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The Hypocrites and 16th Street Theater Receive National Theatre Company Grants

Two Chicago area theater companies — The Hypocrites and the Berwyn-based 16th Street Theater — are among the 10 companies nationwide to be recognized by the American Theatre Wing with its 2013 National Theatre Company Grants.

The Theatre Wing, best known as the founder and overseer of the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards, created these grants, as a way of recognizing and supporting the most promising emerging theaters. The companies selected to receive a $10,000 grant each have all “articulated a distinctive mission, cultivated an audience, and nurtured a community of artists in ways that strengthen and demonstrate the quality, diversity, and dynamism of American theater.”

The Hypocrites, the Chicago theater company that has produced everything from a Pirandello classic and modernized version of Greek tragedies to playful new versions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, was founded in 1997 by Sean Graney, and is currently run by Halena Kays (artistic director) and Megan Wildebour (managing director). Recognized as “groundbreakers that defy the audience’s expectations,” the company’s smash-hit production of “Our Town,” directed by David Cromer, transferred to Off-Broadway in 2009 and became the talk of the town. Its playful “Pirates of Penzance” has twice appeared at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., and will enjoy another run at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2014.

The 16th Street Theater, founded by Ann Filmer, has become an important cultural magnet in the Berwyn neighborhood and beyond, where it has produced mostly new plays (by Tony Fitzpatrick and many others), and cultivated a previously underserved local audience. It will open its fall season with Steven Simoncic’s “Broken Fences” (Sept. 19-Oct. 26), a look at rapidfire gentrification and escalating property taxes, to be directed by Filmer and Ilesa Duncan.

Additional grant recipients include: The Catastrophic Theatre (Houston, Texas), Constellation Theatre Company (Washington, D.C.), The Cutting Ball Theatre (San Francisco, California), Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco, California), Prospect Theater Company (New York, New York), Theater Latté Da (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Third Rail Repertory Theatre (Portland, Oregon), and True Colors Theatre Company (Atlanta, Georgia).