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Joe Papp: An American Life
     

Joe Papp: An American Life

by Helen Epstein
 

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This eBook edition of Joe Papp: An American Life includes 116 photographs and theater posters by Paul Davis (www.okdavis.com).

Joseph Papp (1921-1991) theater producer, champion of human rights and of the First Amendment, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival and Public Theater, changed the American cultural landscape. Born Yussel Papirofsky in

Overview

This eBook edition of Joe Papp: An American Life includes 116 photographs and theater posters by Paul Davis (www.okdavis.com).

Joseph Papp (1921-1991) theater producer, champion of human rights and of the First Amendment, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival and Public Theater, changed the American cultural landscape. Born Yussel Papirofsky in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he discovered Shakespeare in public school and first produced a show on an aircraft carrier during World War II. After a stint at the Actors’ Lab in Hollywood, he moved to New York, where he worked as a CBS stage manager during the golden age of television. He fought Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (as well as Mayors Wagner, Lindsay, Beame and Koch) winning first the right to stage free Shakespeare in New York’s Central Park, then municipal funding to keep it going. He built the Delacorte Theater and later rebuilt the former Astor Library on Lafayette Street, transforming it into the Public Theater.

In addition to helping create an “American” style of Shakespeare, Papp pioneered colorblind casting and theater as a not-for-profit institution. He showcased playwrights David Rabe, Elizabeth Swados, Ntozake Shange, David Hare, Wallace Shawn, John Guare, and Vaclav Havel; directors Michael Bennett, Wilford Leach and James Lapine; actors Al Pacino, Colleen Dewhurst, George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Sam Waterston, and Denzel Washington; and produced Hair, Sticks and Bones, for colored girls, The Normal Heart, and A Chorus Line, the longest running musical in Broadway history.

“This first biography of the late Joseph Papp will be a hard act to follow,” wrote Booklist. The front-page New York Times Sunday Book Review noted, “The portrait that emerges might have been jointly painted by Goya, Whistler and Francis Bacon.” Playwright Tony Kushner called Papp “one of the very few heroes this tawdry, timid business has produced” and the book, a “nourishing and juicy biography.”

Oklahoma-born Paul Davis created 51 iconic posters for Joseph Papp, starting in 1975 with the New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Hamlet” starring Sam Waterston. “It was inspiring to work with Joe,” says Davis. ”We would discuss what he wanted to achieve in a production, and he trusted me to find a way to express it. And he respected the poster as its own dramatic form.” The artist’s work has been exhibited in the U.S., Europe and Japan. He is a recipient of a special Drama Desk award created for his theater art. Davis was elected to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940012043559
Publisher:
Plunkett Lake Press
Publication date:
01/02/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
532
Sales rank:
493,520
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Helen Epstein is the author of six books of literary non-fiction including the two memoirs Children of the Holocaust and Where She Came From: A Daughter's Search for her Mother's History and the biography Joe Papp: An American Life. All three books were named New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

Her other works are Music Talks: The Lives of Classical Musicians; Tina Packer Builds a Theater; Meyer Schapiro: Portrait of an Art Historian; Memoir: How I Read, Write and Use It; The Shakespeare & Company Actor Training Experience; Ice Cream Man: 25 Years at Toscanini's in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and her translation of Heda Kovaly's classic memoir Under A Cruel Star. Her book on memoir, Ecrire La Vie, was published in 2009 by La Cause des Livres (Paris).

Born in Prague in 1947, Helen grew up in New York City, where she graduated from Hunter College High School in 1965. She became a journalist after the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia of 1968 when her personal account was published in the Jerusalem Post. In 1971, Helen graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and began freelancing for diverse publications including the New York Times where her first Magazine cover story on freelance musician Ed Birdwell ran in 1974. Her profiles of legendary musicians such as Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Bernstein and Yo-Yo Ma are collected in Music Talks. She began teaching journalism at New York University in 1974 and became the first woman in the journalism department to be awarded tenure. In 1986, she left NYU to move to the Boston area. She has an active speaking career and has lectured at a wide variety of venues including universities in Europe, North and South America; health organizations; high schools; synagogues, libraries and churches; the United States Military Academy at West Point; the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

The mother of two grown sons, Helen shuttles between the Berkshires and the Boston area with her husband and blogs about the arts for www.theartsfuse.com

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