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The 52nd Street Project
The 52nd Street Project (The Project) is dedicated to the creation and production of new plays for, and often by, kids between the ages of nine and eighteen who reside in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in New York City. The Project does this through a series of unique mentoring programs that match kids with professional (and volunteer!) theater artists. The Project was founded in 1981 by actor/playwright and 1994 MacArthur Fellow Willie Reale in response to a deepening need to improve the quality of life for New York's inner-city children. Mr. Reale, an actor, playwright, and company member of the Ensemble Studio Theater (EST), used his company privileges to reach out to the children of the neighborhood by creating theatrical endeavors specifically for them. This was done with the cooperation and support of EST and its across-the-street-neighbor, the Police Athletic League's Duncan Center. The Project is now an independent not-for-profit organization that creates over eighty new plays and serves over 115 children every year. The Project is about making children proud of themselves. The Project is not about teaching children to act, although they will learn to. It is not about teaching them to write plays, although they will learn that as well. What it is about is giving a kid an experience of success. It is about giving a kid an opportunity to prove that he or she has something of value to offer, something that comes from within that he or she alone possesses, something that cannot be taken away. Past artist/volunteers have included Billy Crudup, Edie Falco, Malcolm Gets, Spalding Gray, Dana Ivey, Susan Kim, Henry Krieger, Robert Sean Leonard, Natasha Lyonne, Roma Maffia, Jesse L. Martin, James McDaniel, Paul McCrane, Frances McDormand, James Naughton, Oliver Platt, Martha Plimpton, Theresa Rebeck, Jose Rivera, Lili Taylor, Pam Tyson, Wendy Wasserstein, Frank Wood, and hundreds of others. Many return regularly, as they find the experience fulfilling and artistically stimulating. For its first fifteen years, the Project relied on borrowed spaces in which to implement its programs. In 1996, the Project established The Clubhouse, a center where children can flourish in the heart of, but sheltered from, the tough neighborhood in which they live. The Clubhouse lounge, equipped with computers for kids' use, is a rare, quiet place for study and creative work. A kitchen makes it a warm and welcoming environment for kids after a hard day at school. The Clubhouse makes it possible for the Project to expand its operations and maintain a permanent and vital presence in the neighborhood.
George Abbott
George Abbot was born in Forestville, New York, on June 25, 1887. In 1912 he enrolled in a playwriting course at Harvard University and won one hundred dollars for his play THE MAN IN THE MANHOLE. He began his professional career as an actor on Broadway in THE MISLEADING LADY in 1913. He was named one of the ten best performers of 1923 for his work in ZANDER THE GREAT. He had his first hit as a playwright and director with BROADWAY (1926). His later directorial credits include the plays TWENTIETH CENTURY (1932), THREE MEN ON A HORSE (1935), BROTHER RAT (1936,) and TOO MANY GIRLS (1939). He directed his first musical, Rodgers and Hart's JUMBO, in 1935. Other musical directorial credits include ON YOUR TOES (1936), THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE (1938), PAL JOEY (1940), ON THE TOWN (1944), BEGGAR'S HOLIDAY (1946), HIGH BUTTON SHOES (1947), WHERE'S CHARLEY (1948), CALL ME MADAM (1950), WONDERFUL TOWN (1953), PAJAMA GAME (1954), DAMN YANKEES (1955), ONCE UPON A MATTRESS (1959), FIORELLO! (1959), TENDERLOIN (1960), A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1962), and FLORA, THE RED MENACE (1965). He received numerous awards, including the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for FIORELLO!, the 1960 New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Donaldson Awards (1946, 1948, 1953, and 1955), four Tony Awards (1955, 1956, 1960, and 1963) and the Handel Medallion from the City of New York (1976). He was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1983. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 107.
Paul Ableman
Paul Ableman was born on June 13, 1927, in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. In 1958, his first novel, I HEAR VOICES, was published in Paris; it was later published in England where it received critical acclaim. After writing AS NEAR AS I CAN GET in 1962, he began to write short surrealistic plays which were first performed at the Edinburgh Festivals. The world premiere of his first full-length play, GREEN JULIA, was staged at the 1965 Edinburgh Festival by Traverse Theatre productions; it then transferred to the New Arts Theatre in London, where it ran successfully. Subsequently, Ableman continued to write for the theater and television, as well as a range of experimental prose.
Rob Ackerman
Rob Ackerman’s plays include CALL ME WALDO (Working Theater, Off-Broadway; and Kitchen Theatre, Ithaca), TABLETOP (American Place Theater, Drama Desk Award Winner, Best Ensemble Performance), VOLLEYGIRLS (American Conservatory Theater, commission and premiere) ICARUS OF OHIO (NYU's Tisch School of the Arts), DISCONNECT (Working Theater, Classic Stage Company) Monica Raymund and Sisu Theatricals are developing a musical version of VOLLEYGIRLS under the direction of Neil Patrick Stewart, with songs by Sam Forman and Eli Bolin. Rob’s work has been published by Dramatists Play Service, Smith and Kraus, Vintage Books, and Playscripts and has been nurtured and performed at Yaddo, Flux Theatre Ensemble, Access Theatre, At Hand Theatre, and Dorset Theatre Festival. Rob was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, majored in theater and Spanish at Middlebury College, and earned an MFA in stage directing at Northwestern. Rob and his wife, author Carol Weston, live in Manhattan. They have two daughters and a cat named Mike.
Joan Ackermann
Joan Ackermann is co-founder and artistic director of Mixed Company in Great Barrington, MA, a year-round theatre. Her plays include ZARA SPOOK AND OTHER LURES (1990 Humana Festival at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), STANTON’S GARAGE (1993 Humana Festival), THE BATTING CAGE (1999 Humana Festival), DON’T RIDE THE CLUTCH, BED AND BREAKFAST, RESCUING GREENLAND, ISABELLA (a musical for which she composed the music), A KNIGHT AT THE THEATRE, BACK STORY, ICE GLEN, and OFF THE MAP. Amongst other theatres, her plays have been produced at The Vineyard Theatre in New York, Circle Rep, The George Street Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company, The Berkshire Theatre Festival, Mark Taper Forum, The Atlantic Theatre Company, Florida Stage and The Guthrie. She adapted OFF THE MAP for a film directed by Campbell Scott and starring Joan Allen and Sam Elliot. It was well received at Sundance, Cannes, and other film festivals. A special contributor to "Sports Illustrated" for seven years, she free-lanced for "Time," "The Atlantic," "GQ," "New York," "Audubon," and other magazines. She lives in the Berkshires where she is a part-time hiking guide and has been visited, on two separate occasions, by a mountain lion and a black bear.
Rodney Ackland
Rodney Ackland was born on May 18, 1908, in London, England, and studied at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Arts. He made his stage debut in 1924 at the Gate Theatre and spent the next several years acting. As a playwright and a screenwriter, Ackland wrote the popular British film “Bank Holiday” in 1938. In 1942 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay “Forty-Ninth Parallel.” His 1952 play THE PINK ROOM led to a forty year silence from the playwright. In the 1980s Ackland rewrote parts of the play and titled it ABSOLUTE HELL; the rewrite proved very successful. On December 6, 1991, Ackland died in Surrey, England.
Actors Theatre of Louisville
Actors Theatre of Louisville is a performing arts theater located in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. It was founded in 1964, in part by local producer Richard Block and actor Ken Jenkins, and was designated the "State Theater of Kentucky" in 1974. It is run as a nonprofit organization. Actors Theatre shows national favorites and local plays. Many Pulitzer Prize winning plays have premiered at the theater, including works by Donald Margulies, Beth Henley, Jane Martin, and William F. Buckley. The theater has received the James N. Vaughan Memorial Award, the Margo Jones Award, and a Special Tony Award for local, nonprofit theaters. It hosts the Humana Festival of New American Plays every spring; this festival of new American plays started by Jon Jory in 1976 has been described by the "Los Angeles Times" as the Kentucky Derby of the American Theatre. The festival has been funded by the Humana Foundation since 1979. Over three hundred Humana Festival plays have been produced, with over three-fourths of them now published, thus substantially adding to the catalog of American dramatic literature. Actors Theatre presents nearly six hundred performances of about thirty productions during a year-round season composed of contemporary and classical drama. It has one of the largest per-capita subscription audiences in the country and an annual attendance of over two hundred thousand.
Gill Adams
Gill Adams is a British playwright whose career began in 1991 with an Edinburgh production of TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS. His career flourished throughout the 1990s, with productions of FISH N’ LEATHER, DON’T ASK FOR THE MOON, OFF OUT, JUMP TO COW HEAVEN, and LONELY HEARTS. Adams’ work continued to dominate the Edinburgh/U.K. scene throughout the next decade, with award-winning productions of titles such as NE1, SOMETHING BLUE, THE SHY GAS MAN, CHRISTINE, KEELER, and SWEET UFO. He resides in the United Kingdom.
John and Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams was the wife of the second U.S. president, John Adams, and the mother of the sixth U.S. president, John Quincy Adams. Abigail was descended on her mother's side from the Quincys, a prominent New England family. She married John Adams, then a lawyer, in 1764, and they spent much of their early life apart as John Adams traveled as a circuit judge and then became a key player in the American Revolution. Their fond, newsy, and philosophical letters to one another during these absences have become famous both as evidence of a deep love affair and as a source of information about the Revolutionary era. John Adams followed George Washington as president of the United States, becoming the country's second chief executive. An early colonist agitator against the Stamp Act of 1765, John Adams helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He served as an all-purpose diplomat for the new republic during the Revolutionary War, and after the war, in 1785, he became the first American Minister to London. He served two terms as vice-president under Washington (1789-1797), and beat Thomas Jefferson in 1796 to become president himself. He was respected but not popular, and served one term before losing to Jefferson in the elections of 1800. His son, John Quincy Adams, was president from 1825 to 1829. Adams was the first president to attend Harvard University and the first to have a son become president; his wife, Abigail Adams, is one of history's best-known First Ladies. By great coincidence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died in separate states on the same day, July 4, 1826, the fifieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Historian David McCullough's biography," John Adams," was a best-seller in 2001.
Johnna Adams
Johnna is a 2012 graduate of the Rita & Burton Goldburg MFA Program at Hunter College (led by Tine Howe), the 2011 recipient of the Princess Grace Award and a finalist for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Her play GIDION’S KNOT was published in the December 2012 issue of TCG’s American Theatre Magazine and received an ATCA/Steinberg Citation. She is a past Reva Shiner Award winner, winner of the OC Weekly’s Best Original Play award (twice), finalist for the Christopher Brian Wolk Award, finalist for the William Saroyan Prize and a New York Innovative Theatre Award nominee. Her play SANS MERCI was produced in New York by Flux Theatre Ensemble, and Boomerang Theatre produced her rhyming verse comedy, LICKSPITTLES, BUTTONHOLERS, AND DAMNED PERNICIOUS GO-BETWEENS. Johnna’s plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. and Original Works Publishing (www.originalworksonline.com).
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