Ann Arbor, MI, the city where a young Arthur Miller wrote plays and attended the University of Michigan, has failed over the years to be home to a continuing Actors' Equity resident theatre, but that's changing.
Performance Network, the Ann Arbor organization that recently graduated from a multipurpose rental house for local companies to a more aggressive Actors' Equity producing group, will offer six productions in its professional series between fall 1999 and spring 2000.
From now on, short runs and non-Equity bookings by local artists, once interspersed between occasional Equity shows, will play in the summer, in the Tree Town Theatre Festival initiated in June 1999. The main season will play fall-to-spring. In 2000, that includes the world premiere of a new musical, A Levelling Wind.
Dan Walker, Performance Network artistic director, also told Playbill On Line the company will make a major move in 2000. The operation (which includes executive director Jo Broughton and a small staff) will move several blocks to Huron near Main Street, into the ground floor of the former Ann Arbor Inn. The theatre size will increase from the current 106 (with a pole in the middle of the audience) to about 150 (and no pole).
The move will cost about $1 million, Walker said. The city and private groups and individuals are contributing to the move fund. Walker said the plan is to continue presenting new and recent works for many years in Ann Arbor, putting the university town on the map again as a place where important theatre is heard.
The 1999-2000 Performance Network professional series at 408 Washington includes:
• As Bees in Honey Drown, Douglas Carter Beane's social satire. Sept. 16-Oct. 10.
• Three Days of Rain, Richard Greenberg's study of the sins of parents and their impact on the next generation. Oct. 21-Nov. 14.
• Not Waving, Gen LeRoy's tale of a mother, her mentally ill daughter and the adventures they share on the way toward happiness. Nov. 26-Dec. 19.
• Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Steve Martin's comic homage to young artist Picasso, young genius Einstein and a young century. Feb. 3-March 5, 2000.
• The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Arthur Miller's tale of two wives, married to the same man. March 16-April 16, 2000.
• A Levelling Wind, a world premiere musical about an artist trying to understand where he fits in society at the end of the millennium, by Ann Arbor composer-lyricist-librettist Ben Cohen. April 27-May 21, 2000.
For Performance Network information, call (734) 663-0681.
-- By Kenneth Jones