THE PUBLIC THEATER’S MOBILE UNIT TO TOUR THIS FALL WITH A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM DIRECTED BY JENNY KOONS
Free Three-Week Tour Visits Correctional Facilities, Homeless Shelters, Social Service Organizations, Community Centers October 4 – October 26
Free Performances at The Public Continue Tradition of Access to Shakespeare for All October 28 – November 17
Continuing its commitment to bringing free Shakespeare to the community and strengthening audience engagement with the arts, The Public Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, will mount its MOBILE UNIT again this fall with a free three-week tour to the five boroughs of Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, directed by Jenny Koons. Now in its ninth year, the Mobile Unit’s free tour (October 4-26) brings Shakespeare and other works to audiences who have limited or no access to the arts by visiting correctional facilities, homeless shelters, social service organizations, and other community venues. There will also be a three-week engagement of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at The Public Theater running Sunday, October 28 through Saturday, November 17 with an official press opening on Friday, November 2.
The company of The Public’s Mobile Unit production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, directed by Jenny Koons and running at The Public Theater, following a free tour to the five boroughs. Photo Credit: Richard Termine.
The complete cast of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM features Marinda Anderson (Hippolyta/Titania), Leland Fowler (Demetrius/Flute), Christopher Ryan Grant (Bottom), Merritt Janson (Theseus/Oberon), Carolyn Kettig (Hermia/Starveling), Jasai Chase Owens (Lysander/Snug), David Ryan Smith (Egeus/Quince/Fairy), Natalie Woolams-Torres (Puck), and Rosanny Zayas (Helena/Snout).
“Jenny Koons is an amazing, luminous director, and her Midsummer promises to be a groundbreaking theatrical event,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis.
This fall, a classic New York City block party becomes the enchanted setting where fairies work their mischief in Shakespeare’s beloved play A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. Acclaimed director Jenny Koons takes you to the royal wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, where a celebratory play is being rehearsed. But the real drama is unfolding in the concrete jungle of fairy King Oberon. There, four young New Yorkers discover the course of true love runs anything but smooth, as supernatural sprites and the lovable Puck conspire to reveal what fools we mortals be, and draw us all into the collective dream of romance and merriment.
“Welcoming Jenny Koons into the Mobile Unit family feels natural and inevitable — the Mobile has long been a home for artists working at the intersection of art and social justice and Jenny is no exception,” said Director
of Special Artistic Projects Stephanie Ybarra. “She has assembled a magnificent team and they’ve already demonstrated a deep commitment to creating a joy-filled communal experience tailor-made for New Yorkers.”
All tour performances are free, and performances at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center; Pelham Fritz Recreation Center; North Brooklyn YMCA; Brownsville Recreation Center; Queens Public Library, Central Branch; Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center; Island Voice/Canvas Institute; Faber Park Recreation Center; and St. Paul’s Chapel are also open to the general public via RSVP at publictheater.org. To further the mission and reach of THE MOBILE UNIT, tickets for each performance of the limited run at The Public Theater will be given to community organizations that are unable to host a visit from the tour.
Marinda Anderson and David Ryan Smith in The Public’s Mobile Unit production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, directed by Jenny Koons and running at The Public Theater, following a free tour to the five boroughs. Photo Credit: Richard Termine.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM features scenic design by Kimie Nishikawa, costume design by Hahnji Jang and fight direction by Lisa Kopitsky.
In 2018, THE MOBILE UNIT celebrated the 61st anniversary of its inaugural mobile tour in 1957 which began with a production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Joseph Papp with Bryarly Lee and Stephen Joyce in the titular roles. The 1957 Mobile Unit tour received early support from New York City authorities. Stanley Lowell, then deputy mayor, was an early champion for free theater and mobilized city resources and departments to support Papp's production. The first Mobile Unit rolled up to performance venues across the city in borrowed Department of Sanitation vehicles with a wooden folding stage mounted to a truck bed and portable seating risers to accommodate 700 people per venue. The city's Parks Department permitted performances in local parks across all five boroughs. Subsequent productions included Two Gentlemen of Verona, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew, Ti-Jean and His Brothers, Take One Step, Unfinished Women Cry in No Man’s Land While a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage, and Volpone, among many others. This modern reimagining of The Public Theater’s original Mobile Theater is inspired by Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis, MN. In August 2018, THE MOBILE UNIT announced the national expansion of it’s programming with a Midwest Mobile Unit National Tour of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning play Sweat. The tour extends beyond performances with community engagement activities on the issues and conversations most alive in their communities.
Recent MOBILE UNIT productions include Henry V; The Winter’s Tale; Twelfth Night; Hamlet; Romeo & Juliet; The Comedy of Errors; Measure for Measure; Richard III; Much Ado About Nothing; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; and Macbeth. This program reinforces The Public’s commitment to the ongoing exploration of Shakespeare’s canon, along with the Public Shakespeare Initiative; the recent Public Works production of Twelfth Night and As You Like It staged at the Delacorte Theater for free; Free Shakespeare in the Park; and The Public’s other affordable productions at its downtown home at Astor Place.
VOICES FROM THE COMMUNITY ON THE PUBLIC’S MOBILE UNIT
"I do not know if I have ever been so moved by a theatrical work in my life." – Highbridge Recreation Center Audience Member
“I will bring my family to see future plays. I have been coming to these plays for the three years that I was in MDC. My release is Thursday and I would like to continue to watch The Mobile Unit Plays.” – Metropolitan Detention Center Audience Member
“You took an everyday space and made it something more, something special.” – Queens Public Library Audience Member
“I love that you came to my neighborhood! The same room where I vote!” – Pelham Fritz Recreation Center Audience Member
The Mobile Unit is made possible with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Tow Foundation, The McLaughlin Children's Trust, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional support provided by JetBlue Airways, Open Society Foundations, Susan & David Edelstein, The MAE Private Foundation, and The Estée Lauder Companies
Inc. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater’s year-round activities.
TOUR DATES WILL INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING VENUES (October 4-26):
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Manhattan, is a one-of-a-kind organization that empowers community members to lead healthy, successful lives (October 4).
Pelham Fritz Recreation Center, Manhattan, is a NYC Parks and Recreation center located in Harlem (October 5).
North Brooklyn YMCA, Brooklyn, is a community center that in Brooklyn that empowers youth, improves health, and strengthens community. (October 6).
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House/Women’s Mental Health Shelter, Manhattan, provides short-term, safe, and supportive environments to address immediate needs for mentally ill homeless women (October 8).
HELP Bronx Morris Avenue, Bronx, is affordable supportive housing designed to provide housing and appropriate support services to persons who are homeless or who are close to homelessness (October 9).
Brownsville Recreation Center, Brooklyn, a Public Works community partner, is a NYC Parks and Recreation center located in the Brownsville Playground with extensive resources for youth and seniors. The center offers a vibrant space to tap into pursuits artistic and athletic alike (October 10).
Queens Public Library, Central Branch, is located in Jamaica, Queens and also serves as a Public Theater borough distribution center for Free Shakespeare in the Park (October 11).
Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center, Bronx, is a NYC Parks and Recreation center located in the Bronx (October 12).
Island Voice/Canvas Institute, Staten Island, is a grassroots community and youth development organization whose focus is on giving voice to the African immigrant, African-American, Caribbean-American, and immigrant communities (October 13).
Lost Battalion Hall Rec Center, Queens, is NYC Parks and Recreation center located in Queens (October 15).
Queensboro Correctional Facility, Queens, is a minimum security correctional facility in Long Island City (October 16).
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Manhattan, houses one of the world's most extensive collections in its field, available free of charge (October 17).
DreamYard Arts Project, Bronx, a Public Works community partner, uses project-based arts learning to ignite the transformative spirit (October 18).
Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, is a U.S. federal administrative detention facility, which holds male and female prisoners of all security levels (October 19).
Faber Park Recreation Center, Staten Island, is a NYC Parks and Recreation center located in Staten Island (October 20).
Edgecombe Correctional Facility, Manhattan, is a minimum security male parole diversion facility (October 22).
Taconic Correctional Facility, Westchester, is a medium security facility for women in New York (October 23).
Help 1, Brooklyn, provides 191 family units of transitional housing for homeless families. (October 24).
St. Paul’s Chapel, Manhattan, part of Trinity Wall Street, is an Episcopal parish that has been a part of New York City since 1697 (October 25).
Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, is a U.S. federal administrative detention facility, which holds female prisoners of all security levels (October 26).
JENNY KOONS (Director). Her directing projects include Burn All Night at American Repertory Theater; Airness at Humana and the Actors Theatre of Louisville; Theatre for One: In This Moment at Pershing Square Signature Center; a SPKRBOX Festival commission, Instant SPKRBOX, in Norway; Bars and Measures at B Street Theatre; a Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games commission, Gimme Shelter; Theatre for One: I'm Not the Stranger You Think I Am at Arts Brookfield; A Sucker Emcee at the National Black Theatre and LAByrinth Theater Company; Queen of the Night at the Diamond Horseshoe Nightclub; and The Odyssey Project 2012. Koons has developed new work at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Joe’s Pub, Lark Play Development Center, and the Roundabout Theatre Company. She is also a 2017 Lilly Award recipient.
ABOUT THE PUBLIC THEATER:
THE PUBLIC is theater of, by, and for all people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today. Conceived over 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters, The Public has long operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public’s wide breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark home at Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, The Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City’s five boroughs, Public Forum, Under the Radar, Public Studio, Public Works, Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Joe’s Pub. Since premiering HAIR in 1967, The Public continues to create the canon of American Theater and is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Their programs and productions can also be seen regionally across the country and around the world. The Public has received 59 Tony Awards, 170 Obie Awards, 53 Drama Desk Awards, 54 Lortel Awards, 32 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and 6 Pulitzer Prizes. publictheater.org
All tour performances are free and performances at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center; Pelham Fritz Recreation Center; North Brooklyn YMCA; Brownsville Recreation Center; Queens Public Library, Central Branch; Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center, Bronx; Island Voice/Canvas Institute; Faber Park Recreation Center; and St. Paul’s Chapel are also open to the general public via RSVP at publictheater.org. Please check The Public’s website for the most up-to-date performance times.
Following the MOBILE UNIT tour of the five boroughs, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM will run at The Public Theater from Sunday, October 28 through Saturday, November 17 in the Shiva Theater, with an official press opening on Friday, November 2.
Furthering the mission of making great theater accessible to all, tickets to the MOBILE UNIT’s run at The Public are FREE and are available via TodayTix mobile Lottery and in-person distribution downtown at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street at Astor Place. On each public performance date, free tickets will be distributed in-person beginning 90 minutes prior to curtain, and via mobile lottery on the TodayTix app. Download the TodayTix app to enter or visit publictheater.org for more information.
The performance schedule at The Public will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (There are no 1:00 p.m. performances on Wednesday, October 31 and there are no performances at 1:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 3.)
The Library at The Public is open nightly for food and drink, beginning at 5:30 p.m., and Joe’s Pub at The Public continues to offer some of the best music in the city. For more information, visit www.publictheater.org.
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