At the beginning of 2015, the Dramatists Guild Fund awarded $170,000 to 129 nonprofit theaters across the country, with Spooky Action Theater in Washington, D.C. among its deserving recipients.
“To be recognized by an organization like The Dramatists Guild, which is national in scope, is tremendously encouraging,” says Richard Henrich, artistic director of Spooky Action Theater. “It’s a real feather in our cap. This grant boosts the visibility of our commitment to new and adventurous plays, and it helps us make our case for support as we reach out to other sponsors and donors.”
As it has done since the fund was originally founded in 1962, theaters chosen for the grant must develop or produce contemporary American plays and musicals and have operating budgets of less than $1 million. According to the Dramatists Guild Fund website, “Funds from the award will go first in payment of royalties to the playwright, and the balance used for production costs for the premiere of his or her new play.”
For the theaters, it’s a fairly short online application, requiring additional documentation like financials, budget, production history, and sample contracts with playwrights. This was Spooky Action Theater’s first attempt at the award and they were thrilled to be recognized.
“The award is project based, and it will be used in support of our fall 2015 premiere production of Can’t Complain by Christine Evans, who is currently teaching at Georgetown University,” Henrich says. “The production will be Spooky Action’s contribution to the Women’s Voices Festival of new plays by women playwrights, coming next fall. We are excited to be presenting a new work by Christine, who is an accomplished author and whose work has been produced not only in the U.S. but internationally.”
Also locally, the National New Play Network was a recipient of a grant from The Dramatists Guild as well.
“NNPN, the alliance of more than 80 theatres across the country with a dedication to the development, production, and continued life of new plays, is proud of the more than 300 alumni playwrights who have been a part of our many programs,” says Nan Barnett, executive director of the DC-based organization. “We will use the funds to continue to grow our support of new play theater-makers through our annual commission, awarded each year to a playwright through one of our core member theaters, as well as our NNPN-funded Rolling World Premieres, residencies, commissions, workshops and showcases, and the Network’s newest innovation, the New Play Exchange, which is launching on Jan. 15.”
In all, approximately 200 theaters applied for the grant.
“It’s really a wide variety of theaters interacting with their community and trying to create change through theater and bring people together,” Rachel Routh, the executive director of the fund, says. “That can mean anything from an LGBT play festival in the middle of Texas to developmental readings in Minneapolis to a bigger theater here in New York.”
The Dramatists Guild Fund has broadened its mission and will now award grants to writers as well.
For more information, visit www.dramatistsguildfund.org.