This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Morris Newbold introduces Joe Papp.
Joe Papp speaks about the long road to the realization of the Delacorte Theater. He speaks about how the theater's foundation is a testament to democracy, and note the significance of keeping Shakespeare in the Park free.
Papp quotes the WNYC pre-war era sign-off, attributing it to Mayor LaGuardia, "This is New York, a city of opportunity where nearly 8 million people live in peace and harmony and enjoy the benefits of democracy."
He reads a message from Jackie Kennedy.
Newbold thanks many responsible for the completion of this project. He speaks about the architect, and makes a great tribute to the generosity of George T. Delacorte Jr. and dedicates the theater in his name.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 42731
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors. Ladies and gentlemen there's always one individual without a home nothing would happen Joseph Papp has come to the end of a long road he wanted a home for the presentation Shakespeare place and you know I've been through two years together designing the structure in which you are now studying and here it is Joe Make yourself to home Joe Pa was. Thousand thousand. I thank you. The existence of this theatre has many ramifications many important consideration but one of the most important I think is that it is a tribute to democracy it's a drama zation of a city government's response to the will of its people in the process of its involvement we had recourse to every piece of democratic machinery the courts. The the press. Petitions Citizens Committee S F All these joined in the struggle to keep Shakespeare free in Central Park. The fact that it is free is the understanding of the significance of the festival. Because by keeping it free. I feel we have. Supported and defended the very core of the Democratic loss of faith. Which is the greatest good. For. The greatest number. When I was a boy in Brooklyn many years ago I remember very vividly my reaction to an announcer on the city station W N Y C At twelve o'clock just before signing off I remember what he said I think the phrase was attributed to the little flower Mailer thought. I remember it and it goes like this this is New York a city of opportunity where nearly eight million people live in peace and harmony and enjoy the benefits of democracy I believed it then and I believe it more than ever tonight thank you was I have a telegram here from Washington D.C. addressed to The New York Shakespeare Festival and it says I'm delighted to offer congratulations to all those who have made possible the opening of the new Amphitheater in Central Park the New York Shakespeare Festival makes an admirable cultural contribution by permitting the free showing of one of the most important segments of our theatrical tradition the festival has earned the gratitude of all New Yorkers by the role it is play it enriches the cultural opportunities of all Americans and I hope very much that the new amphitheater will make possible even find a theater in the years to come with warm Best wishes Jacqueline Kennedy. Thank you very much a thousand. Letters and gentlemen before we get to Shakespeare I want to give these prices their credits. The executive officer of the Department of Parks JOHN MULCAHY without those constant visits over here and speeding up the contract is where you wouldn't even been able to get in the door right chief engineer for them Roski Alexander director chief of design how a Fender chief engineer of construction responsibility was to keep the constructor moving through stage after stage until he could open tonight about a year and a half ago off a brilliant young architect full of ideas finally at Felton elder came into our design a vision and from there on. We started soaring. And held an elder I would say he had many ideas maturing Britain into this and we are grateful for him to help us sort out we were stuck with two hundred fifty thousand dollars in the capital budget and that's all the money I was authorized to spend. The time these brilliant young men got through with us because it was not two hundred fifty thousand but four hundred thousand. I came to the Board of us to move. On In December day. Having already gone overboard by almost a million dollars on the sports stadium and the budget director now controller. Abraham team helped to straighten me out and he said to me now that provide the best of all squared away on your access charges on the stadium Let's get the theatre lined up. Well you stay here now and I found found my conscience saying to me as I looked at my watch it's one o'clock and I'm due to have lunch with George delicate right now at the University Club that's going to take me a half an hour to get there but he said You better stick around here this is where your business is I said. I'm going to have lunch with Mr Dollar cause I don't know what he wants but I can sort of lunch date with him two weeks ago on account of people on the Board of Estimate So I started off for the university cloud George very graciously met me at the door he was very calm and we had lunch and I wondered what in the name of Heaven Mr Della thought wanted to talk to me about we talked about everything his interest in comparative religion at Harvard and we covered practically the whole waterfront and then after we poured our coffee he said you need the money well being a modest sort of a person and I said yes you're right I need five hundred dollars to pay the costs of the janitor service and how to college because we bring our wonderful puppet shows through for the school children in the Christmas holidays but I can't ask the person who is giving me the five hundred dollars because he's also giving me thirty thousand dollars to acquire two tenement particles in St James' place on the Lower East Side where I will build a setting park adjacent to the Portuguese Jewish cemetery where he ancestors are very you can guess who it was but he said I'm not going to give you a George dollar price and I'm not going to give you five hundred dollars and I'm not going to give you thirty thousand dollars I'm going to give you a check for one hundred fifty thousand dollars and I said what for he said I hear overboard on the Shakespeare Theatre. Well I let all the numbers the bought of US money off a theme is here he was invited his control of the day and he was writing us a report I guess for approving me for going overboard on my contract and I waited I let everybody have stayed at the next board the first meeting and finally a full TO CHECK OUT OF MY part of my head of just a certified check out of one hundred fifty thousand dollars. Each. Plus a doctorate is a very public spirited person maybe Joe How can I ask him for money and get it I'm sure I couldn't but when he gets interested in something he does it so he gave my predecessor Mr Moses those wonderful hours in Wonderland statue by the lake in Central Park and he says. He said once publicly are nothing and he's going to go on being generous in public for it and so because of this gift with the way he said without solicitation and Lot any effort on my part and because he knew that maybe I was having trouble getting ready money by the authority vested in the commissioner of parks under the city charter I did night name the structure of the dark hall which will be so not on par anywhere and. He.