New Georges Gets Big Grant from Mellon

New Georges is happy to announce that the company has received a three-year, $90,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which supports the creation of an artistic director’s discretionary fund. This grant is intended to help New Georges maintain financial stability during these volatile economic times, and thereby continue to do excellent artistic work, take risks, commit to new plays/artistic projects, and invest in artists over time.

“It’s an honor and a thrill that New Georges has been recognized by The Mellon Foundation,” says artistic director Susan Bernfield. “This grant will have tremendous impact on our organization, and on me.” She continues, “as New Georges has grown, it’s been more and more challenging for me to keep artistic priorities in the foreground. So the fund has tremendous symbolic resonance, encouraging me to keep my involvement in our artistic work deep and expansive. It will also, of course, have direct impact on artistic projects, giving us back some of the flexibility we had before the financial crisis, the freedom to support projects and artists we love spontaneously and in alternative contexts and collaborations, which has always been important to us.”

Among the programs this grant will support are two new initiatives: The Germ Project and The Jam.

[more info after the jump]

New Georges has commissioned four affiliated playwrights — Kara Lee Corthron, Lynn Rosen, Kathryn Walat and Anna Ziegler — to write plays as part of The Germ Project, a program designed to encourage new plays of “scope and adventure.”  In the current theatrical climate, new plays seem to be getting smaller and smaller.  At New Georges, we want to see a theater of scope, “big ideas done in a big way” — a broader landscape of subject matter, or more ambitious design, or a push to the envelope of what a play should look or feel like. And we’re used to making big out of little, so plays of scope make for an interesting challenge, not an impossible one. We want to change the way writers for an ever-diminishing theater might decide what to write, and this is our tactic.

The four commissioned plays will enter a workshop phase in fall 2010. In spring 2011, we will fully produce an evening of 20-minute excerpts or one-act versions of the four pieces — each the “germ” of a new work with the potential to expand to a full-length evening of theater, should collaboration and project move forward. By providing a lower-stakes environment, ongoing development support, and guarantee of production, we have an opportunity to create theater that defies expectations of some of these writers, perhaps jumpstarting new realms of thought that will influence future work.

The second initiative is The Jam, New Georges’ new working lab for early-career women theatermakers.  The Jam is the brainchild of playwright Lucy Alibar and directors Jess Chayes and Portia Krieger, who wanted to find an on-your-feet alternative to the traditional writers’ group. The Jam will meet twice a month in New Georges’ workspace, The Room, to develop new work in an environment which encourages experimentation and collaboration. In addition to Alibar, Chayes and Krieger, Jam participants are Kate Benson, Rachel Bonds, Adrienne Campbell-Holt, Jihan Crowther, Morgan Gould, Rachel Karpf and Anna Moench.

New Georges is also pleased to announce that under the auspices of Full Stage New York, a partnership program between New Dramatists and producing organizations, they will be collaborating with New Dramatists member playwright Sally Oswald on the development of a new play, Nightlands, for production in 2011. Full Stage New York is a program supported by a lead grant from NYC’s Theater Subdistrict Council.

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