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Free for All

Free for All Cover

Free for All

Joe Papp, The Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told

By Kenneth Turan; Joseph Papp

Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780767931687, 608pp.

Publication Date: November 3, 2009


Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan takes you behind the scenes at the Public Theater and tells the amazing story of how Joe Papp made American theatrical and cultural history.

Free for All is the irresistible oral history of the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater-two institutions that under the inspired leadership of Joseph Papp have been a premier source of revolutionary and enduring American theater. To tell this fascinating story, Kenneth Turan interviewed some 160 luminaries-including George C. Scott, Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, David Rabe, Jerry Stiller, Tommy Lee Jones, and Wallace Shawn-and masterfully weaves their voices into a dizzyingly rich tale of creativity, conflict, and achievement. And at the center of this incredibly engrossing account of artistic daring and excellence the larger-than-life figure of Joseph Papp reigns supreme.

About the Author
KENNETH TURAN has been a film critic for the "Los Angeles Times" since 1991 and the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes since 1993. He teaches nonfiction writing and film criticism at the University of Southern California and provides regular reviews for "Morning Edition" on National Public Radio.

JOSEPH PAPP (1921-1991) was an American theatrical producer and director. Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1954 with the aim of making Shakespeare's works accessible to the public.

Praise For Free for All

Praise for Free for All:

Free for All is a powerful, in-depth, and deeply moving oral history of a man (Joseph Papp) who created an extraordinary place (the Public Theatre) during an unforgettable era in American theatrical history. It was truly the best of times, and the book returned me with awe to a period when a passionate mentor made all the difference in my life and career.”
—Martin Sheen

“Anyone interested in Joe Papp, who played a legendary role in New York theater, or in his remarkable productions at the Public Theater, in Central Park, at Lincoln Center, or on Broadway, must read this long-suppressed, almost lost book. And if you have no interest in any of these things, the personalities that leap from its pages, their vividness and (usually) unstoppable charm, make it a must-read all by themselves!”
—John Rockwell, former critic for the New York Times

"Eminently readable."—Hilton Als, The New Yorker

"The theater book of the season ... a juicy, exciting read.  It's history as intimate storytelling, and a must-have for any theater lover."—Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

There's a new book out about legendary theater producer Joseph Papp. Kenneth Turan's book is called Free for All: Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told. Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater. He also produced works like Hair and A Chorus Line. More at

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