Mirror Stage Launches New EXPAND UPON Series

Mirror Stage Launches New EXPAND UPON SeriesSponsored in part by the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Mirror Stage is thrilled to launch its new Expand Upon staged reading series. Mirror Stage commissions two local playwrights to each develop a short play responding to a community-selected theme, using the same multi-generational, multi-racial cast. For this first round of Expand Upon, the community selected the theme Institutional Racism, and Mirror Stage commissioned playwrights Rachel Atkins and Seayoung Yim.

Institutional Racism occurs when social institutions such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law treat a group of people negatively or unequally based on their race, impeding equity and equality. Institutional racism does not involve intentional racial discrimination on the individual level; it is a pattern of inequal behavior or treatment at the institutional level, such as the school-to-prison pipeline. When differing standards penalize African-American students as early as pre-school, it limits educational opportunities, leading to more expulsions, suspensions, higher drop out rates, fewer job opportunities and higher rates of incarceration, preventing African Americans from achieving a status equal to that of others.

Brown Like Me by Rachel Atkins, and Untitled Play About Institutional Racism in the Non-profit Industrial Complex by Seayoung Yim will perform on October 21 and 22, 2017 at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre in Seattle's University District, with a moderated discussion folowing each performance. Directed by Suzanne M. Cohen, Expand Upon: INSTITUTIONAL RACISM features Manuel Cawaling, Christine Lange, Mona Leach Grife, Daniela Melgar, Ayo Tushinde, and Bob Williams.

Performance offers unique ways of knowing that can challenge entrenched paradigms, contribute to pluralism and expand the range of meaningful action. Mirror Stage's innovative series of staged readings examines topical issues from different perspectives. Presented without costumes or sets, the emphasis on the text encourages audiences to create their own imagined world inhabited by the play's characters. Following every performance, a moderated discussion with the audience and artists explores the issues raised in more depth.

Playwright Rachel Atkins has twelve different shows in national touring repertory for Living Voices/Theatreworks USA. Her plays have been seen locally with Book-It, Seattle Repertory, SCT, The Empty Space, Annex, Brownbox, SPT, Sound Theatre, Live Girls!, Infinity Box, Forward Flux, Fantastic Z, Washington Hall, Bainbridge Performing Arts, and 14/48. Black Like Us received the 2014 Gregory Award for Best New Play, two Seattle Times Footlight Awards, and was a 2014 American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award nominee. An ArtsWA Teaching Artist and Creative Advantage Arts Partner, Ms. Atkins works as a master teaching artist for Bringing Theatre into the Classroom, Book-It, Arts Impact, and ACT's Young Playwrights Program. She graduated from Dartmouth College and holds her Masters in Educational Theatre from New York University.

Playwright Seayoung Yim's Do It For Umma premiered at Annex Theatre in 2016 to sold-out audiences, winning both the People's Choice Award for Outstanding New Play at the Gregory Awards and Seattle's Gypsy Rose Lee Award for Excellence in Local Playwriting. Her newest play, A Quality Education, was developed for Theatre Battery's Battery Powered Reading series. Her work has been featured at Live Girls! Theater, the UW School of Drama, 14/48, and the Seattle Fringe Festival. She is a member of Asian American playwriting collective SIS Writers Group. In addition to theater, Seayoung has been involved with social and racial justice community organizations such as the Children's Alliance, Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation, the International Examiner, and Social Justice Fund Northwest.

The Ethnic Cultural Theatre is located at 3940 Brooklyn Ave NE in Seattle. Performances will be Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 2:00pm. Admission is $15; $10 for students and seniors. Every performance has 10 Pay-What-You-Can rush tickets ($1 minimum). Free parking is available in University of Washington's lot W12, located at just south of the Ethnic Cultural Theater on Brooklyn Ave NE. Tickets go on sale on July 1, 2017. For more information, please visit https://mirrorstage.org.

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