Many associate the esteemed Public Theater with one name: Joe Papp. Papp founded the now-famed institution over 60 years ago, operating on the principle that theater belongs to everyone. As most things are in theater, the Public — though helmed by Papp — was the result of a collaborative effort. No one knows this better than his wife and colleague Gail Merrifield Papp.
In her upcoming memoir “Public/Private: My Life with Joe Papp at the Public Theater,” Papp offers an inside look at the earliest days of the Public, her professional partnership with Joe and the legacy they created. In her book, Papp recounts how the Public evolved from an idea of democratized theater to an award-winning institution, including less familiar stories of the Papps’ scuffles with leaders like Robert Moses and theater critics. “Public/Private” will be released by Applause on Oct. 17. Ahead of the release, read this exclusive excerpt from the chapter “Two Gents”: