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Tuesday, January 24, 2006
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Playwright Charles Smith and the Indiana Repertory Theatre receive Joyce Foundation Award

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 24, 2006) -- The Joyce Foundation has awarded a $50,000 Joyce Award grant to the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) to support the commission of a new play by Ohio University Professor of Playwriting Charles Smith.

Charles Smith photo by Rick FaticaJoyce Foundation President Ellen Alberding announced the four recipients of this year's Joyce Awards on Jan. 23 at The Arts Club of Chicago. The Joyce Awards help support Midwest cultural organizations commission works by artists of color.

Smith's play will tell the story of the infamous 1930 lynching in Marion, Ind. It will focus on the personal stories of James Cameron, the only survivor of the lynching and the two African-American teenagers who were lynched, Abraham Smith and Thomas Shipp. The three teenagers had been accused of shooting a young white man and shooting and raping his fiancée. The two men that were killed were dragged out of their jail cells by an angry mob, beaten and hanged.

In preparation, professor Smith plans to conduct research and interviews with historians, survivors and activists. The IRT will simultaneously launch a series of public awareness events to engage local and national organizations involved in civil and human rights issues to promote the play.

Born and raised in Chicago, Smith is a member of the playwrights' ensemble at the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and is currently head of the Professional Playwriting Program at Ohio University, where he holds the title of Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar in the Arts and Humanities. Smith's works, which typically explore issues surrounding the perceptions of race and politics from an African-American point-of-view, have been produced off-Broadway and at regional theaters around the country, including The Acting Company's 22-city tour of his play, "Pudd'nhead Wilson." His honors include a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1996, and the Illinois Arts Council Governors Award in 1997, among others.

Other award winners were the American Composers Forum in St. Paul, Minn., to support the commission of a new concerto for guitar and orchestra by Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate; the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation, to support the commission of 20 new works for "Nick Cave: Soundsuits," a visual art exhibition/installation by African-American artist Nick Cave; and DANCECleveland (Cleveland Modern Dance Association), to support the commission of a new dance by African-American choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

Based in Chicago with assets of $800 million, the Joyce Foundation makes grants of $27 million a year to support efforts to strengthen public policies in ways that improve the quality of life in the Great Lakes region. For more information, please visit www.joycefdn.org or call (312) 782-2464.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

Editors: A photo of Smith can be found at www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/SMITH_CHARLES.JPG

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