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Joseph Papp

Legit Icons of the Century

After he refused to name names to the HUAC, Papp kept his leftist politics intact to found one of the granddaddies of nonprofit theater, the Shakespearean Theater Workshop, in 1954, which later morphed into the New York Shakespeare Festival, aka, the Public Theater.

In the process, the most populist producer brought free Shakespeare to Central Park every summer and gave the theater “A Chorus Line,” which quickly became the cash-cow template for nonprofit theaters everywhere.

Other Public transfers to Broadway included “Hair,” “That Championship Season,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “Streamers.”

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