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L.A.'s Cornerstone Theatre among NEA playwrighting grant recipients

September 2, 2010 | 11:33 am


The National Endowment for the Arts announced Thursday its recipients of the New Play Development Program’s Distinguished New Play grants. Among the five winners is the Los Angeles-based Cornerstone Theatre Company, for its development of "The West Hollywood Musical" by Tom Jacobson.

As part of the grant, Cornerstone will receive $20,000 to support the early stages of development of the musical. According to the NEA, the theater company is collaborating with West Hollywood community members to create a musical that explores the "scene and the unseen" communities that exist in the city.

The musical, which is set in 1984, will feature a book by Jacobson and songs by Deborah Wicks La Puma and Shishir Kurup. The production will be co-directed by Michael John Garcés and Mark Valdez.

Cornerstone finds itself in some pretty impressive company. Other winners of the NEA grant include the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., for Emily Mann's "Hoodwinked," a drama inspired by the shooting at Ft. Hood in 2009, and the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., for Danai Gurira's new play about the current sociopolitical conditions in Zimbabwe.

Rounding out the winners are the About Face Theatre in Chicago for "The Albert Cashier Project" by Tanya Saracho, and the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis for "Fancy Dancer" by Larissa FastHorse.

Each theater company will use the grant money for activities related to development, such as dramaturgy, design workshops and workshop productions.

Past recipients of the grant include the California Shakespeare Theater, the Lark Play Development Center and the Foundry Theatre.

-- David Ng

Photo: a view of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times