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Shakespeare’s Henry V Comes to The Public Theater


The late Joseph Papp had a dream which was to bring free Shakespeare to the communities. His legacy lives and the commitment, to bring free Shakespearean plays to the community, and to strengthen audience engagement with the arts, via The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit continues and it’s still free.  

The spring the free three-week tour to the five boroughs will present Henry V, directed by Robert O’Hara marking the mobile units eighth year (March 29 – April 21) and will feature original music by Elisheba Ittoop. Making the tour mobile allows the team to literally bring the work to audiences who have limited or no access to the arts by visiting correctional facilities, homeless shelters, social service organizations, and other community venues. Part of The Public’s Astor Anniversary Season at their landmark downtown home on Lafayette Street, celebrating 50 years of new work at 425 Lafayette Street and the 50th Anniversary of HAIR, the three-week engagement at The Public Theater will also be free, running Monday, April 23 through Sunday, May 13 with an official press opening on Friday, April 27.

“The Mobile Unit is fueled by an unwavering belief in the power of a shared storytelling, and a commitment to meeting audiences where they are,” said Director of Special Artistic Projects Stephanie Ybarra. “I’m thrilled to welcome this company of artists to join The Public’s decades-old legacy of creating world-class theater for the city of New York.”

The casting of all the plays produced at the Public Theater is tremendous, and the Henry V cast includes Michael Bradley Cohen (Canterbury/Dauphin), Leland Fowler (Scroop/William-Bates), Patrice Johnson (Montjoy/Messengers), Carolyn Kettig (Katharine/Cambridge), Ariel Shafir (Westmoreland/Constable), David Ryan Smith (Exeter/Governor), Joe Tapper (French King/French Queen), Zenzi Williams (Henry), and Kim Wong (Alice/Grey).

Directed by Robert O’Hara the story is about the warring King and their band of brothers to communities all across New York with the Mobile Unit’s spring production of Henry V. Insulted by the regent of France, Britain’s King Henry V decide to wage war and claim the throne across the Channel.  But Henry’s charm only distracts the soldiers for so long before the dire stakes of their task call into question the King’s true motives and direction. Resonating from across the centuries—wherever there may be a kingdom for a stage, and royalty to act—Shakespeare’s drama about an invasion, ego, and leadership delves into history’s thorniest questions: What makes a person worthy of wearing the crown, and what do they owe the people they lead?

All tour performances are free, and performances at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center; Roy Wilkins Recreation Center; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Brownsville Recreation Center; Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center; St. Paul’s Chapel; Pelham Fritz Recreation Center; and Faber Park Field House, are also open to the general public via RSVP.

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