Public Theater

425 Lafayette Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 21, 2004 at 10:29 am

Regarding the theatre’s name: in ads and publicity and in a logo, this was generally referred to as The Public Theatre or The Public…with the definite article included.

I have many memories of seeing films here during the venue’s several-decades-long life. One of the auditoriums was used for live theatre productions, such as Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. The “Little Theatre” is, I believe, now also used for that purpose.

Many Italian films of merit were shown here. I remember a belated American premiere run in 1982 of Bolognini’s moody and atmospheric 1961 “Senilità”—-renamed “Careless” for its run here. I saw a number of Rossellini films here: “The Age of the Medici,” a rare screening of his “The Messiah,” with an introduction by daughter Isabella, a presentation of Francesco Rosi’s “Neapolitan Diary” with the director on hand, a retrospective of Mario Monicelli films with the director introducing.

Some hard-to-see Luis Buñuel films made in Mexico were offered to filmgoers here. There was so much more, and I would like to check my files to refresh my memory. Perhaps other New York film buffs may want to add their recollections of this unique cinema.

br91975 on December 21, 2004 at 10:13 am

George C. Wolfe, then in the early years of his leadership of the Public, dropped the programming of the Little Theatre sometime around 1994. In a Village Voice article which ran not long thereafter, Fabiano Canosa, then without a regular film-booking home, expressed an interest in booking two of three screens of the then-23rd Street Triplex (now known as the two-cinema Chelsea West), which was at the time mostly a move-over house and venue for lesser genre product. Eventually, Canosa landed on his feet with not one, but two, steady gigs – at the Symphony Space/Thalia on 95th and Broadway and at the Anthology, at 2nd and 2nd in the East Village, positions both of which he holds to this day.