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Community ensemble members in "The Tempest" at the Public Theater in 2013, directed by Lear deBessonet (photo by Joan Marcus)

Public Theater to Stage Public Works Production of ‘Twelfth Night’

The popular community engagement program goes national in partnerships with Seattle Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, and Mosaic Youth Theatre.

NEW YORK CITY: The Public Theater has announced the community partners and the programming for Public Works 2016, the third iteration of its engagement initiative. The production will be Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, with music by Shaina Taub, and will feature NYC community members as creators and performers in the work.

“The Public Works program has been a brilliant success here in New York, modeling what can happen when a theatre sets out to radically expand its relationship to the city which it serves,” said Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement.

Twelfth Night will be staged for free in September 2016. The community partners will be Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education (Bronx), Military Resilience Project (all boroughs), and Center for Family Life in Sunset Park (Brooklyn), who join Public Works partners Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn), DreamYard Project (Bronx), and The Fortune Society (Queens), in addition to alumni partners Domestic Workers United (all boroughs, including Staten Island) and Children’s Aid Society (Manhattan). Additional partners will be announced at a later date.

In addition, the Public has partnered with three theatres around the country to create similar community-based productions. The theaters are Dallas Theater Center, in collaboration with SMU Meadows School of the Arts; Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.

“Sparking dynamic conversations in our community through the art of theater is DTC’s primary goal,” said Dallas Theater Center artistic director Kevin Moriarty in a statement. “We now have the opportunity to more fully engage in direct dialogue with an even broader spectrum of citizens throughout this great city, culminating in the powerful and joyful act of creating theatre together. This will radically deepen DTC’s level of authentic engagement within our entire community, and it will change Dallas forever.”

The previous Public Works productions were helmed by Lear deBessonet (director of Public Works at the Public), with music by Todd Almond. The productions—The OdysseyThe Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest—are licensed and can be produced nationwide via Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

“We have had a tremendous first three years with Public Works, and its ripple effects are beyond my wildest imaginings,” said deBessonet in a statement.  “As the Public Works model takes root across the country and as we expand and deepen our partnerships here in New York, the next three years promise to be full of new joy and discovery. Everyone is invited to this party.”

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