Directors Lab West

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to join directors from around country at the Pasadena Playhouse for Directors Lab West. The Directors Lab is a program initially created by Anne Cattaneo at Lincoln Center and the DLW is mentored by that program.

It was a wonderful week of workshops, panels, and conversations over dinner with other early career directors.

While I made a lot of wonderful connections at DLW, the thing I’m keeping with me is the idea of finding your tribe. Make theatre with people who get excited about things just like you do. People who want to make the kind of work you do. People who challenge you and excite you to think in another way.


UM Interarts Performance

On Friday I closed the University of Michigan, BFA Senior Show “Mind Your Head” at the Duderstadt Video Studio. It was a pleasure to work with these wonderful students on their projects and to be a part of their culminating BFA project. Here are a few photos from the show, courtesy of Nikki Horowitz. Pictured: Hayden Nichol, Brian Garcia, and Sean Horner.

Dael Olandersmith: Institute for the Humanities

Last week I was honored to be a part of Pulitzer Prize Finalist Dael Olandersmith’s visit to the University of Michigan. She performed her new one woman play, “Forever.”

The performance was incredible – Olandersmith was genuine, honest, and a powerful moment of live theatre. The performance has lingered with me for a week, and I’m sure it will stay with me for quite some time. Do yourself a favor and go see it if you ever have the opportunity to. It was amazing.

Check out a video clip of the performance and a review here.

Frank Pahl @ Kerrytown

On November 19th, I was lucky to be the Production Assistant for Frank Pahl’s performance with the University of Michigan’s Living Room Series at Kerrytown. The concert was fantastic and The Lovely and the Wretched were amazing to work with. I have included a video from the event below.

“This is an excerpt from an 11/19/2015 performance by The Lovely and the Wretched. This is the end of a longer suite in five parts. Each section features a nasty three note combination, hence the title, “Three Bad Notes.” It will also be used by Little Bang Theory to accompany the silent film “Laugh Clown Laugh” when the suitor is present. The Lovely and the Wretched are Abby Alwin, Clem Fortuna, Tim Holmes, Frank Pahl, Mary Riccardi, Terri Sarris and Doug Shimmin.”
Video courtesy of Frank Pahl Vimeo. Video by Bob Teagan.

A Picture Screen Stands in Solitude

On February 18th, the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities presented Paul Dresher’s “A Picture Screen Stands in Solitude.” This musical composition is based on an essay written by a prisoner at the San Quentin Prison. The event included a performance of the piece, a conversation between Paul Dresher and Nigel Poor (the prison teaching artist), a second performance of the piece, and a talkback.

I was honored to be the Production Assistant on this very special event. We had a very quick two day load-in, tech, and performance – I was sorry to see this project go. It was an absolute pleasure to work on and as an artist with a focus in community engagement, this project really touched me. I’ve included a video of the performance at a different location for reference.

A Picture Screen Stands in Solitude – Paul Dresher. Text by Michael Nelson, with special thanks to Nigel Poor. Video property of Paul Dresher.

Lysistrata: Highlights Reel

This is a highlights reel from the musical numbers in Lysistrata provided by the choreographer, Alexa Kornas.


Metro Detroit’s must-see theater for the 2015-16 season

By Martin Michalek
Read the whole article here

With another polar vortex probably on the way, take comfort in the knowledge that metro Detroit’s theater lights are heating up. The 2015-16 theater season has a little of everything: sex-withholding feminists, a world premiere by Jeff Daniels, and that play about gentrification you’ve been waiting for.

Lysistrata by Drue Robinson (adapted from the comedy by Aristophanes)

Playwrights have adapted Lysistrata as a condemnation of war and patriarchy numerous times since its debut in 411 B.C. However, Drue Robinson’s version is notably different: One, this version of Lysistrata is by a woman — not a 2,400-year-old man with opinions about women. Two, Robinson’s Lysistrata is the only modern adaptation written entirely in rhyme.

Here’s the gist: Lysistrata is an Athenian woman with the poise and command of Nicki Minaj. Fed up with the Peloponnesian War, she organizes the women of Greece into a sex strike. The message is simple: “No peace? No nooky!” Then, in a move reminiscent of Occupy Wall Street, the women seize the treasury and demand a farewell to arms. It’s an irreverent and timely spin on feminism and pacifism — or as the kids say, perfect fodder for your next Tumblr post!

Runs Oct. 9-18 at Bonstelle Theatre; 3424 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313- 577-2972;; tickets $15 and up.

Bonstelle provocatively brings human rights awareness in ‘Lysistrata’

Review from “The South End” written by Anjelica Dudek. This review features interviews with the students involved in the production. Read the whole article here. 

“The first scene opens up with the protagonist, Lysistrata, performing a solo burlesque to a sultry feminine cover of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” She eventually “strips” down to a sparkly magenta bra and matching bow tie and hat underneath a black suit coat and dress pants. She is the only character in the show who is contemporarily dressed, which represents her strong leadership skills and her modern viewpoints on society.”

“With the burlesque theme going hand in hand with the idea of a sex strike, we explore sexual agency as well,” said Hannah Butcher, who plays Lysistrata in the play, “because the women ultimately are in charge over how much of their bodies are exposed and when and how they use their sexuality. When they say no, they mean no, and this answer is respected — a huge subject for modern times.”

“Throughout the entire show, the audience is constantly exposed to verbal and physical carnal, which created an abundance of laughter, hoots and whistles–something that Ewing and the cast themselves all encouraged. This show may draw viewers in with its raw sex appeal and energy, but they will leave remembering the often forgotten voices of women, elders and trans-persons everywhere.”

Lysistrata Photo Call

Direction: Amanda Grace Ewing
Scenic Design: Michael Sabourin
Costume Design: Sammi Geppert
Lighting Design: Thomas Schrader
Sound Design: Peter Lawrence
Properties Master: April Thomson

This slideshow requires JavaScript. Press Release


“Aristophanes’ classic comedy has been reimagined into Lysistrata: A Woman’s Translation by Drue Robinson. The Bonstelle Theatre is excited to kick off their season with this bawdy and hilarious translation, playing October 9 through October 18, 2015. Tickets for Lysistrata: A Woman’s Translation range from $10-$20 and are available by calling the Bonstelle Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2960, online at, or by visiting the Hilberry Theatre box office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock Street.

Lysistrata: A Woman’s Translation is the only modern adaption of Aristophanes’ classic comedy written entirely in rhyme. This lascivious translation revitalizes a timeless classic while offering a message of female empowerment. When the women of Sparta and Greece become fed up with their husbands always being away at war, they decide to take matters into their own hands or, their legs. Led by Lysistrata, the women join forces to unanimously deny their men any carnal release until they stop fighting. Tensions will rise – among other things – but will the women succeed at stopping the war?

Written by, directed by and starring women, the Bonstelle Theatre’s production of Lysistrata: A Woman’s Translation is an uncouth, fast-paced celebration of womanhood. While remaining true to the themes of the original text, Robinson’s refreshing look at a classic brings the exploration of rhythm and feminine wiles to a new level. Director, Amanda GraceEwing, brings these characters to life through a playful and erotic voice.

Lysistrata: A Woman’s Translation contains strong language and sexual references that may not be suitable for all audiences.

The Bonstelle Theatre

The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style house with a 1,034-seat auditorium featuring a balcony and much of the original Beaux-Arts architecture. The Theatre was built as Temple Beth-El in 1902 and converted to the Bonstelle Playhouse in 1922.

The Bonstelle Theatre Company includes BA and BFA actors, designers, and stage managers in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of successful alumni like Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC’s Law and Order, Lackawanna Blues), David Ramset (CW’s Arrow, NBC’ Blue Bloods), Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, Grace and Frankie, ABC’s Desperate Housewives), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, NBC’s Heroes). For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts, and corporate packages, please call the box office at 313-577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to over 26,000 students.

Alexis Barrera, Hartland (Myrrhine); Hannah Butcher, Taylor (Lysistrata); Veronica Estigoy, Livonia (Ismenia/Phoebe); Jordan Allen Fritz, Detroit (Magistrate); Shannon Grant, Livonia (Old Woman); Bonnie Holmes, St. Clair Shores (Lampito/Alexis); Jada Johnson, Gwinnett, GA (Old Woman); Kayla LeFebrve, Roseville (Old Woman); Caitlyn Macuga Westland (Theola/Herald/Spartan Delegation); Monica Mingo, Farmington Hills (Calonice); Bailey Morin Grosse Ile (Old Man); Jared Morin Warren (Old Man); Maria Ochoa, Clawson (Old Woman); Patrick Roache, Detroit (Men’s Leader); Kristian Shauntee Detroit (Athenian Delegation); Rachel Smith, Detroit (Women’s Leader); Nicole Sparks Detroit (Policewoman); Paige Stefanski, Warren (Old Woman); Kevin Talanges, Dearborn (Woman from Corinth/Reconciliation); Graham Todd, Shelby Township (Old Man); Nigel Tutt, Detroit (Herald/Spartan Delegation); Michael Vultaggio, Centerline (Old Man); Allen Wiseman, Roseville (Athenian Delegation/Cinesias).

Production Team:
Amanda Grace Ewing (Director); Delaney O’Brien (Stage Manager);

McKenna Voss (Asst. Stage Manager); Michael Sabourin (Scenic Design);

Sammi Geppert (Costume Designer); Thomas Schrader (Lighting Design);

Brian Dambacher (Technical Director); Peter Lawrence (Sound Designer);

April Thomson (Properties Master); Jason Goldman (Publicist).”