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Center for Independent Documentary, Inc. (Boston, MA 02135-1032)
Tracie Holder (Project Director: January 2019 to present)
The People's Will

Development of a sixty-minute documentary using the 1849 Astor Place Riot as a vehicle to explore the history of theater and Shakespeare in nineteenth-century America. 

In 1849, American militia and police opened fire on a crowd of 15,000 rioters in the heart of New York City. Twenty-three people died and scores more were wounded. Improbable though it sounds, the riot was sparked by two rival productions of Macbeth and marked the first time American troops would fire on American citizens. The People's Will, a 60-minute documentary, will tell the dramatic story of the Astor Place Riot, an event all but lost to history. Based on wide-ranging scholarship, the film will explore the seething debates of the antebellum period over competing definitions of democracy, economy, and culture that would ultimately define the young republic. We are seeking a total of $74,992 to consult with our panel of scholars, write a script, and produce a sample reel for the film. Beyond the film, we have established partnerships with The Public Theater and the Folger Shakespeare Library with whom we will develop public programs and a companion traveling museum exhibition.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
U.S. History

Media Projects Development

Public Programs

$74,992 (approved)
$74,992 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2019 – 7/31/2020