Experimental theater in L.A. is getting a significant financial boost thanks to a $1-million grant to Center Theatre Group's new play production program from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The three-year grant will be used to develop stage productions with L.A.-based artists that use new technologies and a non-textual approach to performance, CTG said Wednesday.

The nonprofit theater company said it will establish three categories to distribute the grant money. One program will offer three large-scale commissions for original non-text-based pieces; another will provide completion funds to projects that have already started but need additional financial support.

The third program will establish an "innovation fund" that will allow CTG to respond to the needs of projects involving unusual approaches to theater, including the use of new media and other technologies.

One of the early beneficiaries of the Mellon grant will be a commission for Phil Soltanoff, artistic director of New York's Mad Dog Theatre Company, to produce a new work with an L.A.-based ensemble that will be performed at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

-- David Ng

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