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Oregon Shakespeare Festival awarded grant for next U.S. history cycle play

An Edgerton Foundation New American Play award will provide extra rehearsal time for next summer's premiere of "All the Way," about the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of 22 theater companies to receive a grant in the second round of the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play awards, the Theatre Communications Group announced on Tuesday. The grant will be used to pay for extra rehearsal time for the world premiere, in July, of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way.” The next production in OSF’s “American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle,” the play dramatizes the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

According to a press release from TCG, the grants ranged from $5,000-$75,000. But according to Deborah Small, OSF’s director of institutional giving, the grant for “All the Way” was for $78,000. Perhaps if it’s a play about a Texan, everything has to be a little bigger.

The Edgerton Foundation awards are meant to help with the rehearsal and development of new plays so that they can make better first impressions and stand a better chance of a having a theatrical life after their initial production. In five years, the foundation has given out $4 million, and among the 150 productions honored, 10 (including “Next to Normal” and “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”) later made it to Broadway, seven were nominated for Tony Awards and four were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

There are OSF connections to two other plays on the latest Edgerton list. Berkeley Repertory Theatre earned a grant for Bill Cain’s “How to Write a New Book for the Bible”; Cain’s “Equivocation” had its world premiere at OSF in 2009 and that production will be remounted next month at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. The premiere of Alan Alda’s “Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie,” at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, will include veteran OSF actor Dan Donohue.

OSF also received a four-year grant from the Edgerton Foundation in 2009, earmarked for the creation of new musicals.

A couple of intriguing musicals also are on the list of grants announced Tuesday.  The Old Globe in San Diego will stage “Some Lovers,” by the legendary pop composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist/librettist Steven Sater, who won a Tony for his work on “Spring Awakening.”  Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre boasts even more star power with “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” written by Stephen King and John Mellencamp. (Strangely, though that project is included in the TCG press release about the Edgerton grants, it does not appear on the page about the awards on the TCG website.)

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