Scrappy New Yorker Joe Papp believed that great art was for everyone and was a community activist who brought theatre to where the people were and interracial casting to the stage. Papp’s achievements included creating Shakespeare in the park performances and playing a central role in bringing the counterculture play ‘Hair’ to Broadway. Papp was a tumultuous and sometimes controversial personality whose story is revealed in five acts filled with great archival footing and a wide range of interviews from people who knew and worked with him, including Meryl Streep, Martin Sheen and Ntozake Shange. Well produced and very engaging.
Director Karen Thorsen in attendance
Award-winning writer/filmmaker Karen Thorsen finds inspiration at the intersection of art and social justice. Her heroes are game-changers, the artist/activists who shape history – and her films tell their stories without narration, weaving first-person narratives with archival treasures. Thorsen began as a writer. A Vassar graduate, she was an editor for Simon & Schuster, a journalist for LIFE and a foreign correspondent for TIME. Screenwriting followed, then directing. Joe Papp In Five Acts is Thorsen’s second co-production with PBS/American Masters. Her first was the feature-length documentary, James Baldwin: The Price Of The Ticket, now recognized as a documentary film classic. Honored at festivals in over two dozen countries – including Sundance, London, Berlin and Tokyo – Baldwin was described as "Splendid" by Variety, "A video page-turner" by The San Francisco Chronicle, and "A haunting, beautifully made biography" by the L.A. Times. Thorsen’s productions also include an Intimate Portrait for Lifetime Television (a ‘Top-Five’ show of the year); a series for the History Channel (winner, Parents’ Choice Award); and One Small Candle, a documentary film history of the Pilgrims and their Native neighbors. Co-produced with Douglas K. Dempsey, Candle is now a permanent installation at Pilgrim Hall Museum. Other collaborations include both documentaries and museum media. Her latest is Thomas Paine: Voice Of Revolution, one of only three films to be awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Scripting Grant in 2011.