In the entire United States, just two major regional theater companies -- the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles and the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. -- have been chosen to receive the first grants in the National Endowment for the Arts' Outstanding New American Play project. At the McCarter, that project involves Tarell Alvin McCraney (that's him at right, writing).
Drama Queen blog readers will recognize the name. Or maybe think, "Oh. Not another post about Tarell McCraney!" But when you're hot, you're hot, and McCraney is.
The McCarter has already announced plans to stage all three of McCraney's Brother/Sister Plays this spring. He wrote the scripts while he was earning his master's degree at Yale, and earlier productions of two of them -- The Brothers Size and In the Red and Brown Water -- have earned the Miamian a rep as one of theater's most vibrant young voices, both in the United States and Great Britain (where he's an international writer in residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company through 2010). The McCarter will present both plays plus the world premiere of the third, Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet. After the New Jersey run (Red and Brown begins April 24, with the other two joining it in rep May 14 through June 21), the trilogy moves to New York's Public Theater.
Thanks to the NEA grant, the McCarter will have an additional $90,000 to do McCraney's work proud. The company's producing director, Mara Isaacs, notes: "...We love that Tarell's first major work is an enormously ambitious project, and we want to be able to stage that project in the manner that will best showcase it to the rest of the country and the world, which is why we are mounting all three plays in a single production."
If the Coconut Grove Playhouse were still operating (it isn't) and were of the caliber of the McCarter or the Public (it wasn't), one would hope to see McCraney's work, his trilogy, anything, in the city where he began forging his artistic identity. Perhaps the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts will find a way to put the work of a young man who grew up not so far from its angled edifices onto one of its stages.