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Cherashore Fund Grants Actors

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A study of voice, movement, and acting techniques, and the creation of a performance and installation piece utilizing three-dimensional abstract portraits are among the projects being funded through 2003 grants from the Spencer Cherashore Fund, it was announced Tues., April 15. Now in its fifth year of underwriting artistic endeavors by noted theatre professionals, the fund monetarily supports the work of "mid-career" performers.

The Cherashore Fund was established in 1998 to commemorate the life of its namesake, an actor whose career appeared poised to take off when he died suddenly at the age of 42 in 1997.

This year's grantees include actor Bruce MacVittie, who appeared with Al Pacino in "American Buffalo" and is currently appearing in the Culture Project's "The Exonerated," receiving $1,500 to develop the voice, movement, and acting technique study; three-time Obie Award-winner Karen Kandel ("Talk," "Peter & Wendy," "Lear."), receiving $3,000 to create the performance and installation piece; writer, director, and actress Rosalba Rolon, who's been the artistic director of Pregones Theatre in the Bronx for the past 23 years, receiving $2,000 to travel to Spain to research a play about her ancestry; and Obie Award-winning actress Ching Valdes-Aran, who appeared with F. Murray Abraham in "MacBeth" and won an Obie Award for her work in "Flipzoids," receiving $1,500 to pursue advanced vocal training.

Last year, the fund inaugurated the Lifetime Dedication to Not-for-Profit Theatre Award, and this year's winner is legendary actor Alvin Epstein, who made his New York debut in 1955 with Marcel Marceau and, the following year, created the role of Lucky in the Broadway premiere of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot." Epstein, who ended his run in "Tuesdays with Morrie" at the Minetta Lane Theatre earlier this season, is a longtime member of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. and the former artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

According to Anna Becker, the fund's program director, the Not-for-Profit Theatre Award honors "later career" actors who "have shown extraordinary dedication to the not-for-profit theatre over their lifetime." The award includes a $500 cash prize.

This year's grantees were chosen by a panel of independent theatre professionals, including playwright Lee Blessing; actress Nora Cole (the first recipient of a Spencer Cherashore grant in 1999); and Elizabeth Diamond, head of the graduate directing program at Yale University.

To be considered for a grant, performers must be vetted by one of 12 nationwide nominators. This year's group included director Benny Ambush; Barbara Berlovitz, co-artistic director of the Minneapolis-based Theatre de la Jeune Lune; Ping Chong, artistic director of Ping Chong & Co.; director David Esbjornson; Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Providence, R.I.-based Trinity Repertory Company; playwright Naomi Iizuka; Tony Kelly, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Thick Description; Ruth Maleczech, co-artistic director of Mabou Mines; actress Heather Randall; writer Willie Reale; Randy Rollison, artistic director of the Cleveland Public Theatre; and director Susana Tubert.

For more information, write to Anna Becker, Program Director, Spencer Cherashore Fund, PO Box 237062, Ansonia Station, New York, NY 10023; call (212) 971-4774; or email spencercherashorefund@ worldnet.att.net.

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