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The Challenge
A Traveling Jewish Theater is the lucky winner of a $150,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts -- money that will help support the next three seasons at the company's new home, Project Artaud in the Mission. ATJT is one of only 44 arts organizations in the country (and the only theater company in California) to receive that kind of NEA grant this year. As GOP philistines continue their crusade to cut arts funding, they might note that ATJT, which has produced high-quality work for 17 years, survives because of past NEA grants. This one will bolster the company's first true home season: 1995-96 opens with the premiere of Trotsky and Frida, the troupe's latest ensemble piece (it ran at Center for the Arts in 1994 as a work-in-progress). As most Frida Kahlo fans know, Leon Trotsky took refuge from Stalinist Russia in Mexico and was rumored to have shared a dalliance with the larger-than-life painter before enemies assassinated him. In January 1996, ATJT will premiere Forgiving Waters, a new solo piece by the extraordinarily talented company member Corey Fischer. Through the story of his mother's death, Fischer reveals the flip side of loss: grace and consolation. The third slot will be filled with an as-yet-unnamed duet between ATJT co-founder Naomi Newman and choreographer Remy Charlip. Finally, in May, Helen Stoltzfus will debut her newest work, The Woman Who Married a Bear. The play blends the story of one woman's struggle against chronic illness with a Native American legend of the grizzly bear's struggle for survival. ATJT will also use the NEA grant and matching funds for teaching projects and to present guest artists, readings and symposia.

Taxi Dance Contraband and friends will give a one-night benefit performance at Theater Artaud, Sun, March 12, to help match funds for a California Arts Council challenge grant. Contraband will perform excerpts of its major work, Mira, Cycle II. Other staples of the dance community -- The Dance Brigade, Remy Charlip, Bob Ernst, Kneejerk Dance Company, Jon Weaver, Sachiko Nakamura with musician Francis Wong -- will perform, as well. Suggested donation range $15-$50; call 621-7797 to reserve tickets.

A World of Good
Spring is the season of benefits. Luckily, many not only support good causes, but also promise a great evening of theater. Songs for Survivors will support Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases -- a celebration of women with HIV and AIDS-related illnesses. Hosted by KPIX news anchor Barbara Rodgers and directed by the formidable Ellen Sebastian, the WORLD benefit at S.F.'s Cowell Theatre March 20 will include music by Kitka, the MoFessionals and the Screaming Divas, as well as theatrical vignettes. Tickets are $75, of which $50 is tax-deductible; call 392-4400. The goal is to raise $30,000 for WORLD, a one-of-a-kind organization that produces the only newsletter for women with AIDS and HIV; its subscribers stretch from Japan to Australia.

Laura Jamison

 
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