Actors Theatre Gets $1.2 Million Grant



Louisville, KY –Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein announce that the theatre is the recipient of a major grant awarded from The Roy Cockrum Foundation in support of the theatre’s prestigious Apprentice/Intern Company. The award will support grants over the next ten years for each apprentice and intern during the nine-month program, and provides year-round employment for the program’s leadership. The Apprentice/Intern Company offers total immersion into the world of a major American regional theatre and a unique combination of performance, training, observation and networking.

Les Waters of Actors' Theatre
Les Waters of Actors’ Theatre

“Actors Theatre has had a long commitment to developing new work and new talent for the future of American theatre,” said Jennifer Bielstein. “The Roy Cockrum Foundation is helping to address a long-term need we have for the Apprentice/Intern program. By providing increased investment in each participant to further offset their living expenses during their residency, we will be able to ensure that we can support a diverse pool of talented candidates.”

Now entering its 44th year, and currently under the direction of Michael Legg, the Apprentice/Intern Company is one of the nation’s foremost training programs. Each year, Actors Theatre auditions and interviews more than 2,000 artists, artisans and administrators, selecting approximately 20 performers and 20 interns for a spot in the highly-coveted program at the Tony Award-winning theatre and home of the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Designed to serve as a bridge between undergraduate study and a professional career, members of the company receive world-class training from some of the most accomplished theatre professionals in the country.

“I know the long and distinguished history of the Apprentice/Intern Company but I recently had the opportunity to experience their work first-hand during this spring’s Humana Festival. It was a terrific display of professional training at the highest level and, under the skilled supervision of Michael Legg, these young artists demonstrated the high standards expected in the Festival. I was inspired to support the incredible impact Actors Theatre has on the American theatre through this professional training program; a training program which has taken its place alongside the best conservatories and graduate schools in the country,” said Roy Cockrum. “Theatre enriches our culture, and our culture is what enriches us all. It’s so important to invest in the art of live theatre and in the artists directly. Supporting Actors Theatre is a way to invest in both and ensure the vibrancy of American theatre for future generations.”

Actors Theatre joins a prestigious trio of recipients that have received significant grants from The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Founded by Roy Cockrum, the Foundation supports world-class performing arts projects in not-for-profit professional theatres throughout the United States. The Foundation considers grants by invitation only and is dedicated to helping nonprofit theaters reach beyond their normal scope of activities and undertake ambitious and creative productions. The gift is one of three grants the Foundation has bestowed; the others being to Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company to provide support for the world premiere of Tracy Lett’s Mary Page Marlowe and to The Goodman Theatre in support of Robert Falls’ and Seth Bockley’s world premiere stage adaptation of Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.

Because of its commitment to practical curriculum-based training with the Apprentice/Intern Company, Actors Theatre leads the field in the development of future talent in American Theatre and boasts an impressive track record of ensuring participants are career ready: 95 percent of graduates of the program continue to work in theatre for five or more years after completion. It is the only program in the country with fulltime dedicated staff whose focus is to provide apprentices and interns the skills they need to navigate the first years in a difficult business. Current alumni from the program hold key positions at leading arts organizations around the country, including Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cleveland Play House, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Theatre for a New Audience, among others. Additionally, 39 former apprentices and interns were employed by Actors Theatre during the most recent season.

In addition, Actors Theatre’s Apprentice/Intern Company is the only program with a complete season of performances, performed and produced by the company that includes a commissioned world premiere fully-produced in the Humana Festival of New American Plays.  Furthermore, each spring agents and casting directors from New York, Chicago and beyond travel to see this new talent showcased.  Apprentices have tread the boards in some of the most important theatres across the nation and have appeared on Film and Television including, ElementaryBroad CityChicago FireBoardwalk EmpireThe AmericansManhattan Love Story and The Blacklist.