The Public Theater

The Public Theater

425 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10003


Joseph Papp’s Public Theater hosted the first production of Hair in 1967, one of many adventurous shows presented by the theater over the years.


Invitation to a Beheading, The Clown and Other Roles


“I think we were a little bit of an anomaly at the Cino and at La MaMa,” said Walter Michael Harris, “because we were so young. Here’s this family with kids who were all involved in whatever these artists were up to, in these magic places.” An Off-Off-Broadway director could cast a multitude of parts—a mom, a teenager, a boy, a girl—in one fell swoop. “If you needed a kid,” recalled Robert Patrick, “you called the Harris family. We just took them for granted.” Eloise Harris got her Equity card at the age of nine performing in Invitation to a Beheading at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, and Jayne Anne Harris could be seen serenading Lanford Wilson in a production of Claris Nelson’s The Clown at Caffe Cino (she was cast as a boy). The roles kept coming, with the kids doing theater at night and going to school by day. The family queued for meals around the clock to maintain their varied production schedules, and Ann helped the kids with homework and ran lines with them.

From Chapter 7 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore