Encore Michigan

MITTEN Lab to launch residency program in September

News June 29, 2016 Encore Staff

NEW YORK—The MITTEN Lab (A Michigan Incubator for Theatre Talent Emerging Now), led by co-founders Katherine Carter and Rachel Sussman, has announced the launch of its residency program in Northern Michigan this September.

The MITTEN Lab will provide emerging artists with the time, space, and support to create new work as well as engage with the local landscape. Chosen projects vary in degree of development—from the seed of an idea to a final draft. Housing, studio space, and food are provided.  The 2016 dates will be September 19-25, 2016 and will include presentations of work in partnership with various Michigan theatre organizations.

The inaugural MITTEN Lab artists will be New York-based playwright Monet Hurst-Mendoza, Detroit-based playwright Emilio Rodriguez, and New York-based composer/lyricist Zoe Sarnak.

“The mission of the MITTEN Lab is to give early career theater artists the opportunity to create in an encouraging environment and play a part in reestablishing Michigan as a fertile, sustainable ground for new and exciting theatrical work,” said co-founders Katherine Carter and Rachel Sussman, “We’ve chosen to kick off our first residency with Monet, Emilio, and Zoe, three dynamic and singular talents whom we believe will serve this mission. We are thrilled to support and share their work this fall.”

The MITTEN Lab focuses on the advancement of works in the performing arts and is aimed at cultivating early career playwrights, theatre composers, lyricists, librettists, choreographers, and performance artists. The MITTEN Lab will begin by working with three artists in 2016, expanding to include more artists and longer residencies in subsequent years. At least one Michigan artist will be chosen each year. Participation will begin by invitation only, and ultimately lead to an open application process.

Through its residency program, the MITTEN Lab will provide artists with the opportunity to showcase their work in an encouraging and supportive environment, allowing them to present informal workshops of pieces in development at both the MITTEN Lab as well as at various venues in Detroit and Michigan, giving the public access to new work for a pay-what-you-can admission fee. Residents will also engage with the Detroit community, hosting workshops, master classes, and talk backs.

For more information about the MITTEN lab, check out www.themittenlab.org.

Monet Hurst-Mendoza is a New York-based playwright from Los Angeles, CA. Her plays have been developed with Rising Circle Theater Collective, |the claque|, Lookingglass Theatre, The Oneness Project, The Other Mirror, The Kupferberg Center for the Arts, #serials@The Flea, Amios’ Shotz!, Women’s Project Theater, and Playwright’s Playground at Classical Theatre of Harlem. She is the current Playwright in Residence for The Other Mirror, and an inaugural member of the 2016 MITTEN Lab in Michigan. Monet is a member of the 2017 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, |the claque|’s Octo-Group, and is a 2014-2016 Women’s Project Lab Time Warner Foundation Fellow. She is a proud member of Rising Circle Theater Collective, where she spearheads INKtank/PlayRISE, a developmental writers lab and new works festival for emerging playwrights of color. B.A.: Marymount Manhattan College.

Emilio Rodriguez’s plays have been a part of various festivals including the inaugural Latino Theatre Common’s Carnaval of New Works (Swimming While Drowning), the inaugural Activate Midwest Festival at Western Michigan University (Spin), and the Austin Latino New Play Festival (Mamacita and the Negrito). He will also be a part of the Play Lab at the Great Plains Conference in Nebraska later this spring. Last fall, Emilio received a residency Djerassi Artist Residency Program. Additionally, Emilio was a 2015 finalist for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Excellence in Playwriting Award and 2016 Finalist for the Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowship. He is currently working on commissions for the JET Theatre and Milagro Theatre. When he’s not writing, Emilio teaches theatre to young people in the Detroit area through programs such as Living Arts, Matrix, and Disney Musicals in Schools.

Zoe Sarnak graduated from Harvard University where she was awarded the Ann Radcliffe Trust award. Works include: Mixtape (Silent Street Productions 2012); A Lasting Impression (Pace New Musicals 2012, Off-Broadway, winner of the 2013 NJ Playwright’s contest); The Years Between (Musical Theatre Factory’s 2014 workshop, March 2016, T-Fellowship Award Presentation); Landed (commissioned by New York Film Academy, scheduled Summer 2016 release). Zoe is the winner of the 2015 Davenport Songwriting contest, NY Stage & Film’s Founders Award finalist, Fred Ebb Award finalist, and resident at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed. Her music has been featured at The Lilly Awards, Women of Note (NYMF), Prospect Theater Company, Cutting Edge Composers and more. New/upcoming projects include: Secret Soldiers (with Marsha Norman), Transport Group’s 20th Century Project (with Michele Lowe) and Teddy&Max (with Brian Crawley).

Katherine Carter (Co-Founding Artistic Director) directs theatre, opera, and events. In addition to The MITTEN Lab, she is the founding artistic director of The Other Mirror, dedicated to adaptations for the stage whose work includes Gods & Kings, Mirror Alchemy, Going Away, Bite the Apple, and Madame Bovary. Katherine is a two-time director in the Directors Company Adaptations for the Stage Workshop, the 2011-2012 Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident, a Drama League Rough Draft Fellow, and a guest director at New York University’s Stella Adler and Atlantic Schools.  Katherine has worked with The Little Orchestra Society, 54 Below, Flux Industries, Dixon Place, On Site Opera, and Boston Opera Collaborative. In 2014 Katherine was awarded Best Director of a Musical for her direction of La Cenerentola in Boston, MA.  Katherine is a 2016 Drama League First Artist Resident and a Wolf Trap Opera Directing Fellow. She is a member of Directors Lab Chicago (’11, ’14), and a New Georges Affiliated Artist. Associate member of SDC and the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Rachel Sussman (Co-Founding Artistic Director). A native of Michigan, Rachel is a New York-based producer committed to nurturing diverse work through creative collaboration. Rachel is also a co-founder of The Indigo Theatre Project and has worked with Second Stage Theatre, RKO Stage, Goodspeed Musicals’ Mercer Colony, The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, The Tony Awards, and CREATE-Ireland in Dublin, Ireland. Producing credits include: The Woodsman (59E59, New World Stages); The Imaginary Menagerie (Joe’s Pub); and The Rug Dealer  (The WP Pipeline Festival). Upcoming: Andy Bragen’s Don’t You Fucking Say a Word directed by Lee Sunday Evans (59E59). Currently, she is the Director of Programming and Artist Services at the New York Musical Festival. Rachel is a 2014-2016 Women’s Project Producer Lab Time Warner Fellow and sits on the Advisory Board for Strangemen & Co. and the Musical Theatre Factory.

Photo: (clockwise) Monet Hurst-Mendoza, Emilio Rodriguez, and Zoe Sarnak.

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