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October 17, 2013 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-10-17

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4B - Thursday, October 17, 2013

r- The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

4B - Thursday, October17, 2013 A rts The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Each week we take shots at the biggest
developments in the entertainment world.
Here's what hit (and missed) this week.
Charlie Hunnam drops out
"Fifty Shades of Grey" film
Russia bans Selena Gomez from
entering country because she's
too gay-friendly


1%king Dead
1kng Dead"
nieres to 16.1 million
Hers, breaking records,

Sesign by NickCruz
Ainvests in Performance Network


Local performance
space reaches out to
the community
DailyArts Writer

In the heart of Ann Arbor, theater. over the years, it has
amid the hustle and bustle of won a wide variety of awards
restaurants, shops and cafes, and nominations, garnering
Performance Network Theatre national recognition and lead-
is the perfect centerpiece for an ing the artistic quality and play
elegant night in town. Founded selection in Michigan.
in 1981, PNT has grown from Currently celebrating its
a fledgling company to Ann 32nd year, PNT showcases seven
Arbor's resident professional shows each season that range

from world-premier plays by
both local and national play-
wrights to Broadway musicals.
The company's performanc-
es have been recognized in all
aspects -of theater, including
best acting, design and new
script. In 2009 and 2011, PNT
was nationally acclaimed for
attaining the Edgerton Founda-
tion New American Play Award
for performances of "Dead
Man's Shoes" and "It Came
From Mars."
"Performance Network has
transformed from a number of
performers and organizations
that brought dance companies,
musicians, clowning and theater
to the organization and turned it
into what is now a theater," said
Logan Ricket, associate develop-
ment director at PNT.
In addition to its year-round
professional productions, PNT
runs the Children's Theatre
Network to provide original
shows to entertain and educate
Ann Arbor's younger audience.
Through Children's Theatre
Network, PNT also arranges
theater workshops that teach
students creativity, problem-
solving skills and healthy self-
The Fireside New Play Fes-
tival is another means through
which PNT diversifies Ann
Arbor's entertainment palette.
The festival is a live stage read-
ing done by professional actors
and directors. The audience is
then allowed to provide feed-
back after the production. Pre-
sented three times each year,
the festival showcases the works
of new playwrights, providing
them with the opportunity to
have their work performed in
front of a real-life audience.
PNT also immerses itself into
the Ann Arbor community by
giving emerging and established
playwrights the opportunity to
work closely with actors and
directors through its Submit-A-
Script program. Through this
program, PNT not only serves
the role of a stepping stool for
new playwrights but also pro-
vides local playwrights the
chance to have their work exam-
ined on a professional level.
"We need new voices in con-

temporary American theater,"
said Erin Sabo, PNT's managing
director. "The reason why we are
a member of the National New
Play Network is so that we can
nurture new playwrights and
nurture the craft of American
theater." Sabo said the submis-
sion program provides writers
feedback and, occasionally, a
reading at the Fireside festival.
As a Commonweal Theatre,
PNT reaches out to more than
40,000 patrons every year in
order to keep a balanced bud-
get. As Sabo explained, under 50
percent of the non-profit PNT's
income comes from ticket sales.
The rest comes from individual
donors and grants.
"Some of it is through per-
sonal appeals made through
letters to some of our patrons,
our subscribers and community
members," Sabo said. "We gath-
er it by going to businesses who
we appreciate in the area and
ask them to either be an in-kind
sponsor - which means provid-
ing food donations at an opening
night - or a monetary spon-
sor, which is actually helping to
underwrite some of our produc-
Sabo said the theater's "cre-
ative and capable" staff serves
a crucial role in its success as a
theater organization.
As a non-profit, PNT is affiliat-
ed with the Actors' Equity Asso-
ciation of professional Actors
and Stage Managers. Therefore,
its primary purpose is not nec-
essarily to make a profit. Rather,
the money PNT earns is used to
develop the theater in order to
bring Broadway-quality perfor-
mances to Ann Arbor's doorstep.
Nevertheless, the more support
PNT gets from the community,
the more it's able do with the
art, and the more it's able to give
For instance, PNT's partner-
ship with Ann Arbor's Elmo's
T-Shirts allows them to get dis-
counted rates on printing ser-
PNT relies on volunteer ush-
ers throughout the season for
all of its main stage productions
and special events, as well as
volunteers for administrative
tasks and assisting other aspects

of production. Individuals in
the community, Sabo said, have
donated costumes and props to
shows in addition to monetary
"In any way we can get sup-
port, we take it," Sabo said.
That support can be attrib-
uted to PNT's ability to provide
unyielding aesthetic leadership
in southeast Michigan over the
past 32 years.
"A lot of it begins with word of
mouth. We've been around Ann
Arbor since 1981 - we've been
around for 32 years. So, it's been
32 years of people coming to our
theater shows and loving what
we do and 32 years of somebody
telling their friend to tell their
friend, and it's also been 32 years
of us learning - learning what
grants are out there and where
we can get support from," Sabo
As a leader of PNT, Sabo is a
member of the Cultural Leaders
Forum, which brings together
theater organizations once every
month to provide support and
offer ideas and advice to each
other. PNT is also a member of
the Michigan Equity Theatre
Alliance, which offers a similar
service to theater companies.
"Theater is a funny, com-
petitive business," Sabo said,
"where, yes, you want to com-
pete, you want to have the bet-
ter shows, but we are also - at.
the end of the day - doing some-
thing that we love. So we are all
very supportive of each other in
wanting the other to succeed."
As a non-profit theater orga-
nization struggling through
the economic recession, PNT is
fortunate enough to have a very
strong donor base that keeps
it alive and functioning well.
However, it's also through the
talent of PNT's board members
and staff that the organization
is able to deliver high-caliber
entertainment to Ann Arbor
"It's more important for us to
make sure that we are support-
ing the local artists in Michigan
and helping them have a career
in theater and not having to
leave the state," Sabo said. "That
balance is a fine line that some-
times keeps me up at night."

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