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Posted March 6, 2011
An Absolute Gem
As someone who had the privilege working for the NYSF during this history making time (two summers working the Mobile Theatre), reading this book is like a love letter to this great man. It gives the feeling of "you are there" as ground breaking actors who influenced your life learning were just getting their start. Anyone who has the required passion for theatre in order to survive it is recognized and accounted for here. Joe spoke of the roar of the crowd - and that was the most moving experience of all. The understanding that all the effort was worth it 10 times over. This book is about living the experience all over again and how it fulfills the soul and how Joe Papp's legacy lives on today.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2010
Truly, The Greatest (Theater) Story Ever Told
"Free for ALL, Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told," by Kenneth Turan & Joseph Papp, is my favorite of the hundred or so theater books I've read over the past twenty years. This book is the best primer I've seen on how theater truly is created, and how it truly works, both backstage and in the producer's office.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The theatrical process doesn't always work smoothly or happily, but somehow Papp held his productions together, and the stories of how he did that are wonderful indeed. In fact, my biggest problem in writing this review was that every time I'd pick up the book again to find a quote or check a fact, I'd start rereading the stories I'd read a couple of days before.
I'm not sure I've ever read a book that was entirely composed of quotes, but the format really works, giving immediacy to each event. Often the reader has a Rashomon experience, as two or more people recount the same meeting or moment in entirely different ways. And the deeply personal feelings expressed by those interviewed make for wonderful insights into them, and into Joe Papp.
When producing, Papp wanted his audiences to see and experience parts of American life they might otherwise avoid: the heartlessness of the Vietnam War (Pavlo Hummel; Sticks and Bones); child molesters in prison (Short Eyes); mastectomies (Mert & Phil); street kids (Runaways); the outbreak of AIDS (The Normal Heart); and the basic hypocrisy and blindness of society (Aunt Dan and Lemon).
He was passionate, infuriating, shrewd, relentless, soft-hearted (at times), ruthless (at times), mercurial, unstoppable, idealistic, pragmatic, often impossible, and brilliant. He left an undeniable mark on the face of American theater that, I hope, will not soon fade away.
If you love the theater, you must read "Free For All". I guarantee you won't regret it.
The Greatest Theatre Story May be Just That
Kenneth Turan's oral history of the New York Shakespeare Festival, aka, the Public Theatre, is an extraordinary achievement in current American theatre history. It successfully captures a you-are-there quality as Papp struggles against mighty Goliaths, political and social, in his quest for a free classical theatre for the citizens of NYC. The voices of many of the participants who are no longer among us except in our memories (including Colleen Dewhurst, George C. Scott, J.D. Cannon, and Jason Miller) are indelible and a reminder of their individual importance. For theatre lovers, for audiences who were there then, for new audiences and practioners, for all of us who need reminding that theatre can and does matter, this is an inspiring, moving, and joyful work.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 8, 2011
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Posted April 5, 2011
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