Quita smiles with her arms crossed over her lap.
Senior Program Director, Theater

At the end of April, the National Theater Project advisors met to decide which projects would advance to the final application round. It's an incredibly difficult decision and the advisors take the process very seriously, working diligently before, during, and after the meetings. The goal of the meeting is not only to choose the finalists but also to provide feedback for those who are not selected, in the hopes that they will apply for funding in the next round. It's never easy, and, as the applications get better each year, the decisions get that much harder.

This year NTP Advisors were responsible for reading 88 proposals in advance of the two days of project discussions. After several rounds of voting, a consensus was reached and 25 projects were moved forward. These 25 applicants will be required to complete a more in-depth application and budget as well as submit a five minute work sample. Each application is paired with an advisor who may help in any number of ways - looking at text and work samples, helping refine the budget, for example. The goal is to submit the strongest application possible in June. After those 25 final applications are reviewed at the next meeting, only six will receive NTP Creation and Touring grants. These grants, ranging from $80,000 to $130,000, provide funds for the development of new work and its subsequent touring nationally.

Because this grant is so highly competitive, and because these projects are all worthy of attention, I am happy to share the projects which made it to the final round in this blog. Regardless of which projects ultimately receive funding, I hope that other artists, funders, and presenters will take a look at this list of the 25 NTP finalists:

501 (see three) ARTS, Los Angeles, CA
“3” renders the life stories of three unrelated food-insecure families as a triptych of dynamically staged radio plays. Three multi-disciplinary performers blend instrumental music, live sound effects and spoken dialogue into distinct theatrical portraits of each family, performed live for economically diverse theater audiences.

600 HIGHWAYMEN, Brooklyn, NY
The Fever uses the classic ballet “Rite of Spring” as a thematic backbone with a score by composer Brandon Wolcott, helmed by an ensemble of 20 (a combination of traveling performers and local individuals selected by audition). It locates Stravinsky’s 103-year-old ritualistic and revolutionary work in a contemporary and visually-arresting, participatory context.

The Bengsons, Middlebury, VT
HUNDRED DAYS is a devised music-filled play that fuses genre-bending folk rock with theatrical story-telling to create a journey filled with humor, intensity and emotion. It centers on Will and Sarah, a young couple who fall in love, only to have their time together cut short by illness.

The Carpetbag Theatre, Knoxville, TN
The Carpetbag Theatre will plan and implement a tour of Speed Killed My Cousin, an ensemble developed work that deals with the impact of military trauma and moral injury, in conjunction with CBT's Creative Arts Reintegration (CAR) Program. Speed focuses on the experience of African American women in combat.

Cornerstone Theater Company, Los Angeles, CA
California: The Tempest is a touring production and community engagement project with 10 underserved communities across California. From Eureka in the north to Holtville in the south, Cornerstone will tour big cities like San Francisco and unincorporated small towns like Grayson and Westley in Stanislaus County that have a population of less than 1,000; communities with agriculture at the center of their cultural identity like Salinas in Monterey County, and communities like Arvin, dealing with issues of scarcity.

Degenerate Art Ensemble, Seattle, WA
Predator Songstress: Dictator is a multi-disciplinary, site transforming theatrical work revealing the inner stories of several anti-heroines inspired by historical, mythical and contemporary women expressed through live music, song and spoken word, movement, animation, architecture and video.

dog & pony dc, Washington, DC
TOAST is an exploration of technological innovation, invention, group-process, and creativity. dpdc seeks to distill key ingredients for innovation (e.g. discovery-oriented environments, culture of “tinkering,” “liquid networks”) and apply them in a multi-media, participatory performance that fully and transparently harnesses the audience as a resource integral for the completion of the show in performance. TOAST will traverse new frontiers of "audience integration" approach and collaborate with arts, science, and tech communities.

Early Morning Opera, Los Angeles, CA
The Institute of Memory (TIMe) is a devised theatrical performance that traces the transformation of archives from physical to digital structures and the corresponding evolution of personal and national memory and privacy. The catalyst of the performance is director Lars Jan’s search for the traces of his father: a Cold War intelligence operative and privacy-obsessed misanthrope, whose record has appeared in various historical archives, beginning with the Institute of National Memory in Warsaw.

Everett: Company, Stage, School, Providence, RI
Freedom Project will be a hybrid of physical theater, documentary theater, and theater of images. The piece aims to humanize and give voice to people who have been marginalized by the American criminal justice system, and to examine and critique that system through their stories. It is a personal journey for Everett’s artists who have close friends and family members who are justice-involved.

The Foundry Theatre, New York, NY
Playwright Marcus Gardley and The Foundry Theatre are developing THE BOX: A Black Comedy. Inspired by Gardley’s own experience of police assault, and built in collaboration with community partners, THE BOX takes satirical aim at contemporary U.S. policing and imprisonment practices with a distinctly African American cultural perspective.

Global Arts Corps, New York, NY
Hold your tongue, Hold your dead brings together actors from opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s fragile peace to address the conflict’s grim legacy—a rising rate of youth suicides and continued sectarian segregation. ArtsEmerson, seeking to redefine the relationship between artist and audience and the impact of theatre on the community, partners with Global Arts Corps to open and tour this production to American cities that remain similarly divided by histories of racial violence, segregation, and youth disenfranchisement.

Goat in the Road, New Orleans, LA
Numb is a collaboration between Goat in the Road Productions (GRP) and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (NOPM). Through a combination of radio production and devised ensemble performance, Numb will create an experience that explores the ecstasy and intoxication of drugs that alter human consciousness for medical purposes.

Half Straddle, Brooklyn, NY
Ancient Lives will include video mise en scene, video interactions, a live choral score, and live performative elements, evoking a playful and subversive theatrical framework that considers queer concerns and meta-art creation as a core life ritual.

Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman, Urbana, IL
ELEGANT COMPLEXITY: toward a systems way of seeing is inspired by the work of systems scientists over the past century. In this timely trans-disciplinary theatre piece, critical, playful and elegant principals of whole systems design are elucidated. Pressing global concerns and mundane daily life merge in a web of interdependence. The work is devised, directed and performed by co-artistic directors Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman in collaboration with new music composer Rick Burkhardt, lighting designer Ian Rosenkrantz and origami artist Sok Song.

Living Word Project, Oakland, CA
Drawn from research in Brazil, South Africa and Europe, /peh-LO-tah/ links soccer (often called “the beautiful game”) to the underpinnings of yearning democracies, global economic hierarchies, and local social practices, blending spoken word poetry, dance, music and shadow animation to express a passion for the global game that acknowledges both the physical liberation of sport and the insistent prejudices that divide humanity into separate and unequal parts.

New York City Players, Inc., Brooklyn, NY
Custodian of A Man is a new play with music written and directed by Richard Maxwell in collaboration with choreographer Sarah Michelson, who will design the production. It draws on the epics of Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost to tell a contemporary American story chronicling the moral decline of a man and his journey through hell.

Paola Prestini, New York, NY
A new music-theatre work, AGING MAGICIAN is a composite of sonic and visual elements that paints the fading world of a man approaching the end of his life. The man’s vibrant last adventure is brought to life composer Paola Prestini, librettist Rinde Eckert, and director/designer Julian Crouch, a team of multidisciplinary artists who combine music, theatre, puppetry, instrument making, and scenic design to create an enduring work for the stage.
Phantom Limb Company, New York, NY
MEMORY RINGS is a multi-media theatrical presentation and the second of a three-part series grappling with the human relationship to the environment. Using original music compositions, innovative puppetry, choreography, sculptural set design and video along with minimal text, it will theatricalize 5,000 years of human and environmental change from the perspective of the world's oldest living tree.

Pig Iron Theatre Company, Philadelphia, PA
Pig Iron will create a new sci-fi melodrama called I PROMISED MYSELF TO LIVE FASTER. LIVE FASTER will use the life of Ridiculous Theatrical Company director and performer Charles Ludlam as a springboard to forge a riotous new performance work – a world of cinematic archetypes, lonely outsiders, heightened emotions and surreal tableaux.

SITI Company, New York, NY
The Light House is an immersive theater production and collaboration on all elements between renowned Columbus, Ohio-based installation artist Ann Hamilton, director Anne Bogart and SITI Company. Unfolding over the course of five hours, The Light House is a durational experience that provides the audience with a place and time set apart from today’s accelerated culture. The experience of the production is aural, kinesthetic, textural, visual, and literary with imagery and text inspired by Virginia Woolf’s modernist classic To the Lighthouse.

Tectonic Theater Project, New York, NY
Square Peg Round Hole: A Theatrical Exploration of the Autism Spectrum is a play that's been in development since 2011. After conducting interviews, research within several disciplines, producing technical workshops and developing partnerships locally and nationally, in July 2014, in partnership with NYU's Skirball Center, writers will collaborate with designers and actors to finalize the script and design to prepare for a national tour in 2015/2016.

Theater Mitu, New York, NY
JUÁREZ: A Documentary Mythology, directed by Cd. Juárez-born Rubén Polendo, in collaboration with Theater Mitu, frames Mitu actors as witnesses to memory and myth, and as vehicles for stories, in order to map the human landscape of the incredibly polemic border at Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. Created from two years of interviews, company experiences and research in and around the border communities.

Transit Lounge, Washington, D.C.
You Are Dead. You Are Here. YADYAH is a multi-media theatre piece that tells the charged story of an encounter between an African-American soldier and an Iraqi girl blogger through the lens of the technologies that connect them. Inspired by the convergence of video game environments, virtual technology and military research, YADYAH is the world’s first theatrical production licensed to incorporate animated landscapes from “Virtual Iraq,” a virtual-reality (VR) program based on war video-games and used in veterans’ PTSD therapy.

Wakka Wakka, Brooklyn, NY   
MADE IN CHINA will be a dark musical comedy about the complicated relationship between the U.S. and China, specifically related to the production and consumption of goods, examined through the lens of an unlikely relationship between an eccentric middle-aged American woman and her Chinese ex-pat neighbor. It will feature over 30 puppets and masks, seven puppeteers, three musicians performing music inspired by both American and Chinese folk traditions, and animated video.

Working Group Theatre, Iowa City, IA
OUT OF BOUNDS uses theater to create conversation and action around cyber bullying. Developed from a year of extensive interviewing, the first tier includes performances of a version of the piece for student audiences, grades 5-9. The second tier presents an adult version of the show for parents and community members. Utilizing shadow puppetry, interviews and live animation, the show allows presenters to have a full spectrum conversation on the topic.