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September 2, 2004

Philadelphia Theatre Initiative Awards Over $400,000 To Philadelphia Area Equity Theatres

The Philadelphia Theatre Initiative (PTI), an annual program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by Drexel University, announced the awarding of over $400,000 in grants to eight Philadelphia-area Equity theatres as well as three independent theatre artists. Ranging in amounts from $25,000 to $80,000, the grants are intended to assist theatres and artists with innovative artistic projects and further strengthen the excellence of the Philadelphia regional theatre network.

The largest grants of $80,000 each will go to three prominent theatre LORT companies: the Arden Theatre Company; the Philadelphia Theatre Company, and the Wilma Theatre. The Arden’s grant will help to finance a production of the musical SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, scheduled in May; PTC will us the grant for a production of THE STORY, a play by Tracey Scott Wilson about an African-American newspaper reporter who invents a story to advance her career, due in February; and the Wilma’s grant will go towards the East Coast premiere of OUTRAGE, a play by Itamar Moses that links a contemporary academic scandal to intellectual persecutions of the past.

Receiving grants of $ 50,000 are the Bristol Riverside Theatre, for a spring production of August Wilson’s FENCES; and InterAct Theatre Company, to premiere THE BEAUTY INSIDE, a play by Catherine Filloux about a lawyer who life is changed by a case of “honor killing” in her native Turkey.

Act II Playhouse, a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) in Ambler, will receive $40,000 for January’s premiere of THE STREET OF USEFUL THINGS, by Stephanie Fleischmann, a drama about a Jewish couple’s decision to flee Germany in the 1930s.

$25,000 awards will go to two other SPT theatres: the Lantern Theatre to finance African playwright Wole Soyinka’s DEATH AND THE KING’S HORSEMAN in November; and 1812 Productions, to create a holiday show, ALWAYS A LADY, a celebration of American comediennes, premiering in December.

Grants were also awarded to three theatres that use Guest Artist, or Special Appearance contracts, including the Mum Puppettheatre, the Pig Iron Theatre Company and New Paradise Laboratories.

The independent theatre artists who received grants of $10,000 each are Aaron Cromie, Thaddeus Phillips and Geoffrey Sobelle.

The 2004 International Peer Panel included: Timothy Douglas, Associate Artistic Director, Actors Theatre of Louisville, KY; Mallory Gilbert, General Manager of Tarragon Theatre, Toronto; James Nicola, Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop, NY; Neil Pepe, Artistic Director, Atlantic Theatre Company, NY; David Saint, Artistic Director, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, NJ; and Nandra Shinner, Associate Artistic Director, Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago, IL; Serving as Panel Chair was Tisa Chang, Producing Artistic Director, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, NY.

The Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, launched by The Pew Charitable Trusts in 1995, has awarded 111 project grants and supported 94 professional development opportunities. Since 1995, The Trusts has invested $7.79 million in the artistic development of the region's professional theatres and artists through the Initiative. The Pew Charitable Trusts serves the public interest by providing information, policy solutions and support for civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in Washington, D.C., the Trusts makes investments to provide organizations and citizens with fact-based research and practical solutions on challenging issues. With approximately $4.1 billion in dedicated assets, in 2003 the Trusts committed more than $143 million to 151 nonprofit organizations. For further information about The Pew Charitable Trusts, visit

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