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 brings shortened ‘Scrooge’ to the kids

Review December 07, 2018
ANN ARBOR, Mich.–Scrooge. Scrooge. Scrooge all around us. It seems you can’t swing a mistletoe this time of year without hitting a production of Dickens’... Continue Reading

Season Announcement: Wild Swan presenting ‘A Honey Pot of Pooh Stories’ 10/25-27

Season Announcement September 11, 2018
ANN ARBOR - Wild Swan Theater Co-Artistic Directors Hilary Cohen and Sandy Ryder announce the company’s 39th season of performances. Nationally regarded as one of... Continue Reading

Wild Swan revives ‘A Thousand Cranes’ March 8–10

Preview February 20, 2018
ANN ARBOR—Wild Swan Theater will presents a revival of their production of A Thousand Cranes, March 8–10, at Towsley Auditorium, Washtenaw Community College. This very... Continue Reading

Wild Swan offers ‘Under the African Sky’ for Black History Month February 22-25

Preview February 01, 2018
ANN ARBOR - Wild Swan Theater continues its 38th season with Under the African Sky in celebration of Black History Month. Performances will take place... Continue Reading

Next up from Wild Swan: ‘Frog and Toad’ January 25–27

Preview January 03, 2018
ANN ARBOR—Wild Swan Theater continues its 38th season of bringing professional theater to families with Frog and Toad, a production created for younger theater-goers. Based... Continue Reading