SoHo Playhouse—one of the most prestigious of New York’s Off-Broadway theaters—is coming to Las Vegas.  In fact, they’re already here (in spirit, for the time being), with the goal of opening a physical theater here, in Las Vegas, by the end of next year.  Further, the non-profit theater company intends to stage a SoHo Playhouse pop-up, at a local Las Vegas venue, before the end of 2021.

Earlier this month—at DTLV hotspot, Commonwealth—the organization announced the awardees of the five inaugural SoHo Playhouse Grants. Each of the five grant recipients has been awarded $2,500 that, while technically unrestricted, is intended to aid in developing the projects that they proposed.  Additionally, each grant winner is encouraged to collaborate with the respective donor underwriting their project, as well as with SoHo Playhouse’s creative team.

After screening all of the candidates for the four $2,500 grants, however, the grant jury found themselves with five compelling candidates, which led to Daz Weller and Troy Heard—the Artistic Directors of Vegas Theatre Company and Majestic Repertory Theatre, respectively—created a fifth $2,500 grant, now known as the Downtown Las Vegas Theater Grant.

Following are the five grants, their respective recipients, and descriptions of the works for which they’ve been awarded.  Also, take a look at the short one-minute video (below) from SoHo Playhouse’s Artistic Director, Darren Lee Cole, wherein he describes the impetus behind the grants.  Meanwhile, I heartily congratulate each of the grant recipients, applaud each of the grant donors, and eagerly await seeing each of these promising works, as SoHo Playhouse Las Vegas endeavors to begin “Bringing Off-Broadway to Las Vegas!”

Rita Rudner and Martin Bergman Grant: CHUCK ROUNDS for Elements of Society

"I volunteered at the women’s prison in Southern Nevada for four years conducting theater workshops and putting on plays with the prisoners of this facility. One of the last projects we worked on was to create a play using the stories of the inmates themselves. The idea was this…I would work with individuals on retelling their stories. They would give me the details and circumstances of what brought them to this point in their life. I would then put all those pieces together and create a monologue of their story. Next, I choose a different inmate to perform that monologue. Not only would it give the actor the chance to empathize with this other inmate, but it would also give the inmate the opportunity to look at her own crime from an outside perspective. So, I have a script…stories from women in prison in a series of monologues. It has been performed once…by inmates for inmates. The script needs further development. It needs some additional connective scenes, and I would like to add some commentary that would shed light on “the rest of the story.” But these are powerful stories that deserve a serious effort by talented practitioners."

Victoria Bradshaw Family Foundation Grant: RUBEN PERMEL for ICU

"Today, I would like to share with you ICU; a one-act play that questions our relationship with and around the loss of life. Loosely based on my many months as a caregiver for my husband in Intensive Care at Stanford Medical in 2017, where a cast of characters unfolded. Each had their own perspective surrounding what we all have to face. How do we help the dying move on and live through the small connections we make every day? The setting takes place at an ICU Hospital room in Jacksonville, FL. Craig a 25-year-old terminal patient is the central figure, comforting his mother, Brenda, and younger sister, Abby. A multicultural staff includes a Filipino nurse, an African American CNA, and an Indian housekeeper. A visitor appears and the absent father tries to make it in time."

Kaufman Family Grant: VENUS COBB for Pit Stain Trio

"My project is a trilogy of one-act plays lovingly entitled The Pit Stain Trio. All three of the shows are bound together by their own personal flavors of filth. Through the lens of absurdism and the oft-overlooked annals of queer art, I make a point of leaning into the discomfort and confusion of living through these pieces. An easily likable person overcoming adversity is a story we’ve all heard a million times, and I respect escapism, but what happens when the time to escape has passed? I doubt I’m talking to someone who’s had a great time this last year, so I think you’ll understand when I say that a lot of grossness and evil has come to light when it comes to our country. The systems we live under have revealed rotting foundations and the main thought I can’t keep out of my head is that so much of what we’ve been handed in life is so far past repair that it’s hopeless. This is where this trilogy is coming from. These pieces are a peepshow into the fringes of an already dark “normal” world. I wanted to focus on characters that took one step too far from the norm and have become so isolated by their own secrets and choices that they have no option but to wallow the grime of their lives because that is slowly becoming all they have. The Pit Stain Trio consists of ‘The Mistrich’, ‘Sexy Baby’, and ‘The Dog Play’."

Karen Camp Grant: GINGER LAND-VAN BUUREN for Black Swan

"Vegas City Opera is working on our third annual JUNETEENTH presentation slated for June 19th, 2022, working title Race Records: A Day at Black Swan. Black Swan Records was the first black-owned and operated recording company that sold popular music marketed to black audiences. Black Swan Records specialized in jazz and blues recordings, but it also became the first company to record black classical musicians. Owner, Harry Pace a music publisher and former professor of Greek and Latin, named the label after African American opera singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, known as “The Black Swan.” The label’s mission was to serve black stockholders, employees, singers, and musicians. While the label made the majority of its money off Jazz and popular music of the time, Pace wanted to bring classical music to the black community on his terms, supporting black classical musicians in the process."

Daz Weller and Troy Heard Grant/Downtown Las Vegas Theater Grant: JILLIAN AUSTIN for BLM: The Musical

"Becky White, a talented Black female playwright, is selected as a fellow to have the play she wrote in 2016, BLM: The Musical makes a worldwide debut at a Regional Theater in “someplace white”. Comedy ensues when Becky discovers a week before opening that there have been liberties made in casting and there are no Black actors cast in her show. Becky's story is about how she must sacrifice and compromise in order to get Aaliyah & Shamar’s story (BLM: The Musical) produced. Aaliyah & Shamar's story is Becky White's BLM: The Musical. This story is how the action plays out ideally in her head."

Inaugural SoHo Playhouse Grants
SoHo Playhouse Las Vegas
Click HERE for info

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