Nestled in Chelsea, Michigan is one of the Mid West's theatre treasures. There resides a professional theatre founded by local actor Jeff Daniels. Its name is The Purple Rose Theatre and its mission is two fold. One: the Purple Rose is dedicated to producing "the New American Play" and two: to create opportunities for Midwest theatre professionals. Both arms of the mission are so very important to our regional theatre.
There is nothing more noble and more essential to our modern theatre than the production of new plays. It is what helps us expand and grow as a discipline. Theatre is a vibrant a living are that serves us in the here and now. And while it is important to give weight to the masters who came before us, we also need to express what it is we are dealing with as a culture in our own voice. This is what helps give us identity not just as artists, but as a culture and a nation as well.
Also, for a theatre to have a focus on creating opportunities for local professionals is amazing. Even here in Chicago, there isn't a theatre with that focus. The big players like Goodman and Chicago Shakespeare often look to New York agents and actors when they are trying to fill their big roles. It is often said that to make it as a paid actor in Chicago, you have to move to New York.
Daniels saw the need for not only a theatre in his home town but a theatre that nourished his community and region as well. A theatre that will help grow new artist, new audience, new works as well. It is a self sustaining model that will produce not only a thriving theatre company but create good that will affect theatre far beyond the reach of small town Michigan.
Happy Birthday: Wilson Barrett (1846-1904)