Art Works Blog

Three Cheers for Theater!

Washington, DC

From left: Daniel Breaker, Nic Few, Warner Miller, and Nicoye Banks in The Ballad of Emmett Till, by Ifa Bayeza, part of Eugene O?Neill Theater Center?s 2007 National Playwright?s Conference. Photo by Keith Jochim

Congratulations are due to all of this year?s Tony Award nominees, but the NEA takes great pride in acknowledging that several of those nominees---and the recipient of this year?s Regional Theatre Tony Award---have benefited from NEA support.

The Eugene O?Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, has spent the past 40-plus years supporting the development of new works and new artists for the stage, many of which have gone on to win Tony Awards. This organization is now being recognized and honored with the 2010 Regional Theatre Tony Award. The NEA has a long history of supporting the O?Neill?s work through grants for its National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference. With a truly impressive roster of participating artists and a notable track record of plays developed at these conferences going on to full productions, the O?Neill is a model program for providing artists the time and space to cultivate new work.

Two new works---a musical and a play---that have been developed with project support from the NEA will also be in the spotlight at the June 13th awards event. Back in FY 2004 the NEA awarded a grant to California?s TheatreWorks for the production of Joe DiPietro?s new musical Memphis, inspired by legendary deejay Dewey Phillips and rock-and-roll music. Memphis went on to Broadway?s Shubert Theater and has now been nominated for eight Tonys, including Best Musical.

In FY 2009 the NEA awarded Berkeley Rep a grant to support the world premiere of award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl?s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play. After a successful opening in California, the play opened on Broadway last November and is now nominated for three Tony awards, including Best Play, Best Costume Design, and Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for Maria Dizzia, who originated the role of Mrs. Daldry back at Berkeley Rep.

The NEA looks forward to Tony night and to celebrating the best of the Great White Way?s theater and musical theater!

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