PUBLIC WORKS is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences and the community, using The Public as a hub for activities in all five boroughs. In its inaugural year, PUBLIC WORKS‘ marquee public event is a free original musical adaptation of THE TEMPEST, inspired by a 1916 community theatrical event—Percy MacKaye’s Caliban by the Yellow Sands, which had over 1500 New Yorkers playing parts.

PUBLIC WORKS exemplifies The Public’s mission to reach all corners of the city and increase access to a broad audience. The initiative brings its community partners from all five boroughs into the full life of The Public through workshops, classes, dialogues, invitations to shows at The Public, visits from the Mobile Shakespeare Unit and the creation of projects that include dance, music, sonnets, plays and participatory theater.

Community engagement is at the core of The Public’s mission. It is animated by the idea that theater is a place of possibility, where the boundaries that separate us from each other in the rest of life can fall away. PUBLIC WORKS joins The Public in seeking to create yet more spaces where we can not only reflect on the world as is, but where we can actually propose new possibilities for what our society might be.

PUBLIC WORKS Director Lear deBessonet has created other large-scale theatrical events across the country to great acclaim, most recently a community-cast Don Quixote in Philadelphia and The Odyssey in San Diego. THE TEMPEST was created in collaboration with composer/adapter Todd Almond (who also plays Ariel), and choreography is by Chase Brock.

This program is made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation.