Mirror Stage, marking its 20th Anniversary in 2021, isn’t your typical theater going experience. Its mission is to use the power of storytelling to challenge assumptions, bias, and prejudice, increasing equity and inclusion, while encouraging more thoughtful reflection on today’s issues. The company aims to educate, entertain, and get the entire community talking about some of the most important issues of our time. The theatre’s past productions and events have focused upon topical issues ranging from climate change to immigration.
Managing Artistic Director, and Phinney Ridge neighbor, Suzanne M. Cohen tells us, “Mirror Stage uses theatre to connect people more deeply to perspectives other than their own, while amplifying historically excluded stories, voices, and faces. Our unique artistic approach intensifies audience engagement and empathy.”
Free pre-show lectures and informative lobby displays provide a deeper context for the audience, and moderated post-performance discussions with artists and audience enable everyone to learn from the perspectives and lived experiences of others. Mirror Stage embraces the full range of human experience at all levels: on its stage, in its audience, in its staff, and within its leadership. Over the past 20 years, nearly 50 percent of the artists participating in Mirror Stage productions have been people of color—some, but not all, in ethnically specific stories and roles. Mirror Stage invites a larger population to see themselves and their stories represented onstage.
In addition to their onstage productions, Mirror Stage produces a monthly podcast, exploring the Pacific NW through the stories and experiences of its people and communities. The Mirror Stage Podcast can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and most podcast platforms, as well as on the company’s website at https://mirrorstage.org/podcast.
This spring, Mirror Stage plans to produce the award-winning play, Chagrin Falls by Mia McCullough. Chagrin Falls tells the story of a young Asian-American graduate student, who may not be who she seems. She arrives to interview a death-row inmate in Chagrin Falls, Oklahoma—a working class town whose economy depends on a cattle slaughterhouse and a penitentiary where lethal injection is administered. To live in Chagrin Falls is to be in the killing business. During her stay, she witnesses firsthand the cost of making a living from institutionalized death.
In tandem with Chagrin Falls, Mirror Stage will present Community Forums which will focus on industrial meat production, capital punishment, and PTSD in veterans, as well as pre-show lectures and other related programming. Mirror Stage will partner with local nonprofit organizations such as Asian Counseling and Referral Service and Refugee Women’s Alliance, and Kandelia to conduct community outreach with the local Asian and Vietnamese immigrant communities. It will also work with the Veterans Administration and University of Washington School of Social Work to reach local veterans and those with PTSD.
You can learn more about Chagrin Falls and other future programs, as well as sign up for Mirror Stage’s eNews, by visiting MirrorStage.org.