Where Have All the Joe Papp’s Gone?

August 30, 2012

“I’m not interested in producing plays. I’m interested in the theater.”

– When the musical HAIR came across his desk it was just notebook paper with scribbles.

– A CHORUS LINE was just a few taped interviews with nothing written.

– Liz Swados was supposed to create a musical about ALICE IN WONDERLAND and at their first meeting she said I’d rather follow around all the teen runaways in NY and cast those kids in a play at your theater.

– When NETWORK tv hired him to present Shakespeare on Television he responded by putting David Rabe’s anti-war STICKS AND BONES on air because he thought it was too important.

Where are our Joe Papp’s? Who are interested in theater and not product? Who will risk and believe? It’s a challenge isn’t it? Because we know what he stood for and did with the Public Theater was right, it was game changing- FREE SHAKESPEARE in Central Park? Political theater and Shakespeare on Broadway? Anti-War plays at the Vivian Beaumont?

We should all aspire to be more like this. Producers, actors, designers, playwrights… we’ve Hollywood-ified our art. Workshop and development, pipelines to green lights. This is something I can get behind.



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