Performance Network Theatre

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Performance Network Theatre
Performance Network Theater.JPG
Address 120 E Huron
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Type proscenium
Capacity 140 seats
Opened 1981
Years active 33

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. 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, and the Children’s Theatre Network, an in-house touring company targeting children and young adults.[1]


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.

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) led 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 the audience base by gaining press coverage in 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 recent years, the company experienced budget shortfalls. In 2012, Performance Network switched to a dual leadership structure and hired Erin Sabo to partner with Wolber. In May of 2014, the Board of Directors suspended all operations and fired the entire staff.[2] In July, the Board announced that the theatre would reopen under the management of local actor-directors John Manfredi and Suzi Regan.[3] [4]


Professional Season[edit]

The professional season includes 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.

Patrons can purchase a subscription to the professional season that gives them tickets at a discounted rate. 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.

Apprenticeships and Internships[edit]

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. The company also offers children's classes. Classes range from focusing on acting to auditioning to vocals and are taught by local actors and artists.

Staff, Board of Directors, and Associate Artists[edit]

Current staff members include:

  • John Manfredi, Executive Director
  • Suzi Regan, Artistic Director
  • Sara Dean, Company Manager
  • Eric Hohnke, Apprentice
  • Derek Ridge, Apprentice

Past 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

Associate Artists

Recent shows[edit]

The company has announced its 2014-15 season[5]

The 2013-2014 season

The 2012-2013 Season

The 2011-2012 season:

The 2010-2011 season:

The 2009-2010 season:

The 2008-2009 season:

The 2007-2008 season:

The 2006-2007 season:


Performance Network Theatre is a member of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG),[11] the National New Play Network (NNPN),[12] Americans for the Arts,[13] the Cultural Alliance of Southeast Michigan (CASM),[14] the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau (AACVB),[15] and the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce.[16] The Theatre’s activities are supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs,[17] and the National Endowment for the Arts. Their most recent affiliation is with the Blue Stone Theatre.[citation needed]


External links[edit]