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New Work: The Public Theater 2012-13 Season Campaign

This fall the Public Theater opens a major revitalization of its New York home that will transform the institution’s lobby into a public piazza and gathering space. For the Public, the update marks not just a time to renovate the space, but an opportunity to reinvigorate its messaging. Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed a bold institutional campaign for the Public that celebrates its status as a theater for the “public.” The campaign launched with a full-page print advertisement in this Sunday’s New York Times.

A diverse cultural institution, the Public is the only theater that produces Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces—works with social relevance, dealing with real topics, that also provide uplifting entertainment. In the words of Oskar Eustis, the Public’s artistic director, “The Public Theater is, and always has been, for the people.” Themed “Public Open,” the fall campaign celebrates the institution as a whole and reaffirms the Public’s tradition of merging art and popular taste. The campaign promotes the various components of programming at the Public, including Shakespeare in the Park, Public Lab, Joe’s Pub, the annual Under the Radar Festival, the Public Forum, the Emerging Writers Group and the Mobile Unit.

The Public Theater is housed in the former Astor Library, a 158-year-old landmark on Lafayette Street in New York’s East Village. The new $40 million renovation is the first upgrade since the Public opened in the building in 1967. Designed by Ennead Architects, the revitalization features a redesigned entry, expanded lobby, centralized box office and restoration of the façade that adds a canopy and moves the building’s steps back onto the sidewalk. The reconfigured lobby will feature “Shakespeare Machine,” a new multimedia sculpture by Ben Rubin, as well as a gallery of Public Theater posters designed by Scher over the years. The space will be rededicated on October 4.

Scher has designed the graphics for the Public since 1994, including a refresh of the identity in 2008. The posters and advertisements of the 2012-13 campaign appear in a palette of white, red and black (the colors of the first institutional campaign Scher designed for the Public back in 1994), with the phrase “Open (The) Public” prominently placed in the bold typography of the identity. The design plays off the tagline with extensive white space and features dynamic and dramatically cropped photography of the performers.

The posters designed for this season’s productions will be installed in new poster boxes at the Public’s entrance. Scher is also designing the program of environmental graphics for the new lobby.

As part of the opening celebration Scher will present a free lecture about her work for the Public Theater on Sunday, October 21 at 2:30 pm. Call 212-967-7555 for tickets.

Project Team: Paula Scher, partner-in-charge and designer; Rafael Medina, designer.