Encore Michigan

New theater residency, Mitten Lab, “kicks off” at Opera House on 9/13

News September 05, 2015 Encore Staff

DETROIT, MI– The Mitten Lab, a new theatre artist residency, will host a Kick-Off Event at the Detroit Opera House’s Chrysler Black Box and Sky Deck on Sunday September 13, 2015. The Kick-Off Event aims to introduce the Mitten Lab to the Michigan community and establish the Lab’s relationship with Michigan-based theatre organizations and Detroit, a city steeped in theatrical history. This is also an opportunity for the community to connect with emerging artists and their work in a way that is both accessible and affordable.

The event will include two panel discussions: “What Do We Even Mean by ‘Emerging’ Artist?,” focused on the nebulous “emerging artist” label, and “The State of Theatrical Work in the Michigan Landscape”, which will explore the art form’s current position within Detroit’s artistic renaissance as well as in other Michigan cities. Panelists will include Kevin Dodd (Activate: Midwest Play Festival), Stefanie Abel Horowitz (Director), Matthew Dean Marsh (Composer/Lyricist), Monet Hurst-Mendoza (Playwright), Emilio Rodriguez (Michigan-based Playwright), Amy Thomas (Matrix Theatre Company), Daniel C. Walker (Theatre Nova), and Sarah Winkler and Courtney Burkett (Detroit Public Theatre). Panels will be moderated by Rachel Sussman (Mitten Lab Co-Founder) and John W. Rutherford (ArtServe Michigan Governor’s Award for Art Educator of the Year). Additional panelists will be announced closer to the event.

The all-day event will also include a reading of the new play Blind Crest, by Monet Hurst-Mendoza and directed by Katherine M. Carter (Mitten Lab Co-Founder) in the Chrysler Black Box Theater. Blind Crest  tells the story of Tryell Johnson, who sits on Death Row for the double-murder of two undercover detectives, and Mara Hernandez who is a fresh-faced corrections officer, newly appointed to the night watch. Together, this unlikely pair, form an intense bond and make a pact to have a baby. A dark twist on the “boy-meets-girl” and inspired by the unfolding true story of Ronnell Wilson and Nancy Gonzalez, Blind Crest forces us to ask, “what is the value of a human life, and at what cost are we willing to fight for it?”

A subsequent reception on the Sky Deck will take place with a presentation of selected songs from the new musical, Rezoning, by Michigan native Matthew Dean Marsh. Refreshments will be served. Marsh is currently adapting his concept album Detroit: Rezoning into a whimsically cerebral pop-up musical about forbidden young love during the Detroit race riots. In Detroit: Rezoning, Marsh paints an aural landscape of Detroit’s physical landmarks, infamous highways, and abandoned buildings.

Founded by Katherine M. Carter and Rachel Sussman in 2015, The Mitten Lab, A Michigan Incubator for Theatre Talent Emerging Now, is an artist residency located in Northern Michigan aimed at providing emerging theatre artists with the time, space, and support to develop new theatrical works.

The Mitten Lab Kick-Off Event is free and open to the public. Due to limited space, reservations are strongly encouraged. To reserve tickets, visit www.themittenlab.org or call OvationTix at 866-811-4111. Patrons can reserve tickets for either the entire day or individual events.


11:30 AM-12:30 PM: What Do We Mean by “Emerging” Artist?

1:30 PM-2:30 PM: The State of Theatrical Work in the Michigan Landscape

4:30 PM-6:00 PM: A Reading of the new play, Blind Crest by Monet Hurst-Mendoza

6:30 PM-9:00 PM: Reception + Musical Selections from the new musical, Rezoning by Matthew Dean Marsh



In the summer of 2016, The MITTEN Lab will launch on 60 acres of rural land in lush Bear Lake, MI (located 20 miles from Interlochen), providing emerging artists with the time, space, and support to create new work as well as engage with the local landscape. These projects can vary in degree of development—from the seed of an idea to a final draft. Housing, studio space, and food will be provided.

The Mitten Lab will focus on the advancement of works in the performing arts and thus is aimed at cultivating early career playwrights, theatre composers, lyricists, librettists, choreographers, and performance artists. Artists from all across the country can apply to attend, although the Lab will consistently support at least one Michigan artist per year. The Mitten Lab will begin by working with 3 artists in 2016, expanding to include more artists and longer residencies in subsequent years. Participation will begin by invitation only, and ultimately lead to an open application process. Developmental presentations of work created at the Mitten Lab will be showcased at Bear Lake as well as various venues in Detroit.




Twitter: @mittenlab

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