CHICAGO — The National Endowment for the Arts announced Tuesday that The Neo-Futurists are the recipients of an Art Works grant for the development of Neo-Lab's inaugural production, Saturn Returns, as well as its companion event The Neo-Futurist Kitchen ( a micro-festival on art and performance ). The Neo-Futurists also announce the creation of Neo-Access, a 3-pronged initiative to break down barriers and create inclusive and collaborative work for audiences and artists.
Art Works grant
The National Endowment for the Arts has selected The Neo-Futurists as the recipient of an Art Works grant for the development of this year's Neo-Lab project, Saturn Returns, as well as The Neo-Futurist Kitchen ( a micro-festival on art and performance ). These two projects were selected for funding based on their innovative approach to creating devised theater and their commitment to establishing a partnership of artists from across the country to develop the art form.
This is the first year for Neo-Lab, an original works residency that commissions one new work annually. Offering public presentations and opportunities for audience interaction throughout the year, Neo-Lab supports artist retreats and stipends, public readings and presentations, and a full production the following season. The first Saturn Returns presentation and open house was held on October 15, 2015 with the second happening in the spring of 2016.
The Neo-Futurist Kitchen ( a micro-festival on art and performance ) takes over The Neo-Futurarium July 21-24, 2016. The festival showcases the latest development of Saturn Returns, the fourth installment of Kurt Chiang and Lily Mooney's year-long exploration of The Arrow, and panels with artists and organizations from throughout the city. The Neo-Futurist Kitchen attempts to hold a microscope over the distinctive ways in which like-minded artists do their work, and examine where drastically different methods may overlap. This is a four day event aimed at anyone hungry for the multifaceted performances of artists building toward a new, surprising cultural identity.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, "The arts are part of our everyday lives — no matter who you are or where you live — they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from The Neo-Futurists offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day."
About Saturn Returns
Saturn Returns is a two-year Neo-Futuristic exploration that asks larger existential questions about time, patience, and the vast expanse of an unknowable universe. Not content simply with looking inward, Tif Harrison and ensemble look upward and outward, offering observations on the silence and solitude of space, on the uncrossable distances between celestial bodies and the intimacy of standing next to somebody you love. Saturn Returns examines both the astronomical and astrological implications of Saturn's solar orbit a 29-year journey as well as its moons and the Cassini Solstice Mission, to observe various dramatic changes that have manifested in the lives of the individuals on stage. This devised approach to creating work has Harrison and the group building the show while inviting audiences into the process through intimate events, collected interviews, and open dialogues with the creator and artists involved.
About the Art Work Grant
The National Endowment for the Arts offers grants to the nonprofit theater and musical theater fields annually for the production or presentation of traditional or classical repertoire, new plays and musicals, development laboratories, showcases, artist residencies, work for young audiences, experimental work, community-based work, outdoor historical dramas, and puppetry. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.
In partnership with Victory Gardens Theater Access Project and Alternatives, Inc., The Neo-Futurists establish Neo-Access, an ongoing initiative committed to make their work more physically, geographically, and culturally accessible. Neo-Access is supported in part by grants from Alphawood Foundation Chicago and The Chicago Community Trust.
Too Much Light comes to Victory Gardens Theater
For two special performances, The Neo-Futurists take their flagship show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind to the Victory Gardens Theater stage where performers and audience members receive the full slate of services from the Victory Gardens Theater Access Project. In addition, Neo-Futurist teaching artists are leading a ten-week session of the popular Intro to Too Much Light through Victory Gardens Theater Artist Development Workshop. These workshops and performances are supported by a grant for Production Support that Strengthens Artistic and Cultural Diversity from The Chicago Community Trust.
The Victory Gardens Access Project is a nationally recognized model outreach effort designed to involve all people in theater, both on and off the stage. The program provides audio description, closed captioning, touch tours, American Sign Language interpreters, and braille programs, in addition to a space that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to these resources, The Victory Gardens Access Project hosts The Artist Development Workshop, a playwriting program designed to accommodate artists and writers with and without disabilities.
Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind at Victory Gardens Theater ( 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. )
January 23rd at 7:00 p.m. in the ZaÄŤek McVay Theater.
Tickets and information: www.neofuturists.org; $4 plus the roll of a six-sided die ( $5-10 ) .
Intro to Too Much Light at the Artist Development Workshop
Intro to Too Much Light explores the process and tools needed to create a two-minute play. Students write from their own life experiences; learn core Neo tenets of honesty, brevity, audience connection and random chance, and examine specific play formulas and styles, similar to plays performed in Too Much Light. The workshop is held on Saturdays from June 4 — August 6, 12:30-3:30pm with a final performance held on August 13. For more information, email email@example.com .
Scholarships for Artists of Color — new for 2016
Motivated by ongoing conversations about racial diversity and representation both on Neo-Futurist stages and in the Chicago theater community, The Neo-Futurists are increasing time and resources to become a more welcoming, inclusive environment for artists and audience members of color. As part of this plan, Scholarships for Artists of Color have been created to offer five full scholarships for classes in the Neo-Futurist's education series to artists of color.
Scholarships are being accepted on a rolling basis through February 29, 2016; those receiving funds can apply the scholarship towards The Neo-Futurists' workshop and class series. Recipients are chosen based on a writing sample and application by a panel of Board and Ensemble members. More information can be found at: www.neofuturists.org/access
The Neo-Futurists partner with Alternatives, Inc.'s Urban Arts Program
In a shared training program, The Neo-Futurists are partnering with Alternatives, Inc., a community development and social justice agency located in the Uptown neighborhood. This partnership prepares teachers from the Neo-Futurist education series in skills to best serve the community of the Urban Arts Program before putting the teachers directly in the classroom.
Using a variety of arts disciplines, Urban Arts participants explore issues relating to identity, interpersonal relationships, community, and social justice. The Urban Arts program provides youth with a safe space to work collaboratively, creatively express themselves, and develop leadership skills. For more information about Alternatives, Inc. and their Urban Arts Program, visit www.alternativesyouth.org .
Kurt Chiang, Artistic Director of The Neo-Futurists states, "When we planned our year, we committed to better educating our audience on what we're about, and how we like to work. It's true that part of our appeal comes from our enigmatic reputation— 'It's that place that does that show absurdly late at night, and you get name-tagged. You'll love it.' But The Neo-Futurists are also a committed group of multidisciplinary artists that are dedicated to new work. And we value our art and theater as a service, beyond it being a spectacle. Neo-Lab and Neo-Access are two initiatives that put a name on what we care about and what we want to get better at. There's a lot to do, and improve upon. But it's going to be a fun year."
Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Christopher Mannelli, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. With Victory Gardens' first new Artistic Director in 34 years, the company remains committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, continuing the vision set forth by Dennis ZaÄŤek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens' core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city's and nation's culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city's active student population.
The Neo-Futurists, performers of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and creators of over 65 original, full-length productions, are a collective of wildly productive writer-director-performers who are committed to creating immediate, non-illusory, irreproducible events at head-slappingly affordable prices. The Neo-Futurists pioneered a new form of theater in 1988, launching what became Chicago's longest running show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, now in its 27th year. From humble beginnings as the first late-night theater production in Chicago, The Neo-Futurists have grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in America. Over 70 Ensemble-alumni have added thousands of new works to the American theatre canon and today branches bring Neo-Futurism to both coasts in New York City and San Francisco.
The Neo-Futurists are partially supported by grants from Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Chicago Community Trust, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, and The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.