People’s Theatre Project Wins Prestigous Union Sqaure Award

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

The good folks over at the People’s Theatre Project pulled off a major coup last week by winning the highly coveted Union Square Award. In just 2 years, the PTP has made tremendous headway in their stated mission of using theatre as a powerful tool for social change in Northern Manhattan. Congrats to them for that wonderful achievement. See below for our Q&A with Co-Executive and Managing Director of the People’s Theatre Project, Bob Braswell.

How does it feel to win the Union Square Award?

It feels a little like we won the lottery – incredibly exciting! Winning this major award at this early stage in our history is really another clear sign that we are on the right track. Our work has been widely embraced in the community, which is the most important thing, and to be recognized on a city wide level can only mean good things for Washington Heights and Inwood’s artistic scene. Winning the award means that more entities are invested in our success and outcomes, so it also makes us feel a greater sense of responsibility to deepen and strengthen our programming for our community.

In concrete terms, what does winning the award mean to People’s Theatre Project?

The award comes with a $35,000 prize, which for us is very concrete. Since our inception in late 2008 our administrative staff has been volunteering their time, which was not a sustainable model. Part of the award money will be used to give a small salary to our Co-Executive Directors, Bob Braswell and Mino Lora. The remainder of the award will fund our Spring Reading Series of New Plays. Additionally, the Union Square Awards offers award recipients many technical assistance programs throughout the year to help us improve our organizational structure and  fundraising efforts. Finally, it puts us in a better position to secure future sizable grants so that we can serve our neighborhood for years to come.

What can we expect from the People’s Theatre Project in 2011?

Our 2010-2011 is our most ambitious so far. Everything we do is about telling stories from the point of view of our diverse community and you can help us do this in so many ways- whether you want to attend a performance or be the one on stage! As always, all public programming is presented “Pay-What-You-Can”. Here is what’s on tap:

Action Theatre/Teatro Acción, an ensemble of English and Spanish speaking community members who use experiences from their own lives to create an interactive theatrical production addressing local issues. Expect performances in February at the Inwood Y and Columbia Presbyterian’s Alumni Auditorium.

Resident Professional Playwrights Unit, an intimate group of talented writers who meet weekly and support one another in the development of their new plays which culminates in…

The Spring Reading Series, a month-long festival of new works from our Resident Playwrights performed by professional actors at various Northern Manhattan venues

Young Playwrights Unit, a workshop for local youth who are mentored by a member of the professional unit, culminating in a showcase of their work performed by professional actors

Voices/Voces, a bilingual theatre/writing program where teenagers will create theatrical pieces inspired by memories of when they have (or when they feared to) use their voices to speak up for truth and justice.

Vive tu Vida-Live Your Life!, a program where children will explore various theatre and life skills and write/create their own theatre piece about living a healthy life, which they will perform for friends, family and the community

Theatre at Isabella Geriatric Center Three times a week residents of the Isabella House assisted living facility receive classes on Shakespeare, Storytelling and an entertainment program.

In-School Residencies, full-year Shakespeare and Poetry programs facilitated by local teaching artists at neighborhood public schools. Please contact josh@peoplestheatreproject.org to bring People’s Theatre Project to your Northern Manhattan school.

Why Theatre?

Theatre is a powerful tool, and by giving it back to the people we are empowering our community to have a voice and giving them a forum to be heard. We know that theatre builds community; we see it every day with every group we work with. This is especially true when the stories are created by those living within the community. Theatre brings people together and demands collaboration, listening and dialogue in order to be successful. These skills that are gained through the process, when offered to every member of the community, will promote imagination in children, collaboration in youth, strength in adults and inspiration in seniors, creating an overall change of culture in our neighborhood.

If this sounds interesting to you please get in touch with us. You can sign up for our email updates on our website www.peoplestheatreproject.org or “like” us on Facebook.

We invite you to subscribe to the weekly Uptown Love newsletter, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter & Instagram or e-mail us at UptownCollective@gmail.com.

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