Lovely Vibrator Play & Lovely Theatre News from NNPN!

So I’ve been working on my review of “In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play,” by Sarah Ruhl, which I saw and loved at the Phoenix Theatre last weekend.  It is a beautiful, beautiful show, both visually (the gorgeous Victorian set and costumes!) and in terms of the language and story, which are exquisitely presented by the actors under the direction of Bryan Fonseca.

I mean, yes,yes, you’re right: it is about the early history of vibrators.  But it is also about the fact that there are no shortcuts to love and intimacy.  The whole show has a loving quality about it, which is, in itself, lovely. 

And…grr.  I am bogged down by “l” words.

In the meantime, while I struggle to find the right words to express my response to the “In the Next Room…,” let me share the following press release that I received yesterday from Jason Loewith, Executive Director from the National New Play Network.

The first Sarah Ruhl play I ever saw was at a NNPN member theatre: the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC.  And ever since I got to sit in on the NNPN annual meeting the year it was held here in Indy at the Phoenix, and I got to see the passion and commitment of all of the people involved, the NNPN has held a special place in my heart.

I am delighted to read about the NNPN’s big grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Congratulations, NNPN!

Here’s the press release: 

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 NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK RECEIVES $425,000

FROM THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION

WASHINGTON, DC – The NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK (NNPN), the country’s alliance of non-profit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, has received a grant of $425,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its programs over the next three years. The gift – far and away the largest received by NNPN in its history – was approved by the Trustees of the Foundation on September 24, 2010.

“NNPN’s 26 member theaters have already been instrumental in changing the culture around new plays in this country,” said Jason Loewith, NNPN’s Executive Director. “This extraordinary gift ensures NNPN’s place as a leading innovator for new plays and playwrights.” The gift supports the expansion of NNPN’s pioneering Continued Life of New Plays Fund, enhancement of new and existing partnership efforts, and infrastructure support.

“We are thrilled that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has renewed its funding of our work,” said Ryan Rilette, Producing Director of Marin Theatre Company and President of NNPN. “We simply would not be able to support new plays and playwrights to the extent we do without their ongoing, generous support. I think that’s probably true of the majority of new play organizations in the country at this point – the new play universe would be much bleaker without the Foundation’s commitment to new plays.”

CONTINUED LIFE OF NEW PLAYS FUND

NNPN’s flagship program, the Continued Life of New Plays Fund (CLNPF), supports three or more theaters which choose to mount the same new play within a twelve-month period. The result is a “rolling world premiere” through which the playwright develops a new work with at least three different creative teams, for three different communities of patrons, ensuring the resulting play is of the highest possible quality. To date, NNPN has championed the continued life of 23 new plays in nearly 100 productions, with nearly a half million dollars in grants.

Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation over the next three years will increase both the number of rolling world premieres NNPN supports as well as the amount of support each participating theater receives. Current and upcoming rolling world premieres include Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus El Rey, Steve Yockey’s Afterlife, Allison Moore’s Collapse, and Kara Hartzler’s Arizona: No Roosters in the Desert.

NEW AND EXISTING PARTNERSHIPS

A passionate belief in the value of institutional collaboration is the strength behind NNPN and its programs. Support in this area from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow NNPN to enhance current programs that exemplify this belief, and create new ones, thereby expanding pipelines for new plays and playwrights of merit. Existing programs receiving Foundation support include the MFA Playwrights Workshop at the Kennedy Center, the Playwright-in-Residence program, and a continuing partnership with the Lark Play Development Company. NNPN will also develop new programs: a “venture capital” Collaboration Fund for pioneering efforts in support of new play production, and a Producer-in-Residence program created in partnership with Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute.

ABOUT NNPN

The National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of leading non-profit professional theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has commissioned over a dozen playwrights, provided thirteen MFA graduates with paid residencies, and supported over 100 productions nationwide through its innovative Continued Life of New Plays Fund, which creates “rolling world premieres” of new plays. Through these activities and others, NNPN has granted more than a half million dollars to theaters and playwrights. Hundreds of artists have gained employment through these efforts in the 24 regions of the country where NNPN member theaters are located. In addition to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NNPN receives substantial support from the Boeing Company, the Shubert Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

NNPN’s 26 member theaters are: Actor’s Express Theatre (Atlanta), Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC), Borderlands Theater (Tucson), Curious Theatre Company (Denver), Florida Stage (Manalapan), Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota), Fountain Theatre (LA), Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta), InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia), Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas), Magic Theatre (San Francisco), Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA), Mixed Blood Theatre Company (Minneapolis), New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch), New Repertory Theatre (Watertown, MA), New Theatre (Coral Gables, FL), Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando), Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor, MI), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis), Playwright’s Theatre of New Jersey (Madison), Prop Thtr Group (Chicago), Salt Lake Acting Company (Salt Lake City), Southern Rep (New Orleans), Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO), Victory Gardens (Chicago), and Woolly Mammoth Theater Company (Washington, DC).

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More soon about what I have seen lately here in Indy and what I would like to see.  (There are SO MANY choices for performance art lovers in the Indianapolis area this month!)

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com and www.twitter.com/indytheatre

2 thoughts on “Lovely Vibrator Play & Lovely Theatre News from NNPN!”

  1. Indy audiences have seen many plays developed through the NNPN. The Phoenix Theatre is considered by its NNPN colleagues as “the poster child” for its “rolling world premiere/continued life of new plays fund” program. It’s a terrific organization (full disclosure: Bryan Fonseca and I have both served on its executive committee). If you travel, be sure to visit http://www.nnpn.org to see if there’s a professional contemporary producing theatre member in the city of your destination. I guarantee you’ll have a thought-provoking theatre experience.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment, Sharon! I strongly agree with you about seeing NNPN shows while traveling! (As well, of course, as seeing Phoenix shows while at home.)

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