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Alfred P. Sloan Foundation supports “Relativity” project at L.A.Theatre Works with $253,000 award February 18, 2007

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Radio Drama.
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LATW set to record four new plays about science, initiate syndicated “Relativity” series.

LOS ANGELES, CA – L.A. Theatre Works has been awarded $253,000 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the recording of four new plays and for the production of a new monthly radio series entitled “Relativity” that focuses on science-themed works, with LATW joining such theaters as Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Magic Theatre and Playwrights Horizons that receive Sloan’s support to produce plays about science and technology.

The goal of the Sloan Foundation’s “Public Understanding of Science and Technology” program is to enhance people’s lives by providing a better understanding, through media and the arts, of the increasingly scientific and technological environment in which we live.  By harnessing cutting edge technologies to make theater available in the way people currently access information and entertainment, L.A. Theatre Works is uniquely positioned to further extend the life of stage plays and expand their reach to an even wider public through local, national and international radio broadcasting, streaming, and podcasting.

“We are delighted to partner with LATW in this pioneering program to create more realistic and entertaining plays about science and technology and to dramatize the lives of scientists, engineers and mathematicians, be they geniuses, iconoclasts or ordinary folk whose virtues and flaws compel our attention,” says Doron Weber, program director at the Sloan Foundation.

Adds LATW Producing Director Susan Loewenberg, “Stories about scientists and their discoveries engage us with some of the most fundamental philosophical and ethical issues that have shaped who we are and how we live viewed through the lens of extraordinary circumstances.  And that is what makes great drama.”

In addition to producing four new recordings of plays commissioned by Sloan Foundation grantees, LATW will create a new monthly special “Relativity” science series, devoting the first broadcast each month of its nationally-syndicated The Play’s The Thing weekly radio theater series to the subject.  Featured plays will explore the full gamut of science – biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and medicine – through the “relative” lens of theater.

The Relativity Series kicks off on April 7 with the broadcast of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning play, Proof by David Auburn, one of the first plays supported by Sloan through its partnership with Manhattan Theatre Club;  the LATW recording stars Anne Heche, Robert Foxworth, Shirley Knight and Jeremy Sisto.

Other plays in The Relativity Series that explore the impact of science on individuals and society include An Immaculate Misconception by “Father of the Pill” Dr. Carl Djerassi, starring JoBeth Williams and Kevin Kilner; The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial with Edward Asner, Sharon Gless and Mike Farrell and The Real Dr. Strangelove with Simon Templeman, Joe Spano and John de Lancie, both by Peter Goodchild; and Breaking the Code by Emmy Award-winning writer High Whitemore.  For three months following its broadcast, each play in the series will be available on the National Public Radio website for downloading as the centerpiece of L.A. Theatre Works’ podcasting initiative with NPR.  Whenever possible, plays in The Relativity Series will be scheduled to coincide with anniversaries of scientific discovery and scientists’ lives, and programming will also be thematically coordinated with other existing public radio programming such as Ira Flatow’s NPR program “Science Friday” and Sandra Tsing Loh’s “The Loh-Down on Science.”

This spring and fall, L.A. Theatre Works will record four Sloan-commissioned plays, including Moving Bodies by Arthur Giron and Secret Order by Bob Clyman, both of which originated as part of the Ensemble Studio Theatre-Sloan Project’s “First Light Festival.”  One of the new Sloan recordings will be chosen to represent L.A. Theatre Works in the Worldplay International Festival which will broadcast the play worldwide in March 2008.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology and the quality of American life.  Sloan’s program in public understanding of science and technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports the use of books, radio, television, theater, film and the internet to reach a wide nonspecialist audience and to bridge the gap between the “two cultures.”  Sloan commissions dozens of new plays each year and has been involved with such acclaimed works as Copenhagen, Proof and QED.  Theater partners include the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Magic Theatre and Playwrights Horizons.  The film program supports six leading film schools in annual screenwriting and production awards and sponsors prizes, panels, screenings and screenplay development workshops at Sundance, Tribeca and the Hamptons film festivals.

L.A. Theatre Works’ radio theater series, The Play’s the Thing, airs locally every Saturday night from 10 pm to midnight on 89.3 FM KPCC Southern California Public Radio.  The series can also be heard on 94.1 KPFA in Northern California; 91.5 FM WBEZ in Chicago; 91.1 FM KRCB in Sonoma County; 93.5 FM KRTS Marfa Public Radio (Texas); 89.7 WGBH in Boston; 94.9 KUOW in Seattle; 88.9 FM KUNM in Albuquerque; and on many other public radio stations nationwide as well as  XM Satellite Radio, and many of the stations, including KPCC, KPFA, KUOW and WGBH stream each play online for one week following its broadcast.  Selected programs from LATW are also heard internationally over BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Telefis Eirann (Ireland), Radio Hong Kong, and Radio New Zealand.

Plays in The Relativity Series will also be available through the L.A. Theatre Works Audio Theatre Collection, which is available in bookstores, libraries, through LATW’s catalog, digitally on itunes, overdrive.com, audible.com, netlibrary.com, and on the L.A. Theatre Works website at www.latw.org. The Relativity Series begins airing on April 7; for a complete schedule visit www.latw.org after March 2.

For further details, please contact:
L.A. Theatre Works
681 Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
310.827.0808
310.827.0889 (Box Office)
http://www.latw.org

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