Awarded through the NEH's "We the People" project – the $292,585 grant will support Aquila's "Page and Stage: Theatre, Tradition, and Culture in America" initiative. The grant is the largest of its size to any New York State organization.
Underserved communities will benefit from the program, which will allow for a series of performances, readings and discussion programs, focusing on classical Greek and Roman drama and their contemporary resonances.
"We are thrilled that the NEH is backing this groundbreaking program to combine the performing arts centers and libraries to reach new audiences," Aquila artistic director Peter Meineck said in a statement.
In association with the Urban Libraries Council, the American Philological Association and the Center for Ancient Studies at New York University, Aquila will partner with 16 public libraries from across the nation for the "Page to Stage" program.
Aquila will stage free performances of Homer's Iliad at each library, in conjunction with master classes centered around Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors. Discussions will focus on the cross-cultural impact relating to the African-American, Asian-American and Latino experiences. In association with Martîn Gómez, the president of the Urban Libraries Council, and Danielle Millam, the senior vice president for program and development of the ULC, Aquila selected public libraries of differing sizes, locations and diverse audiences to participate in "Page to Stage."
As part of the project, public libraries in Brooklyn; Memphis; Newark; Topeka; Lawrence; Los Angeles and Los Angeles County; Fort Lauderdale; Nashville; West Palm Beach; Palm Beach; Newcastle, NY; Queens, NY; San Diego; White Plains, NY; and Newport News, VA, will team with local performing arts centers from March 2009 through May 2010.
The Aquila Theatre Company was founded in London in 1991 by Peter Meineck and has been based in New York City since 1999. Aquila's mission is to bring the greatest theatrical works to the greatest number. Aquila presents a regular season of plays in New York, at international festivals, and tours to approximately 70 American towns and cities a year. The Aquila performance approach is a technique developed by Meineck "that combines text and physical action based in a theory of theatrical unity." The technique is aimed "to create an aesthetic environment where the performer can create and recreate a role in a consistently changing theatrical atmosphere."
For more information visit www.aquilatheatre.com.