NEW YORK — Actor/Singer Mandy Patinkin, Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Papp biographer Helen Epstein will be among the many celebrities and theater industry leaders confirmed for the 100th birthday commemoration of legendary theatre producer Joe Papp on June 22.
Born “Yosl Papirofsky,” Papp will be the subject of Celebrating ‘Yosl’ – Joe Papp at 100, hosted by YI Love Jewish and featuring a full day of events, including virtual and in-person celebrity broadcasts. The schedule will include musical performances, plays, monologues, scenes, lectures and testimonials culminating in the celebrity-studded signature Gala event and Exclusive VIP Reception, celebrating the life of the renowned producer who created “Shakespeare in the Park” and The Public Theater in New York City.
Papp’s vision led him in 1957 to establish free Shakespeare in Central Park. Ten years later, he created The Public Theater in the building that was formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a haven for newly arrived refugees. The building was saved from demolition through Mr. Papp’s efforts after a long negotiation with the City of New York. It became the permanent home of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Joseph Papp Public Theatre (The Public) and is currently designated as a New York City Historical Landmark.
Papp’s widow, Gail Merrifield-Papp, and his daughter Susan Papp-Lippman will both serve as Honorary Chairs of the Centennial commemoration.
At the Public, an innovative model was used for creating a new dynamic way of producing plays in a workshop-style manner that had never been tried before. The concept involved bringing writers, directors, designers and actors together in one place to brainstorm and create the foundations for new and groundbreaking productions.
The most famous Broadway shows to evolve from these workshops include the original productions of “Hair,” “A Chorus Line,” and “Runaways,” among the over 700 shows that Joe Papp produced and developed, as well as modern blockbusters like “Hamilton.” He championed the cause of multi-ethinic casting and socially relevant topics. Papp was a social activist who also helped to develop other off-Broadway experimental theaters, worked to preserve the historic Broadway Theatre District and was considered one of the most philanthropic providers of inner-city access to the arts, believing that “if public libraries were free, public theatre should be free as well. “
Celebrating ‘Yosl’: Joe Papp at 100 will feature live, virtual and pre-recorded performances starting at 11 a.m. and continuing into the evening. In the spirit of Papp’s visionary FREE Shakespeare in the Park, MOST of the day’s events will be free of charge with the exception of an exclusive, celebrity-filled LIVE and VIRTUAL Gala and Reception, starting at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $36 for the Virtual Gala at 7 p.m.; $100 for the Virtual Gala at 7 p.m. and an Exclusive Celebrity Virtual VIP Reception at 9 p.m. (A very limited number of the $100 in-person tickets may be made available due to CDC Guidelines.)
For a full list of events, participants and tickets, go to: www.yilovejewish.org/papp100.