A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts is helping to add a bonus show to the forthcoming 49th season of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre.
The Challenge America grant from the NEA will help underwrite a seven-performance run of “Children of a Lesser God” beginning in late May. The award-winning play will join a season that will feature a total of eight productions for audiences of all ages. The $10,000 award from the NEA, which is to be matched by HSRT, is among 145 awards announced by the NEA earlier this month in the first round of fiscal year 2020 funding to support arts projects across the country.
Winner of the Tony Award, the Olivier Award and the Drama Desk Award as best play of the season, “Children of a Lesser God” details the romance and marriage of a sensitive but spirited deaf girl and the devoted (and hearing) young teacher whom she meets at a school for the deaf. The play was adapted by its author, Mark Medoff, for a 1986 film starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt.
hope.edu/hsrtHSRT is encouraging ASL-fluent actors to audition for all roles in the production, and is committed to casting deaf or hard-of-hearing actors in the roles of Sarah Norman, Orin Dennis and Lydia.
“‘Children of a Lesser God’ is a play that explores the complexities that can divide the deaf and hearing communities, as well as those parts of life that can overcome those divides, and connect us all,” said Lenny Banovez, HSRT’s artistic director. “This grant will help us support and highlight the work of talented deaf and hard-of-hearing artists, as well as provide an opportunity to examine ourselves as an organization and how we can make greater strides to be more inclusive for patrons and artists, regardless of ability as we plan future seasons.”
Auditions for “Children of a Lesser God” — as well as for all of the plays being presented this season — will be on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday, Feb. 7, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Actors interested in registering for a time are asked to visit hope.edu/hsrt and follow the audition link.
“Children of a Lesser God” will run from Friday, May 29, through Saturday, June 6, in the John and Dede Howard Recital Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. The season’s next production will be the musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” opening on Friday, June 5, in the Knickerbocker Theatre. The other plays this summer will be “Man of La Mancha,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Every Brilliant Thing,” “Little Women: The Musical,” the Emerging Artist Initiative presentation of “Freaky Friday” and the Theatre for Young Audiences presentation of “A Year with Frog and Toad.”
The season’s full performance schedule will be announced in March. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, March 9, with single tickets as well as season-ticket packages available.
The NEA’s Challenge America funding category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics or disability. Each grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match.
Established at Hope College in 1972, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre is West Michigan’s premiere professional theatre company. HSRT produces plays and educational programs of the highest professional standards that address the needs of, and enhance the quality of life for, Hope College and the community. The productions are presented across the summer months in venues including the college’s DeWitt Center main theatre, DeWitt Center studio theatre, John and Dede Howard Recital Hall in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts and Knickerbocker Theatre. The company numbers more than 100 annually and features a unique blend of distinguished professionals and young theatre artists from across the country.
More information about HSRT and this year’s season is available at hope.edu/hsrt.