theatre

Michigan Shakespeare Festival

This Thursday marks the opening night of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

The festival has been based in Jackson for its 20 years of performances.

But that will soon change.

The group has partnered with a theater in Canton, west of Detroit, to reach a broader audience.

Starting next year, the festival will expand to host three weeks of performances at The Village Theater at Cherry Hill.

Janice L. Blixt is the artistic director for the festival. She says they're excited to share these works with as many people as possible.

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This year brings the 20th season for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

Since its founding, the non-profit professional theater group has brought the bard to thousands of theater lovers in southeast and mid-Michigan.

The new season will run July 17 to August 17.

Janice Blixt is the artistic director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

“For the 20th season we decided to go big or go home, so we are going big,” Blixt said on Stateside.

You can find the full schedule and all details on their website.

*Listen to full interview above. 

sphinxmusic.org

Gabriela Frank is probably not what comes to mind when you think of a contemporary classical music composer.  For starters, she considers herself a hippie.

“I was born in the 1970s in Berkeley, California, during the Vietnam protests," says Frank. "My dad was a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who married a Peruvian woman from the coast. I’m also a woman and I have a hearing loss, so technically I’m disabled as well.”

The Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama inspired by American History is given once a year to a new play or musical that uses the power of theater to explore this country's past, and to engage audiences in a deeper understanding of history and in meaningful conversations about current issues.

This year, that prize goes to Dominique Morisseau's "Detroit 67." a Detroit native, Morisseau is a playwright, poet, and actress. 


Jim Rees / Flickr

Ask any baby-boomer about some of their best memories growing up and chances are good that a drive-in theater figures in there somewhere.

It was a wonderful and uniquely American thing: roll up to the parking spot, perch the little speaker on your window, order lots of food, and watch movies from your car. Kids would go in their PJs and watch movies while lying on the roof. For teenagers in the 50s, 60s and 70s, well, perhaps the movie was a secondary attraction.

This summer marks the 80 year anniversary of the invention of the drive-in movie theater. After a slow start, the trend really took off. Detroit got its first drive-in theater in 1938.

Let's take a trip back in time to the glory days of the drive-in. Joining us is Philip Hallman with the University of Michigan's Department of Screen Arts and Culture.

Listen to the full interview above.

During World War II, a plane crashed behind Nazi lines. Thirty nurses and medics, five of them from Michigan, survived. Their incredible story is finally being told.

And, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the drive-in movie theater. Did you know Michigan once had more than 100 drive-ins? Today just a hand full are in operation. Also, Kevyn Orr canceled the bus tour he was supposed to take the Detroit's creditors on today. We spoke with Nancy Kaffer about why this happened. First on the show, this has certainly been a wet and muggy summer. Michigan farmers endured a hot and dry summer in 2012, so we wondered what the soggy summer of 2013 is doing to crops and to farmers. Is it better than the scorcher of 2012? 

Ken DeCock is a third-generation farmer in Macomb Township where his family owns Boyka's Farm Market. He joined us today to give us the farmer's-eye view of our weather.

Frannie Shepherd-Bates is a Shakespeare geek. She is also executive artistic director of the Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company in Detroit.

Twice a week, Shepherd-Bates drives from metro Detroit to the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, which is about 10 miles south of Ann Arbor, to share her love of Shakespeare.

actorstheatregrandrapids.wordpress.com

It's a familiar Michigan story. In 2008, General Motors decided to shutter a stamping plant in Wyoming - just outside Grand Rapids.

But to Austin Bunn, a new professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, the close of the plant wasn't the end of a story, but a beginning.

For the next four years, Bunn interviewed the workers at the plant about the experience of job loss, displacement and their lives after the close.

From these transcripts he created a documentary play, RUST. It was originally produced at the Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids.

What you're about to hear is adaptation of the play for radio using local actors.

RUST was co-produced by Austin Bunn and Zak Rosen. Interviews conducted by Austin Bunn and Working Group Theatre. Featured actors include Tracey Walker, Rena Dam, Chris Nye, Wayne Swezey, GF Korreck, Paul Arnold, Fred Stella, and Laurence Drozd.

You can learn more about the Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids and Austin Bunn's work by visiting their websites.

Listen to the full audio above.

Stateside: Young People's Theatre makes its Michigan debut

Feb 26, 2013
http://www.youngplaywrightstheater.org

A group from Washington DC is hoping to get elementary, middle and high school students excited about playwrighting.

The group is called The Young Playwright's Theatre and the leaders of this program are launching a four-city tour, starting in Detroit.

It's aim is to reach out to key education figures about spreading the Young Playwright's Theatre model to classrooms across the nation.

Executive director of the Young Playwright's Theatre Brigitte Pribnow Moore and artist director Nicole Jost joined us on Stateside to tell us more about their Michigan tour.

To listen to the full story click the audio link above.

Manuel Harlan / Royal Shakespeare Company

Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company are back in Ann Arbor, but they won’t be performing any of the classics while they’re in town.

The RSC is doing a “creative residency” at U of M this month, which means they'll focus on the development of two new plays - "Boris Godunov,” and “The Orphan of Zhao."

U of M English Professor Ralph Williams says the residency allows students to get an insight into the creative process, and a sense of what he calls “possible excellence." Here's how he describes it:

Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Students in Flint have written a new play inspired by the string of arson fires that plagued the city last year.

Students at the University of Michigan-Flint spent a good part of the this year interviewing victims of the arson fires that ripped through the city in 2010. The students then transcribed the interviews and strung them together to create a new play called EMBERS: The Flint Fires Verbatim Theatre Project.

user hotblack / morguefile

The Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit will perform a play this weekend to commemorate the anniversary of a student walkout at Detroit Public Schools.

user Clarita / morguefile

Today's Artpod is all about nostalgia...Michigan-focused nostalgia, of course.

Rock Around the Clock

Did you know that 50 years ago this week, "Runaway" by Del Shannon was the #1 song in the U.S.? Don't worry, neither did I. But Michigan Radio's Mike Perini did! He's the station's resident music head. Turns out Del Shannon was born in Grand Rapids, and he grew up in nearby Coopersville. "Runaway" was the first rock 'n' roll song by a West Michigan-born artist to hit the top.

Mike talks to me in the first half of the podcast about some other classic rock 'n' roll songs written by Michigan artists, including the always popular "Rock Around the Clock," by Bill Haley.

Let's play ball!

A new play pays tribute to long-time Tigers baseball announcer Ernie Harwell. The play is called "Ernie" and it was written by best-selling author Mitch Albom. The play looks back at Harwell's life and includes vintage footage of the Hall of Fame announcer.

On the podcast I talk to Will David Young, the veteran Michigan actor who plays Ernie: 

Joel Dinda / flickr

Ernie Harwell fans will get to relive some of the famed baseball announcer’s past in a new play called, appropriately enough, “Ernie.”

The play, which opens Thursday, Apr. 28 at the City Theatre in Detroit, was written by Mitch Albom. The story takes place on the night the beloved Tigers announcer gave his farewell speech at Comerica Park. Before his speech, he runs into a young baseball fan, who coaxes Harwell to reflect on his own life.

The play also includes vintage footage of Harwell, including some of his most famous calls.

Veteran Michigan actor Will David Young plays Ernie, which he calls "the biggest rush" he's ever experienced:

"So many people considered Ernie a grandfather figure, uncle figure, father figure. People who knew him well considered him a mentor with his gentleness, humor, humanitiy; it’s daunting playing a figure like that."

As for that famous Harwell cadence? Young says he tried to get into "that touch of Georgia twang."