Performance Network Theatre
|Performance Network Theatre|
|Address||120 E Huron|
|City||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
Performance Network Theatre, founded in 1981, is one of Ann Arbor, Michigan's professional theatres. It produces a wide variety of dramas, classics, comedies, Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winners, many of which are World or Michigan Premieres. Winning more awards and nominations for 5 years winning, Performance Network Theatre leads the southeast Michigan region in artistic quality. Its professional season includes seven productions and runs year-round. Other year-round programs include the Fireside New Play Festival, a multi-night series of staged readings occurring three times a year, Children’s Theatre Network, an in-house touring company targeting children and young adults, and the new and upcoming Mosh Pit Second Stage series, where avant-garde and cutting edge plays will be produced.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Programs
- 4 Staff, Board of Directors, and Associate Artists
- 5 Recent shows
- 6 Affiliations
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Performance Network is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization that began its tenure in Ann Arbor in 1981. Performance Network became Ann Arbor’s professional theatre in September 1997 and built an elegant theatre in the heart of downtown in September 2000. Through it all, Performance Network has held to its mission statement “to provide uncompromising artistic leadership in the region and produce works that engage, challenge, and inspire audiences and artists.”
Its vision is as follows:
- To champion excellence in the theatrical arts.
- To add joy and meaning to people’s lives through theatrical entertainment.
- To honor our community’s intellectual and artistic integrity with the selection of our plays
- To cultivate an appreciation for the theatrical arts in a diverse and expanding audience for today and the future.
- To celebrate the expansive possibilities of theatre as an art form through a variety of offerings.
- To nurture artists, through creative enrichment and development programs
- To promote new plays and the work of new playwrights.
Performance Network’s primary stage, the Shure Theater, is an intimate space that seats 139 patrons. It showcases all seven productions of Performance Network’s professional season. The Theatre’s second space, known as The Mosh Pit Theatre, is a versatile black box theatre that can seat 20-40 audience members. Although it is currently used as a rehearsal hall for upcoming productions, plans are being made to convert the space to hold the Mosh Pit Second-Stage series.
David Bernstein and Jim Moran founded the Performance Network Theatre in 1981 as an arts collective. In addition to Bernstein and Moran, active collective members included Lyn Coffin, Davi Napoleon, Judith Ottmar, Al Sjoerdsma and Rochel Urist. The theatre evolved into a nonprofit corporation in the mid-eighties. After the departure of the original founders, the organization continued to produce and present experimental, original and socially relevant work under the cooperative direction of Linda Kendall, Annemarie Stoll, Johanna Broughton, (and in time, Peter Knox). Eventually, the early 90's saw departures from the artistic staff leave the artistic direction in the hands of Johanna Broughton, who (along with her husband Dan Walker) lead the theatre from the 'Warehouse Years' to professional status and in 2000 moved it from Ann Arbor's Washington Street location to the corner of 4th and Huron, near the Kerrytown district. In 1997, Performance Network secured a contract with Actors’ Equity and established itself as Ann Arbor’s professional theatre. In doing so, it was able to
- Increase the reputation of the Network by placing it in a higher tier of theatres nationally
- Gain access to plays of nationally recognized merit, unavailable to community theatres
- Increase artistic quality by hiring more experienced actors, directors, and designers
- Gain listing in respected theatrical publications and presentation by participating in the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance, the National New Play Network, and Theatre Communication Group
- Expand our audience base by gaining press coverage in numerous Southeastern Michigan publications.
In 2003, direction of the theatre was turned over to Carla Milarch and David Wolber. Under Milarch and Wolber, Performance Network excelled at choosing a wide range of artistically challenging shows and began receiving multiple awards for artistic quality. In order to continue producing high quality work Milarch decided to join Wolber in the Artistic department. In 2012, Performance Network switched to a dual leadership structure and hired Erin Sabo to partner with Wolber.
The professional season includes seven classic and contemporary plays under a Small Professional Theatre contract with Actors’ Equity Association. Performance Network strives to include a classic play, musical, and world premiere in each season. The season begins in the fall and runs a full year with each production having a minimum of a 5-week run with possible extensions on most shows.
Patrons can purchase a subscription to the professional season that gives them tickets at a discounted rate to either the first five shows of the season or all seven shows. Alternatively, patrons can purchase “Flex Tickets” or anytime tickets to use in any combination for any number of shows they please over the course of the season.
Backstage Café, where the artists share their creative caffeine, is a series of in-depth talk backs that occur once every production of the professional season. Similar to the “Extras” section on DVDs, these on-stage interviews between the Associate Artistic Director and leading artists in the world of theatre. Past Backstage Cafe guests have included Carla Milarch, Performance Network’s Associate Artistic Director and star of "The Glass Menagerie"; Phil Simmons and R. MacKenzie Lewis on "A Little Night Music" and how they managed to fit a large music on the small Network stage; David Wells, playwright of "Brill", a highly applauded play that world premiered at the Performance Network, on his experience of writing for both Hollywood and the stage; and Suzi Regan, leading actress of "Good People" on her acting process.
Fireside New Play Festival
The Fireside New Play Festival occurs three times a year (usually in December, March, and July) and, each time, showcases four new never-before-seen plays over the course of four days. In its 10-year history, the Fireside New Play Festival has launched over 20 plays to full productions across the country. The event is a series of staged readings of new scripts in development that gives audiences a first look at promising new American plays and also allows for post-show feedback after each reading. Talk backs frequently occur with the playwright and the Associate Artistic Director of Performance Network Theatre. Comments from these post-show feedback sessions have helped to shape the play’s future.
Children’s Theatre Network
A professional in-house touring company targeting children and young adults, the Children’s Theatre Network showcases a children’s play once a month at the Performance Network Theatre in addition to touring to local southeast Michigan schools and educational institutions. It is dedicated to awakening the creativity, intellect, and compassion of youth through the power and fun of live theatre.
The Saturday Series for Young Audiences features four productions, each of which are performed on the 4th Saturday of every month during the school year. The plays are educational, covering a wide variety of subjects including Michigan history, science, and healthy lifestyles, and wildly entertaining, often accompanied with songs and music. Each performance is under an hour long and is followed by a cookies and drink reception. The Saturday Series are appropriate for children in the grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, although older middle school students and parents have enjoyed the shows as well.
The touring aspect of the Children’s Theatre Network is composed of three programs: educational plays and musicals, workshops to complement live performances, and artist residencies. The workshops introduce the basics of theatre and story telling to a class of students. Artist residencies are in-depth, month-long sessions of play build a strong group dynamic while creating a play. Under the guidance of Performance Network directors, students build a performance, from script to stage in twenty 50-minute sessions. The residency culminates with a performance of a script based on a selection of international fables and folk tales for an invited audience.
The Mosh Pit
The Mosh Pit is a second-stage venue that is currently used for programming, rehearsals, and additional events. Plans for The Mosh Pit space as an additional venue for up-and-coming outside production companies are currently in the works. In the future, The Mosh Pit will produce relevant theatre works that are not suitable for the mainstage Professional Season but still important to be shared with the community. This second stage series will function in two primary ways: first as a developing ground for new talent – playwrights, directors, non-Equity actors – and second as an entry point for younger audiences, through programming that appeals to a more avant-garde sensibility. The goal of this second stage theatre will be to create a highly desirable space known as the place to see the real cutting edge plays, such as The Skriker by Caryl Churchill, Fucking A by Susan Lori-Parks, plays by Sarah Kane, one man/woman shows, etc.
Apprenticeships and Internships
Performance Network’s Apprenticeship program offers an intensive year-long paid position. The apprenticeship offers hands-on training in the areas of stage management, house management, development, marketing, and technical theatre. Apprentices rotate through these areas every show in order to develop a well-rounded experience in all aspects of theatre management. Each year three apprentices are selected to join the Performance Network staff.
Internships provide applicants a comprehensive experience in all elements of professional theatre, including box office, house management, and technical and clerical skills. Unlike the apprenticeship, which allows apprentices to experience multiple areas of theatre, interns can select which field they would like to focus on.
Performance Network Theatre offers a variety of theatre classes that are open to local actors and artists to enroll in in order to help them continue their education and help elevate the overall quality of acting talent to a level seen on major stages in the country. Classes range from focusing on acting to auditioning to vocals and are taught by award-winning local actors and artists.
Staff, Board of Directors, and Associate Artists
Current staff members include:
- Erin Sabo, Managing Director
- David Wolber, Artistic Director
- Carla Milarch, Associate Artistic Director
- Logan Ricket, Associate Development Director
- Joshua Parker, Technical Director
- Jennifer Pan, Assistant Technical Director & Graphic Designer
- Becky Fox, Director of Outreach and Education
- Anna Simmons, Company Manager & Resident Stage Manager
- Dayne White Bull, Marketing Assistant
- Justin Dietzel, Apprentice
- Eric Hohnke, Apprentice
- Jahmeel Powers, Apprentice
Board of Directors
- Ron Maurer, President
- Tom Crawford, Vice-President
- Steve Gerber, Vice-President
- Tom DeZure, Treasurer
- Linda Levy, Secretary
- Barbara Bach
- Hanna Goodstein
- Norman Bash
- Steven Calef
- Tom Crawford
- Mary Avrakotos
- Gene Dickirson
- Joseph Grimley
- David Herzig
- Steve Klein
- Zachary Barnes
- Jessica Litman
- Steve Palms
- Myra Poplin
- Phil Stoffregen
- Naz Edwards
- Monika Essen
- Sarab Kamoo
- Will Myers
- Jan Radcliff
- Chelsea Sadler
- John Seibert
- Malcolm Tulip
- Daniel C. Walker
- Leigh Woods
- Joseph Zettelmaier
Current Season (2013-2014)
- An Iliad adapted by Lisa Peterson & Denis O'Hare, based on Homer's Iliad (Michigan Premiere)
- Jerry's Girls with Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman, Concepts by Larry Alford, Wayne Cilento, and Jerry Herman
- County Line by David Wells (World Premiere)
- Venus In Fur by David Ives (Michigan Premiere)
- Richard III by William Shakespeare
- Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz, This is a co production with the Jewish Ensemble Theatre (Michigan Premiere)
- The Renaissance Man by Joseph Zettelmaier (World Premiere)
The 2012-2013 Season
- The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
- A Little Night Music with Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler
- Brill by David Wells, Music by Frank Allison (World Premiere)
- Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire (Michigan Premiere)
- The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (Michigan Premiere)
- Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo (Michigan Premiere)
- My Name is Asher Lev by Aaron Posner, Adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok (Michigan Premiere), a co-production with the Jewish Ensemble Theatre
The 2011-2012 season:
- Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies (Michigan Premiere)
- Ain't Misbehavin': The Fats Waller Musical Show, conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz
- God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton (Michigan Premiere)
- Dead Man’s Shoes by Joseph Zettelmaier (World Premiere)
- Red by John Logan (Michigan Premiere)
- In The Next Room: or The Vibrator Play by Sarah Ruhl (Michigan Premiere)
- Burn This by Lanford Wilson
The 2010-2011 season:
- Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez (Michigan Premiere)
- The Drowsy Chaperone, Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison (Michigan Premiere)
- The War Since Eve by Kim Carney (World Premiere)
- The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
- Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker (Michigan Premiere)
- Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauggts (Michigan Premiere)
- Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh by Joel Gross (Michigan Premiere)
The 2009-2010 season:
- The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead by Robert Hewett (Michigan Premiere)
- Christmas Carol'd by Joseph Zettelmaier (World Premiere)
- K2 by Patrick Meyers
- It Came From Mars by Joseph Zettelmaier (World Premiere) a co-production with Williamston Theatre
- Little Shop of Horrors Book/Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Music by Alan Menken
- The Seafarer by Conor McPherson (Michigan Premiere)
- Woman Before a Glass by Lanie Robertson (Michigan Premiere)
The 2008-2009 season:
- 9 Parts Of Desire by Heather Raffo
- Geoffrey and Jeffrey by Kim Carney (World Premiere)
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
- A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem (Michigan Premiere)
- Fences by August Wilson
- A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher (Michigan Premiere)
The 2007-2008 season:
- The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl (Michigan Premiere)
- The Baker's Wife by Joseph Stein and Stephen Schwartz
- Souvenir by Stephen Temperley (Michigan Premiere)
- Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
- The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane (Michigan Premiere)
- The Day Everything Went Wrong by Malcolm Tulip (World Premiere)
The 2006-2007 season:
- The Retreat From Moscow by William Nicholson (Michigan Premiere)
- The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt, book and lyrics by Tom Jones
- Language Lessons by Joseph Zettelmaier (World Premiere)
- Candida by George Bernard Shaw
- Amadeus by Peter Shaffer
- Dirty Blonde by Claudia Shear (World Premiere)
Performance Network Theatre is a member of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the National New Play Network (NNPN), Americans for the Arts, the Cultural Alliance of Southeast Michigan (CASM), the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau (AACVB), and the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce. The Theatre’s activities are supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Their most recent affiliation is with the Blue Stone Theatre.
- Performance Network Theatre website
- The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead Review - AnnArbor.com
- Christmas Carol'd Review - AnnArbor.com
- K2 Review - Detroit News
- Williamston Theatre's Mars page
- Fences Review - Detroit News
- National New Play Network website
- Americans for the Arts website
- CASM website
- AACVB website
- Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce website
- MCACA website