Kevin LandisAug 19, 2023
New York’s Public Theater in the Era of Oskar Eustis
Methuen Drama 2022
Kevin Landis's One Public: New York’s Public Theater in the Era of Oskar Eustis (Methuen Drama, 2022) tells the story of the remarkable first 17 years (2005-2022) of Oskar Eustis's tenure as the Artistic Director of The Public, the theatre sometimes called America's de facto national theatre. But it is not a book about Eustis. Instead, it is a book about the hundreds of artists and administrators who, guided by Eustis's leadership, create extraordinary theatre at The Public's Astor Place headquarters, at the Delacorte in Central Park, and in touring productions around the city and across the country.
A central organizing principle in the book is the contradiction (and Eustis is not afraid of contradiction) between the theatre's left-wing, Marxian ambitions and the reality that it exists in a hyper-capitalist country with little public support for the arts. Is it possible to keep tickets affordable, salaries liveable, and the work on stage exciting? If The Public hasn't figured out how to do all three, it isn't for lack of trying, and One Public provides detailed case studies of a series of attempts live up to this theatre's inspiring, impossible, necessary ideals.
Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.