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Local Theater Teaching Talent Elevates Mill City Players' Summer 2018 Production

Article by Claudia Kittock

The Mill City Players' third session will begin on June 19th. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have been very fortunate to be able to offer this program three times in less than a year, and the young actors who are part of this group are excited to begin. There have been a number of additions to this session that we are anxious to share.

James A. WilliamsCreated and supported by the Friends of the Mill District, we have hired our first Artistic Director, James A. Williams. Also known a JayyDubb, he has been a mainstay of the Twin Cities theater scene since 1976. He is a founding member of Penumbra Theatre Company, where he helped create new works with noted playwrights Carlyle Brown and Charles Smith. His work at Penumbra also laid the foundation for life-long relationships with celebrated director Marion McClinton and playwright August Wilson. Williams’ collaborative contributions were essential to the development of several Illusion Theatre touring shows: For Adults Only, Family and Amazing Grace. These productions covered a wide variety of social justice issues (including sexual violence prevention, building stronger families and one of the first HIV/Aids education pieces in the country) and allowed for the creation of main stage work with Steven Dietz, Matthew McGuire and Ping Chong.

Patricia BrownPatricia Brown will be teaching dance to the Mill City actors. For the last 24 years she has been an active member of the Twin Cities arts community as a dancer, instructor, performer and choreographer. Patricia is an African-based movement instructor whose fusion style is rooted in dance of West Africa and other regions, the Caribbean, and the Americas. She is a teaching artist who works with students of all ages, in a wide variety of settings, including primary and secondary schools, juvenile detention facilities, summer programs, dance studios and community centers. Additionally, she works with dance groups, choirs, and organizations such as Arts-Us, Penumbra Theatre Company’s Summer Institute, and the VocalEssence WITNESS School Program. Patricia is an adjunct faculty member in the Theatre Arts and Dance departments at both Macalester College, and the University of Minnesota, where she received the 2004 College of Continuing Education Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2007 Century Council Diverse Community Award. In 2013, Penumbra Summer Institute created the Patricia A. Brown scholarship in her honor. She was also nominated for a 2013 Sage Award in the category of “Outstanding Dance Educator,” and in 2015, Arts-Us presented her with the Legacy Arts Recognition Award for excellence, leadership and legacy in and through the arts.

Ahanti YoungAhanti Young has been hired to teach drumming. He has been a professional performer for over twenty years. A seasoned actor, musician, spoken word artist, choreographer, and teaching artist, Ahanti is also a company member at Penumbra Theatre. Most recent credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Two Trains Running, Zooman and the Sign, and Jitney. An international artist, Ahanti has appeared at The Guthrie Theater, Ten Thousand Things, History Theatre, The Fitzgerald Theater, The Illusion Theater, Intermedia Arts,  Walker Art Center, Round House Theatre (MD), Alchemy Theatre (NY), Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater (AZ), Paramount Theatre (CA), and Patinoire Saint-Léonard (Switzerland). As a musician, Ahanti has toured internationally with Edupoetic Enterbrainment (spoken word band), producing three albums. He was most recently seen in Pillsbury House Theatre’s The Brothers Size. His pioneering work with such groups as Sirius B (black male performance artist collective), African Perfection (drill team), In Da Belly (social change theater), Royal Guard (drum and bugle corps), and his work as a teaching artist at Walker West Music Academy, VocalEssence, SteppingStone Theatre, and many more have made Ahanti Young a recognizable face within the national arts community.

The actors will be rehearsing at Common Table in the Cedar Riverside community from June 19-July 19, and we will hold the remaining rehearsals at YouthLink from July 24-August 25. We are asking the community for help with lunches. Each rehearsal will be held from 1:30-3:30P, with lunches provided from 12:30-1:30P. Ask anyone who has done this during the past two sessions, and you will find it is a great joy. Talking to a group of teens who are acting and inhaling their doesn’t get much better than that!

The performances will take place in Antonello Hall at MacPhail Center for Music on August 21st at 7:00P, in Pohlad Hall at the Central Library on August 25th at 1:30P, and at CedarFest on September 16 (time to be determined). Mark your calendars now. All performances are sponsored by the Friends of the Mill District and are free.

If you want to become involved, there are a number of ways you can help:
• Contact Claudia Kittock at to bring lunches.
• Donate to Friends of the Mill District. Every program we sponsor is offered at no cost to participants. We provide our labor on a volunteer basis and our expenses include hiring the best professionals we can find.  Donations can be sent to Claudia Kittock, 210 10th Avenue S, Apt. 102, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
• Mark your calendars for the performances and bring a friend, a neighbor, and anyone you know who would enjoy watching this vibrant group of talented young people.

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).


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