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The National Theater Project supports the creation and development of new, devised and ensemble theater work. Since 2010, NTP has supported 31 projects through convenings, networking and grants. Each year, NTP awards six Creation and Touring grants. These grants, ranging from $80,000 to $130,000, provide funds for the development and national touring of new work. Creation and Touring grants also include an additional $10,000 for support of the administration necessary to tour the project.
This year, the NTP advisors met in Seattle, WA, to decide which projects would advance to the final application round. The goal of the meeting was 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 an incredibly difficult decision and the advisors take the process very seriously, working diligently before, during, and after the meetings. It's never easy, and, as the applications get better each year, the decisions get that much harder. With five new advisors in the mix, the discussions were lively and informative, and resulted in a very strong list of final applicants.
NTP advisors were responsible for reading 83 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. Each application has been paired with an advisor who may help in any number of ways - looking at text and work samples, or helping to refine the budget, for example. The final application is more in-depth, requires a more detailed budget, and includes a five minute work sample. The goal is to submit the strongest application possible in June. After those 25 final applications are reviewed at the next meeting in July, only six will receive NTP Creation and Touring grants.
These projects, and many that were submitted for this first round, are all worthy of your attention. I am happy to share the projects which made it to the final round. Regardless of which projects ultimately receive funding, these are projects to watch - and I hope that other artists, funders, and presenters will take a look at the 25 NTP finalists:
Andrew Ondrejcak Brooklyn, NY
ELIJAH GREEN is an original evening-length theatrical work that follows the journey of a divine spirit as it wanders on earth in order to experience the tedium of life and human suffering. Loosely based on Strindberg’s 'A Dream Play,' the episodic drama will involve dance, music, and a set based on Peter Brueghel's genre paintings. At the conclusion of the performance, the audience will receive an original novella. The work is written, designed, and directed by Andrew Ondrejcak, working alongside choreographer John Jasperse, composer Shara Worden, and sound artist Kristin Worrall.
Andrew Schneider New York, NY
OBIE award-winning creator and performer Andrew Schneider’s YOUARENOWHERE is a rapid-fire existential meditation, using physics lecture, pop culture and personal revelation to dissect subjects ranging from quantum mechanics and parallel universes to missed connections and AA recovery steps. Using an array of complex visual and aural effects to produce a fluid, shifting landscape of sensory overload, YOUARENOWHERE transforms the physical performance space and warps linear time to short-circuit preconceived notions of individual perspective and what it means to be here now.
ArtSpot Productions New Orleans, LA
Sea of Common Catastrophe is an immersive theatrical experience that challenges the audience to consider the complexities and complicities inherent in cities facing the pressures of dynamic urban change. “Sea” will take the form of an underwater-bistro-dance-hall-community-center, a magical sunken world and meeting ground where performers become representatives of a new hybrid community. The show will feature interactive performance machines, original music and video.
The Builders Association Brooklyn, NY
ELEMENTS OF OZ Our new project will draw on the pinnacle of escapist entertainment: The Wizard of Oz. The Builders will bring their own brand of magic to this story, expanding our stagecraft by adding virtual elements to the stage, to be viewed using the audience’s smartphones. Through this frame, we will tell the story of Oz using a few of the fanatical allegories which lay claim to this story – allegories from the political, financial and pop culture worlds. ELEMENTS OF OZ plays with layers both visual and literary in retelling this American classic.
The Civilians Brooklyn, NY
THE OTHER SIDE is a verbatim devised work about asking absurdly big questions – What is it to be alive? What is consciousness? What might happen to us after we die? The show will be created through an experiential investigation into various spiritual and non-spiritual practices surrounding mortality - finding personal narratives that connect the metaphysical to our lived experience. And it will be funny. The show will be developed in partnership with multiple arts presenters and will premiere in fall 2016.
Dan Hurlin New York, NY
DRAMMA PLASTICO FUTURISTA is a new evening-length puppet theater work by Dan Hurlin, based on four short plays by Fortunato Depero, a leading member of the Italian Futurist movement. Written in 1917, the plays have never been formally published or performed live. Hurlin will design and fabricate all of the puppets, sets and objects. He will also direct the production, which will include an original score and a film shot live on stage. DRAMMA will premiere at American Dance Institute in 2017, followed by a NYC premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse.
The Debate Society Brooklyn, NY
THE LIGHT YEARS is a story of invention, dreams of progress and human failure, taking place at the Chicago World’s Fairs of 1893 and 1933. Inspired by the true story of forgotten theatrical impresario Steele MacKaye and some of his unrealized mechanical creations, THE LIGHT YEARS connects the two fairs through stories of memory, ambition and immigration. THE LIGHT YEARS will have its workshop premiere this summer at New York Stage and Film, followed by a NYC premier Fall '16 and a subsequent tour.
Half Straddle New York, NY
Driven by an original pop song cycle and inspired by live band dynamics, graphic novels, and music videos, Half Straddle expands their critically acclaimed musical element in Ghost Rings, telling the story of two female friends; when one wills the universe to make her pregnant with the other’s child. The play creates a dynamic and rich narrative of friendship, familymaking, fractured memory, and the present with just three virtuosic performers. Mixing deadpan magical realism with the considerations of feminist thinkers like Maggie Nelson and Michelle Tea, the resulting piece is tender and harrowingly funny, taking on contemporary issues of gender roles, desire, and the ultimate leap into adulthood.
Jennifer Kidwell and Scott Sheppard Philadelphia, PA
Underground Railroad Game is a shape-shifting satire that dips in and out of the racialized fantasies of two middle school teachers, one a black woman and the other a white man. The piece hinges on Scott Sheppard’s real life experience in his Hanover, PA middle school where his teachers created a pedagogical Underground Railroad “game.” Sexual fetishes and violent impulses that fester below the surface of the characters' consciousness eventually burst forth into highly prepared, public teaching moments as the game takes on a life of its own.
Junebug Productions New Orleans, LA
GOMELA/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue is an multi-disciplinary production directed by Junebug Productions Executive Artistic Director Stephanie McKee featuring Sunni Patterson, Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective and other artists. Through theater, spoken word, music, traditional African dance and drumming and modern dance, it explores PLACES MATTERS-gentrification and the Right of Return of New Orleanians displaced after Katrina; and BLACK LIVES MATTERS--the beauty and resilience of Black people, past and present.
Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo Urbana, IL
Folding Time: An Origami of the Everyday is a timely trans-disciplinary theatre piece, deceptively simple, physically virtuosic, and compositionally intricate maneuvers fold and unfold theatrical time. Through the elegant complexity of folding (paper, time, lives, events) the systemic complexity of global events (climate change, economic systems) is reflected — asserting that a change in either system has formal consequences for both. Artistic directors Fay and Glassman devise and perform this work in collaboration with new music composer Rick Burkhardt, lighting designer Ian Rosenkranz and origami artist Sok Song. This piece draws on Fay and Glassman's body of performance techniques, compositional praxis and scoring methods originated in order to realize their ideas for live performance.
Lucky Plush Productions Chicago, IL
Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip follows a group of washed up superheroes attempting to reinvent themselves in a nonprofit think tank for do-gooders. Featuring Lucky Plush’s signature blend of casual dialogue, complex choreography, and off-the-cuff improvisation, a series of episodic scenes unfold in which theunlikely league of supers struggle to find a common mission and create a unified brand through specialized movement techniques. Between scenes, projected “clip shows” recap and alter previous events by layering captured footage with comic book-style avatars and Foley effects, becoming the superheroes’ docu-comic-manifesto. Premieres at the Harris Theater in March 2016
Marc Bamuthi Joseph Oakland, CA
/peh-LO-tah/ is a full-evening collaborative performance work by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Grounded in the ethos of hip hop culture and heavily researched, it links soccer – the world’s most democratic and popular sport - to global economic hierarchies, patterns of immigration and fan behaviors. Mining Joseph’s own trajectory as performer, soccer player and American immigrant, the piece will tell a multitude of stories incorporating live music, spoken-word poems, cinematic shadow animations and South African and Brazilian movement styles.
Mark Jackson & Megan Trout San Francisco, CA
NOW FOR NOW is a multimedia, physical theater performance created by theater artists Mark Jackson and Megan Trout. It brings together elements of theater, dance, and technology in a unique, ambitious way. NOW FOR NOW explores uncomfortable, ugly, embarrassing issues about age and gender dynamics with both depth and humor. Three possible relationships between a woman and man a generation apart--a daughter and father, a student and teacher, a romance--are followed over 40 years. These relationships bleed in and out of one another, converging and diverging in dialogues, movement, real time texting, and Skypes.
Martha Redbone, Roberta Uno, Aaron Whitby Brooklyn & Queens, NY
Bone Hill is a devised, interdisciplinary theater work that brings to light an important piece of American history that has remained untold. Bone Hill is inspired by Martha Redbone’s family lineage in the Appalachian Mountains. The story begins with a Native American family of an enduring culture, with an identity and connection to the mountain despite the passage of time and ever changing laws of the land. Bone Hill is an unexpected homecoming, one that will resonate with audiences throughout the nation.
Muriel Miguel Borst/SilverCloud Singers Jersey City, NJ
DON'T FEED THE INDIANS (A Divine Comedy Pageant) Using the language of the Doctrine of Discovery and the framework of Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY, Native versions of Virgil and Beatrice lead the audience (Dante) through the various circles of Hell and the Purgatory of Indian show business and show biz Indians - but is there a Heaven? Utilizing storytelling, music, dance, film, iconic artifacts and comic skits the company takes the audience on a journey through a history of misappropriation of Native images and racism in film, theater and pop culture, re-explored through a satiric Native lens.
NEW NOISE New Orleans, LA
Oxblood is a panoramic, outdoor performance about land, labor, and home in the contemporary South. Created by innovative New Orleans ensemble NEW NOISE, Oxblood is a stylistic hybrid—a fierce blending of dance, drama, and modern choral music. At once intimate and expansive, the performance follows a pair of estranged sisters who return to Georgia after their family home burns to the ground. Scouring through the ashes, Oxblood seeks to reconcile contemporary Southern identity with the vanishing land and farm-based cultures that once defined us.
The Object Group Decatur, GA
Spectrum follows a young man on the autistic spectrum and his obsession with, and escape into, the world of cinema. Capturing his perception within the controlled frame of a camera, the main character can convey his emotions and the emotions of those around him, thus bridging the common divide of social/emotional communication which the spectrum engenders. With performers and bunraku puppets implanted with live-feed cameras, Spectrum merges science and the arts and explores the increasingly complex communication challenges of our world.
Phantom Limb Company New York, NY
Memory Rings is a spellbinding Memory Rings is a spellbinding journey into the woods of a vanishing past and even more precarious future. By turns meditative and playful, this stunning theatrical collage from the inventive Phantom Limb Company combines fairy tale, fable, puppetry, choreography, original music and striking visual design to chronicle 5,000 years of human and environmental change, all under the watchful gaze of the world’s oldest living tree. Inspired by the “Methuselah Tree,” a California bristlecone pine estimated to be more than 4,800 years old, Memory Rings is the 2nd installment in Phantom Limb’s trilogy of original works about the environment. Its time-bending forest dreamscapes—incorporating everything from the epic tale of Gilgamesh to our penchant for Google searches—chart the humor and hubris of our species, the loss of our identification with the natural world, and the hope that we may yet be able to rewrite our story.
Pig Iron Theatre Company Philadelphia, PA
Pig Iron will create and tour I PROMISED MYSELF TO LIVE FASTER, conceived by Dito van Reigersberg, directed by Dan Rothenberg, written by playwright Gregory S Moss and the Pig Iron ensemble, and costumes by Machine Dazzle. With Dito van Reigersberg, Mikeah Jennings, Jenn Kidwell, Mary McCool and Michelle Tauber. Live Faster features a Ludlam-esque blend of maximalist absurdity and humor. Ridiculous, delirious, and unexpectedly moving, this breathless sci-fi "space opera" is an allegory about the search for identity for homosexuals circa 2015.
Stein | Holum Projects San Diego, CA
THE WHOLEHEARTED is the story of Dee Crosby, a former championship boxer who, after surviving a near-fatal attack by her husband, tries to make a comeback in boxing and in life. Inspired by a true story, this duet for performer and live-videographer is a ruthless look at violence in sports--and in the name of love. Conceived and created by Stein I Holum Projects, the work was commissioned by ArtsEmerson and is continuing development with plans for a national tour.
Taylor Mac New York, NY
Taylor Mac's 24-Decade History of Popular Music Equal parts bedazzled shaman, community organizer, searing social critic and Elizabethan fool, for the past 18 years, Taylor Mac has created internationally award-winning performance events that at once provoke and embrace his diverse audience. His 24-Decade History of Popular Music is his most ambitious project to date — a durational performance art work in which Taylor Mac and his ensemble comprised of creative collaborators, performers and local audience members, together create a subjective history of America through the last 240 years of popular music. Touring performances can be presented in various configurations ranging in duration from 90 minutes to 12 hours.
the TEAM Brooklyn, NY
The TEAM's PRIMER FOR A FAILED SUPERPOWER will bring together 3 generations--10 TEAM performers, 10 teenagers, and 10 seniors--to form a cover band playing protest songs from the past 75 years. From the very quiet to the very loud, from optimism to nihilism, the piece will look at the evolution of protest, reinterpreting and re-contextualizing through music the social and political outrage of one generation against another; Buffy St. Marie treated as hardcore punk, or Mos Def orchestrated as folk. Thrashing choreography will weave throughout, and the multigenerational concert will be laced with films of scholars and individuals from former empires around the world reflecting on both national and personal power. Following a NYC premiere in 2016, we will recreate the work with local teens and seniors wherever we tour.
Theater Grottesco Santa Fe, NM
STORM is a theatrical event about environmental crises, journeying into our current social paradigms and inviting us to create new ones. STORM is created through a collaboration between Theater Grottesco and Out of Context Orchestra. A final creation period will introduce the artists to some of the nation’s leading scientists and re-create the production for a smaller touring ensemble, leading to a premiere.
Wilhelm Bros. & Co. Minneapolis, MN
Clandestino investigates immigration reform, small-town politics, and religious fundamentalism within the context of the ICE raid of Agriprocessors, Inc, a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. It is scored with live music and songs drawing on Jewish traditions, Guatemalan folk music, original compositions, and local news theme songs. It is performed in Spanish, Yiddish and English, and uses an inventive and transformational scenic design which incorporates an almost successful attempt at making a documentary film. The project will work its way into meatpacking communities and really anywhere workers’ rights and food production are relevant, which is everywhere.
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