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Papp, Josephlocked

(22 June 1921–31 October 1991)
  • Mary C. Kalfatovic


Papp, Joseph (22 June 1921–31 October 1991), theater producer, director, and administrator, was born Joseph Papirofsky in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Samuel Papirofsky, a trunk maker, and Yetta Miritch, a garment worker. Both parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Encouraged by teachers in local public schools, young Joseph Papirofsky developed an enthusiasm for English literature, especially the works of Shakespeare. After graduating from Eastern District High School in 1938, he applied to Brooklyn College but was not admitted because of poor grades in science and mathematics. He then worked at a series of jobs and became active in the Communist party. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the U.S. Navy, spending most of this time in an entertainment unit. After discharge from the navy, Papirofsky enrolled at the Actors’ Laboratory Workshop in Los Angeles, using veteran’s benefits to pay expenses. At the Actors’ Lab, which had been founded by former members of the politically left wing Group Theater of the 1930s, he gained valuable experience in fundamentals of stage direction and nonprofit theater management. He stayed with the Actors’ Lab until it ceased operations in May 1950, and then joined a touring company of ...

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