CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 24, 2000
IWP playwright-in-residence Shelley Berc receives $100,000 grant for Maine
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A two-year collaborative project between award-winning
playwright Shelley Berc, a University of Iowa faculty member in the International
Writing Program (IWP), and the Portland Stage Company in Maine has been awarded
a $100,000 grant, which will culminate in a theater piece featuring the largely
untold stories of Maine women who work the sea.
The National Theatre Artist Residency Program that awarded the grant was
developed in 1991 by the Theatre Communication Group (TCG) and the Pew Charitable
Trusts. The residency program connects distinguished unaffiliated artists
with theaters to explore subjects of their choice.
The Portland Stage Company has produced two of Berc's plays developed with
Andrei Belgrader, "Scapin" and "Rameau's Nephew," both
written during her tenure at the UI. Her "A Girl's Guide to the Divine
Comedy," which was published in the anthology "Plays for the End
of the Century," was also produced for the company's 10th annual Little
Festival of the Unexpected.
For the new project Berc will conduct research at the Maine Maritime Museum,
the Center for Maine History, the Portland Fish Exchange and other sites in
Maine. Berc will create both an oral-history script for a 2001 premiere and
a poetic interpretation of the research.
Berc's play adaptations and original works have been performed at regional
theaters in the United States and Europe, including the American Repertory
Theatre, the Women's Project, Classic Stage Company, St. Louis Repertory,
the Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater,
Odyssey Theatre, the Norwegian State Theatre and the Edinburgh Festival. Her
most recent work, an adaptation of "Turandot" will be produced in
2001 by the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. She has also published
the books "The Shape of Wilderness: A Novel" and "Theatre of
Among her previous honors are two Lila Wallace-Readers Digest "New
Young Audiences" commissions, a McKnight Fellowship in playwriting, an
NEA Opera/Music Librettist fellowship, and an artist's residence at the Rockefeller
Foundation's center in Bellagio, Italy.
Berc is the UI's University Playwright in Residence. For the IWP, she facilitates
stagings and readings by playwrights from around the globe. The IWP, a unique
writers' residency program, assembles at the UI each fall a community of international
writers. In more than 30 years of residencies, the IWP has hosted nearly 1,000
writers from 115 countries. The Portland Stage Company, Maine's premier professional
theater, has been among the venues for IWP playwrights.
TCG is the national organization for not-for-profit American theater, serving
350 member theaters and nearly 17,000 individual members. The Pew Charitable
Trust administers a $20-million annual charitable budget and is one of the
country's largest private funders of the arts.