×

Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Public Theater That Oskar Eustis Built

For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Lin-Manuel Miranda to write a tribute to Oskar Eustis, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater, represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan. For the full list, click here.

Oskar Eustis sees the good in you.

You will play him what you’ve written. He will listen. In the most generous and expansive terms possible, he will describe what he is getting from the work. He will explain the moments that knock him out (you will be quite chuffed that he got it — indeed, that he gets it), and he will zero in on the moments that were not clear, or where he feels you are idling. Even in describing these less-than-thrilling moments in your work, he is passionate, garrulous, articulate. Even if he is seeing something different than you intended, his interrogation of the moment forces you to sharpen the edges of your work, until it is indisputable.

The New York/New Jersey Issue
READ MORE

It’s that simple, and it’s that complex. It’s that interrogation of the moment and the truth that makes The Public Theater, the house that Joe Papp built, with Oskar Eustis at the helm since 2005, the most exciting place to make new works of theater. You can imagine Oskar hectoring Tony Kushner back in the ’90s, before “Angels in America” made history “crack wide open.”

You can picture him challenging Stew to get specific as he and Heidi Rodewald unlocked the brilliant journey of “Passing Strange.” And he is just as patient and relentless with you, asking you just before previews begin, “If you don’t change a word of this show, it will be one of the greatest things The Public has ever produced.” A pause. “But … what if Hamilton still hasn’t made up his mind what he’s going to do at the top of his soliloquy in the duel? What if it isn’t ’til the last second?”

Oh crap. That’s a good idea.

You go back to your desk or back to your piano, endeavoring to make your work live up to the potential Oskar Eustis sees within it.

Iveta Karpathyova for Variety

Lin Manuel Miranda is the creator of “Hamilton.” Read the rest of our New Power of New York list.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Ben Platt Variety Power of New

    Ben Platt on Coming Out and the Queerness of 'The Politician'

    Ben Platt never imagined he would one day star in a series like “The Politician.” “I didn’t think I could be a star of a show in general starting out. I think I was like, ‘I’ll do Broadway. I can be on stage and I can play Jimmy in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Nathan Detroit [...]

  • Michael Jackson in concert in Milton

    Michael Jackson Musical to Open on Broadway in Summer 2020

    “MJ,” a musical based on the life and career of Michael Jackson, will open on Broadway in summer 2020. Preview performances will start July 6 before its official debut on Aug. 13. The stage show, which will include songs like “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Smooth Criminal,” was originally [...]

  • The Wrong Man review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Wrong Man'

    Credit songwriter Ross Golan for the seamless quality of “The Wrong Man,” his mesmerizing musical about a good man who deserves a good life but seems to attract nothing but bad luck. The show’s inventive book, music, and lyrics were all penned by this multi-hyphenate talent who was named 2016 BMI Pop Songwriter of the [...]

  • Kristin Chenoweth Broadway

    Listen: Kristin Chenoweth Wants to Write a Broadway Musical

    Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t just want to star in Broadway musicals. She’s thinking about writing one, too. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I think about it a lot,” Chenoweth said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “I want someone to collaborate with me on a story I have, and it would be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content