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Art & Soul: The Performance Arts - A Michigan Playwrights Festival, Theatre, And Many Kinds Of Music

Theatre Nova

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the performance arts activities in our community.  WEMU’s Lisa Barry and Wendy Wright talk to Diane Hill of Ann Arbor’s Theatre Nova about the Michigan Playwrights Festival they created, as well as many of the local performance arts activities going on now in our community.

Theatre Nova
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU
89.1 WEMU
Diane Hill from Ann Arbor's Theatre Nova

About the Michigan Playwrights Festival (October 23-27)

Theatre NOVA focuses on new plays and new playwrights and is dedicated to working with new and local playwrights to help them develop their craft and to offer brand new plays for audiences.  We created the Michigan Playwrights Festival to nurture Michigan playwrights and to develop full-length plays for future seasons. 

One of our recently produced scripts, "Clutter," by Michigan playwright Brian Cox, was given a staged reading at a previous MPF festival.  "Clutter" was lauded by audiences and critics and earned two Wilde Award awards, including Best New Script. 

In the previous year, "Irrational" by R. MacKenzie Lewis and David Wells received a full production after appearing in Theatre NOVA’s first Michigan Playwrights Festival and also received a Wilde award for Best New Script. 

Other plays that began as staged readings at Theatre NOVA and have gone on to full productions are "Katherine" by Kim Carney, "Spin" by Emilio Rodriguez, and "Bird" by Kristin Hanratty.  "Resisting" by David Wells and "Mrs. Fifty Bakes a Pie" by Linda Ramsay-Detherage also benefited from readings at a Michigan Playwrights Festival and had their world premieres in our most recent Theatre NOVA season.


This year's plays include:

  • An Evening of 10-Minute Plays generated by "Prompts For Playwrights" (October 23 @ 8PM)

  • "The Lion's Share" by Catherine Zudak (October 24 @ 8 PM)--In the world of Ancient Rome, Leonis, a reluctant Gladiator, yearns to buy his freedom.  His crooked, but endearing, promoter, Fatima, is willing to let him go if the price is right.  When Silex, a boy eager for fame, agrees to help Leonis beat all comers, the trio set in motion a clash between the old Roman values of courage and honesty and the very modern notion that only greed is good.  Directed by Tyler Calhoun.


  • "Dear Camp" by Lisa MacDonald (October 25 @ 8 PM)--A recently widowed woman finds a journal when she and three friends come together to clear out her husband's hunting camp to prepare the property for sale.  Amid hilarity and poignancy, secrets are revealed and old hurts are reinfected.  Directed by Terie Spencer.


  • "Silo Tree" by Sam Collier (October 26 @ 8 PM)--Lailah guides souls through her house to the world of the dead. Lou and Wiley meet up again after ten years.  The coywolves run in the night. Silo Tree is a pause on the bridge, a collection of lives in liminal space, and a memory that rolls forward as its surface is blown backward by the wind.  Directed by Michelle Resnick.


  • "Blight" by R. D. Wakeman (October 27 @ 2 PM)--Nanny's existence inside the isolated mansion is becoming increasingly peculiar.  The baby in her charge may be her own, people and possessions disappear, spies are everywhere, and strange men knock at the door.  She might escape with the travelling circus, if not for rumours of "Blight."  Nanny must find her own way out of absurdity –as we all must.  Directed by Nathan Corliss.



Dr. Seward’s Dracula

By Joseph Zettelmaier

The Penny Seats Theatre Company

Stone Chalet Inn

October 24th – November 3rd

In this scintillating turn on the Dracula myth, Dr. Seward has cut himself off from the rest of the world after losing his lover and friends to Dracula. He has been contacted by the Irish author Bram Stoker, who wishes to tell his story. Soon, a series of murders occur, very similar to the ones Seward fought to stop. The doctor must face demons both real and imagined to find the answers.

Passion & Perserverance: A Naughty & Nice Cabaret

Kickshaw Theatre

Gladwin Barn – Ann Arbor

Friday, November 8th – 8PM

The one-night-only benefit will feature favorite musical theater show tunes and standards that revel in the “nice” and the “naughty”!

The Secret Garden

Music by Lisa Simon, Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman
The Encore Musical Theatre Company – Dexter

November 14th – December 22nd
Join Mary Lennox on her journey to Yorkshire, England in this beloved tale that comes to life onstage through a hauntingly beautiful score, and a story of rediscovery, faith and love.


John Cameron Mitchell

The Origin of Love Tour

Hill Auditorium

Saturday, November 2nd – 8PM

The double Tony Award-winning co-creator of the long-running off-Broadway musical Hedwig & the Angry Inch, performs songs and stories from two groundbreaking decades of post-punk, neo-glam rock – a collective quest for love, hope and identity.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons /Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed

Hill Auditorium

Saturday, November 16th – 8PM

Experience back-to-back versions of Vivaldi’s timelessly thrilling masterpiece, The Four Seasons, including Max Richter’s modern “recomposition” that topped classical album charts in 22 countries. Daniel Hope, violin, with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.


The Music of Star Wars 

Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

The Michigan Theater

Saturday, November 9th – 8PM

The stage is set for the ninth and final episode of Star Wars to hit the big screen in December of 2019.  Your Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra relives the epic soundtrack crafted by John Williams just in time for this historic release.

Credit The Folk Laureates
The Folk Laureates performing in July 2019.

The Folk Laureates

Ypsi Ale House

Friday, November 8th – 8PM

Folk and Early Pop Tunes, Originals, Parodies and Other Acoustic songs.

Accidentally Hip Big Band

Kerrytown Concert House

Saturday, November 9th – 8PM

This versatile and flexible ensemble takes on everything from early swing and jazz standards to R&B, Hip Hop, and current pop tunes, all with their distinctive twist of taking modern tunes and flipping them into swing tunes.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters

The Michigan Theater

Wednesday, November 20th – 7:30PM

The tour is entitled, “Just Trust” in answer to the musical questions: “Will they play my favorite song?,” or, “Are they going to frighten the horses with a lot of excellent songs that are rarely performed?,” not to mention, “Can I expect the hits of yesteryear and those of tomorrow?”

The Blue Llama Jazz Club

Ellis Marsalis Quintet

Fri & Sat, October 25th & 26th, 7 & 930 P.M.

The premier modern jazz pianist and patriarch of the famous New Orleans family. He is currently developing his own recording label, ELM RECORDS, with his wife Dolores and son Jason.

Jason Marsalis & the 21st Century Trad Band

Wednesday, November 13th, 7 & 9:30 P.M.

Fully comprehending jazz ancestry, vibraphonist Jason Marsalis composes for a contemporary ear and attitude.  Past meets present and envisions future in the 21st Century Trad Band.

James Blood Ulmer

Fri & Sat, November 22nd & 23rd, 7 & 9:30 P.M.

Performing solo on Friday and with his Odyssey Trio on Saturday

Cited by many as an avant-garde guitarist, he is actually an authentic blues guitarist, drawing upon the full spectrum of African American music, from free jazz, soul, be-bop, avant-garde, and rock.  In addition to being a great guitarist, he is a stunning baritone vocal stylist whose lyrics cut into and across his music. 

The Ark

An Evening with Pokey LaFarge - The Ark's 23rd Annual Fall Fundraiser

Sunday, October 27th – 5:00 PM

LaFarge has won the hearts of music lovers across the globe with his creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing, all while writing songs that ring true in both spirit and sound.

Wilco wsg Deep Sea Diver

Ode to Joy Tour

Hill Auditorium

Tuesday, November 5th – 7:30PM

The legendary band led by Jeff Tweedy returns to Ann Arbor.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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