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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Another Miranda at the Public Theater: Luis A. Miranda Jr., new board chair

Luis A. Miranda Jr., in red, and his son, Lin-Manuel Miranda, flanked Oskar Eustis, the Public Theater’s artistic director, at a gala in Central Park in New York, June 6, 2016.

By Kalia Richardson

Long before he joined the board of the Public Theater, and before his son, Lin-Manuel Miranda, composed one of the biggest hits in the theater’s history, “Hamilton,” Luis A. Miranda Jr. recalled the first show he ever saw there: Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.”

“My first experience with the Public Theater, in 1976, was of a production that could not be more different than everything that was on Broadway,” Luis Miranda, 68, said, recalling “For Colored Girls” and its intimate stories of Black female agency told through spoken word and dance.

Now Miranda, a political consultant and activist who has worked in city government and the nonprofit sector, will be taking on a new role at the institution: The theater announced last week that he would be its next board chair.

Miranda said that his priorities included the renovation of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, the home of the theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park program, and support for the theater’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

While many theaters have begun to reckon with being “too white” in recent years, Miranda said, Public Theater had an early start on bridging the equity gap.

“We’re not starting from scratch because the theater has a history of cultural transformation and putting onstage diverse actors, diverse writers,” said Miranda, who has been on the board since 2015. But he added that there was more to do and that he would work on initiatives that include anti-racism training for board members and the hiring of a senior director of anti-racism and equity.

“Hamilton” started out at the Public Theater, before transferring to Broadway. “We never thought that Hamilton would be what it has become,” Miranda said.

Miranda chairs the Latino Victory Fund, the Broadway League’s Viva Broadway initiative and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance. At the Public, he succeeds Arielle Tepper, who served as chair for nearly a decade. “I couldn’t be happier that he is taking over,” Tepper said.

In a statement, Oskar Eustis, the theater’s artistic director, praised Miranda for his commitment to the idea that “culture belongs to everyone.”

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