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The Civilians Receive $700,000 Grant from National Science Foundation


The Civilians, the New York-based theatre company known for projects investigating real-life topics - including the upcoming IN THE FOOTPRINT about the controversy surrounding the development of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn - has been awarded a three-year grant in the amount of $700,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for THE GREAT IMMENSITY, a new production about climate change, it has been announced by Steve Cosson, founding Artistic Director of The Civilians.


This grant from NSF - the federal agency that funds science, engineering and mathematics research and education nationwide - is the largest award ever given to The Civilians, and is one of only a few such awards that the agency has given to a theater company.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary season, The Civilians will use the funds for development, production, evaluation and touring of THE GREAT IMMENSITY, a new play with music about the environment, climate change and Earth's future. The award will also support educational and public programming to accompany THE GREAT IMMENSITY, which will include post-show and panel discussions with the creative artists and experts in the related scientific fields.

THE GREAT IMMENSITY, with book by Steve Cosson (THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY, GONE MISSING) and music and lyrics by Michael Friedman (BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY) tells the story of Polly, a photojournalist, who disappears while working in the rainforests of Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal. Phyllis, Polly's twin, embarks on an international search for her sister that spans the North American continent, from the tropics of Central America to arctic Canada. The play weaves actual interviews with top scientists and locals from the regions into the sisters' fictional tale as they struggle to survive polar bears, tundra buggies, snakes, and a Chinese pimp -- all while grappling with the harsh and seemingly hopeless realities of climate change.

The play is based on research conducted by Messrs. Cosson and Friedman in Panama and Canada, where they interviewed trappers, shippers, indigenous community leaders, Polar Bear Tour guides, scientists, local politicians, and many others. They continued research during The Civilians' 2009-2010 residency at Princeton University in the Princeton Environmental Institute and Lewis Center for the Arts. In the spring of 2010, THE GREAT IMMENSITY received a work-in-progress showing at the Berlind Theatre at Princeton and a reading in The Public Theater's New Work Now! Festival.

Founded in 2001 by Steven Cosson, The Civilians has created 12 original works that have been produced Off Broadway and in over 40 cities nationally and internationally, at theaters such as The Public Theater, Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse, A.R.T., HBO's US Comedy Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival, London's Soho Theatre, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Fringe First Award, 2006). The company's recent work, THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY enjoyed a critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theater in 2009, receiving Lucille Lortel, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations. GONE MISSING ran for seven months at Off-Broadway's Barrow Street Theater and was cited by The New York Times as one of the "10 Best Plays of 2007." The Civilians received an Obie in 2004.

The Civilians' 10th anniversary season kicks off with the world premiere of IN THE FOOTPRINT: THE BATTLE OVER ATLANTIC YARDS at the Irondale Center (85 South Oxford St.) in Brooklyn from November 12 through December 11, 2010.

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