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Free for All: Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Toldby Kenneth Turan
Synopses & Reviews
Free for All is an oral history of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater - an institution that under the leadership of Joseph Papp became the leading source of revolutionary and enduring American theater. To tell this story, Kenneth Turan interviewed some 160 luminaries and weaves their voices into a rich tale of creativity, conflict, and achievement. We see how a dogged, idealistic, tough-as-nails theatrical visionary took a radically democratic vision of first-rate productions of Shakespeare's plays for an urban audience - for free, a policy that brought Joe Papp into an epic conflict with Robert Moses - and not only succeeded but ended up making theatrical history. Here, in all their backstage drama, are the accounts of how many landmark productions came into the world.
At the center of this account of artistic daring and excellence the larger-than-life figure of Joseph Papp reigns supreme: the difficult poverty of his childhood, the youthful radicalism it led to, his huge battles and clashes of wills and temperament, and, most of all, the achievements against long odds - told with candor and often painful honesty.
Free for All is an irresistible behind-the-scenes look at one of America's most beloved and important cultural institutions.
Under the inspired leadershipof founder Joseph Papp, the Public Theater and the New York Shakespeare Festival brought revolutionary performances to the public for decades. This compulsively readable history of those years--much of it told inPapp's own words--is fascinating, ranging from a dramatic early showdown with Robert Moses over keeping Shakespeare in the Park free to the launching of such landmark productions asHair and A Chorus Line. To bring the story to life, film critic Kenneth Turan interviewed some 160 luminaries--including George C. Scott, Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, KevinKline, James Earl Jones, David Rabe, Jerry Stiller, Tommy Lee Jones, and Wallace Shawn--and masterfully weaves their voices into a dizzyingly rich tale of creativity, conflict, andachievement.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
KENNETH TURAN has been a film critic for the Los Angeles Times since 1991 and the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes since 1993. He teaches nonfiction writing and film criticism at the University of Southern California and provides regular reviews for Morning Edition on National Public Radio.
JOSEPH PAPP (1921-1991) was an American theatrical producer and director. Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1954 with the aim of making Shakespeare's works accessible to the public.
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