Stages in NYC, TX and DC Receive Blue Star Theatres Grants

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, and Blue Star Families, the country's largest chapter-based military families non-profit organization, have announced the third round of the Blue Star Theatres Grant Program.

Through support from MetLife Foundation, the Grant Program will fund efforts that deepen the relationship between participating Blue Star Theatres and their local military community: veterans, children of active duty military, military spouses, and/or active duty military.

Each theatre will receive $5,000 to support activities that can include talkbacks, outreach programs, sponsored tickets, performances, playwriting workshops, readings, and workshops that focus on military themes and service.

"In a time of growing political division, the service of our veterans and military families remains a shining example of citizenship and civic engagement," said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. "We're grateful to partner with MetLife Foundation and Blue Star Families to support the growing connection between theatres and their local military communities through this the third round of the Blue Star Theatres Grant Program."

"Blue Star Families is thrilled to partner with Theatre Communications Group on a new grant program designed to provide military families with greater access to theatrical performances," said Noeleen Tillman, executive director of Blue Star Families. "The participating theatre companies are set to offer an array of lively and entertaining productions, as well as serve as engaging Blue Star Families partners, helping to strengthen community bonds and foster a greater understanding of the military lifestyle."

"MetLife Foundation is pleased with the continued growth and success of the Blue Star Arts program," said Dennis White, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation. "Programs such as Blue Star Theatres play an important part in building bridges between military families and their local communities, and we are proud to provide support."

The recipients of the third round of Blue Star Theatres Grant Program are:

Alley Theatre (Houston, TX): Alley Theatre will partner with The Telling Project using FIRST DRAFT to develop and present stories of Houston-area veterans. Utilizing playwriting and creative non-fiction techniques, FIRST DRAFT is a modern take on the age-old tradition of storytelling. Participants learn to transform memories into stories as they are guided through the process of crafting a personal narrative. The Telling Project is a live performance using veterans and military families to tell their own stories. This partnership will culminate in a small performance tour at the Alley Theatre and local military venues.

Bedlam (New York, NY): Bedlam will continue to provide veterans with acting classes that provide camaraderie, a creative environment, and a judgement-free forum of expression in order to help them reintegrate into civilian life. Additionally, Bedlam will create new opportunities for veterans to articulate and understand their experiences through the communal process of making theatre. These activities will include developing and presenting their own original work in order to build confidence as well as feelings of acceptance and community.

Target Margin Theater (Brooklyn, NY): Target Margin Theater (TMT) will provide theatre-making workshops for active military personnel, military veterans, and military families during their upcoming season, which is dedicated to the works of Eugene O'Neill. Using O'Neill's text as a starting point, each workshop will offer participants the opportunity to engage in theatrical writing, devising, and exploration alongside Target Margin Artistic Director David Herskovits and associated TMT Artists. These workshops will be a part of their Unseen O'Neill Lab Program in December 2016 and their production of Mourning Becomes Electra in spring of 2017.

Young Playwrights' Theater (Washington, DC): Young Playwrights' Theater (YPT) will bring award-winning after-school programs to Military Child Education Coalition's Student-2-Student Program. Students will participate in 12 arts-integrated workshops led by a professional artist, working individually and collaboratively to write plays about personally significant topics. During the final workshop, professional actors will perform these student-written pieces in a staged reading for students and their parents. This will empower students to discuss their experiences in often transient environments, with the unique strengths and stresses faced by military families. YPT will deepen connections between YPT and military families by using theatre as a window into students' lives.

The panelists for the Round Three Blue Star Theatres Grant Program were:

Ava Knox, performer, teaching artist, and fundraiser; Kate Liberman, managing director of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; David O'Fallon, president of the Minnesota Humanities Center; Joanne Tucker, artistic director of Arts in the Armed Forces; and Ed Walsh, a Marine, actor, and arts administrator and veteran and community relations manager at Lincoln Center.

Blue Star Theatres was launched on September 28, 2012, with 22 theatres participating and now features 152 participating theatres. This initiative is intended to recognize the contributions of service families, to build stronger connections between the theatre community and military families in communities all across the country, and to help in whatever small way we can to aid service people and their families as they seek to be integrated into the lives of their communities. Blue Star Theatres builds on the work already occurring at many theatres nationwide, including: playwriting classes to empower creative expression for veterans, community discussions on plays whose themes resonate with military families, free or discounted ticket programs, job postings and casting notices on military bases, and much more. TCG and Blue Star Families connect theatres with local bases and military families and develop and disseminate best practices for engaging with deployed personnel, veterans, and service families.

One hundred and fifty-two TCG Member Theatres have already signed on to participate in Blue Star Theatres. To find the full list, click here. For more information about Blue Star Theatres, visit www.tcg.org/Advocacy/BlueStarTheatres.aspx.

Blue Star Families builds communities that support military families by connecting research and data to programs and solutions, including career development tools, local community events for families, and caregiver support. Since its inception in 2009, Blue Star Families has engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and served more than 1.5 million military family members. Blue Star Families believes that all military families should be able to serve and simultaneously build thriving and healthy families. With Blue Star Families, military families can find answers to their challenges anywhere they are. Visit bluestarfam.org for more information.

MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated with MetLife, Inc, a leading global provider of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.org.

For over 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre. TCG's constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 11,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research, and communications; awards grants, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, connecting its constituents to the global theatre community. TCG is North America's largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 14 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. Go to www.tcg.org.

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