National Endowment for the Arts Launches Largest Tour of Shakespeare in American History
Laura Bush and MPAA's Jack Valenti to Serve as Honorary Chairs for Shakespeare in American Communities Project
April 23, 2003
Washington, DC - On the occasion of William Shakespeare's 439th birthday, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia today announced a gift of immeasurable value to the American people: a nationwide, 100-community tour of Shakespeare by six of the nation's finest theater companies. The tour is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest.
As part of today's announcement, Chairman Gioia revealed that Laura Bush and Motion Picture Association of America President and CEO Jack Valenti will serve as honorary chairs for the project. In addition, the Chairman announced the creation of the "Players' Guild," a group of arts experts and accomplished stage and screen actors who are lending their support to Shakespeare in American Communities.
"A great nation deserves great art," said Chairman Gioia. "We are proud to present to America the greatest playwright in the English language. And we are proud to present performances of the highest caliber. Shakespeare in American Communities exemplifies the Arts Endowment's commitment to artistic excellence, access to all Americans and leadership in arts education."
Mrs. Bush commented, "I share Chairman Gioia's enthusiasm for this project, and I am particularly interested in the educational aspect of Shakespeare in American Communities. Thanks to the Arts Endowment, thousands of children and their families across America will be introduced to the literary and artistic world of Shakespeare."
Shakespeare in American Communities will bring to stages across the United States the greatest tragedies and comedies ever written. The project will feature famous families such as the Montagues and the Capulets, and memorable characters including Desdemona and Othello. From the evil machinations of Richard III and Iago to the star-crossed love of Romeo and Juliet, these plays serve to inspire, enthrall and educate audiences of all ages. Shakespeare's themes of love and jealousy, ambition and betrayal, and friendship and loss reflect the universality of human emotions and reveal their surprising relevance to the 21st century.
"There is in all recorded history nothing to equal or surpass Shakespeare," stated Jack Valenti. "Unless you know, read and hear his magic stories there is a vacancy in your life. This is why bringing Shakespeare to small and mid-size communities in all the fifty states is a great gift to America by the National Endowment for the Arts. Somewhere in this loving land there is another Gwyneth Paltrow or Denzel Washington who will set a movie on fire with Shakespeare's poetic prose."
The centerpiece of Shakespeare in American Communities is performances by six professional theater companies that will tour the country from September 2003 through November 2004. In addition to performances, the tours will include artistic and technical workshops, symposia about the productions and educational programs in local schools. The Arts Endowment will provide support materials including "teacher toolkits" for use in schools.
The participating theater companies and the works they will perform include:
"Through Shakespeare in American Communities, the National Endowment for the Arts will revitalize the longstanding American theatrical touring tradition that harkens back to the 18th century," said Chairman Gioia, "bringing high-quality arts experiences to a broad audience."
Please see additional materials on Shakespeare in American Communities including a listing of the participating theaters and venues to date, profiles of the theater companies and photos for media use, frequently asked questions, play synopses, and information about Arts Midwest.
The National Endowment for the Arts: The mission of the National Endowment for the Arts is to enrich our nation and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing learning in the arts, and strengthening the arts in communities throughout the country. Established by Congress in 1965, the Arts Endowment is an independent agency of the federal government and is the largest annual funder of the arts. Since then, it has awarded more than 120,000 grants in all 50 states and the six U.S. jurisdictions. For more information about Shakespeare in American Communities or the Arts Endowment or please visit www.arts.gov.
Arts Midwest: Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest enables individuals and families throughout America's heartland to share in and to enjoy the arts and cultures of the Midwest region and the world. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years. For more information please visit www.artsmidwest.org.
For more information, contact: Trisch Smith at 202-326-1783 or Victoria Hutter at 202-682-5570.
Due to the collaborative nature of this project, please include all of the participating theater companies when referring to the project participants.
Return to Index
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal