Huntington Receives $25,000 NEA Art Works Grant in Support of Lydia R. Diamond's SMART PEOPLE

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced last week that the Huntington Theatre Company is one of 895 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Huntington is slated to be awarded $25,000 to support the development and production of Huntington Playwriting Fellow Lydia R. Diamond's Smart People, now extended to play May 23 - June 29, 2014.

Smart People is a sharp new comedy that asks the question: are our beliefs and prejudices hard-wired into us? Four Harvard intellectuals - a doctor, an actress, a psychologist, and a neurobiologist studying the human brain's response to race - search for love, success, and identity in a complex world. With barbed wit, Diamond explores the inescapable nature of racism and other tricky topics in this controversial and fiercely funny new play that will be directed by Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois (The Power of Duff, Rapture, Blister, Burn and Sons of the Prophet at the Huntington).

"Quick-witted, wildly intelligent, and as entertaining as it is unsettling, Smart People is Lydia R. Diamond's most ambitious play to date," said DuBois. "Lydia's work asks brave questions, and the Art Works grant will help us to launch her daring new work and to facilitate the challenging and important civic conversations it will certainly spark."

Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancing the livability of communities through the arts. The NEA received 1,528 eligible Art Works applications, requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 895 are recommended for grants for a total of $ 23.4 million.

Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, "The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, the Art Works projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable experiences for the public to engage with the arts."

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website.

Lydia R. Diamond (Playwright) is a Huntington Playwriting Fellow. The Huntington produced her play Stick Fly in 2010 in association with Arena Stage before its Broadway production (2012 Outer Circle Critics Nomination - Best Play [Broadway], 2010 IRNE Award - Best Play, 2010 LA Critics Circle Award - Playwriting, 2010 LA Garland Award- Playwriting, 2009 LA Weekly Theatre Award - Playwriting, 2008 Susan S. Blackburn Finalist, 2006 Black Theatre Alliance Award, and 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination - Best New Work). Her other plays include Voyeurs de Venus (2006 Joseph Jefferson Award - Best New Work, 2006 BTAA - Best Writing), The Bluest Eye (2006 Black Arts Alliance Image Award - Best New Play, 2008 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award), The Gift Horse (2005 Theodore Ward Prize, Kesselring Prize 2nd Place), Harriet Jacobs, and Stage Black. Her work has been produced and developed across the country at theatres including Arena Stage, Cort Theatre (Broadway), Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Everyman Theatre Company, Freedom Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Jubilee Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Mo'Olelo Performing Arts Company, MPAACT, New Vic (Off Broadway), Playmakers Rep, Plowshares Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, True Colors Theatre Company, and Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Commissioning theatres include Huntington Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre, Actor's Theatre of Louisville/Victory Gardens, Humana Festival, Boston University, and Roundabout Theatre Company. Stick Fly and Harriet Jacobs are published by NU Press, The Bluest Eye, Gift Horse, Stage Black by Dramatic Publishing, and Stick Fly by Samuel French. Ms. Diamond is a graduate of Northwestern University where she majored in Performance Studies. She is resident playwright at Arena Stage and was a 2005-2006 WEB Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a 2012-2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow, a 2012 Sallie B. Goodman McCarter Fellow, and a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor. She is co-vice president of Theatre Communication Group's Board of Directors, a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, holds an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Pine Manor College, and previously served on the faculty at Boston University.

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