The Public Theater Mobile Unit brings free ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ program to Queens this month

Photo taken by Joan Marcus

Continuing its commitment to bringing free Shakespeare to the community and strengthening audience engagement through the arts, The Public Theater is bringing Shakespeare to Queens.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public Theater will mount its Mobile Unit again this spring with a free three-week tour of the five boroughs of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” directed by community artist Laurie Woolery.

Photos taken by Joan Marcus

Tour dates in Queens include the Queensboro Correctional Facility at 47-04 Van Dam St. in Long Island City on April 12 and the Roy Wilkins Recreation Center at 177-01 Baisley Blvd on April 15.

Now in its ninth year, the Mobile Unit’s free tor 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.

“Since I arrived at The Public, I have dreamed of working on the Mobile Unit. As Director of Public Works, the uniting of these two iconic programs just feels right,” said Woolery. “Community is at the heart of everything I do so I asked myself, ‘What do we as a society need to hear right now?’ With fear and injustice surrounding us on a daily basis, how do we not drown in our own rage? Prospero asks this question, so it felt right to explore this play through a female lens. My hope is that together we will all find a way to heal and move forward.”

In Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” the character Prospero, a powerful magician and the rightful Duke of Milan, has been usurped by her brother and has escaped to a remote and barren island. There, despite the unforgiving landscape, she has tried her best to make a home for her daughter, Miranda. When Prospero conjures a powerful storm to sink her brother’s ship, she must decide how to deal with him and his confederates, who have washed ashore. How will she exact her long-awaited revenge? How do you satiate a desire for justice?

The complete cast of The Tempest features Jasai Chase Owens (Ferdinand), Dan Domingues (Antonio), Danaya Esperanza (Ariel), Christopher Ryan Grant (Caliban), Sam Morales (Miranda), Nancy Rodriguez (Gonzalo), Reza Salazar (Sebastian), Myra Lucretia Taylor (Prospero), and JD Webster (Alonso).

The Public—a theater of, by, and for all people—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 belongs to everyone.

The Mobile Unit celebrated its 61st anniversary of its inaugural mobile tour in 1957 which began with a production of Romeo and Juliet, which received support from New York City authorities.

Following the Mobile Unit tour of the five boroughs, The Tempest will run at The Public Theater from Monday, April 29 through Sunday, May 19 in the Shiva Theater, with an official press opening on Friday, May 3. For more information visit publictheater.org.

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.


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