The identification of the general public theater 2020-21 by Paula Scher displays time
Pentagram partner Paula Scher and the New York art institution Public Theater have been working together for a remarkable 25 years – a partnership so widely recognized that it was the subject of a book called "Twenty-Five Years in the Public: A Love Story" before this year.
The institution's new identity for the 2020-2021 season, which will run entirely online, will be created by Scher and the Public Theater's in-house team, indicating the unique, challenging circumstances the arts will face this year.
The Public Theater usually tests the design language on posters for Shakespeare in the Park, one of its most famous programs, which usually takes place in the summer.
The initial design direction for the new season – a "Revolt / Love" theme inspired by Shakespeare's Richard II and As You Like It – was set earlier this year. However, the posters were never completed and the physical festival was eventually canceled due to the pandemic.
Instead, Scher and the team looked at the disruption itself as an inspiration for the design. At the center of the identity is the stenciled execution of the "Public Theater", "Knockout" font for the first time in its history to highlight how the theater world had to improvise a little more than usual this year. White space and black type are balanced by vibrant accent colors in the new season's identity that appear on posters, brochures and physical banners for the facade of the theater as well as on key digital touchpoints for the first fully online season.
The in-house team will continue to work on the design system as the programming takes shape. The sturdy, stenciled look shows how the season is built up in real time.