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Endangered Species Theatre Project Receives NEA Grant to Support ROMEO & JULIET

This grant will help ESP move from building their two language (ASL/English) script, to rehearsals and performances at the Hodson Outdoor Theater.

Endangered Species Theatre Project Receives NEA Grant to Support ROMEO & JULIET

Endangered Species theatre Project has been approved for a $10,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support their production of Romeo & Juliet featuring a Deaf Romeo and hearing Juliet. This grant will help ESP move from building their two language (ASL/English) script, to rehearsals and performances at the Hodson Outdoor Theater on the Hood College campus this August. A team of 18 artists with diverse backgrounds will bring this show to life for both hearing and Deaf patrons, including students from the Maryland School for the Deaf, where they hope to bring a shortened version in the Fall.

Endangered Species theatre Project's Romeo & Juliet is among more than 1,100 projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during the second round of NEA Grants for Arts Projects for fiscal year 2021 funding. (June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022)

"As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as Endangered Species theatre Project re-engage fully with partners and audiences," said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. ESP Artistic Director, Christine Mosere, adds "We are so grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for their belief in our project. We are confident that casting Deaf Broadway actor Joshua M. Castille* as Romeo, who only signs, opposite ESP favorite Surasree Das as a Juliet who does not understand sign language, will enhance the theme of universal love and give insight into each culture."

For more information on the projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Endangered Species theatre Project would be remiss not to mention the early project support they received from the Delaplaine Foundation and the Maryland State Arts Council that not only allowed them to build a two-language script for Romeo & Juliet, but also enabled their director (Christine Mosere) to communicate and meet weekly with their Deaf assistant director and Director of Artistic Sign Language (DASL) Neil Sprouse. That early funding was and is vital to the success of this project. It allowed ESP to build a team of ASL interpreters, led by Alecia Cole, Patrick Cole, and Shelby Stuart Abdilah, who will be instrumental in the rehearsal and performance of this project. They also are thrilled to be working with Frederick Community College and their ASL Certificate Program students to provide the internship opportunities the students need for graduation. Gideon Firl is also a vital member of their team acting as assistant DASL.

ESP's Frederick Shakespeare Festival would likely not exist if it were not for the Nora Roberts Foundation that embraced their idea of bringing a Shakespeare festival back to Frederick in the summer of 2019. The Nora Roberts Foundation has continued to support ESP as well as many other arts organizations in and around Frederick, MD.

Romeo & Juliet will play in repertory with a return of The Comedy of Errors directed by Aaron Angello. The Festival's Opening Celebration will be on July 16 at Sky Stage. Also included in the Festival: Their teen Shakespeare Production of A Snappy Shakespearean Spoof Show directed by Deanna Kinzie and Cassandra Redding also playing at Sky Stage July 28, 29, and 31.

For more information about their two-month Frederick Shakespeare Festival, visit them at www.esptheatre.org


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