NEA Funds New Version of ‘Our Town’ Set in a ‘Queer Community’

$10,000 federal grant for play set in town where ‘gender and sexual identity are fluid’

• January 13, 2015 5:00 am


The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) is contributing to the production of a new adaptation of "Our Town," set in a town where "gender and sexual identity are fluid."

The Foundry Theatre, Inc., a theater company in New York City, received $10,000 to reimagine the quintessential American play about love and marriage in a fictional New Hampshire town set in the early 1900s. The Foundry Theater’s new version, which will go by another title, takes place in the present in a queer community.

"Playwright Casey Llewellyn will use [Thorton] Wilder's text and strive to maintain his aestheic [sic] and social relevance while she considers cultural and social issues within contemporary society," a description of the NEA grant states. "The play will explore questions of love, marriage, and loss within the context of a town where the inhabitants' gender and sexual identity are fluid."

Melanie Joseph, the founder and the artistic leader of the Foundry Theater, told the Washington Free Beacon that federal funding has gone to support a huge cast, workshops, and to develop the script. The play is set to open later this fall.

"It’s really exciting," Joseph said. "It’s so rare that we can support a young writer with such a huge cast."

"It’s really interesting to grapple with belonging, and family, and community within a queer community," she added.

The theater praised Llewellyn, whose plays have focused on gender and "queer life."

"Casey Llewellyn’s work wrestles with the inheritance of her generation, with the social and emotional politics of the world they’ve been given to navigate and participate within," the Foundry said. "And as a queer artist, this wrestling is reposed in an ongoing inquiry of gender, queer life, and the politics of both."

"She translates this inquiry into inimitably structured, sometimes surprisingly participatory theatre that builds a kind of collective longing for understanding and empathy," they said.

Llewellyn is also working on her first novella entitled, "Freeing Our Natural Voices/Freeing this Voice/Talking," and previously produced the play "I Love Dick."

Published under: Government Spending