Encore Michigan

Wild Swan Theater

In 1980, Hilary Cohen and Sandy Ryder founded Wild Swan Theater with a desire to reach youth and families with affordable, accessible theater productions of the highest quality. They set out to create theater that was so thrilling and relevant for youth that it had the power to inspire a lifelong love of drama, art, history and literature.  After more than 35 years, Wild Swan Theater is still delighting children with a potent combination of some of the world’s greatest stories and myths, original music, dance, masks, puppets and the visual poetry of American Sign Language (ASL).

Wild Swan Theater is nationally known for its ingenious artistry, its innovative audience accessibility program, and its projects for participants with disabilities.  We were one of the first theater companies in the nation to incorporate ASL into all of our mainstage performances, and invented a new aesthetic for the theater by fully integrating ASL actors into the central action of the play.  We pioneered other accessibility tools, such as onstage touch tours and audio described performances for blind patrons. We also developed a teacher-training package entitled “Dramatically Able” that is now in use in every state in the nation as well as in many foreign countries.

All the components of Wild Swan productions, scripts, acting, music and dance are developed with the belief that families should experience the very best in the arts.  We are fortunate to have attracted the region’s most talented actors to perform original scripts by writers like Newbery Award winner Joan Blos, Kennedy Center Award winner Jeff Chastang, and Wild Swan’s resident playwright, Jeff Duncan, recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Original music is composed for every play and performed live onstage by noted musicians like award-winning folk musician David Mosher, harmonica virtuoso Peter “Madcat” Ruth, and Motown veteran Vincent York.

Wild Swan Theater has won numerous awards, including  the Governor’s Arts-in-Service Award in 1998 (one of Michigan’s highest honors), the James A. Neubacher Award from the U-M in 2001, and the Heartspring Award for Innovation and Creativity in Special Education in 2008. The Detroit News has described Wild Swan as the “premier theater company for family audiences in the state” and The Henry Ford has called the company “one of the finest theaters for families in the nation.”

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Performance address:

Towsley Auditorium
inside the Morris Lawrence Building
on the campus of Washtenaw Community College
4800 E Huron River Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Business address:

6175 Jackson Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Theater phone:


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Box Office hours vary
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Related Content

Wild Swan’s Little Women is a wonderful introduction to the classic

Review December 08, 2017
ANN ARBOR, Mich.–Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is one of the truly classic works of American literature. And because it is in the public domain,... Continue Reading

Wild Swan opens 38th season of children’s theater October 19

Preview September 13, 2017
ANN ARBOR—Wild Swan Theater opens its 38th season with the humorous children’s tale, Strega Nona and the Magic Pasta Pot. The nationally recognized, award-winning company... Continue Reading

Wild Swan Theatre announces 38th season

Season Announcement August 23, 2017
ANN ARBOR - Wild Swan Theater Co-Artistic Directors Hilary Cohen and Sandy Ryder have announced the company’s 38th season of performances. Nationally regarded as one... Continue Reading

Wild Swan will hold annual benefit concert March 19

News February 14, 2017
ANN ARBOR—Children, adults, and families are invited to celebrate Wild Swan Theater’s 37th season and their annual benefit concert, An Afternoon of Ann Arbor’s Best. The... Continue Reading

Wild Swan’s “Rosie the Riveter” returns in March for four performances

Preview February 10, 2017
ANN ARBOR—Nationally acclaimed Wild Swan Theater continues its 37th season with Rosie the Riveter. Back by popular demand, this original musical production explores the lives of women who... Continue Reading