For immediate use: Thursday, June 26, 2008  
  NEA chooses PlayMakers for Shakespeare program  
  CHAPEL HILL - PlayMakers Repertory Company has been chosen for a
national initiative to bring Shakespeare and the power of live theatre
to middle and high school students and their teachers.
  The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in cooperation with Arts
Midwest, has chosen PlayMakers, the professional theater company in
residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as one of
40 U.S. theatre companies to participate in "Shakespeare for a New
Generation."
  Through the initiative, PlayMakers will be able to provide tickets and
transportation to educational matinees for students and their teachers
from schools in the Triangle and surrounding counties.
  The program also will allow PlayMakers to create and distribute study
guides and other materials, send teaching artists into schools and host
a two-day teacher in-service event in collaboration with the UNC Program
in the Humanities and Human Values. Schools benefiting will particularly
include those identified as underserved in arts education due to lack of
access, geographically or economically.
  PlayMakers will participate in the initiative with its 2008-2009
mainstage opening production "Pericles," which will run Sept. 24 through
Oct. 12 at the Paul Green Theatre in UNC's Center for Dramatic Art on
Country Club Road.
  Spanning oceans and generations, "Pericles" is an epic adventure.
PlayMakers' production will be directed by producing artistic director
Joseph Haj and features original music by Jack Herrick of Chapel Hill's
Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers.
  "We are honored to receive this grant from the NEA recognizing
PlayMakers' dedication to the community," Haj said. "This grant allows
us to serve many young people for whom professional theatre has been out
of reach. A central part of our mission is to nurture the next
generation of theatergoers, so we are thrilled that the NEA has selected
us to be part of this important program."
  "Shakespeare for a New Generation" introduces high school and middle
school students throughout America to the masterpieces of William
Shakespeare through high-quality, professional theatre productions and
educational activities.
  Part of the NEA's "Shakespeare in American Communities" program,
launched in 2003, "Shakespeare for a New Generation" has become the
largest Shakespeare tour in American history, reaching more than 1,300
communities, military bases and 2,200 schools across all 50 states.
Education is an integral part of the program.
  The select theater companies chosen for the initiative include New
York's The Acting Company, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and
Washington, D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre.
  "The NEA's Shakespeare initiative not only introduces millions of
Americans to the English language's greatest writer, but it also brings
the experience of professional theater to many students who have never
seen it before," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Through 'Shakespeare for
a New Generation,' we benefit not only students and their teachers, but
provide employment to numerous actors and theater professionals."
  The NEA, based in Washington, D.C., is a public agency dedicated to
supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing
the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.
  Arts Midwest, based in Minneapolis, connects people throughout the
Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing
creativity, knowledge and understanding across boundaries.
  Based in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the
Carolinas' premier resident professional theatre company. New York's
Drama League named PlayMakers one of the "best regional theatres in
America" and the North Carolina Theatre Conference named PlayMakers its
2007 Professional Theatre of the Year.
  For information on PlayMakers' 2008-2009 season, visit
www.playmakersrep.org
or call (919) 962-PLAY (7529).  A variety of subscription packages are
available, with discounts for students, seniors and youth.
  Note: For a National Endowment for the Arts news release on companies
chosen for the program, go to
http://www.arts.gov/news/news08/Shakespeare.html.
  "Shakespeare in American Communities" Web site:
www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org
National Endowment for the Arts Web site:  www.arts.gov
Arts Midwest Web site: www.artsmidwest.org
  PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 428-1744, cmahan@email.unc.edu
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093,
spurrk@email.unc.edu