Veterans and Theatre Institute News

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2016
PRESS CONTACTS: Gus Schulenburg | gschulenburg@tcg.org | 212.609.5941
Salma S. Zohdi | szohdi@tcg.org | 212.609.5955

TCG’s Veterans and Theatre Institute Joins Forces with Trinity Rep: Introducing Veterans to Playwriting and Technical Theatre

New York, NY – The Veterans and Theatre Institute (VTI), a pilot program to empower veterans and active-duty military personnel to experience, study, and create theatre, is thrilled to announce its partnership with Trinity Repertory Company (Trinity Rep). Initiated by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, and supported by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Building Demand for the Arts grants program, VTI’s partnership with Trinity Rep launches an initiative to introduce veterans and military personnel to playwriting and technical theatre.

"VTI was primarily born in recognition of the challenges that face active duty service members as they integrate into civilian life," said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. "The joint venture between Trinity Rep and VTI will be the first iteration of this program, allowing us to better understand the intersections between military and theatre communities and how best to engage veterans in potential careers in the theatre."

Free playwriting workshops, taught by TCG’s artist-in-residence, playwright, and veteran Maurice Decaul, will be held weekly throughout the fall and spring. Students will gain experience in the skills and practice of script-writing. In parallel, Trinity Rep resident artist Michael McGarty will lead the season-long technical theatre track in this initiative. Technical theatre students and participants will interact with various disciplines of design and have the opportunity to execute their skills and training in an eight-show season. For more enrollment information in either playwriting or technical theatre, interested parties should email Trinity Rep community engagement coordinator Rebecca Noon at rnoon@trinityrep.com or contact vti@tcg.org.

"With VTI, we’re building on the work of great teachers who have dedicated their time and their energy to mentoring a new generation of military and veteran writers—people like Paula Vogel and Walter Bilderback and the many others I’ve met as I have traveled this large and diverse country of ours," said Decaul. "I am excited for the work ahead and grateful to TCG, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Trinity Rep, Brown University TAPS, The Providence Community Libraries, and, of course, the dozens of energetic, curious, and talented veterans and military folks for coming together and bringing VTI to fruition."

"We're very lucky to be partnering with Maurice and TCG this season in piloting the VTI. As one of the first Blue Star Theatres, our commitment to providing greater access to the theatre to Southeastern New England's service members has always been strong," said Noon. "What we've learned over the years, however, is that it's not enough to offer discounted tickets—we want to build a deeper partnership that opens up multiple avenues of participation and collaboration. Maurice often says that the military and theatre have a lot in common: group execution, creative problem-solving, long hours, construction, demolition, engineering, and a tight-knit community born of a common goal. We are confident that with the VTI we'll be able to discover even more commonalities with our community and all the great work it engenders."

VTI builds on the partnerships and learnings developed over the past five years by TCG’s Blue Star Theatres (BST) program, a partnership with Blue Star Families with leadership support from MetLife Foundation. Through events, grantmaking, and knowledge-sharing activities, BST recognizes the profound contributions of service families and seeks to build stronger connections among theatres, military families, and their communities. VTI will support and extend this work through a three-phase process that seeks to remove the barriers between veterans and theatre:

1. Community Assessment and Curriculum Development: This phase will answer critical questions such as: How does a specific military community define itself in relation to theatres in its geographic vicinity? What are the best pathways to increase participation from this community in theatre? How are theatres already reaching this community, and how can our program complement this work? Based on the answers to these questions, VTI will develop partnerships and curricula that meet the specific needs of each community.
2. Program Pilot Launch and Rollout: The program will then receive a robust pilot process over the following year, deepening relationships with military, educational, community, and theatre partnerships.
3. Evaluation and Dissemination: In the third year, TCG will coordinate an evaluation process with all partners to assess the overall success of the VTI and identify any areas for improvement. From this, learnings from the program along with the curriculum will be made available to the theatre field at large.

"The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is pleased to see that our grant support, beginning in 2015, for TCG and Maurice Decaul’s partnership and the creation of VTI continues to grow and reach its goals through new collaborations," said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “This new partnership between VTI and Trinity Rep engages active duty personnel and veterans with contemporary theatre in ways that extend far beyond attending performances. Whether harnessing the power of story to share their experiences or working behind the scenes to bring stage performances to life, participants can potentially make great contributions to the theatre landscape. We commend Trinity, VTI, and TCG for this initiative, and we look forward to its positive impact among military personnel and communities in general."

DDCF's Building Demand for the Arts program launched in 2013 and supports partnerships between artists and arts organizations focused on using the performing arts in unique ways to develop meaningful connections with targeted audiences. Implementation grants support organizations working with artists for 90 days over a period of three years to implement previously crafted initiatives and projects that have strong potential to spark demand for the arts in their communities. Each grant also includes an extra $5,000 dedicated specifically to evaluation of the funded project.

Maurice Emerson Decaul, a former Marine, is a poet, essayist, and playwright whose writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Sierra Magazine, Epiphany, Callaloo, Narrative, The Common, and others. His poems have been translated into French and Arabic, and his theatre pieces have been produced at New York City’s Harlem Stage, Poetic License Festival in New York City, Washington DC’s Atlas INTERSECTIONS FESTIVAL in 2013 and 2014, l’Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe in Paris, The Paris Banlieues Bleues Festival, The Middelhein Jazz Festival in Antwerp, The Avignon Theatre Festival in France and Détours de Babel, The Grenoble Festival of Grenoble France, Arizona State University Gammage Memorial Auditorium, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, and the Park Avenue Armory in NYC. Forthcoming productions include The Mary L Welch Theatre at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania; The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Brown University. His album, Holding it Down, a collaboration with Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd, was The LA Times Jazz Album of the Year in 2013. Maurice, a Callaloo and Cave Canem Fellow, is a graduate of Columbia University [BA] and New York University [MFA] and is an MFA candidate in playwriting at Brown University.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz, and theatre artists and the organizations that nurture, present, and produce them. For more information, please visit ddcf.org.

The State Theater of Rhode Island, Trinity Repertory Company is now in its 53rd season. Since its founding in 1963, Trinity Repertory Company has been one of the most respected regional theatres in the country. Featuring the last permanent resident acting company in America, Trinity Rep presents a balance of world premiere, contemporary, and classic works for an estimated annual audience of approximately 145,000. Since 1963, the theatre has produced 66 world premieres, mounted national and international tours, and, through its MFA program, trained hundreds of new actors and directors. Subscriptions for the 2016-2017 season Ghosts of the Past, Dreams of the Future are now on sale. The season includes Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, book and lyrics by Jason Craig and music by Dave Malloy; Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins; The Mountaintop by Katori Hall; Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the world premiere of Faithful Cheaters by Deborah Salem Smith; and Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega Carpio. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep's website at www.trinityrep.com.

For over 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 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. www.tcg.org

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