Los Angeles-based IAMA Theatre Company has been taken under the philanthropic wing of Shonda Rhimes through her newly formed Rhimes Family Foundation. Over the past nine years, the company has grown to be one of the leading independent companies within the Los Angeles theatre community. During that time, it has also established a strong connection with Shondaland-produced television shows including Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal with several of its members being featured characters on those shows.
The goal of IAMA Theatre has always been that of promoting artists and developing new works. As with the majority of L.A. theatre, they push for experimentation on stage and produce works that both entertain and challenge their audiences. IAMA has made a name for itself by presenting work that pushes boundaries and opens up a dialogue among not only the audience, but the diverse L.A. community.
It is this menatlity that drew Rhimes to the company. Much like her television shows, the company is producing work that is edgy and challenges how we see the world. It is because of this that Rhimes has announced that she will be backing the company. IAMA has named her their first “Patron of the Arts,” whose backing both artistically and monetarily will help support future works.
The grant will help to grow IAMA Theatre as well as encourage emerging playwrights and artists in the L.A. theatre community. The grant will go directly into funding new play development specifically with an eye for cultural inclusion and help fund the Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission.
Rhimes chose IAMA as a recipient because of their similar values, work ethic, and abilities. “Attending their shows has brought me so much joy,” she said. “Their productions made me finally feel the way one does when exploring the New York Off-Broadway world of theatre. Fresh voices filled with creativity. And they’ve accomplished it all on a shoe-string budget. That ends now.”
IAMA Co-Artistic Director Christian Durso said, “We could not be more honored for Ms. Rhimes’s contribution to our company. She is a trailblazing storyteller in the 21st century and a champion for underrepresented voices. She fits perfectly with our mission to grow a new generation of theater artists and engage a passionate Los Angeles theater audience.”
IAMA Theatre’s next production will be the world premiere of Dorothy Fortenberry’s Species Native To California, directed by Eli Gonda and running May 11–June 11 at the Atwater Village Theater. For more information, visit IAMATheatre.com.