and enduring power in his plays and poetry.  We hope you will join us.

Support for the merging of The Shakespeare Society and Public Theater provided by the New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund. 

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And Justice For All
Joe, Will & The Naked Hamlet
Eyeless Rage: Anger in King Lear
To Imagine An Antony: Shakespeares Infinite Fancy

Public Shakespeare Presents

Each season, PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS offers evenings of performance and commentary that illuminate aspects of Shakespeare’s works for audiences with guidance from knowledgeable thinkers and gifted performers. The insights of scholars, writers, critics, and directors are interwoven with performances by actors, singers, and dancers of selections from Shakespeare’s plays, poetry, songs, and adaptations of his works. Evenings have included programs of music, dance and opera in collaboration with major cultural institutions like American Ballet Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera. 

Other program partners have included fellow humanities, cultural, artistic, and educational organizations, such as The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center Theater’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Poets House, The Players Foundation for Theatre Education, The Folger Shakespeare Library, The English Speaking Union, New York Review of Books, Globe Education, and the Shakespeare Institute; as well as theaters - large and small - including Red Bull Theater, Theater for a New Audience, Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Fiasco Theater Company, New York Theater Workshop, Classic Stage Company, Westport County Playhouse, Pearl Theater Company, BAM, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Public Shakespeare Talks

Intimate evenings of good conversation and high spirits, where you’ll get a chance to interact with actors, directors, scholars – and each other. Past guests have included director and critic Robert Brustein, scholars James Shapiro and Harold Bloom, producer Jeffrey Horowitz, directors Martha Clarke, Michael Kahn and Sam Gold, and actors Elizabeth Marvel, Kate Forbes, Richard Easton and John Douglas Thompson.

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Artist Development

Artist Development

Public Shakespeare Works

The Public Shakespeare Initiative will build on The Shakespeare Society’s history of cultivating artists through its PUBLIC SHAKESPEARE WORKS program. The cornerstone of Public Shakespeare Works is a series of weeklong Artistic Residencies. Public Shakespeare Works will provide participating actors and directors with modest stipends, study materials, rehearsal space and access to academic experts, voice and text coaches and artistic advisors. Participants will spend a week (roughly 25-30 hours of studio time) delving deeply into a particular Shakespeare play. Although some Residencies will serve as a prologue to full productions, this program is designed to give participants the time and space to learn, experiment and explore the plays with a unique freedom that other producing companies can rarely provide.

Past participants in Residencies include directors Martha Clarke, Rebecca Taichman, Davis McCallum, Tom Ridgely, Gregg Mozgala and Sam Gold; actors Michael Cumpsty, Elizabeth Marvel, John Douglas Thomson, Bill Camp, Arian Moayed, Seth Numrich, Gabriel Ebert, Jacob Fishel, Ismenia Mendes, Andre Holland and Michael Stuhlbarg; artistic advisors Jay O. Sanders, Doug Hughes, Michael Greif, Michael Kahn, Richard Easton, Barry Edelstein and Ron Daniels; scholars James Shapiro, Karen Newman, Ruth Carpenter and James Bednarz; and voice and text advisors Deborah Hecht, Elizabeth Smith and Kristin Linklater.

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​The Hunt's Point Children Shakespeare Ensemble

Now entering its eleventh year, the HUNTS POINT CHILDREN’S SHAKESPEARE ENSEMBLE is the product of an extraordinary collaborative effort between the Public Shakespeare Initiative and our community partner, the Hunts Point Alliance for Children. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from local schools in Hunts Point spend an entire academic year learning about, rehearsing, and ultimately performing a Shakespeare play. In May, the Ensemble's teamwork, creativity, and commitment come together in a full production, complete with professionally designed sets, lights, costumes, props, a chorus, and live musicians.

Ensemble members work with the original text, learning to read, understand, speak, and memorize a Shakespeare play. The experience of working with Shakespeare also helps students develop broader and more complex intellectual, social, and emotional capacities, while strengthening practical skills such as speaking, listening, taking responsibility, teamwork, and generosity that will serve them throughout their lives.

In 2017-18, the Ensemble will work on Shakespeare's popular pastoral comedy, As You Like It. Previous productions have included The Tempest, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, The Hamlet Project, and Twelfth Night.

Click here for more videos of the Hunt's Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble.

Teaching Teachers

TEACHING TEACHERS is an annual series of professional development workshops for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers across New York City that trains them in dynamic, performance-based approaches to Shakespeare's works.

Teacher training programs rarely include courses about teaching Shakespeare, yet many English teachers are required to teach Shakespeare throughout their careers. As a result, teachers often rely on traditional methods that treat the plays solely as literature, and require students to read and analyze at their desks.

Participating in Teaching Teachers workshops gives teachers the confidence and the knowledge to break out of this mold, and instead enable their students’ to experience the dazzling beauty and raw humanity of Shakespeare’s language through live performance.

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