MacArthur Fellows Program

Willie Reale

Theater Arts Educator | Class of 1994

Theater Arts Educator
New York, New York
37 at time of award
Published July 1, 1994

About Willie's Work

Willie Reale, a theater arts educator, is the founder of the 52nd Street Project, a theater company for inner-city children of Manhattan’s Clinton Neighborhood and the Times Square welfare hotels.

Reale originated this fusion of theater, education, and social work in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City in 1981.  The Project brings economically disadvantaged children together with professional actors and playwrights who help the children create plays of their own, providing them with a way to express themselves, and acts as a family to children struggling to grow up in difficult conditions.  The Project also develops, produces, and publishes plays by contemporary theatrical writers.  The programs of the 52nd Street Project are currently being replicated at twelve sites across the United States through a series of publications entitled the Kid Theater Kit, for which he wrote “52 Pick-Up,” the Project’s how-to manual, as well as numerous plays and the lyrics to hundreds of songs.


Reale served as artistic director of the 52nd Street Project for eighteen years, and continues to serve on the board of directors.  He is also a playwright and a screenwriter, and has taught acting at New York University and the Lincoln Center Institute.

Reale is the co-author of two musicals entitled Once Around the City and Quark Victory.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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