17 Facts About Joseph Papp


Joseph Papp established The Public Theater in what had been the Astor Library Building in Lower Manhattan.

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Joseph Papp founded Shakespeare in the Park, helped to develop other off-Broadway theatres and worked to preserve the historic Broadway Theatre District.

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Joseph Papp was the uncle of choreographer turned music video director Diane Martel.

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Joseph Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1954 with the aim of making Shakespeare's works accessible to the public.

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Joseph Papp spent much of his career promoting his idea of free Shakespeare in New York City.

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Joseph Papp rented it, in 1967, reportedly for one dollar per year, from the City.

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At the Public Theater, Joseph Papp's focus moved away from the Shakespeare classics and toward new work.

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Joseph Papp had not kept the rights to produce Hair, and he did not gain from its Broadway transfer.

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Joseph Papp was a Gilbert and Sullivan lover, and in 1980, to commemorate the centenary of The Pirates of Penzance, he mounted a new staging of the opera at the Delacorte.

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Joseph Papp was a pioneer in a commitment to non-traditional casting, using a variety of ethnicities and colors of actors in his new plays and Shakespeare productions.

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The father of a gay son, Tony, Joseph Papp aligned himself with gay and lesbian concerns in at least two specific instances.

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Joseph Papp fostered other theatre throughout New York City, in particular the development of numerous Off Broadway theatres, often contributing funds from successful Broadway transfers, such as A Chorus Line.

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In 1983, Joseph Papp dedicated the newly renovated theatre of The Shakespeare Center with Helen Hayes.

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Joseph Papp's initiative was sparked by the impending demolition in 1982 of the historic Morosco and Helen Hayes theatres, as well as the old Piccadilly Hotel, on West 45th Street.

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Joseph Papp is buried in the Baron Hirsch Cemetery on Staten Island.

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Joseph Papp was survived by his fourth wife, Gail Merrifield Joseph Papp, a partner in the Public Theatre.

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William Finn's 2003 album Elegies: A Song Cycle includes the song "Joe Joseph Papp, " dedicated to Joseph Papp's contributions to New York theatre and personal friendship with Finn.

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