Joe Papp: An American Life

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Da Capo Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 554 pages
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Joe Papp was an American cultural icon - the son of Jewish immigrants, he became a self-made impresario, an ardent advocate for human rights and a controversial innovator who was one of the most influential figures in American theater. Known for his accomplishments as the founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival, Papp brought free Shakespeare in the Park to New York City, created the nation's most important showcase for new playwrights at the Public Theater and launched such Broadway hits as A Chorus Line and Hair. A defender of the First Amendment and champion of multiculturalism long before the word was coined, Papp combined creative genius with grassroots political activism and left the American cultural landscape changed forever. In 1954, Papp started producing Shakespeare in a church basement in Manhattan and created not only the first free Shakespeare festival in the world, but the most prolific and successful not-for-profit theater in America. In addition to presenting most of Shakespeare, Papp's organization produced such unmistakably American plays as That Championship Season, Sticks and Bones, Streamers, Runaways, for colored girls ..., The Normal Heart and A Chorus Line, the longest-running musical in Broadway history. Papp's Public Theater was responsible for the training of hundreds of actors (Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington), directors (Wilford Leach, Andrei Serban, James Lapine) and playwrights (Ntozake Shange, David Rabe, Tom Babe). In this, the first biography of Joe Papp, Helen Epstein captures the complexity of a man who fought for his principles throughout his life and inspired intense emotions in others - anger and contempt as well as love andadmiration. She offers a compassionate portrait of this impassioned idealist and quintessential American figure.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
A Jewish Boyhood in Brooklyn
19
From Moses to Marx
37
The War and After
54
The Floor Manager Who Loved Shakespeare
72
Becoming Joseph Papp
90
Taking the Fifth
111
Winning the Park
134
A Theater for a Dollar
241
New Arenas
264
Papp and the Press
282
A Hotbed of Creativity
302
The Consequences of A Chorus Line
324
A Strategic Retreat Forward
346
Out of Sync
368
Beyond Theater
390

The Making of the Delacorte
157
The Astor Library
178
From Hamlet to Hair
198
The Private Man
220
Besieged
418
The Last Batdes
444
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Helen Epstein is a cultural journalist for New York, ARTNews, Esquire, and theNew York Times, and author of the groundbreaking Children of the Holocaust.

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