Mobile Unit

The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit is a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s “Mobile Theater,” which began in 1957. Papp’s original touring company evolved into the New York Shakespeare Festival, and ultimately became The Public Theater.

All of it was built on a simple idea: Culture belongs to everyone.

This idea remains at the heart of The Public Theater’s work to this day. And our Mobile Unit still takes this mission out to the communities across New York City, providing free performances to all.

Mobile Unit presents free Shakespeare to correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and community centers throughout New York’s boroughs. Over the years, the Mobile Unit has served thousands of audiences with critically acclaimed productions. In addition to the community tour, each Mobile Unit show “sits down” at The Public Theater’s Astor Place home to perform for Public audiences and community organizations from all over the city.

Past Mobile Unit tour venues have included Rikers Island, The Fortune Society, Park Avenue Armory Women’s Shelter, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Community Centers throughout the City, Charlotte’s Place, Borden Avenue Veteran’s Shelter, and Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center.

Recent Mobile Unit productions include The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Measure for MeasureRichard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and Macbeth.


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This modern reimagining of The Public Theater's original Mobile Theater is inspired by Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis, MN.

Mobile Unit is made possible with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Stavros Niarchos FoundationThe Tow FoundationThe McLaughlin Children's Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Abrams Foundation. Additional support provided by JetBlue Airways, Open Society Foundations, Susan & David EdelsteinThe MAE Private Foundation, and The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater’s year-round activities.

Mobile Unit National is made possible by the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Denise Littlefield Sobel.