The White Heron Theatre Company of Nantucket is pleased to announce that it is a recipient of funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA’s $10,000 grant will support a workshop of a new piece, Miss Mitchell with book by Kristin Slaney and music and lyrics by The Lobbyists (lead artists Tommy Crawford and Alex Grubbs). White Heron’s project is among the more than 1,100 projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding.
“As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as White Heron Theatre Company reengage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure.”
“There are certain milestones in the life of a theatre that validate the contribution of the company to the national body of work in the American theatre,” noted Lynne Bolton, Artistic Director of White Heron Theatre Company. “A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a new play is one of those honors. We are humbled and honored to be among a select group of artistic institutions nationally that contribute to the national canon of work for the stage.”
Miss Mitchell tells the story of Maria Mitchell (1818 – 1889), who grew up on Nantucket and was America’s first professional female astronomer as well as a celebrated librarian, naturalist, and educator. In 1847, King Christian VIII of Denmark awarded her a gold medal for her discovery of a telescopic comet C/1847 T1, known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” in her honor. Mitchell eventually became Professor of Astronomy at Vassar College during the prestigious women’s college early years.
Miss Mitchell will be developed in partnership with the Almanack Artists Colony in anticipation of a world premiere production at White Heron in summer 2022, which will mark the theatre’s 10th anniversary season.
“We are so grateful to the NEA for this grant, which supports the next phase of Miss Mitchell,” said Tommy Crawford, one of the lead artists of The Lobbyists. “The grant enables us to bring together the creative team to write and workshop new music, orchestrate and record songs, refine the book in a new complete draft, and share excerpts with residents and other artists on Nantucket. We are thrilled to be able to develop the project on Nantucket — the source of its inspiration, Maria Mitchell’s birthplace, and a major setting in the musical — and with White Heron. This workshop would not be possible without both organizations.”
“It is particularly gratifying to be able to bring a piece of Nantucket to the national scene,” added Bolton. “’The world premiere of Miss Mitchell will be the cornerstone of our 10th anniversary season, and then the play will go on to New York. We are deeply grateful to the NEA for this tremendous honor and for providing the resources to make this work possible.”
White Heron Theatre Company is a professional, not-for-profit theatre company producing transformative, professional productions of classical and contemporary plays. Tickets are currently on-sale for its 2021 summer season. For more information, visit whiteherontheatre.org.