Arena Stage launched a multi-city multi-year theater-university collaboration with The National Civil War Project on Feb. 28. Four universities and five performing arts organizations are planning new plays, conferences and community programs in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

The project is commissioning 12 new works about or inspired by the American Civil War in four regions that symbolize the geographic scope of the war. The partnerships are – in Washington DC: Arena Stage and George Washington University; in the Boston area: Harvard with American Repertory Theater; in Baltimore: CENTERSTAGE with the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center; and in Atlanta: Emory And Alliance Theater.

Among the highlight events at Arena are two world premieres: Healing Wars by Liz Lerman is a theatrical dance piece that explores the experiences of the healers tasked with treating the wounds of battle. Also, award-winning playwright and performer Daniel Beaty will present an original piece portraying a range of characters from slaves to generals, abolitionists to slave owners, those who went to war to those left behind.

In December 2013, George Washington University will host a national conference investigating the Civil War in Washington, DC.

Also as part of the partnership-wide devised theater project, Arena Stage’s internationally renowned Voices of Now program will create an ensemble of young emerging artists to devise an original one-act play in response to source material from the Civil War and contemporary issues in the nation’s capital.

Courtesy of Sheila Wickouski

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