National funding for arts-based community dialogues in Arlington, MA

Arlington, MA, May 10, 2018 – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has approved True Story for a grant of $25,000 to use applied theater for civic dialogue on timely community issues.  True Story is one of 60 organizations nationwide selected for this prestigious award.  The National Endowment of the Art’s “Our Town” program supports creative projects that help “transform communities into lively and resilient places with the arts at their core.”

Christopher Ellinger, founder and director of True Story Theater said, “I’m thrilled that our talented improvisational theatre ensemble has been recognized for what we do best: helping people listen to each other with empathy and respect.”

The two-year project is called: “The Listening Project: strengthening civic dialogue through storytelling theatre.”  True Story will work with eight community partner groups, providing each organization with three shows or workshops.  Each event will illustrate a different way that theatre can support civic dialogue:  to help a wide range of people feel heard on civic issues, to reduce stress amidst controversy, to provide public education, to stimulate fresh creative thinking on issues, and more.

True Story’s primary partner is Arlington’s Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD).  Other likely community partners include the Human Rights Commission, the Arlington Police Dept., the Commission on Disability, the Commission on Arts and Culture, Envision Arlington (overseeing town volunteerism), and the Town Manager.

True Story’s work is based on “Playback Theatre,” an unique form of spontaneous, interactive theatre, practiced around the world, that honors people’s true feelings and experiences.