Theater of the First Amendment, which for 22 years has been the professional theatre-in-residence at George Mason University, announced yesterday that it will no longer be producing. Instead, the creative staff will join in expanding the university’s Theater at Mason, which includes training and mentoring students, master classes, guest artist appearances and a new artist residency program.
In a press release yesterday, Artistic Director Rick Davis explained, “It’s easy to point to the obvious challenges of producing professional theater today—companies across the country are scaling back, rethinking and some important ones have shut down—but truthfully, we have accomplished what we set out to do. TFA leaves a rich legacy of new work for the American stage.”
TFA, founded by playwright and profession Paul D’Andrea, focused on the development and production of new plays, new adaptations and new translations of plays. Among those artists who had their work premiered developed at TFA are Heather McDonald, Karen Zacarías, Paul D’Andrea, Jennifer Nelson, Anna Theresa Cascio, Sherry Kramer, Dianne McIntyre, and the team of Mary Hall Surface and David Maddox.
In its 22 years, TFA’s productions and artists won 12 Helen Hayes Awards out of 38 nominations. Many of its productions have been published, recorded as original cast albums on CD, broadcast on PBS, aired on NPR and produced nationally and internationally after TFA’s premieres.
This past year was TFA’s most ambitious: three world premieres —Jennifer Nelson’s 24, 7, 365, Kaiulani Lee’s Can’t Scare Me, the story of Mother Jones, both at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and STAY, a collaboration between playwright Heather McDonald and choreographer Susan Shields, at the Lansburgh Theatre of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. A new adaptation of Federal Theatre Radio Archive material entitled “Live Wire” played both the Hylton Performing Arts Center and George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. ‘Playwrights in Mind: A National Conversation’ was a conference offered in partnership with the Dramatists Guild of America at the newly opened Mason Inn Conference Center last summer. Featuring such prestigious playwrights and composers as Christopher Durang, Stephen Schwartz, Marsha Norman, Doug Wright, and Emily Mann, the conference drew hundreds of writers from across the United States.
Theater at Mason’s upcoming production is Bertolt Brecht’s The Life of Galileo, with Equity actor Matthew Vaky and a cast including student actors will be directed by Rick Davis and run for eight performances, from March 29 – April 7 at the Harris Theater, George Mason University, Fairfax campus. Details and Tickets