Effective May 9, 2018, the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is suspending its production grants program. All grant proposals received before May 9 will be reviewed according to our usual process, and the organizations making those proposals may expect to hear back from the foundation over the coming weeks. We anticipate that we will again offer a limited grants program in 2019 and 2020. For details, please check this website after January 1, 2019.
The officers and advisory board of the foundation deeply regret this decision, made for the simple reason that, after 24 years, our resources have dwindled to the point that we can no longer fund the grants program. We are extremely proud of our work over the past two and a half decades, during which we have assisted more than 150 not-for-profit organizations in producing almost 200 individual works, including plays, musicals, performance works, fiction and nonfiction films and videos, operas, choral works, and other performing-arts events. We are equally proud of our grantees, who over the past quarter-century have so creatively mined LGBTQ history to fashion works that have informed and entertained LGBTQ audiences and the wider arts community.
For more information on the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, contact us.
The foundation is pleased to announce three new production grants for May 2018:
- A grant to Enigma Theater Company, Monroe Township, N.J., to assist in the proposed production of The File on J. Edgar Hoover, by Steve Gold, at the Winterfest Festival in Manhattan in 2019. The play is a dark comedy based on the life of Hoover, the longtime FBI director, and his relationship with his associate Clyde Tolson.
- A grant to (re)discover theatre, Chicago, Ill., to help support the production of its immersive theater piece Les Innocents/The Innocents. Described as an “epic queer romance,” Les Innocents/The Innocents is set in the Paris catacombs in the late nineteenth century. Performances will run from October 10 through November 4, 2018, at the Preston Bradley Center in Chicago. For more about (re)discover theatre, visit the company’s website.
- A grant to SF Film, San Francisco, Calif., acting as fiscal agent, to help support Frankly Speaking Films’ production of a promotional video for its forthcoming documentary film Ahead of the Curve. The documentary focuses on the career of Franco Stevens, the woman who in 1990 founded the lesbian magazine Deneuve (later Curve).
The foundation is pleased to announce three new production grants:
- A grant to Diversionary Theatre, San Diego, Calif., to help support the San Diego premiere of Bull in a China Shop, by Bryna Turner. The play follows the lives and careers of Mount Holyoke College president Mary Woolley and her partner, Jeannette Marks, as the pair reform and revolutionize women’s education at the height of the suffrage movement. Inspired by letters Woolley and Marks exchanged from the 1890s through the 1930s, the play will have a four-week run in the fall of this year. For more information, consult Diversionary Theatre’s website.
- A grant to the New York Musical Festival, New York City, to assist in the production of Sonata 1962, by Patricia Loughrey (writer) and Thomas Hodges (composer). Set in 1962, the musical centers on the devastating decision of a mother to try cure her musically talented daughter of the “mental illness” of homosexuality through electroconvulsive therapy. Sonata 1962 will receive five performances (July 29–August 5) at this year’s New York Musical Festival. Visit the festival website for more information.
- A grant to the Theater for the New City, New York City, to support the production of Barbara Kahn’s new play, Verzets Amsterdam. The play recounts the true story of a lesbian and a gay man who formed a group of artists to resist the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam during World War II in order to save Dutch Jews from deportation and murder. The play runs from April 5 through April 22. For show times and tickets, visit the Theater for the New City’s website.
The MacDowell Colony has announced that theater and opera director Ted Huffman has been chosen as the recipient of the fourth, and final, Arch and Bruce Brown Fellowship. During his 2017 residency at MacDowell, Mr. Huffman worked with composer Philip Venables on a new piece based on Larry Mitchell’s 1977 underground classic The Faggots and Their Friends between Revolutions, a fanciful fable of radical queerness and communal life. Mr. Huffman and Mr. Venables’s previous work, an adaptation of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis for the Royal Opera House, London, recently won the UK Theatre Award for Achievement in Opera. For more information on Mr. Huffman’s work, visit his website. The foundation extends congratulations to Mr. Huffman on the award.
The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is pleased to announce the following grants and a gift:
- A grant to Columbia College Chicago to assist in the production of a student thesis film, Jack and Anna. Based on events that occurred in Colorado in 1913, Jack and Anna tells the story of a young queer couple who try to escape their small town when their secret is exposed.
- A grant to Desert Rose Productions of Cathedral City, Calif., to help support the production of a new play, Dare, by Allan Baker. The play centers on an elderly gay man who suffers abuse from the staff of the nursing home where he lives and on the young gay doctor who helps him. Flashbacks from the older man’s life depict the evolution of gay culture from the early 1970s on. Performances are scheduled to run for four weeks, beginning on April 20. For more information, consult Desert Rose’s website.
- A grant to Heartland Men’s Chorus of Kansas City, Mo., to help support the production of a new choral work, We, the Unknown, by Timothy C. Takach (composer) and Rob Hill and Pat Daneman (librettists). We, the Unknown ponders the question of who is buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—including asking whether he might have been a gay man. The work will be included in Heartland’s concert “Indivisible: Resistance & Remembrance,” a collaboration with the National World War I Museum & Memorial; the concert will feature male voices of the United States Army Soldiers’ Chorus. Performances are scheduled for June 9 and 10 at the Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City. Visit the Heartland Men’s Chorus website for more information.
- A gift to Open Meadows Foundation of Brooklyn, N.Y., in memory of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s late vice president, Dr. Donna R. Barnes, who died in January. The donation will help Open Meadows establish a new playwriting prize for women. For more on the work of the Open Meadows Foundation, visit its website.
- A grant to Sage Theatre of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to help fund the production of a new play, Legislating Love (The Everett Klippert Story), by Natalie Meisner. Legislating Love tells the story of Calgary city bus driver Everett George Klippert, the last person to be jailed for homosexuality in Canada, and of a young historian who discovers Klippert’s case and becomes consumed with finding out more about him. The play will receive its world premiere production at the West Village Theatre in Calgary later this month, running from March 22 to March 31. More information can be found on Sage Theatre’s website.
- A grant to Unique Projects, Inc., of New York City, to support a video project entitled Carmen & Roesia, which is being produced by the social media-based music, dance, and cinema company Avant Projekts. The video, which reimagines George Bizet’s opera Carmen, suggests that the reason Carmen is never satisfied with any man is because she is, in fact, a lesbian. When completed, Carmen & Roesia will be posted on Avant Projekts’ Facebook page.
The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is pleased to announce the following production grants for January and February:
- A grant to Civic Ensemble of Ithaca, N.Y., to help support the production of The Loneliness Project, a documentary play, based on the verbatim testimony of more than 75 interviewees, that chronicles the history of Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ activist communities over the past 20 years. Co-produced by Civic Ensemble and Cornell University’s Department of Performing and Media Arts, The Loneliness Project will run for five performances (April 18–21), three on Cornell’s campus and two at a performance space in downtown Ithaca. For more information, visit this page.
- A grant to Fractured Atlas, New York, N.Y., to help fund a workshop production of a new play, Mirrors, by Azure D. Osborne-Lee. The play centers on the lives of African-American lesbian women in the rural South during the 1960s. The workshop production will be presented at Theatre 80 St. Marks in New York City’s East Village on April 25, 2018, as part of this year’s Downtown Urban Arts Festival.
- A grant to Women Make Movies, New York, N.Y., to help cover post-production costs for a new feature-length documentary film, All We’ve Got, directed by Alexis Clements. The film explores four queer women’s spaces founded in the 1970s and 1980s and still flourishing today—a lesbian bar in Oklahoma City, the Esperanza Center in San Antonio, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives and WOW Café Theatre in New York City.
Congratulations to the award recipients.
It is with immense sorrow that the officers and members of the advisory board of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation announce the death of our founding vice president, Donna R. Barnes. Dr. Barnes, 77, died at her home in Brooklyn, New York, on January 20. A longtime friend of AABBF founder Arch Brown (Arnold Krueger) and his companion Bruce Brown, Dr. Barnes was responsible for ensuring the foundation’s continuation and spearheading its re-creation following Arch Brown’s death in 2012. Dr. Barnes was professor emerita of education at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Her passion was seventeenth-century Dutch painting; she curated several exhibitions of Old Master Dutch paintings in both the United States and the Netherlands. She also wrote a number of books on Dutch art and artists, including Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life (2002) and Childhood Pleasures: Dutch Children in the Seventeenth Century (2012), both coauthored with food historian Peter G. Rose and published by Syracuse University Press. A formidable cook, she loved nothing more than serving meals and hosting celebrations at her Brooklyn home. Dr. Barnes was predeceased by her life partner, Barbara Miller, with whom she traveled extensively and shared a beloved vacation home, Casa Bardoña, in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Her witty, wise, and comforting presence will be sorely missed by family, colleagues, former students, and many, many friends in the United States, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
The board of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is extremely pleased to announce the following winners of the foundation’s playwriting competition for 2017:
- First Prize ($3,000): James Robert-Moore, of London, U.K., for Posterboy (Based on the Autobiography “Out in the Army”). This biographical play tells the story of James Wharton, one of the U.K.’s first openly gay servicemen, who campaigned to change the British military’s perception of and attitude toward LGBTQ soldiers.
- Second Prize ($1,500; two second prizes awarded this year): Raquel Almazan, of New York City, for La Paloma Prisoner. Set in a Colombian prison, the play focuses on a lesbian inmate nicknamed La Paloma, convicted of killing men who raped girls. As she and other inmates prepare for a beauty pageant (an actual phenomenon in Colombian women’s prisons), the women’s stories testify to Colombia’s social, political, and spiritual history.
- Second Prize ($1,500): Ben Noble, of Northcote, Victoria, Australia, for Member. Told from the perspective of a queer-basher, Member presents a compelling, frightening portrait of a boy drawn into a murderous gang that preyed on gay men in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. (The play features additional words by Rochelle Bright, Meg Courtney, Bjorn Deigner, Dan Giovannoni, Elise Hearst, and Finegan Kruckemeyer.)
- Honorable Mention ($500; three honorable mentions awarded this year): Christina Quintana, of New York City, for Azul. This intimate “memory play” explores the interplay of generations as Zelia and Lore, a Latina lesbian couple in present-day New York City, search for Zelia’s aunt, a lesbian who remained in Cuba after the Castro revolution.
- Honorable Mention ($500): Jack Rushen, of Stratford, Connecticut, for Taming the Lion. Set in Hollywood in 1930, the play centers on the attempt by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer to pressure movie star William “Billy” Haines into a “lavender marriage” designed to hide Haines’s homosexuality.
- Honorable Mention ($500): Mark Saltzman, of Studio City, California, for Falling for Make Believe: The Life and Songs of Lorenz Hart. Interweaving the words from Broadway lyricist Lorenz Hart’s songs with dramatic action, the play investigates the relationship between Hart and his composer-partner, Richard Rodgers, and recovers the tragic story of Hart’s private life as a closeted gay man beset by loneliness and alcoholism.
In addition to the prizewinning playwrights, six others made it into the competition’s final round: E. H. Benedict, for The Story of Harley Procter and His Floating Soap as Re-Enacted by Two Women of Color; Tom Carney, for Uncle Charlie; Lee Doubell, for Cottage by the Sea; Cheri Magid, for The Gaba Girl; Helen Valenta, for Beautiful Man; and Kyle T. Wilson for War and Jim.
The foundation extends congratulations to all the winners and finalists and thanks all 146 playwrights from across the United States and around the world who submitted work to this year’s competition. This marks the final year of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s competition, launched in 1996. (The foundation’s production grant program will continue.) A full list of competition prizewinners can be found on the Competition Awards page of the website.
A long-lost memoir by the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s founder, Arch Brown, has just been published by Chelsea Station Editions, New York. Written sometime during the late 1970s, A Pornographer recounts Brown’s early career as a director of sex films (both gay and straight) and his interactions with the men and women who appeared in his movies. The memoir’s manuscript was discovered among Brown’s papers following his death in the fall of 2012. A historical gem, A Pornographer provides an insightful psychological view of the performers who were drawn to having sex in front of Brown’s camera. The book features an introduction by Chelsea Station publisher (and AABBF advisory board member) Jameson Currier, an afterword by AABBF president James Waller, an extensive filmography, and many of Brown’s photographs, including shots taken on the sets of several of his films.
Chelsea Station Editions is an independent publisher devoted to gay literature. For more information about the book, or to order directly from the publisher, visit the Chelsea Station Editions website. A Pornographer is also available from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Three organizations will receive AABBF production grants this month:
- The Field (New York, N.Y.), acting as fiscal sponsor for Retro Productions’ We Are a Masterpiece, by Gina Femia. The play, slated for performances at New York City’s 14th Street Y in April 2018, is set in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. Joan, a no-nonsense nurse, becomes a fairy godmother to members of the town’s gay community when no one else will step up to care for them.
- The Living Church at Woodlawn Pointe (San Antonio, Texas), acting as fiscal sponsor for The Kindness of Strangers: The Tennessee Williams Lecture Tour, by Bernard J. Taylor. The play will be performed at Woodlawn Pointe in January 2018. Mr. Taylor’s AABBF-supported play The Last Days of Oscar Wilde, produced by San Antonio’s Overtime Theatre in March 2017, recently won the Excellence in Direction of a Drama award (director: Derek Berlin) bestowed by the Alamo Theatre Arts Council.
- Third World Newsreels (New York, N.Y.), acting as fiscal sponsor for the documentary film Mama Bears. Directed by Daresha Kyi, whose AABBF-supported film Chavela, co-directed by Catherine Gund, premiered in New York and Los Angeles in October, Mama Bears follows a group of evangelical Christian women—all mothers of LGBTQ children—who have chosen to defy their conservative churches’ stance on homosexuality and to travel the country promoting a message of acceptance and love.