Bard will play Defense for Uncle Sam

National Shakespeare tour to visit military bases

WASHINGTON — Uncle Sam wants Shakespeare — for the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Seems he’s a big fan.

The National Endowment for the Arts has signed up with the Defense Dept. to bring its national theatrical tour, Shakespeare in American Communities, to military bases across the country.

Lawmakers have inserted $1 million in this year’s hefty DoD spending bill to help the NEA pull off the unprecedented partnership.

“If we are truly going to fulfill our charge of bringing art of indisputable excellence to all Americans, we have to reach into communities where we’ve never gone before,” said NEA chairman Dana Gioia. “I think it’s safe to say that the National Endowment for the Arts and the Dept. of Defense have never before been mentioned in the same sentence. We’re delighted to make cultural history.”

The Shakespeare tour, comprising six theater companies touring four plays, is the largest in U.S. history, with plans to visit more than 100 small and mid-size communities in all 50 states. The specific military bases where the tour will perform have yet to be determined.

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