Matrix Theatre Company Sheds Light on Current Issues

By: Amber Ogden | February 2, 2015

If you’re an artist living in southeast Michigan, consider yourself lucky. There are so many outlets for creative types; it’s hard to choose which ones to let your innovative juices flow through! The Matrix Theatre Company, 2730 Bagley St., Detroit, is the perfect choice for those who love theater or are looking to learn more about it.

The nonprofit 501(c)3 organization was founded in 1991 by Shaun and Wes Nethercott and has been providing interested Metro Detroiters with educational and theater programs ever since.

“The number one goal of Matrix Theatre Company is to build community and foster social justice through creating, sharing and teaching theater. Every show that we do, whether it is written by Matrix community members or not, is either chosen or written to reflect the current needs of our community. We respond by producing shows that address current issues that are ripe for examination and discussion,” Molly McMahon, communications coordinator of Matrix Theatre Company, said.

Whether you’re seasoned in theater or have a young child interested in getting involved, there is a place for everyone at the Matrix Theatre Company. Professional theater programs include mainstage season shows and Matrix Writers Circle. Classes for kids, a Teen Company and School of Theatre Production all fall under the School of Theater category.

The company’s next upcoming mainstage show (the second of the season) is “Best of Enemies,” which begins on Friday, Feb. 20 and runs through mid-March.

“This show is written by Mark St. Germain and tells the true story of Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a Grand Cyclops of the KKK,” McMahon said. “They are two people poisoned by prejudice who are living in the contentious city of Durham, N.C., in 1971 during the desegregation of the public school system.”

The two, who appear to have nothing in common, are forced to work together with what McMahon says are “surprising results.” She also notes that in addition to the performances, each weekend will include one special engagement event. Stay tuned to the website for details!

While “Best of Enemies” begins soon, another is just wrapping up this weekend. “Cain’s Row” is the most recent play penned by the Matrix Writers Circle and production will end on Sunday, Feb. 1.

“Because it takes over a year to develop, write and edit a script, the Writers Circle is taking a few months off to recuperate from their busy schedule over the last few months. When they reconvene in the spring, they will begin discussing new topics on which to base their next script,” McMahon said.

If any of your young children show an interest in the arts, you may want to talk to them about participating in classes at the Matrix Theatre Company! While the winter semester of theater classes has already begun, parents can still sign children up for classes by calling Andrea Scobie, Director of Education, at 313-967-0999 ext. 3.

Matrix School of Theatre Classes are open to children ages 5 to 18 and are broken down into various age groups, each of which culminates with a final showcase or performance.

The Matrix Teen Company is another option, which is great for high school students. Like the Writers Circle, the Teen Company writes and develops its own scripts, but its members are also responsible for bringing their words to life on stage.

“These teens work diligently to write, rehearse and perform their shows so they meet twice a week or more depending on where they are at in their process. These special young people take their talent and knowledge on the road as well,” McMahon said. “Our teens have toured their shows, facilitated workshops for other youth and adults wanting to learn more about the process of collective playwriting and performance, and participated in exchanges and partnerships with other youth theater groups and theaters.”

This spring, the Matrix Teen Company will present its adaptation of “Fuente Ovejuna,” a classic play with relevant themes of oppression, inequality, racism and violence. The classic play has been adapted and is set in modern day Detroit. You can see it for yourself when it makes its run Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 26.

“Matrix Theatre Company is an important part of the fabric of Detroit because we are an arts organization rooted in our community. We have a strong commitment to place and that is evident in our work. It is a powerful thing when people come together to create and experience theater about issues that matter to them,” McMahon said. “In Detroit today, there are a lot of people who feel like they don’t have a voice or that their voices go unheard. At Matrix, we value what everyone has to say and give a platform for people to express themselves through theater.”

This year, the Matrix Theatre Company’s ultimate goal as an organization is to finish out the year with record attendance at its shows and classes. McMahon added that because it is based in southwest Detroit, the company is well known there, but she hopes to reach out to more people who live in southeastern Michigan in order to let them know there is a place for them at the Matrix.

“Everyone is welcome to be a part of what we do, whether it’s to join the Writers Circle, sign up for classes at the School of Theatre, join the Matrix Teen Company, audition for one of our shows, or of course attend a show and experience the transformative power of theater!” McMahon said.

For more information on the Matrix Theatre Company and its upcoming shows and classes, visit the official website.