LA JOLLA–The La Jolla Playhouse is pleased to announce that it was recently named the recipient of a $900,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation. The grant will fund the Playhouse’s new Theatre Without Walls program over the next four years.
Underscoring the theatre’s mission of providing “unfettered creative opportunities for the leading artists of today and tomorrow,” coupled with the idea that the Playhouse is defined by the work it creates – not the space in which it is performed – the institution will use the grant to offer theatrical experiences that venture beyond the physical confines of its facilities. The Playhouse will also explore alternative methods of conveying content to audiences through new platforms, such as the use of social media, cell phones, video and other current technologies.
Between 2010 and 2014, the Playhouse plans to commission and present a series of additional non-subscription, site-specific productions (40-70 performances) throughout the San Diego community. These commissions will be chosen from an expanded circle of exciting experimental theatre artists and companies, each of whom will be offered residencies and/or performance opportunities through the Theatre Without Walls program.
“We are enormously thrilled about this opportunity to develop vital and relevant work that transforms the customary idea of theatre as an experience bound within traditional performance spaces,” said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley. “Theatre Without Walls will also expand the range of artists working at the Playhouse, as we bring in theatrical visionaries from around the world for new residencies and special performances. Through this generous grant, we can build on the innovative programming that challenges our assumptions of what the Playhouse – and our audiences – define as theatre.”
The grant also provides the Playhouse with the opportunity to remain a competitive entertainment option in today’s market by allowing audiences to access theatre as they do other digital entertainment, with flexible timing, location and price. To that end, the Playhouse is building a partnership with digitaria, a full-service digital agency made up of visionary strategists, technologists and a creative team from around the world.
Additionally, Ashley recently began a collaborative relationship with the UC San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), where he is serving as their first Director in Residence. These exciting partnerships will enable the Playhouse not only to market Theatre Without Walls using the latest digital technology, but also to enhance the experience for viewers with interactive kiosks and screens, as well as lower cost point-of-purchase ticket sales and micro-payments via cell phone.
“Technology will play a significant role in the Theatre Without Walls program and will help create increased interaction between our audience, artists and the work presented,” said Playhouse Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg. “In an age of easy sharing and sampling of information on the web, this digital component is key to engaging a diverse, media-savvy pool of artists and audience members. As the Playhouse acquires new technological abilities and becomes more proficient in their use, we will offer commissioned and visiting artists a ‘digital toolkit’ of resources that can enhance and shape their work.”
The nationally acclaimed, Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse is known for its tradition of creating the most exciting and adventurous new work in regional theatre. The Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and is considered one of the most well-respected not-for-profit theatres in the country. Numerous Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, including Big River, The Who’s Tommy, Thoroughly Modern Millie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Dracula the Musical, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, Jersey Boys, The Farnsworth Invention, 33 Variations and the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical Memphis. Located on the UC San Diego campus, La Jolla Playhouse is made up of three primary performance spaces: the Mandell Weiss Theatre, the Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre, and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for La Jolla Playhouse, a state-of-the-art theatre complex which features the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. La Jolla Playhouse is led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg.
The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. The Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on three program areas: Arts, California Democracy and Youth. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1 billion in grants to more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations throughout California. With $1.4 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $67 million in 2009 for the people of California.