For the third year in a row, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has recognized the professional theater company based in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

PlayMakers’ largest NEA award to date, a $40,000 Access to Artistic Excellence grant, will support its production of “Big River” April 6-24, 2011. The company’s producing artistic director, Joseph Haj, will direct the musical, which will feature the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers as the onstage band.

Last year, NEA gave PlayMakers a $30,000 Access to Artistic Excellence grant for its production of “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.”

In conjunction with “Big River,” PlayMakers will launch an outreach program, “Southern Voices: Exploring the History of the American South through Stage & Literature,” exploring issues of race, class and religion in the American South through the rich storytelling tradition of Mark Twain.

Community events will be part of the initiative, including presentations made with UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South and the Durham County Library, as well as schools, book stores and university and civic organizations throughout the Triangle.

PlayMakers also will receive a $25,000 grant from the NEA and Arts Midwest for education programs connected with its 2010-2011 main-stage season opener, “As You Like It.” The grant comes under the two benefactors’ “Shakespeare for a New Generation” program, which supports productions of Shakespeare and related educational activities in professional theaters across America. PlayMakers previously received this grant in 2008 for its production of “Pericles.”

Through the program, PlayMakers will provide free tickets to educational matinees of “As You Like It” for students and their teachers from schools in the Triangle and surrounding counties. PlayMakers also will create and distribute study guides and other learning 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 that benefit will particularly include those identified as underserved in arts education due to lack of access geographically or economically.

Haj will direct “As You Like It,” the Bard’s delightful romantic comedy, to run Sept. 22 through Oct. 10.

Both “As You Like It” and “Big River” will be performed in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road.

“We are extremely honored to receive these grants recognizing PlayMakers’ dedication to artistic quality and to our community,” Haj said.

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 to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge and understanding across boundaries.

For information on PlayMakers’ 2010-2011 season and details about upcoming events, visit www.playmakersrep.org or call (919) 962-PLAY (7529). A variety of subscription packages are available.

PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premier resident professional theater company. New York’s Drama League named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatres in America.”

Web sites:
www.playmakersrep.org 
www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org
www.arts.gov
www.artsmidwest.org

PlayMakers contact: Hannah Grannemann, (919) 962-3198, hgrannemann@unc.eduThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093, spurrk@email.unc.eduThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.