DOXA 2013: Theatre guru Joe Papp gets the movie he deserves

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      Arts types looking for a little inspiration won’t want to miss this portrait of one of the most driven, colourful characters ever to have inhabited the theatre world. Joe Papp in Five Acts follows its title subject from his hard-knocks Brooklyn upbringing to his launching of a free, outdoor Shakespeare fest in Central Park—and far, far beyond.

      Just when you think his story can’t become any more remarkable, Tracie Holder and Karen Thorsen’s doc reveals another twist. When the FBI isn’t knocking on Papp’s door during the 1950s, he’s rocking the theatre world with Hair in the ’70s and backing the first play about AIDS in the ’80s (a show that ends up having a tragic personal connection).

      But his biggest contribution was his fervent desire to make Shakespeare accessible to the masses—even fighting New York City’s mayor when he demands that people pay for the shows.

      His stage helped launch the careers of Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, and many others who appear here to sing the late Papp’s praises—and laugh about his flaws. Pair those interviews with a gold mine of archival footage, and you have an apt tribute to an underappreciated theatre maverick

      Joe Papp in Five Acts screens on Monday (May 6) at the VanCity Theatre at 7 p.m.