Today The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation announced ten recipients of its annual Social Impact Theatre Grant Program, which provides production...
Social Impact Theatre
Our investments are guided by the fundamental belief in the power of live theatre to spark dialogue, bring different viewpoints together on challenging subjects, and provide a lens to process the critical issues of contemporary society.
Through our annual Social Impact Theatre Grant Program, we proudly recognize organizations that are intentional and innovative in engaging with their audiences around these issues, and are committed to reaching new audiences. We support theatres in Western states that are igniting positive changes in their communities through the programming they bring to life on stage.
Announcing the Ten Recipients of Our Annual Social Impact Theatre Grant Program
Today we are announcing the ten recipients of our annual Social Impact Theatre Grant Program, which provides production support for theatres in Western states igniting positive changes in their communities through the programming they bring to life on stage, and innovating how they engage their audiences around timely, relevant issues.
Social Impact Theatre
2023 Grant Recipients
Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities
“The Laramie Project”
When gay college student Matthew Shepard was found brutalized and tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, his death made people across the country take a hard look within. Twenty-three years after its World Premiere at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, The Laramie Project still resonates today. As America continues to grapple with hate crimes, we dive deep into a very human story of the prejudice, hatred, conflicts and contradictions revealed by Matthew’s death.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
“The Far Country”
Following a critically acclaimed debut in New York, Pulitzer Prize finalist Lloyd Suh and Obie Award-winning director Eric Ting bring The Far Country back to its roots in a triumphant West Coast premiere. In the wake of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Moon Gyet has arrived at San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island Immigration Station with an invented biography and a new name, both given to him by a man who made the same arduous crossing several years earlier.
Coachella Valley Repertory
“Summer Session with the Bones Brigade”
Summer Session with The Bones Brigade tells the story of four teenage skateboarders and their two female friends. When one of them mysteriously disappears, the gang fears the worst and directs their guilt and shame about their disappearance against one another. Skate alongside as they explore the often-complicated challenges of friendship, youth, overbearing parents, loss and the coming of age.
Curious Theatre Company
This time-bending play takes on the Flint Water Crisis and dives deep into the poisonous choices of the outside world, the contamination within, and how we make the best decisions for our families’ futures when there are no real, present options. This Regional Premiere features an intergenerational cast of all Black Women joined in song, in reckoning and in ritual.
Latino Theater Company
Tacos La Brooklyn
Tacos La Brooklyn follows Chino, a young and ambitious Korean American who grew up in a foster family on Los Angeles’ Eastside, as he hopes to grow his successful taco stand, “Chino’s Underground Tacos,” into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. When Yesenia Tapia, a Mexican American social media influencer, accuses Chino of cultural appropriation and pandering to a gentrifying neighborhood, he must convince the community of his cultural authenticity in a multi-faceted and complicated city. A multilingual drama, Tacos La Brooklyn asks captivating questions about cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation in contemporary multi-ethnic Los Angeles.
“Inherit the Wind”
Two of the nation’s leading lawyers go head-to-head in the ultimate battle of wit, wisdom, and will in this powerful drama. With freedom of speech hanging in the balance, will this small-town courtroom bring us together or tear the nation apart? In a fresh production boldly reimagined for today, Inherit the Wind will make you rethink what you know and dare you to question just how much society has evolved.
Portland Center Stage
“What the Constitution Means to Me”
As a 15-year-old, Heidi Schreck won debate competitions defending the Constitution across the country. As an adult, she resurrects her teenage self to investigate its profound effect on four generations of women in her family. This exhilarating show culminates in a live debate with an actual teen, allowing audiences to weigh in on the Constitution’s impact on our daily lives.
The 5th Avenue Theatre
Rising Star Project
Since 2011, the Rising Star Project has opened the doors of The 5th Avenue Theatre to teenagers throughout Washington State. The Program focuses on career exploration and the development of professional skills. Participants are embedded within a working department at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Professional mentors work with students to learn skills and execute tasks that are crucial to the day-to-day operations of a regional theater company.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Winter, 2001, Newark, NJ. Two DREAMers—pre-DACA—meet up on the fire escape, which happens most nights. Both undocumented teens, they grapple with life’s challenges, from family to their futures. When one becomes naturalized, she promises to marry the other so he can receive his papers and truly start his life. As time passes and their relationship shifts, both must confront what they are willing to sacrifice to live freely and belong. This searing and captivating new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning Martyna Majok asks what we’re willing to risk for those we love.
The Phoenix Theatre Company
China, 1989. Hundreds of thousands of young university students realized the time was now to cry out for democracy and fair treatment for all. A student revolution began, led by a university student and her comrades, resulting in the crackdown known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Through the months leading up to the final hours, love was found, friendships torn apart, political figures fell from grace, and the world was transfixed by the universal struggle for freedom. Years later, the sister of the student leader returns to Tiananmen Square to commemorate this brave moment and retell the story in an effort to never forget their sacrifice. Conceived by Tiananmen Square protest leader, Wu’er Kaixi, Tiananmen: A New Musical is a vital reminder of the fragility of human rights and the importance of bravery and self-determination in the face of totalitarianism.
Town Hall Arts Center
Fresh off a humiliating and high-profile flop, four of Broadway’s brassiest, sassiest stars decide to put themselves back in the spotlight by finding a noble cause to champion. As luck (and social media) would have it, a small-town high school in Indiana has gotten itself into some controversy surrounding its prom, just because a lesbian couple wants to attend openly and proudly! Enter the belty quirky Broadway quartet to the rescue, inviting the students to be the kick-ball-change they want to see in the world!
Where We Work
We fund eligible theatres in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.