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'Festival of Classics'

The 'Festival of Classics' is a pilot project designed to share cutting-edge art from 1600's to 1960's. What was compelling then captivates now when artists deliver a great story, connecting audiences with a visceral sense of being alive. Joseph Papp is the platform upon which we bounce and take a deep dive into history to digest iconic theater that informed and transformed culture in which it was performed.

Get tickets at the Mizner Park Cultural Center and online at

Joe Papp and James Earl Jones in the first 'Shakespeare in the Park'

Two performances are planned for March 16, 2020 at 2:30 and 7:30 PM in the theater at the Mizner Park Cultural Center, to explore art from the Golden Age of Literature in Europe to the streets of New York City during the turbulent rise of American 'Counter Culture.'

Avi Hoffman is the Host for the Festival. He began his career as a young actor working for 'Joe' Papp, like many Broadway and Hollywood Stars he got an introduction to theater through roles played on the stage known as 'Shakespeare in the Park' and the 'Delacorte Theater.'

The evening begins with the Host introducing various aspects of Papp's life through documentary and anecdotal recollections including excerpts from the documentary 'Joseph Papp in 5 Acts.' (courtesy of Avi Hoffman)


The first scene is from Shakespeare's infamous 'Romeo and Juliet' a romantic tragedy which Papp brought to the Shakespeare in the Park Delacorte stage in 1968 with noted actor, Martin Sheen, playing the role of Romeo (seen below in the battle with Tybalt).

The Host introduces 'Shakespeare Troupe of South Florida' Founder and Director, Peter Wayne Galman, who also worked as an aspiring artist with Papp. The Troupe shares the seminal scene where Romeo and Juliet first meet and seal their fate with a kiss.


The Host reminds us why Papp introduced not only women into unusual roles on stage, but also how Papp shared directorial capacity with women, such as Gladys Vaughn. To explore more about women and theater, a scene from Lope de Vega's 'tragic comedy' 'Castelvines y Monteses' - Capulets and Montagues - is presented. A 2019 production, 'Julia + Roselo,' co-directed by the Shakespeare Troupe of South Florida with Grace Arts Center, celebrated Lope's female roles - for women to play - and for which they were paid. This was revolutionary in the 1600's for in that era, British theater did not allow women on stage, instead young boys played those roles with far reaching social and cultural implications that prevail even in the 21st century. The poetic Spaniard's work (translated into English by Cynthia Rodriguez Badendyck) includes a distinctly different rhythm, a female heroine who saves her family and the romance from the first moment she encounters Romeo by negotiating 'boundaries' for their relationship and creating a plan to eventually unite the two warring families (the photo below is from the 2019 production where suitor, Otavio, sits powerless to intervene as Julia and Roselo flirt earnestly and openly).

Left is Roselo meeting Julia for the first time while the suitor, Otavio, listens to their flirtations powerless


Macbeth is introduced and the Host elaborates as to why Papp didn't direct this bloody Shakespeare classic and what to takeaway from 'New City Player's' acclaimed version.

Act IV

King Lear is introduced, which was a joint directorial project between Joseph Papp and Gladys Vaughn in 1962 at the Delacorte Theater, with a diverse cast including Roscoe Lee Browne. 'Thinking Cap Theatre' directs this production receiving praise for its engaging interpretation about an aging man as he languishes in a convalescent state (played by Peter Wayne Galman). The Troupe often uses Shakespeare as therapy for inmates, homeless and elderly populations finding that the use of art thoroughly changes their state of mind.

Act V

Host, Avi Hoffman introduces his 'Joseph Papp Yiddish Theater' project, songs and history that further examine and educate the public about the impact of Papp's legacy. At this point, the audience will enjoy moments from the groundbreaking 'Hair' and 'A Chorus Line' Broadway productions that began with Papp's guidance and stewardship. Local Artists, Mike Westrich and Laura Plyler, share 'Hair' and 'A Chorus Line' music and dance as Joe Papp's daughter, Susan, joins the cast on stage for a finale you won't want to miss!

Get tickets at the Mizner Park Cultural Center and online at

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