NPR, Southeast Public Radio Presenting New Series on Regional Theaters

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 2, 2005 — The rich history and cultural contributions of America’s regional theaters are examined in NPR’s® new seven-part series, “American Stages.” The series, debuting March 3, will air weekly on “All Things Considered,” NPR’s afternoon newsmagazine, heard daily and locally at 4 p.m., through mid-April, on KRCU 90.9 FM.

Once a weak sibling of Broadway, a nationwide movement of not-for-profit resident theaters has, in just a half-century, transformed America’s cultural landscape, replacing Broadway as the originator of new American plays. Notably, 30 of the last 32 Pulitzer Prize winners for drama originated at regional theaters. And resident stages have also trained a whole generation of actors, including Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Sigourney Weaver, John Malkovich, Annette Bening, and James Earl Jones. In the past 50 years, the movement has grown from a handful of scattered stages in major metropolitan centers, to a network of more than 1,200 theaters dispersed across every state of the union, employing thousands of arts professionals who perform for audiences of millions. 

The series will begin with an introduction to what the regional theater movement is and its importance. The following six segments will take listeners behind the scenes at not-for-profit theaters across the country as they develop new works, and reinterpret established classics, with each report examining a different aspect of the regional theater experience. 

NPR correspondents visiting regional theaters include Neda Ulaby, Lynn Neary, Jeff Lunden, Elizabeth Blair, and “All Things Considered” film critic Bob Mondello.

  • March 3 – HOW WE GOT HERE: An overview of both the Regional Theater Movement and the “American Stages” series.
  • March 10 – WOMEN AT THE HELM: An examination of the prominent role of women in the movement, and how it has affected the nurturing of theater art, highlighting the Arena Stage in Washington, DC (1976 Regional Theater Tony Award Winner).
  • March 17 – MONEY: A look at how the not-for-profit economic model affects what theaters produce, and why it encourages innovative fundraising techniques, highlighting the Borderlands Theater in Tucson, Ariz.
  • March 24 – COMMUNITY: How regional theaters involve local audiences while bringing diversity to the stage, highlighting the Perserverance Theater in Douglas, Alaska.
  • March 31 – THEATER SHAPE & DESIGN: How resident theaters looked beyond the proscenium arch to reshape auditoriums and make theater a more intimate experience, highlighting the Water Tower Theater in Addison, Texas.
  • April 7 – PARTNERSHIP: Developing commercial hits at not-for-profit venues, highlighting Seattle’s Intiman Theater, Chicago’s Goodman (1992 Regional Theater Tony Award Winner), and New York City’s Lincoln Center Theater.
  • April 14 – REPERTORY: The challenge of acting, designing, and producing six plays in rotation, highlighting the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Ala.

KRCU 90.9 FM is Cape Girardeau’s local Public Radio International affiliate and a National Public Radio member station providing the Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois region with classical music, news and unique entertainment programming. For more information about this special series, log on to www.krcu.org. NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of 22 million Americans each week via more than 760 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, www.krcu.org offers hourly newscasts, special features and eight years of archived audio and information.