The Public Theater has entered into a two-year residency with New York theatre company The Apothetae, known for presenting works exploring and illuminating the disabled experience. The partnership will see the two institutions exploring how the integration of Deaf and Disabled artists can offer new insights into the works of William Shakespeare, beginning with a bilingual workshop of Titus Andronicus in English and American Sign Language.
“Beginning with commissioning Directors of Artistic Sign Language Kailyn Aaron-Lozano, Kalen Feeney, and Andrew Morrill, to create a new complete translation of the entire play into ASL, we are actively working to identify new protocols for a bilingual rehearsal process centering the needs of d/Deaf and Disabled artists, as we aim to expand, innovate, and create new, radical paradigms for integrated and inclusive theatrical practice," says director and co-artistic lead Kim Weild.
Also planned to be explored during the residency are A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, and King Henry VI, Part III.
The partnership is the latest collaboration between the two companies, a relationship that began in 2016 with the Public Studio presentation of Michael Lew's Teenage Dick. That work returned for a full staging in 2018, produced in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company. Apothetae Artistic Director Gregg Mozgala also appeared in last summer's Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Richard III.
“It’s our firm belief that, even in 2023, casting d/Deaf and Disabled artists is a radical act,” says Mozgala. “We want alternatives to current pervasive cultural narratives of disability as inspiration, overcoming adversity, or death with dignity. We are intentionally choosing Shakespeare’s texts and placing them in active dialogue with lived experience and exploring access aesthetics in order to reveal new dimensions of artistry, talent, and virtuosity that these communities have to offer.”
“Our partners at The Apothetae are teaching us every day that—to invoke the language of dramaturg and artistic co-lead Katherine Williams—human variation is a resource for artistic creation,” say Public Director of New Work Development Amrita Ramanan and Senior Dramaturg Sarah Lunnie in a joint statement. “We are proud to collaborate with them to manifest a more imaginative, liberatory artistic future at The Public.”