Baltimore Press Release
The National Civil War Project, a radical multi-city, multi-year collaboration between four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, launched today and includes the state theater and the flagship university of the state of Maryland. CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland are collaborating on this national project, commissioning several original theatrical productions and creating new arts-integrated academic programs. CENTERSTAGE and the Clarice Smith Center are one of four regional pairings participating in this national partnership.
The project is inspired by noted choreographer and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Liz Lerman. “Every anniversary is an opportunity to reflect," Lerman notes. "Our Civil War was 150 years ago: What does it still mean? What is the aftermath? Where is the damage? How is it absorbed? Who does the absorbing? These questions are too big for the arts alone, or for academia alone; my interest is in collaborations that will allow new understandings.”
The National Civil War Project crosses traditional boundaries by uniting a range of academic and artistic perspectives through a unique partnership of four universities and five performing arts organizations including Alliance Theatre and Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, GA; American Repertory Theater and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA; Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore, MD and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.
Paul Brohan, Director of Artistic Initiatives at the Clarice Smith Center notes, “With the Civil War as the genesis of the civil rights movement in this country, the performances, symposiums, and events at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland will examine issues of the Civil War through the lens of our nation’s civil rights struggles and broad issues of human rights. Commencing with a national symposium in partnership with UM School of Public Policy and entitled The Well-Being of a Nation, along with a season opening performance that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington in September 2013, the Center will address the past, present, and future well-being of our nation.”
The culmination of the Clarice Smith Center and CENTERSTAGE’s collaboration will be the world premiere of At War With Ourselves, a newly commissioned piece by Kronos Quartet that will also feature legendary American composer, Terence Blanchard; a 500-voice choir; and spoken word by Nikky Finney, a leading voice in American poetry and recipient of the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. The work will debut at a historic site of monumental significance to the history of the Civil War in May of 2015.
“I am inspired by Liz’s dedication to the collaboration of art and academia in exploring this complex topic,” says CENTERSTAGE Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei-Armah. “We are excited to be a part of this project over the next several years, working closely with the Clarice Smith Center and the University of Maryland, as well as all of our national partners.”
The theatrical centerpiece of The National Civil War Project is the commissioning and performance of new works about or inspired by the American Civil War in each region. The universities will convene leading experts for national conferences and symposia and will produce public lecture series, community programs and dramaturgy, student playwriting projects, student-generated exhibitions, artist and academic roundtables and post-show discussions. Public presentations from each partnership will be shared through an interactive Media Wall at CENTERSTAGE connecting the regions simultaneously by satellite to high-definition video display.
In addition to educational programming and the Media Wall presentations, CENTERSTAGE will announce on March 11, as part of its 2013-14 season, the regional premiere of a Civil War-themed work around which significant artistic and community engagement programming will take place. The theater will also commission a major British playwright to create a new play around the British perspective on the American Civil War, based on events chronicled in such works as Amanda Foreman's recent history, A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War.
About The National Civil War Project
The National Civil War Project is a radical multi-city, multi-year collaboration between four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. The American Civil War is arguably one of the most significant times in American history, an era that raised issues still relevant today. The National Civil War Project will include the commissioning of original works for the stage as well as create new arts-integrated academic programs through 2015. A national initiative symbolizing the geographic scope of the Civil War, the Project is inspired by noted choreographer and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Liz Lerman and includes Alliance Theatre and Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, GA; American Repertory Theater and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA; Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore, MD and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.
CENTERSTAGE, the State Theater of Maryland, celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season in 2012-13. The professional, nonprofit company serves as a local hub and national leader for provocative, entertaining theater and as a catalyst for conversation in the community. Each year, a broad range of productions in two intimate performance spaces attracts a highly diverse audience of more than 100,000 people—including more than 8,000 fiercely loyal members. Under the leadership of acclaimed playwright, actor, and director Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director) and national arts leader Stephen Richard (Managing Director), CENTERSTAGE enters its 50th year with a renewed dedication to the production of world-class theater in the heart of Baltimore.
About The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at UMD
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland is a collaborative space shared by the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. The Clarice Smith Center presents performances and programs by visiting artists as well as by students and faculty of SOM and TDPS in an environment of learning, exploration and growth. A national model for a performing arts center on a major research university campus, the Center enables innovative partnerships and extraordinary experiences.
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.