creative:impact - We Bid A Fond Farewell To Wild Swan Theater

Jun 1, 2021

Wild Swan Theater co-founders Hilary Cohen (left) and Sandy Ryder with original props.
Credit Wild Swan Theater /

Wild Swan Theater’s co-founders and artistic directors Hillary Cohen and Sandy Ryder created a family theater program their way. For more than 40 years, families gathered to enjoy their inclusive, accessible, and delightful theater productions. Now they are dropping the final curtain and spend time reflecting with Creative Washtenaw's Deb Polich and WEMU's David Fair on this week’s edition of "creative:impact." 

Deb Polich, President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.


Hilary Cohen

Hilary was one of the founders of Wild Swan Theater. Before Wild Swan was a full-time occupation, she was also a professor of theater at the University of Michigan where she taught and directed for twenty years. Hilary has acted in or directed over 40 productions for Wild Swan and published a number of influential articles on theater and access. She was a founding member of the National Association for Theater and Disability (which became the Association for Theater and Accessibility). Hilary loves the collaborative spirit at Wild Swan and is grateful to be part of the wonderful array of theater artists who come together to make each play such a special experience.

Sandy Ryder (left) and Hilary Cohen.
Credit Wild Swan Theater /

Sandy Ryder

Sandy graduated from the University of Michigan in 1975 with a degree in theater. She’s had various roles including preschool teacher (Chelsea Community Hospital CCC), clown, mime (Michael Filisky Mime Theatre & Magic Mountain Mime School), and many fun parts with the Black Sheep Theatre where she performed with an improvisational children’s theater company: “Traveling Smiles.” One of her favorite roles was starting her own business in 1979, Say Cheese Cheesecakes, where she made many cheesecakes and met lots and lots of great people. In 1980, Sandy co-founded Wild Swan with Hilary Cohen. Since that time, she has created more than 50 roles for Wild Swan productions including Winnie-the-Pooh, Owl, Toad, Wilbur, and many other loveable characters. Sandy has played roles for Purple Rose Theatre, Performance Network, Redbud Productions, and Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.

Wild Swan production of Coding to the Moon.
Credit Wild Swan Theater /



Wild Swan Theater

Wild Swan Theater Company Bios

Wild Swan production of Coding to the Moon.
Credit Wild Swan Theater /


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