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Theatre Development Fund (TDF) receives a $35,000 grant from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for Phase II of Triple Play, a consortium project with Theatre Bay Area (TBA)

Date: Oct 20, 2015


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Theatre Development Fund (TDF) and Theatre Bay Area (TBA) are pleased to announce that they have received a grant in the amount of $35,000 from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Fund for National Projects in support of Phase II of their consortium project, Triple Play. Triple Play explores the crucial relationship between playwrights and other generative artists, theatres and audiences. This exploration aspires to create a paradigm shift in the way the field thinks about audiences and the way audiences experience new work, and in so doing will increase audience appetite for new work and help to restore theatre’s relevance as a national art form.

Triple Play launched Phase I of its research with a $78,750 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in 2013.  The project began with a six-city tour (Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) The objective was to have discussions with leaders of theatre institutions, generative artists and audiences, exploring questions such as: “What is the impact that the generative artist envisions their work having on the audience? Who does the playwright see as being their ‘target’ audience? Having seen the play, how did the audience actually respond? In these cities, artists and theatre staff from local theatres companies met to share their successes, failures and thoughts around the intersection of audiences, artists and theatres.

Additionally, the audience members engaged directly with playwrights having one-on-one dialogues while theatre staffers observed. After these talks, theatre staff members held focus groups with groups of audience members while the playwrights observed.  Phase I culminated with a convening in Boston, (hosted by HowlRound/Arts Emerson) where a group of 70 theatre professionals from across the country (artistic directors, executive directors, marketing directors, managing directors, playwrights, etc.) met to hear the early findings and to guide the next steps.  The group found the learning from the meetings and interactions between theatres, playwrights and audiences stimulating and many ideas emerged about how to continue this engagement.

The plan for Phase II, which this new grant will, in part, help fund is to amplify the scope of Phase I.  During a seven-city tour (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.), roughly 1,000 audience members will speak directly with playwrights and theatre professionals in those locations. Triple Play will partner with theatre companies in each city to assemble participants. This underscores the vital involvement of local communities in the project. Current theatre partners include:  Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta); HowlRound/Arts Emerson (Boston); League of Chicago Theatres (Chicago); Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles); New Dramatists and Lark Play Development Center (New York City); Playwrights Foundation (San Francisco); and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, D.C.). More theatres will be announced as partners soon.  

To expand the scope of Phase II, the National New Play Network (NNPN) and HowlRound/Arts Emerson will distribute an online survey (created by Wolf Brown) to their audience members across the country.  HowlRound/Arts Emerson will continue the Triple Play conversation online through the dissemination of “bright spots”, which they will solicit from the field and will be curated by Dr. Zannie Voss.

The goal for the final phase of Triple Play will be to compile all of the discussions and findings and publish them as a ‘tool kit’ – an aid for theatres to pick from what would be applicable for their particular circumstances. Ultimately, in helping to bridge the gap between artistic institutions, playwrights and audiences, there will be greater engagement for all.

Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation said “We are delighted to continue our support for Triple Play, a program that promises to help connect audiences and playwrights more deeply. Especially in this moment when theatres are investigating new ways to reach and serve the public, this program is timely, savvy and important.”

“We are so grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for their endorsement of Triple Play and are delighted to be moving forward,” said Victoria Bailey, Executive Director of Theatre Development Fund.  “We learned so much in Phase 1 about the power of conversations between artists, audiences and theatre professionals as a means of increasing audience appetite for new work.  Additionally, we are gratified to have a wide group of partners from around the country joining us in Phase II. Acknowledging that there is no “one size fits all” answer to how best to engage artists, audiences and theatres on conversation, we look forward to sharing the results of this work with the field in a way that will allow theatres in various communities to find approaches that will work for their particular organization.”

“In Phase I of Triple Play, we encountered all around the country literally hundreds of theatre practitioners who are passionate about connecting artists, audiences and theatre institutions” said Brad Erickson, Executive Director of Theatre Bay Area.”  I’m thrilled that with renewed funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation we will be able to deepen our exploration and vastly expand the impact of this exciting project.”

About Theatre Development Fund (TDF)
TDF, a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance, and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 90 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.5 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including its Autism Theatre Initiative) and education programs — as well as its Costume Collection — have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community and a 2013 Lucille Lortel honor for “Outstanding Body of Work” in support of the Off Broadway community. For more information, please visit:

About Theatre Bay Area
Theatre Bay Area supports more than 300 theatre companies and 3,000 individual artists in the Bay Area. Founded in 1976, Theatre Bay Area's mission is to unite, strengthen, promote and advance the theatre community in the San Francisco Bay Area, working on behalf of our conviction that the performing arts are an essential public good, critical to a healthy and truly democratic society, and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth. For more information, please visit:

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit