Encore Michigan

Theatre Nova to hold inaugural Michigan Playwrights’ Festival 12/8–12/13, with part 2 in 2016

News November 06, 2015 Anne Kiley

When Theatre Nova directors Carla Milarch and Dan Walker founded the playwrights’ theatre last fall, they highly suspected that the wealth of talented Michigan playwrights they’d encountered needed more room to grow. In August of this year, as the Theatre Nova play reading committee combed through over 50 script submissions for the Michigan Playwrights Festival, their suspicions were confirmed. In fact, the number and quality of scripts that they received has led the group to add a second week to its staged reading festival, in order to provide more opportunities for Michigan’s playwrights. In addition to the five new scripts and six 10-minute plays to be staged this December (the 8th through the 13th) Theatre Nova will add a second week in 2016 (date TBA) that will showcase an additional four full-length and six 10-minute plays. In total, 21 Michigan playwrights’ works will be featured, in this unprecedented staging of exclusively Michigan-made new plays.

“It’s such an exciting time for the arts in Michigan” Milarch says. “Because of the big changes in Detroit, and the incredible growth in Ann Arbor; for the first time in a long time, there’s a sense that Michigan is actually a viable place to make a life as an artist, and that is showing up in the playwriting community too. I’ve been watching playwrights here for over a decade, and I’m seeing this incredible crop of new voices emerging. And new voices need new opportunities, which is where Theatre Nova comes in.”

Playwrights included in the festival range from Michigan veteran Kim Carney, whose plays have been produced across the country and whose local hits span decades and include Moonglow, The Home Team, Geoffrey and Jeffrey, and The War Since Eve at Performance Network; to Linda Ramsay-Detherage, who won the 2015 Wilde Award for best new script for her play Sugarhill and garnering a recent nomination for the prestigious American Theatre Critics’ Association Steinberg award, to Morgan Breon, an emerging playwright, whose short plays and monologues are making their way into the Detroit theatre scene.

The full schedule of plays presented in December:

Tuesday, December 8 at 8:00 p.m.: An Evening of 10-Minute Plays

  • In Dreams, by Jarrod Vanzo
  • Can’t Wait, by Paige Vanzo
  • Rinse Cycle, by Miranda Lopez
  • Portrait of a Wise Woman, by Morgan Breon
  • Can You Hear the Love, by Matthew Tawney
  • One Mother’s Answers, by Anna Prushinskaya

Wednesday, December 9 @ 8 p.m.: Bird, by Kristin Andrea Hanratty
Thursday, December 10 @ 9 p.m. (After An Almost British Christmas): Lisandra, by Cara Beth Heath
Friday, December 11 @ 9 p.m. (After An Almost British Christmas): The Side Effect of Happiness, by Linda Ramsay-Detherage
Saturday, December 12 @ 4 p.m.: Katherine, by Kim Carney
Sunday, December 13 @ 4 p.m.: Swimming While Drowning, by Emilio Rodriguez
Sunday, December 13 @ 6 p.m.: Michigan Playwrights’ Forum–a community discussion
Sunday, December 13 @ 7 p.m.: Michigan Playwrights’ Festival reception–refreshments provided

The festival in December will be scheduled in tandem with Theatre Nova’s first world premiere, an original show created by the Theatre Nova ensemble: An Almost British Christmas, a community event inspired by the British tradition of pantomime (or ‘panto’). Theatre Nova’s version takes children’s stories and injects vaudeville sensibility to create an unusually American Panto featuring local celebrities, pop culture references, and choirs of local schoolchildren–a truly unique way to celebrate the holiday season.


All readings will be at the Yellow Barn (416 W. Huron, Ann Arbor), which Theatre Nova converts to an 80-seat “thrust stage” theatre six times a year. The location offers free parking, as well as quick walking access to downtown; nearby reference points are the Ann Arbor YMCA, the Big City Small World Bakery, Tasty Bakery, The Last Word, and the Sun Moon Yoga Studio. The entrance for parking is near the intersection of Huron St. and Chapin St/3rd St.

Theatre Nova has marked all performances as pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $10 per reading. The company also offers annual memberships that include tickets to all six season productions, every show in the Michigan Playwrights’ Festival in November, and each of its 3 children’s shows.

Week of 6/29/2020

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