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New Yorkers take stage at ‘Shakespeare’ in park

  • COURTESY JOAN MARCUS VIA NYT

    Nikki M. James, left, and other cast members in the Public Works version of “Twelfth Night” at the Delacorte Theater in 2016.

This summer, the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park will be both for the people of New York and by the people of New York.

From July 17 to Aug. 19, two rotating ensembles of New Yorkers from all five boroughs will appear alongside five equity actors at the Delacorte Theater in a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Taub.

This will be the first time the theater has included a production from its participatory theater program, Public Works, in its regular summer program.

“This summer, we are making a huge leap forward by presenting a full-length run of a Public Works show,” said Oskar Eustis, the Public Theater’s artistic director, in a statement. “Surrounded by a huge ensemble of community members, ‘Twelfth Night’ will reach an enormously expanded audience with the deep Public Works message that everyone is an artist, and we are all in this together.”

Public Works was founded in 2013 to encourage New York City residents to get involved in the theater. Participants take classes, attend performances, take part in workshops and contribute to a theatrical production.

In 2016, Taub and Kwei-Armah’s “Twelfth Night” adaptation ran at the Delacorte Theatre over Labor Day weekend; this summer’s production will be a re-imagined and updated version. Eustis will join Kwei-Armah to share directing duties, and four actors from the original production will reprise their roles.

The free Shakespeare in the Park season will start in May with “Othello,” directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson. It is slated to run from May 29 to June 24.

Shakespeare in the Park has offered free productions of Shakespeare’s plays in Central Park at the Delacorte Theater since 1962. Tickets are available, two per person, on the day of the show at the Delacorte. Tickets will also be available by lottery on the TodayTix app and at the Public Theater.

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