L. A. Theatre Works: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards $250,000 TO L.A. Theatre Works March 28, 2008Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Radio Drama.
“The Play’s The Thing for Higher Education” will digitize and distribute database of recorded plays to institutions of higher learning.
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $250,000 to L.A. Theatre Works to support The Play’s the Thing for Higher Education. This new initiative will provide higher education institutions with an extensively curated and deeply indexed digital database of recorded plays, a rich resource for scholarly research and classroom teaching that will engage students’ imaginations and critical thinking skills across the disciplinary spectrum.
Uses in higher education
“Our collection of plays covers so many themes and topics that one play could be relevant to a host of courses in higher education,” notes LATW Producing Director Susan Loewenberg. “Theater enhances academic instruction by illuminating issues in a way that brings them to life.”
Through a partnership with Alexander Street Press (ASP), a premier publisher of scholarly databases in the arts and humanities, LATW will archive, catalog, index, market and distribute “digital ready” titles of nearly 300 plays to higher learning institutions, ensuring extensive and integrated academic use. LATW will also include new in-studio audio recordings of plays chosen specifically for their applications to scholarly research, as well as an additional 10-15 titles a year recorded through The Play’s the Thing audio recording series at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. “Audio Drama: The L.A. Theatre Works Collection” will be archived at U.C.L.A.’s Digital Library along with supplementary material including interviews, panel discussions, symposia and study guides.
According to a recent article on Inside Higher Ed.com, “A career-directed education has become the goal of many, if not most, young people eager to get ahead. A purely materialistic motivation for getting an education is now the norm, not the exception. There is economic pressure on liberal arts colleges to add career-directed courses and programs to attract students.”
Says Loewenberg, “Because it mines content across so many fields and disciplines, The Play’sThe Thing for Higher Education is a way to attract career-oriented students to utilize our recordings to enhance and deepen their understanding of issues and ideas which they may confront in attaining their professional goals.”
“These works have enormous potential as both teaching and research tools for students and scholars in virtually every field,” agrees Alexander Street Press Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Eileen Lawrence. “Students of history will be able to listen to plays that bring the Civil Rights movement to life, professors of medicine will use plays to teach about medical ethics. Attitudes about women, the role of class in American culture, the impact of political movements – what better way to learn about any of those things, than by listening to and discussing these works?”
The complexity of LATW’s extensive Audio Theatre Collection not only presents unique opportunities for scholarly research and classroom application across disciplines, it provides multiple entry points for searching and understanding the broad spectrum of its content. One of the most exciting aspects of this project is LATW’s expansion of ASP’s database capabilities by providing an additional layer of rich, in-depth search functions. LATW has devised a process by which a diverse group of scholars will team with dramaturges to index the material on a much deeper level, actually identifying individual scenes’ relevance to disciplines and their sub-categories. In addition to the availability of LATW’s plays for streaming and download on a student’s individual computer, faculty will have an unprecedented resource from which to create new and innovative curriculum: a high-quality collection of audio plays with search capabilities that will allow them to both deeply and specifically explore dramatic content via search results that provide scenes from every play in the collection connected to their particular query.
Helene Williams, faculty at the University of Washington Information School and former English Bibliographer for the Humanities, Widener Library, and Humanities E-Resources Coordinator, Harvard College Library, serves as a project manager for the initiative.
Funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation award will be allocated to support the project manager, dramaturges and scholars, research materials and new recordings aimed at the scholarly community.
For over 20 years, L.A. Theatre Works has been the leading radio theater and audio theater publishing company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing recorded theater into the homes of millions. LATW’s nationally-syndicated radio theater program, The Play’s the Thing, airs weekly on public and satellite radio; its Alive and Aloud program provides selected recordings from the Audio Theatre Collection, along with study guides, to 2,000 secondary schools across the country for use in the classroom; and the Library Access Project makes LATW’s Audio Theatre Collection accessible to hundreds of underserved libraries nationwide. Since 2005, LATW has toured its radio show nationally, playing performing arts venues at colleges, universities and civic centers in over 125 cities.
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