National Endowment for the Arts Supports Magic of Shakespeare in LA with Free Summer Shakespeare Festival
Arts Endowment Celebrates Shakespeare Comes to LA Festival with Students from Local Schools
May 17, 2004
Washington, DC - The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Shakespeare Festival/LA (SFLA), will co-sponsor Shakespeare Comes to LA to bring professional Shakespeare productions and educational activities to stages and schools throughout the Los Angeles, Calif., metropolitan area. The summer festival is an extension of the Arts Endowment's nationally-acclaimed Shakespeare in American Communities initiative. All performances will be free of charge and will reach communities that have not had the opportunity to experience live, professional theater.
Today at LA's Mark Taper Forum, to mark the launch of the festival, students and other special guests will gather to honor the greatest playwright in the English language. The event will include the debut of a short film produced especially for the Arts Endowment featuring actors, including Tom Hanks, Martin Sheen, Michael York, and Christina Applegate, among others, reminiscing about their theater experiences and love of Shakespeare, and discussing the transformative power of the arts. The program will be highlighted by performances of Shakespeare. The Hobart Shakespeareans, a remarkable troupe of students from the local Hobart Elementary School; and Los Angeles-based Circle X Theatre Company will perform at the event.
"We're here today to celebrate bringing the magic of Shakespeare to those who have not yet experienced the wonder and excitement of seeing a live, professional production of Shakespeare," said Arts Endowment Chairman Dana Gioia. "Los Angeles is my hometown, and I am delighted that the Arts Endowment is able to partner with Shakespeare Festival/LA to bring these productions to thousands of students."
The event also will recognize Shakespeare in American Communities, the largest tour of Shakespeare's works in our nation's history. Sponsored by the Arts Endowment in partnership with The Sallie Mae Fund and Arts Midwest, the initiative's seven theater companies are touring more than 100 cities in all 50 states, hundreds of high schools and 16 military bases.
Now, two professional theater companies from Shakespeare in American Communities - the Guthrie Theater and The Acting Company - will conclude their parts of the tour in LA. For Shakespeare Comes to LA, they will join Los Angeles-based theater companies to offer school programs and performances including Othello, Richard III, King Henry IV: Part I, Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In Los Angeles, more than 70,000 students are in school during the summer months. Shakespeare Comes to LA will encourage these students to attend performances free-of-charge, and select performance locations and conduct promotional activities in communities that have not traditionally had the opportunity to experience live theater. Transportation will be provided free to teachers and their students, subject to the availability of funding. Through Shakespeare Festival/LA's Will Power to Schools Program, a professional development initiative for middle and high school teachers throughout Los Angeles County, educators will be presented innovative methods for teaching Shakespeare. The three workshops scheduled will each focus on one of the summer's plays: Othello, Richard III and Twelfth Night. Each workshop will offer teachers informative lectures, interactive activities, classroom materials, and classroom sets of the selected play.
Ben Donenberg, producing artistic director for SFLA, commented, "I'm thrilled about the partnership with the Arts Endowment and fascinated by the many different ways the various theater companies approach and interpret Shakespeare. It's a real pleasure to be able to offer these local and national companies free-of-charge so that they are accessible to absolutely everyone."
Participating theater companies and scheduled performances include (some venues and dates are still to be determined):
The National Endowment for the Arts: The mission of the National Endowment for the Arts is to enrich our nation and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing learning in the arts, and strengthening the arts in communities throughout the country. Established by Congress in 1965, the Arts Endowment is an independent agency of the federal government and is the largest annual funder of the arts. Since then, it has awarded more than 120,000 grants in all 50 states and the six U.S. jurisdictions. For more information about Shakespeare in American Communities or the Arts Endowment please visit www.arts.gov.
The Sallie Mae Fund: The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, achieves its mission to increase access to a post-secondary education for America's children by supporting programs and initiatives that help open doors to higher education.
Arts Midwest: Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest enables individuals and families throughout America's heartland to share in and to enjoy the arts and cultures of the Midwest region and the world. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years. For more information please visit www.artsmidwest.org.
Shakespeare Festival/LA: Each summer, SFLA (www.shakespearefestivalla.org) presents the Summer Festival - critically acclaimed performances of Shakespeare's best-loved plays in stagings that artfully blend images and forms reflecting Los Angeles and its diverse cultures. SFLA is a "Coming Up Taller" award recipient, a project of The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to recognize programs that celebrate the creativity of America's young people, provide them learning opportunities and chances to contribute to their communities.
For more information, contact: Trisch Smith at (202) 326-1783 or Victoria Hutter at (202) 682-5570.
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