“Theater for a New Audience is one of America’s most admirable and exciting theatre companies…some of the best-acted and -directed work to be found on the American stages, engaging with the canon of world dramatic literature in a vigorous way.”
– Tony Kushner
Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, Theatre for a New Audience is a modern classical theatre that produces Shakespeare alongside major classic and contemporary plays with some of today’s most exciting artists. In 2019-2020 season, the Theatre is celebrating its 40th Anniversary.
An internationally respected producer of the classics, the Theatre mounts four to five productions each year that illuminate the contemporary significance of classic plays and modern dramatic masterworks, serving an audience of 30,000 to 50,000 each season. In addition to its world-class productions, the Theatre engages its community through free Humanities Programs for general audiences, extensive creative development opportunities for artists, and the largest in-depth arts in education programs to introduce Shakespeare and classic drama to New York City Public School students across the five boroughs. Additionally, the Theatre is committed to building a vibrant and diverse young audience through its New Deal program, which offers $20 tickets to patrons aged 30 or under and all full-time students.
Since its founding, the Theatre has produced nearly 90 masterworks including 32 of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. It has grown to become the second largest theatre dedicated to Shakespeare in New York and the sixth largest in the United States. It has earned an international reputation for innovation and excellence through its acclaimed productions that have received numerous nominations and awards, including the Drama Desk, Obie, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and the Tony.
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 ongoing artistic dialogue and exchange; in 2007, the Theatre was invited to return to the RSC with its production of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham. Other partnerships include co-productions with American Repertory Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Houston’s Alley Theatre, New York City Players, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, Shakespeare’s Globe in London and Soho Rep.
The Theatre has built ongoing associations with some of the world’s finest artists, including directors Arin Arbus, Peter Brook, Andre Gregory, Trevor Nunn, Bartlett Sher, Julie Taymor, Darko Tresnjak, Kate Whoriskey, Robert Woodruff and Evan Yionoulis; leading playwrights Edward Bond, Howard Brenton, David Greig, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Adrienne Kennedy, Suzan-Lori Parks, Wallace Shawn, and Jackie Sibblies Drury; and distinguished actors such as F. Murray Abraham, Christian Camargo, Bill Camp, Jessica Hecht, Kathryn Hunter, Elizabeth Marvel, Kristine Nielsen, Juliet Rylance, Mark Rylance, John Turturro, Michael Shannon, and John Douglas Thompson.
In 2013, after three decades of itinerancy, the Theatre opened Polonsky Shakespeare Center, its new home in the Brooklyn Cultural District, the first theatre built in New York City for Shakespeare and classic drama since the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center in the 1960s. The inaugural production was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Julie Taymor. Designed by celebrated architect Hugh Hardy, Polonsky Shakespeare Center combines an Elizabethan courtyard-style theatre with modern technology. The Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage is a unique performing space that allows artists to arrange the stage and seating in a myriad of different configurations (seating capacity ranges from 99 to 400 depending on the configuration). In May 2017, the Theatre announced the successful completion of its $69.1 million Capital Campaign. Now in its seventh season at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, since 2013 the Theatre has produced 23 major productions including many American, New York and World premieres, and served a diverse audience of more than 220,000.