The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation announced today ten new recipients of its annual Social Impact Theatre Grant Program, which provides...
Social Impact Theatre
We support theatres in Western states that are igniting positive changes in their communities through the programming they bring to life on stage. 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.
We proudly recognize organizations that are intentional and innovative in engaging with their audiences around these issues, and are committed to reaching new audiences. Eligible theatres can apply during the open phases of grant cycles.
In Response to COVID-19
In response to the lasting impacts of COVID-19 on the theatre community, and with the goal of being responsive to changing dynamics in the sector, the Foundation held a one-time COVID-19 Social Impact Theatre Innovation Awards opportunity in 2021. This opportunity awarded general operating support to selected theatres offering projects or programs intended to make a social impact by utilizing the power of theatre to spark dialogue, bring different viewpoints together on challenging subjects, and provide a lens to process the critical issues of contemporary society.
Social Impact Theatre
Recent Grant Recipients
Arizona Theatre Company
Nina Simone: Four Women
A face-to-face musical evening with the fiery genius, activist, and musician that is Nina Simone. Following the 1963 bombing by the Ku Klux Klan at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Nina Simone shifted her career from artist to activist. Infused with traditional hymns along with her own songs and covers, Nina Simone: Four Women imagines a conversation between Simone and three Black women from various backgrounds and experiences and their fight to overcome second-class status, racism, and the stereotypes that seek to define them.
Centre Theatre Group
Alma and her daughter, Angel, made sixteen wishes long ago: good health, love, carne asada every day, perfect SAT scores, and a spot at UC Davis, to name a few. But now that Angel is 17, she’s got a different vision for her future than her immigrant single mom. Featuring the powerfully fresh, homegrown L.A. voice of playwright Benjamin Benne, winner of the National Latinx Playwriting Award, Alma is a poetic, funny, and timely World premiere that begs the question: what does the American Dream mean today—and who does it belong to?
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Despite embodying the strong, ethical morals of his prestigious prep school for young black men, being gay has made central character Pharus an outsider. But this year, his talent and perseverance have paid off with a chance to lead the school’s choir, giving him the opportunity to redefine himself as a leader and a confident young man. This tender, yet invigorating coming-of-age musical drama by Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), illuminates the chaotic collision of masculinity, tradition and self-discovery on the path to adulthood.
In contemporary Manhattan, Eric and Toby are 30-somethings who seem to be very much in love and thriving. But on the cusp of their engagement, they meet an older man haunted by the past, and a younger man hungry for a future. Chance meetings lead to surprising choices as the lives of three generations interlink and collide—with explosive results.
La Jolla Playhouse
Here Are The Blueberries
An album of never-before-seen World War II-era photographs arrives at the desk of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archivist Rebecca Erbelding. As Rebecca and her team of historians begin to unravel the shocking story behind the images, the album soon makes headlines around the world. In Germany, a businessman sees the album online and recognizes his own grandfather in the photos. He begins a journey of discovery that will take him into the lives of other Nazi descendants — in a reckoning of his family’s past and his country’s history. Here There Are Blueberries tells the story of these photographs, and what they reveal about the Holocaust and our own humanity.
Written and performed by Emmy Award winner Holland Taylor, Ann is pure entertainment — an uplifting tribute to this courageous leader, dedicated mother, loving grandmother, and legendary personality. Texas Governor Ann Richards had a heart as big as the state from which she hailed, a wit to rival the greats, and an enduring passion for fair play. Neither partisan nor political, this richly imagined play reveals a complex, colorful, and captivating character whose capacity to inspire us all burns even brighter today.
San Diego Repertory Theatre
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Christopher is a 15-year-old boy with an extraordinary brain. At seven minutes after midnight, he finds himself standing beside his neighbor’s dead dog. He is determined to find the culprit. Christopher’s detective work leads to an earth-shattering discovery as he bravely embarks on a quest that changes his life forever.
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 Children’s Theatre
The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963
Based on the award-winning, groundbreaking novel by Chris Paul Curtis, this powerful play follows 10-year-old Kenny Watson and his family on a road trip, traveling together through unfamiliar territory in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era. They encounter racism unlike anything they have experienced before and only after a local church is attacked, an event that marks Civil Rights history, the Watson family comes together and proves that perseverance and resiliency can be found in the most unimaginable places.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Taroon, an Afghan translator for the U.S. military, hides in his sister’s apartment while waiting for a visa that will allow him to bring his wife and newborn son with him to the United States. One mistake could reveal his location and risk his chances of leaving Kabul alive, turning a flickering television set, creaking doors, and nosy neighbors into terrifying threats to Taroon’s future. Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, this tense and timely thriller from playwright Sylvia Khoury explores the consequences of the war in Afghanistan for the Afghan people.
The Old Globe
She was always the good daughter. But now her mother, in the twilight of her life, calls her “mala”—bad to the core. Melinda Lopez’s funny, brutally honest, and ultimately cathartic solo play is an irreverent exploration of how we live, cope, and survive in a challenging moment, and what happens when we strive to be good but don’t always succeed.
Where We Work
We fund eligible theatres in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.