About Us

“Theater for a New Audience . . . remains the most sophisticated purveyor of revivals in the major Off-Broadway leagues.”

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

For more than three decades, the Theatre has produced over 60 master works, including 28 of Shakespeare’s plays alongside other classic works and distinguished contemporary plays, including Edward Bond’s Chair, W.S. Gilbert’s Engaged, Howard Brenton’s Sore Throats, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders, which was named one of the ten best productions of 2007 by The New York Times. In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theatre company invited to perform Shakespeare at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon. Its production of Cymbeline, directed by Bartlett Sher, led to continuing artistic dialogue and exchange, and the Theatre returned to the RSC in March 2007 with its production of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham.

The Theatre’s productions consistently have earned prestigious nominations and awards, including the Drama Desk, OBIE, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Tony.

Theatre for a New Audience is dedicated to the language and ideas of writers: to a dialogue between Shakespeare and a provocative range of classical and contemporary playwrights, such as Christopher Marlowe, Edward Bond and Adrienne Kennedy. The Theatre has attracted some of the world’s most talented and sought-after artists, including directors Sir Peter Hall (Founder, Royal Shakespeare Company), Peter Brook, Doug Hughes (Tony Award, Doubt), Bartlett Sher (Tony Award, South Pacific), Julie Taymor (Tony Award, The Lion King), Darko Tresnjak (Artistic Director, Hartford Stage), Kate Whoriskey, Robert Woodruff (former Artistic Director, American Repertory Theatre), and Evan Yionoulis; as well as distinguished actors, such as F. Murray Abraham, Kathleen Chalfant (Wit), Stephen Spinella (Angels in America), and Mark Rylance (Tony Award, Boeing–Boeing, Jerusalem). At the same time, the Theatre has provided important developmental opportunities for some of today’s most promising artists.

The Theatre also has developed strong partnerships with outstanding presenters and regional theatres in the US and abroad, extending the reach of its work as well as its resources. The Theatre has toured its productions to La Jolla Playhouse and to Intiman Theatre in Seattle. It has mounted co-productions with New York Theatre Workshop, American Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Houston’s Alley Theatre, and Shakespeare’s Globe in London. In addition to its tours to the Royal Shakespeare Company, in January 2006, Theatre for a New Audience had its debut in Italy when it toured to Naples with its production of Eduardo De Filippo’s Souls of Naples (Questi Fantasmi!) starring John Turturro and directed by Roman Paska.

In addition, Theatre for a New Audience sustains the largest program in New York City’s Public Schools for introducing Shakespeare. The Theatre provides teachers with professional development, places artists in-residence in the classroom and brings students to matinee performances of the same award-winning productions seen by the Theatre’s adult audiences. More than two thousand students take part each year and nearly 130,000 have been served since the program began in 1984. Additional artistic programming includes Theatre for a New Audience Talks, a distinctive post-performance discussion series for general audiences. The Theatre also offers a wide range of ticket prices to minimize economic barriers for all its audiences. These endeavors are grounded in the belief that the language and scope of classic drama belong to everyone.

Theatre for a New Audience is also at a turning point in its history: In October 2013, it opened its first home after over thirty years of itinerancy, a 299-seat theatre in the Brooklyn Cultural District that is the first theatre built in New York City for Shakespeare and classic drama since the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center in the 1960s. Thanks to a generous gift from The Polonsky Foundation, we have named our home Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Of a three phase Capital Campaign goal of $69.1 million, the Theatre has raised $66.9 million to date.

The mission of Theatre for a New Audience is to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. In 2001, Theatre for a New Audience became the first American theater to be invited to bring a production of Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Values and Strategies:
We are guided in our work by five core values: a reverence for language, a spirit of adventure, a commitment to diversity, a dedication to learning, and a spirit of service. These values inform what we do with artists, how we interact with audiences, and how we manage our organization. Language is at the heart of all we do. We focus on the language and ideas of writers. We believe that hearing great language powerfully expressed improves our listening skills, opens our eyes, and deepens our perception and understanding of the world around us. We infuse our work with adventure—provocative ideas, visual boldness, and a sense that we are on a lifelong journey with Shakespeare and classic drama. We are committed to diversity—diverse approaches to dramatic material, diversity in casting and audiences, and multifaceted relationships with uniquely different communities. Learning is a fundamental principle of the Theatre, and we value learning as a process that takes place over time—a process that depends on our ability to promote curiosity, reflection, study, research and dialogue in all our work. We are dedicated to service. Inspired by our civic role, we seek to create broad public access and to bond the diverse New York community through the language, pleasure and ideas of classical drama.To advance our mission and values, Theatre for a New Audience:

  • produces Shakespeare side by side with other plays of classic stature and major contemporary plays, creating a dialogue over centuries between Shakespeare and other authors about our contemporary world;
  • builds long-term associations with artists and offers programs for their growth and ongoing development;
  • promotes the humanities by presenting dynamic discussions with leading intellects in a variety of fields in conjunction to the plays we present;
  • plays for wide-ranging audiences—from connoisseurs of diverse repertory to young people who are seeing groundbreaking productions for the first time;
  • promotes access for diverse audiences by offering economically-priced tickets;
  • provides rich arts-in-education programs, including teacher training and the largest arts-in-education program in New York City to introduce Shakespeare to Public School students;
  • uses its facilities and intellectual resources to serve the local artistic, educational and social communities where the Theatre operates, and contributes to the international theatre community through touring, artistic exchanges and partnerships.

By Milton Glaser
Pictured above: Kathryn Hunter and cast members of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, photo by Joan Marcus.