Public Theater’s Public Works is back, starring everyday New Yorkers

This weekend marks the annual return of the Public Theater’s 5-year-old Public Works initiative, in which around 200 New Yorkers (from all five boroughs and of diverse ages, ethnicities and backgrounds) join a handful of professional actors in massive, pageant-style theatrical productions inspired by works of classic literature.

A musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy “As You Like It” will be presented this season, created by songwriter Shaina Taub and director Laurie Woolery. It’ll run at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park from Sept. 1 to 5. Visit publictheater.org for more information on how to obtain free tickets.

We asked some of the community cast members what they love about the Public Works program.

Abraham Nasher, 10, DreamYard Project, Bronx

“My favorite part of Public Works is the people there. They’re kind and funny. Everyone knows my mom.”

Annie Zhao, 11, Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

“My favorite part of Public Works is the amazing vibe and all the friendly people. If I’m having a bad day, then I can just come here and it will change my blue mood into a joyful mood.”

Matthew Vazquez, 21, Children’s Aid Society, Bronx

“Public Works constantly comes to my life at the exact moments when I need it most. It was a home when I needed it to be, a welcoming environment and a creative outlet.”

Cinthia Candelaria, 32, Fortune Society, Queens

“The team effort, the many different colors, shapes and sizes. I love the play we’re working on, the warmups, the snacks, the love, the understanding.”

Bruce Rutherford, 59, Military Resilience Project, Manhattan

“The collective artistic expression — summer stock right in the heart of the city!”

Muriel Moses, 68, Brownsville Recreation Center, Brooklyn

“Meeting and interacting with individuals from different backgrounds [and] the warmth of the participants and the Public Works staff.”