In this first year, we’ve joined with five organizations that embody the most innovative approaches to community building. Together we are shaping a vision of how theater can transform a community and enrich the civic life of our city.
The five community partner organizations are Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn); Children’s Aid Society (Manhattan); Domestic Workers United (all boroughs, including Staten Island); DreamYard (Bronx); and Fortune Society (Queens). Read about these incredible organizations below.
BROWNSVILLE RECREATION CENTER (Brooklyn) is a branch of the New York City Parks Department. With extensive resources for youth and seniors, the center offers a vibrant space to tap into pursuits artistic and athletic alike. Since 1910, the Department of Parks & Recreation has provided the most affordable and extensive network of recreational services throughout New York City. Our recreation centers offer facilities such as indoor pools, weight rooms, basketball courts, and dance studios, art studios, game rooms, and libraries. The Brownsville Recreation Center received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tour of Richard III in the summer of 2012, and as part of Public Works, senior citizens have been participating in a weekly dance class led by an artist from The Public. In the spring, they performed a dance recital, sharing work from their dance class with Chanon Judson, and the seniors will perform a dance in THE TEMPEST at the Delacorte.
THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY (Manhattan) helps children to succeed and thrive by providing comprehensive support and critical services to children and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods. CAS serves New York’s neediest children and their families at more than 45 locations in the five boroughs and Westchester County. The Children’s Aid Society Chorus program engages youth from across New York City. The CAS Chorus has performed at Radio City Music Hall, Joe’s Pub, and Madison Square Garden. As part of Public Works, the Children’s Aid Society Chorus (a group of 16 teenage girls led by CAS Staff Member Kelly Campbell) attends a show at Joe’s Pub every month. In December 2012, they were invited by Sasha Allen to perform with her at her Joe’s Pub concert. The group also attended a special one-act matinee of Into the Woods in August 2012, with preparatory workshops beforehand created by The Public Theater staff. This spring, the teenage girls participated in a workshop with THE TEMPEST’s composer Todd Almond, who wrote a special song for them for the production.
DOMESTIC WORKERS UNITED (all boroughs, including Staten Island) is a city-wide organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York, organizing for power, respect, and fair labor standards, and to help build a movement to end exploitation and oppression for all. Domestic Workers United was founded in 2000 and is open to any domestic worker who is committed to our mission and goals to organize for power, respect, fair labor standards, and to build a movement for social change. As part of Public Works, members participate in a monthly reading group where 12 women read and discuss classic plays in both English and Spanish. Members also attend performances at The Public on a monthly basis.
DREAMYARD (Bronx) provides transformative arts education for Bronx youth through school-based and out-of-school programs. By committing to sustained learning opportunities along an educational pathway, DreamYard supports young people as they work toward higher learning, meaningful careers and social action. We believe that young people in the Bronx need a continuous set of supports to help them towards positive outcomes as they navigate their educational pathway. Dreamyard’s Out of School Programs were recognized by President Obama with a 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for after school arts programs. As part of Public Works, 20 DreamYard youth are participating in Shakespeare workshops led by artists from The Public’s Shakespeare Lab. In partnership with The Public Theater’s Public Forum, students from DreamYard participated in a writing workshop to create their own sonnets. The group also attends performances in The Public’s season.
FORTUNE SOCIETY (Queens) is a nonprofit social service and advocacy organization, founded in 1967, whose mission is to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarceration thus strengthening the fabric of their communities. Drawing upon the life experience of Fortune’s formerly incarcerated staff and clients, they offer a holistic, “one-stop” model which includes: alternatives to incarceration, counseling, career development, education, housing services, HIV/AIDS-case management, substance abuse treatment, family services, and lifetime aftercare, among other services. In the summer of 2012, The Fortune Society received the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tour of Richard III. As part of Public Works, members participate in a full year of immersive theater workshops in which they take bi-weekly classes in playwriting, acting, and production. Building on the interest generated by the performance, Lear deBessonet led a 12-week acting workshop in the fall, focusing on the work of playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. Guirgis attended the final presentation of the class and led a talk back with participants. Public Theater production manager Elizabeth Moreau also conducted a workshop at The Fortune Society on “Jobs in the Theater” and The Public Theater presented a reading of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size to launch the winter acting classes, which continued up until THE TEMPEST production work began.