OLNEY, MD — June 29, 2020 — In an announcement released today, National Players, the educational touring troupe at Olney Theatre Center, has been awarded a 2020-21 Shakespeare in American Communities grant, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, worth $25,000. From January to July 2021, Olney Theatre’s National Players will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as part of the 72nd tour. The project will engage up to 20 underserved schools and arts centers across the country, inspiring students with limited access to live theater in urban, suburban, and rural communities. During the 2020-21 academic year, National Players will also conduct in-person and online discussions and workshops on Shakespeare’s text, acting, stage combat, movement, and more with students.
Jason King Jones, who serves as Olney Theatre’s Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players, said, “We are thrilled to receive this grant. Performing Shakespeare in communities large and small has been central to National Players’ mission for 72 years. The 2021 tour will be our first to put a company comprised of mainly actors-of-color on the road with a repertoire that includes A Raisin in the Sun along with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This grant will help deepen the impact of our theatremaker-educators.”
The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities. National Players is one of 40 professional theater companies across the nation selected to perform a Shakespeare play with a professional team of actors for middle- and high schools and conduct related educational activities for students.
ABOUT NATIONAL PLAYERS
Established in 1949 and based at Olney Theatre Center since 1952, National Players is America’s longest-running touring company. Founded on the principle of prioritizing areas with limited access to theatre, National Players company consists of 10 early-career theatre artists who spend 10 months touring the United States with their two-to-three-play repertory to a variety of diverse populations and venues from performing arts centers, universities, but also public schools, rural community centers, and penitentiaries. National Players also acts as an educational ambassador, teaching theatre-related courses to students of all ages and backgrounds. Though it travels thousands of miles and serves tens of thousands of people each year, National Players always comes home to Olney, Maryland. www.nationalplayers.org
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ABOUT OLNEY THEATRE CENTER
Olney Theatre Center for the Arts produces, presents and tours extraordinary performances for a diversity of audiences, and educates and inspires the next generation of theater-makers.
We strive every day to unleash the creative potential of our artists and audiences, and in so doing, become a nationally-prominent destination for the most impactful theater performance and education.
Once a summer stock retreat in rural Maryland, Olney Theatre Center is now an award-winning, year-round regional theatre surrounded in a 15-mile radius by 1.6 million people representing three of the most ethnically diverse counties in America. Since our founding in 1938, some of the biggest names in theatre have appeared on our stages: from “Golden Era” stars like Helen Hayes and Tallulah Bankhead to contemporary artists like Sir Ian McKellen, Robin De Jesús, and many others. OTC welcomed Artistic Director Jason Loewith and Managing Director Debbie Ellinghaus in 2013 and 2014, respectively, who established a new artistic strategy to broaden programming with the goal of nurturing a diversity of voices and audiences. Olney Theatre Center now produces musicals and plays under the three rubrics of Classic, Contemporary and Family programming. Since 2013 Olney Theatre Center has twice won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Production, the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play and presented six world premieres. Complementing this work, OTC fulfills its mission as a teaching theater with educational programs like the Our Play program in local 5th grade classrooms, a summer camp and a year-round professional apprentice program. National Players, now in its 72nd Season, is the hallmark outreach program of OTC, a unique ensemble touring innovative theater to communities large and small across the United States. For more information, please visit olneytheatre.org.
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