The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $100,000 to PlayMakers Repertory Company, its largest grant to a producing theater for the upcoming season.

For the fifth year in a row, the NEA has recognized the professional theater company, which is based in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The “Art Works” grant will support the company’s rotating repertory production of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Clybourne Park” during the theater’s 2012-2013 season.

First produced in 1959, “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama of family, race and dreams deferred, has become an acknowledged American masterpiece. “Raisin” will be directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges, artistic director of San Francisco’s Brava! Theater Center.  She also helmed “Topdog/Underdog” (2008) and “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda” (2010) at PlayMakers.

Written in 2009 and taking up the story where “Raisin” leaves off, “Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris is described in a New York Times review as a “sharp-witted, sharp-toothed comedy of American uneasiness.” The play received the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and is a nominee for the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play. “Clybourne Park” will be directed by Tracy Young, whose work has been called “true genius” by the Los Angeles Times.

The plays will be performed Jan. 26 through March 3, 2013, at the Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road.

Through the “Art Works” grant, PlayMakers will undertake an outreach program called “A Dream Deferred: Urban Development and Gentrification in Contemporary America.” Located in a community with two major research universities, UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, PlayMakers will explore the challenges and benefits surrounding the economic and social relationships between these schools, the towns they inhabit and the communities they affect.

These outreach events will include:

  • A weekend seminar with UNC’s Program in the Humanities and Human Values that will highlighttheextensive research on home lending practices and race done by the School of Information and Library Science;

  • An exhibit of visual arts on issues of gentrification, in partnership with Ackland Art Museum;  

  • A series of town hall-style forums on the gentrification of Chapel Hill’s Northside neighborhood, held in conjunction with the mayor’s office;

  • A photographic and video exhibit from “Because We’re Still Here and Moving,” a production by local theater company Hidden Voices about Northside;

  • A poetry night with local youth poetry organization Sacrificial Poets examining issues of displacement, race and identity; and

  • A discussion about Hansberry’s legacy and influence on American theater with playwright Bruce Norris and Harry Elam, celebrated Hansberry scholar and professor at Stanford University.

 
“We are deeply honored by this award,” said PlayMakers producing artistic director Joseph Haj. “To receive such support from the NEA is an enormous acknowledgement of the art we are striving to create and the outreach we are doing to link our plays meaningfully to our community.”

PlayMakers received NEA grants during its last four seasons, for productions of “The Making of a King: Henry IV & V” (2011-2012), “Big River” and “As You Like It” (2010-2011), “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” (2009-2010) and “Pericles” (2008-2009).

For information on PlayMakers’ 2012-2013 season and upcoming special events, visit www.playmakersrep.org or call (919) 962-PLAY (7529). A variety of season ticket packages are available.

PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359, cmahan@email.unc.edu