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Center Theatre Group gets NEA playwriting grant

October 27, 2008 | 11:15 am

Rajiv Joseph Center Theatre Group has bagged another national grant, this one for $90,000 under a new initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Play Development Program. It will go toward next spring's production of "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," May 17-June 7 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. CTG's advance description of the play by Rajiv Joseph promises an "eerily surreal" and "darkly humorous" account of life during wartime, set during the Iraq war, with two homesick GIs, a tormented Iraqi and an uncaged tiger as protagonists. The director is Moises Kaufman ("The Laramie Project," "I Am My Own Wife"). Joseph's "Huck & Holden," described in a Times review as "a sharp, engaging romantic comedy," was staged two years ago at L.A.'s Black Dahlia Theatre.

Another $90,000 award went to the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J., for "Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet," by Alvin McCraney. It's the third installment of "The Brother/Sister Plays," a trilogy by McCraney that the McCarter and New York's Public Theater are co-producing. Five smaller theaters won $20,000 grants for play development, including Berkeley's California Shakespeare Theatre for work on "Pastures of Heaven" by Octavio Solis.

-- Mike Boehm