NEW YORK CITY and LONDON: The Public Theater is going abroad. In partnership with London’s National Theatre, the organization will launch a new program called Public Acts, inspired by the Public’s participatory theatre initiative, Public Works.
“The National Theatre is one of the greatest companies on the planet and we are honored to be working with a theater that shares so many of our values,” said Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. “Under Rufus Norris’s brilliant leadership, the National is breaking new ground in making theatre of, by, and for the people. Together the National and the Public will be able to inspire each other, learn from each other, and work together to build an inclusive culture where theatre belongs to everyone.”
Public Works was launched in 2013 by director Lear DeBessonet. Every year in the summer, the Public brings hundreds of community members together with professional actors to present a classic work. That model has expanded nationwide to Detroit, Dallas, and Seattle. The inaugural Public Acts show in London will be Shakespeare’s Pericles, directed by National Theatre resident director Emily Lim.
“We have admired Oskar and the brilliant projects delivered by the Public in New York for many years, and we have long respected the ambitious works of participatory theatre that Oskar, Lear DeBessonet, and their team brilliantly deliver,” said the National’s Norris in a statement. “The program we are announcing today builds on our combined experience creating award-winning community projects.”
Over the next two years, as part of Public Acts, the National will work with the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, and a number of community organizations across greater London. They will also invite members of London’s diverse communities to take part in regular creative activity and in the creation of theatre productions.