NEA ready to pay for new plays: $280,000

Times Staff Writer

Don’t anybody tell Max Bialystock and Nathan Bloom, those scamming producers from “The Producers,” but the National Endowment for the Arts is kicking in $280,000 for developing and producing new plays during the next 2 1/2 years.

The NEA New Play Development Program has $90,000 each available for two scripts; they must be already written and attached to theater companies planning to stage their world premieres by the end of 2010.

And there’s $20,000 each for five shows that are at a more germinal stage, where a writer and theater company need money to work on an idea, without a full commitment yet to a production.


The playwrights must be American citizens or permanent U.S. residents; the theaters must be nonprofit (which probably rules out Bialystock and Bloom).

The NEA says that almost any theatrical style is eligible (although the federal agency’s battle scars from the “culture wars” of the early 1990s could militate against shows involving whips and smeared chocolate).

“Ensemble plays, solo plays, plays with music, plays with puppets, plays with movement, plays with multimedia -- the theater in America is a ‘big tent,’ ” the application guidelines say.

The Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., is coordinating the new project and wants to hear from interested writer-and-theater teams by June 20. Another NEA play-development program, which funds playwright residencies at theaters, expires next year.