Nearly $1 million in grants has been awarded by the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, a program of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Pew officials announced yesterday.

The annual awards, this year totaling $938,000 and ranging from $14,520 to $150,000, will go to 15 theaters, presenters and individual artists in the Philadelphia area.

The funds will support a theatrical adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (created by New York's Elevator Repair Service for the Philly Fringe Festival), as well as the U.S. premiere of Václav Havel's first new play since he stepped down as president of Czechoslovakia 20 years ago (Leaving, at the Wilma Theater).

The grants will also support a two-year exploration of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Pig Iron Theatre, leading to new works and a full stage production of the Shakespeare original in 2011.

Fran Kumin, director of the theater initiative, noted that the projects and artists funded represented a "diverse array" of theater work, ranging from musicals to experimental productions. She also noted that five individual theater artists will receive funding this year, a measure of the region's artistic depth, she said.

Projects and artists receiving grants include:

1812 Productions, $65,000, to develop and produce the shared world premiere of The First Day of School, a contemporary farce by Billy Aronson.

Arden Theatre Company, $110,000, to produce Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, with a new visual approach.

InterAct Theatre Company, $60,000, to produce the world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz.

The Kimmel Center Inc., $76,591, to present the regional premiere of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County at the Forrest Theatre.

New Paradise Laboratories, $30,000, to develop and create the world premiere of Freedom Club, a science fiction-historical take on race and war. The piece will be created in collaboration with Adriano Shaplin and the New York-based Riot Group.

Painted Bride Art Center, $25,000, to present Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, a theater piece compiled by Gray's widow from known works, unperformed stories and the unpublished diaries of the late monologist, a regular Bride performer.

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe, $107,000, to commission and present the world premiere of The Sun Also Rises.

Philadelphia Theatre Company, $110,000, to produce the world premiere of Terrence McNally's Golden Age, a backstage period work about opera composer Vincenzo Bellini. It will travel to Washington's Kennedy Center.

Pig Iron Theatre Company, $150,000, to support a two-year investigation of A Midsummer's Night Dream.

The Wilma Theater, $110,000, to produce the U.S. premiere of Václav Havel's Leaving.

Madi Distefano, $14,520, to research and develop Meanwhile . . ., a two-person noir comedy to be premiered by Brat Productions at the 2010 Philly Fringe.

Sara Felder, $20,000, to develop and produce the world premiere of A Queer Divine, the tale of a dancer in time of war, to be performed in community centers and Philadelphia-area theater lobbies.

Charlotte Ford, $20,000, to further develop and produce a three-clown play, Chicken, for world premiere at the 2010 Live Arts Festival.

Karen Getz, $20,000, to develop and produce the world premiere of The AI Project, a comic actors' ballet that explores human imperfection through the behaviors of robots.

Thaddeus Phillips, $20,000, to create, develop and perform Microworld(s), a two-part world premiere solo work.

Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594 or ssalisbury@phillynews.com.