Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

Hystopia, the first novel of acclaimed Michigan short story writer David Means, is a complex book built around a simple question: what can we do about the trauma that war inflicts on our veterans?  

Emilio Rodriguez (left) chats with fellow artists in residence during The MITTEN Lab residency.
Dan Wanschura

What’s one of the biggest challenges for emerging artists today?

A lot of them will tell you, it’s about getting their new work noticed. Think about, a playwright for example. Their work has to be compelling enough for a theater company just to notice it.

But even then, it’s not enough to just be compelling. The work has to be so good that the theater decides to take a chance and invest in the production of the show. If the playwright doesn't have much of a track record, it’s a huge gamble for the theater company.


Take a presidential campaign. Mix in a large serving of old-fashioned musicals, and top it off with two women realizing they are in love, and you've got the new film Liberty's Secret.

Andy Kirshner is the writer, composer, director, producer and he has a role in the film, which is having its premiere this Thursday at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Kirshner is also an associate professor of both music and art & design at the University of Michigan.

The film, which the website describes as "the all-American lesbian movie-musical," tells the story of a struggling presidential campaign fronted by moderate Republican Kenny Weston, who recruits the charismatic Liberty Smith to be his running mate. This singing and dancing preacher's daughter is just what the campaign needs to get back into the race to the White House. That is, until she falls in love with one of the campaign's political consultants, who is a woman.

Christopher Hebert's Angels of Detroit has a rich cast of feckless and out of their time hippies who make their way to Detroit for no good purpose. Hebert is a generous and perceptive writer who gives his characters a long hard look, but his anarchists have a difficult time explaining why blowing up Detroit will lead to something better.

Kinetic Affect members Kirk Latimer (left) and Gabriel Giron bring their spoken word poetry to audiences all over the country.
Kinetic Affect

Kirk Latimer was a high school English teacher when he heard a student get up and perform spoken word poetry for the first time. He was so moved by the experience that he encouraged all his students to tell their stories through spoken word poetry.

But then in the middle of class, one of his students called him out. He challenged Kirk to share his own story the way he wanted them to share theirs. And  he did. 

 

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