EMU grad brings international perspective to local theater

 

Spinning Dot Theatre is a new company in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area that creates global awareness by performing international plays.

Spinning Dot, the brainchild of Eastern Michigan University alumna Jenny Koppera, is made up of a professional company, an artist in residency and a youth theatre company.

“I wanted to create a children’s theatre company that focused on international children’s theatre,” Koppera said.

The company was created at the beginning of this year. The professional company premiered their first international script, a Japanese fable titled “The Cat Who Ran,” at Carriage House Theatre this summer.

The title of the theatre company came from a quote by Carl Sagan.

“The idea of the Spinning Dot is really the idea of the globe spinning,” said Koppera. “I wanted to reference the idea of globalness without beating them over the head with it.”

Koppera brings her international knowledge and networks for the company from the theatre festivals she took part in overseas. This year, she was asked to be a delegate for the World Congress to Children’s Theatre in Warsaw, Poland. Koppera has also taken part in events in Germany, Scotland and France.

Currently under development is the youth company component. Unlike traditional youth projects within theatre, the Spinning Dot has a youth company, a model of theatre that is not normally practiced within the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Young students come stay with the company for a year while learning new skills. The youth company has 8 young actors and actresses in it now, and is working on projects to show throughout the year.

“I’m excited to work with a small group and give them more than just an acting experience,” Koppera said. “They will be required to be directors, choreographers and designers.”

Along with being taught by international artists in the area, students will also have the opportunity to Skype with international playwrights from around the globe.

“I want to give them this idea and sense of globalness while learning the craft of theatre and letting the two feed each other,” Koppera said.

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The Spinning Dot Theatre is a family and friend effort, as most of the company and board members are people Koppera knows. According to Koppera, she would prefer working with people who share her passion for theater. Which is why she brought on Kelly Fielder, another graduate of Eastern Michigan University.

“I enjoy working with Jenny, so of course I said yes,” Fielder said.

Not only is Fielder a company member, she also took on the position as artist in residency. Part of the position is creating and developing new work that could tour. In the studio behind Koppera’s house, Fielder is working on a show that is geared towards teenagers, a science fiction zombie play.

“[We are] using science fiction as a vessel to talk about some current issues like the situation in Detroit right now,” said Fielder, referring to the talk of the Detroit Institute of Art possibly being forced into selling its art to help with the city’s bankruptcy.

The goal is to have it premiere in June of next year, along with the new professional company work, possibly a script from Australia and the youth show.

“It will be a learning process and a discovery process these next months until June,” said Fielder.

For more information about the theatre visit spinningdot.org.


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