A.C.T. Receives NEA Art Works Grant
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced today that American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is one of 895 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. A.C.T. is recommended for a $30,000 grant to support their upcoming production of The Orphan of Zhao, playing June 4-29, 2014 at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater.
A.C.T.'s 2013-14 season will culminate with the United States premiere of James Fenton's beautiful reinvention of The Orphan of Zhao, an iconic Chinese legend rooted in a conflict thought to have occurred sometime in the fourth century BCE. Directed by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff, The Orphan of Zhao is an epic story following a humble doctor who sacrifices his only child to save the heir to a famous clan that has been eradicated by a violent political regime, spanning the years until the young orphan discovers the shattering truth behind his origins. Often described as the Chinese Hamlet, this gripping tale was the first Chinese play to be translated in the West and has inspired countless operas, plays, and movies.
Featuring the A.C.T. debut of stage and screen star (and San Francisco's own) BD Wong (M. Butterfly, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), The Orphan of Zhao has an enormous scope, both in time and geographical distance, and tackles complex issues of sacrifice, revenge, honor, fate, and loyalty. Told in a simple, poetic prose interspersed with powerful songs and encapsulating the spirit of the original operatic verse, Fenton parallels the events of the play to contemporary conflicts in Argentina, Cambodia, and Rwanda, as well as recent Chinese history. The universal struggle that pits individual and familial responsibility against greater societal good resonates with cultures all over the world.
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, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable experiences for the public to engage with the arts."
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.
American Conservatory Theater is a Tony Award-winning theater and educational institution dedicated to nurturing the art of live theater through Dynamic Productions, intensive actor training in its conservatory, and an ongoing engagement with its community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Carey Perloff and Executive Director Ellen Richard, A.C.T. embraces its responsibility to conserve, renew, and reinvent our relationship to the rich theatrical traditions and literatures that are our collective legacy, while exploring new artistic forms and new communities. A commitment to the highest standards informs every aspect of A.C.T.'s creative work. A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season in 1967. Since then, A.C.T. has performed more than 320 productions to a combined audience of more than seven million people. A.C.T. reaches more than 250,000 people through its productions and programs every year.