Chicago's About Face Theatre and Silk Road Theatre Project are among the 10 recipients across the country of the first National Theatre Awards bestowed by the American Theatre Wing, best known for Broadway's annual Tony Awards. Each of the 10 companies received a $10,000 grant at Oct. 25 ceremonies in New York City, hosted by Angela Lansbury.
Since its founding in 1939, the American Theatre Wing has been almost exclusively a New York organization despite its name. The Wing's modest annual cash awards to non-profit theaters went only to New York theater companies up until now. Revamping its rules for the first time in 53 years, the American Theatre Wing finally has become nationwide in scope by instituting the National Theatre Awards.
Non-profit theaters between five and 15 years old may apply for the grants. The Wing will look for companies which have articulated a distinctive mission and have nurtured an audience and community of artists demonstrating the quality, diversity, and dynamism of American theatre. About Face Theatre explores GLBT themes and stories, while the Silk Road Theatre Project explores the diaspora of cultures found along the ancient Silk Road, with particular emphasis on Asian and Middle Eastern peoples under-represented in mainstream American theater. About Face currently is presenting the world premiere of "Float," by lesbian author Patricia Kane (at Theatre Wit through Dec. 12), while the current Silk Road production is "Scorched" by Lebanese-French Canadian author Wajdi Mouawad (through Nov. 21).