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Steppenwolf Receives $100,000 NEA Grant
Dec 6, 2012

Steppenwolf TheatreNational Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced last week that Steppenwolf Theatre is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant in the amount of $100,000. The grant supports the world-premiere production of Head of Passes by ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by ensemble member Tina Landau in the Downstairs Theatre, April 4 - June 9, 2013.

"This is a project that could only have evolved at our theater and one that represents the unique alchemy of ensemble artists in the creation of a new work for the American canon of dramatic literature," notes Artistic Director Martha Lavey. "Head of Passes is a deeply personal work of scale and ambition that has been envisioned and shaped by the resources and permissions of an artistic home, and I am thrilled that we are able to present the world premiere with support from the National Endowment for the Arts."

Head of Passes is a profound and intimate exploration of faith and its role in American culture today; and more particularly in the African-American community in which women are typically the keepers of tradition, the bearers of suffering, and the tellers of story. Taking his inspiration from the biblical Book of Job, McCraney's contemporary drama is a powerful story of God's retribution and a woman's sacrifice, set in the murky swamplands at the mouth of the Mississippi-an area named the "Head of Passes." Shelah's family and friends plan a surprise birthday party for her. But the festivities are quickly overshadowed by a series of revelations that point to a dark secret in the family's past-revelations that leave Shelah trying to find faith, a footing and a truer sense of God. Head of Passes features ensemble members Alana Arenas and Tim Hopper with Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Glenn Davis and Jacqueline Williams.

"I'm proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public including the world premiere of Head of Passes at Steppenwolf Theatre Company," said Chairman Landesman. "These projects offer extraordinary examples of creativity in our country, including the creation of new work, innovative ways of engaging audiences, and exemplary education programs."

In March 2012, the NEA received 1,509 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $74 million in funding. The 832 NEA grants total $22.3 million, span 13 artistic disciplines and fields, and focus primarily on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing works for the benefit of American audiences. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

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