The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director), in association with PEN American Center, will present a Public Forum program on Monday, December 3 on behalf of writers and artists who have been imprisoned speaking truth to power. THOUGHT IS FREE: An Evening of Protest and Solidarity will be hosted by Liev Schreiber and feature Carl Bernstein, Nathan Englander, Shirin Neshat, Lou Reed, and Salman Rushdie. Member tickets, priced at $15, and single tickets, priced at $20, are on sale now and can be purchased at (212) 967-7555, www.publictheater.org, or in person at The Public Theater box office at 425 Lafayette Street.
In THOUGHT IS FREE, high-profile champions of free expression will read the work of imprisoned artists speaking truth to power. Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein will read a story by Eskinder Nega, the Ethiopian reporter whose arrest on anti-terrorism charges has been protested by PEN, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the U.S. State Department. The globally renowned Iranian-born artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat will read a statement by Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist who has been barred from leaving the country because of his criticism of the government. Ai Weiwei's involvement in the program has been facilitated by Larry Warsh, United Expression Media, and the Friends of Ai Weiwei. Lou Reed, rock icon and frontman of the Velvet Underground, will read a text from the Pussy Riot trial, which sent three members of the Russian punk band to prison. Two of them remain in jail.
The program coincides with the world premiere of Nathan Englander’s play The Twenty-Seventh Man, about Yiddish writers imprisoned by Stalin. The evening will conclude with Salman Rushdie joining Nathan Englander onstage for a conversation about The Twenty-Seventh Man, Rushdie’s new memoir, and the responsibilities of the artist. Rushdie is the founder and chair of the PEN World Voices Festival and Englander is a member of the PEN American Center Board of Trustees.
CARL BERNSTEIN shared a Pulitzer Prize with Bob Woodward for his coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post. In the four decades since, in books, magazine articles, commentary, and television reporting, Bernstein has continued to build on the theme he and Woodward first explored in the Nixon years – the use and abuse of power: political power, media power, financial power, and spiritual power. His most recent book is the best-selling biography, A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is the author, with Woodward, of All the President’s Men and The Final Days, and, with Marco Politi, of His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time; and the author of Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir — about his family’s experience in the McCarthy Era. He has written for Vanity Fair (he is also a contributing editor there), Time, USA Today, Rolling Stone, and The New Republic, and was Washington bureau chief for ABC News. In the summer of 2011 he wrote two ground-breaking articles for Newsweek/The Daily Beast about Rupert Murdoch and the shaking his of media empire, noting "Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic." Bernstein also appears regularly on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” broadcast. He is currently developing a dramatic TV series with Turner Broadcasting about the US Congress; a separate film project with director Steven Soderbergh; and is writing a memoir about his youth – from age 16 to 21 – at an old-fashioned newspaper, The Washington Star.
Nathan Englander is the author of the short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, as well as the internationally best-selling story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, and the novel The Ministry of Special Cases (all published by Knopf/Vintage). His short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Post, as well as The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous editions of The Best American Short Stories. Translated into more than a dozen languages, Englander was selected as one of “20 Writers for the 21st Century” by The New Yorker, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN/Malamud Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He has been a fellow at the Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and at The American Academy of Berlin. He teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Hunter College, along with Peter Carey and Colum McCann, and, in the summer, he teaches a course for NYU’s Writers in Paris program. This year, his translation of New American Haggadah (edited by Jonathan Safran Foer) will be published by Little Brown. He also co-translated Etgar Keret's Suddenly A Knock at the Door forthcoming in March from FSG.