Impresarios: Public Papa

"There are public libraries," says Joseph Papp. "Why not public theaters?" One of the most creative producer-directors of the American stage, Papp has done his best to make good drama as accessible to New Yorkers as a good book.

This week Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival begins its twelfth three-month season in Central Park, where the top price in the 2,300-seat Delacorte Theater is—nothing. Next month Papp-trained Mobile Theaters will be taking free productions of Hamlet, with an all-black cast, and a children's musical based on The Pied Piper to New York's...