Essays & Journalism

Voyagers_Headshots_web-37.jpg
about Danielle.png
 

Danielle Mohlman is a Seattle-based playwright and arts journalist. She’s a frequent contributor to Encore Stages, where she’s written long-form features about everything from the intersection of sports and theatre to the landscape of sensory-friendly performances. Her writing has also appeared in American Theatre, The Dramatist, My Poetic Side, and Quirk Books, where she just celebrated her seventh year as a pop culture blogger. This year, she taught her first arts journalism intensive through the TeenTix Press Corps, an organization that develops and advocates for teen arts journalists in the Seattle area. Danielle loves baseball more than anything and dreams of writing about the sport professionally — maybe one day. Her favorite team is the Washington Nationals.


Essays

Introducing Millennial Audiences to Theatre
for Encore Stages (January 8, 2019)

When I moved to Seattle in 2015, I didn’t know anyone involved in theatre. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who even enjoyed going to the theatre. So rather than learn a new city and the seemingly infinite number of theatres that came with it all by myself, I made a rational choice: I created a group for Millennials to experience theatre together. 

In Search of Artistic Community: My Year with the Umbrella Project Writers Group
for Encore Stages (November 21, 2018)

Every time I walk into The Cloud Room, I remind myself to breathe. Inhale one, two, three. Exhale one, two, three. It’s a stage direction I’ve included in my plays more than once—a necessary one because it’s a reminder to trust, to let go, to be vulnerable. This Capitol Hill co-working space is more than a place to gather and share new work. It’s also the place where I’ve shared my most vulnerable work: new pages from a script that terrifies me, its creator. Inhale one, two, three. Exhale one, two, three. 

Throwing Like a Girl and Writing Like One Too
for Encore Stages (April 3, 2018)

My dad was a star athlete in high school. Letterman jacket, full page in the yearbook, the whole nine yards. He was a water polo goalie and to this day the number he wore on his swim cap – 22 – is significant for both him and my mom. Every “22” they’ve ever seen in the wild has been photographed and framed. It’s the date of their wedding anniversary. And it was etched into the pin cushion my mom used in home economics, silver-headed pins forming the curves of each number. 

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
for Encore Stages (January 12, 2018)

One by one, my friends hugged me as I handed them their tickets. “I’m so excited,” they exclaimed, a group of giddy Millennials huddled in Seattle Repertory Theatre’s lobby. It was November 2016, and we were seeing King Charles III. 

 

journalism

Steven Dietz Will Never Stop Calling Seattle Home
for Encore Spotlight (October 8, 2019)

Playwright Steven Dietz is so personable he doesn’t need an icebreaker. When I called him to talk about the upcoming production of Dracula at ACT Theatre, the first thing he wanted to talk about was my area code, a holdover from my Southern California hometown. I joked that I’d probably carry that area code with me for the rest of my life. And he echoed the same sentiment.

Hosting the Tiny Tots Concert Series is a Return to Musical Childhood Memories
for Encore Stages (October 1, 2019)

When John Turman moved to Seattle in 2015, hosting the Tiny Tots concert series was the furthest thing from his mind. He’d just graduated from Rice University and, after deciding to turn down a principal horn position at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, joined the horn section at the Seattle Symphony.

Now entering his fifth season with the Symphony and his second season as the Tiny Tots concert series host, this Austin native is happy to now call Seattle home. “There’s just an action and activism that I feel here in Seattle,” Turman said. “And politically, it’s amazing. I hear more voices here than anywhere else.”

“Indecent,” or What it Means to Create Queer Jewish Theatre in Seattle
for Encore Stages (September 24, 2019)

When Indecent opened at Seattle Rep on September 20, it marked a pretty significant first: the first time this theatre has produced a play by Paula Vogel. Vogel, who’s arguably one of the most prolific and produced contemporary playwrights of our time, has been seen in recent years at Taproot Theatre Company (A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration, December 2017) and Strawberry Theatre Workshop (How I Learned to Drive, June 2018). But as I combed through Seattle Rep’s production history, it became more and more clear that Paula Vogel’s Seattle Rep debut is long overdue.

The State of Deaf Theatre in Seattle
for Encore Stages (September 16, 2019)

According to the 2010 United States Census, an estimated 2.4% of the Washington population identifies as Deaf. And while estimations surrounding the size of Seattle’s own population vary widely, it’s clear that the Deaf community here is vibrant and engaged. So how are the region’s theatres providing accessible performing arts experiences for the community?

Tamilla Woodard Forges a New Way Forward with Top Girls
for Encore Spotlight (September 10, 2019)

When Tamilla Woodard opens Top Girls at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) later this month, the production is sure to make some noise. Top Girls, perhaps the best known of Caryl Churchill’s plays, follows an aspiring executive named Marlene and her imagined dinner party with strong, complicated women throughout history—including Pope Joan and explorer Isabella Bird.

Amina Edris Celebrates an Artistic Homecoming with Romeo & Juliet at the San Francisco Opera
for Encore Spotlight (August 29, 2019)

When Amina Edris takes the stage as Juliet in Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, she’ll be returning to a city that she loves and a familiar, welcoming stage. Edris, who was born in Egypt and raised in New Zealand, earned her post-graduate degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music before receiving a two-year fellowship appointment at the San Francisco Opera. “I’m so happy to be back because it does feel like my artistic home,” Edris said. “It was almost as if I grew up there, you know what I mean?”

A New Kind of Historical Adventure Premieres at Cal Shakes
for Encore Spotlight (August 6, 2019)

The journey from words on paper to action onstage is not a fast or simple one. Playwright Madhuri Shekar and Director Megan Sandberg-Zakian prepare for the world premiere of House of Joy at Cal Shakes and share with us how they developed a “swashbuckling action-adventure romance, set in 17th century India” to the stage.

Jeffrey Lo Realizes a Decade-Long Dream with “The Language Archive”
for Encore Spotlight (July 19, 2019)

To say Jeffrey Lo wears many hats would be an understatement. Not only is he the casting director of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, he’s also the director of The Language Archive and a playwright in his own right. “I’ve been fortunate to hold many roles at TheatreWorks,” Lo said, “and the joke is by the time my new business cards get printed, I’ve already changed titles.”

Aidan Lang Gives Seattle Opera a Fond Farewell
for Encore Spotlight (June 12, 2019)

When General Director Aidan Lang departs Seattle Opera later this month to become general director of Welsh National Opera, it’ll be a bittersweet departure. After five years at Seattle Opera—a relatively short tenure for a general director—Lang is returning to the opera company that started his career.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Thinks Outside the Box — and the Theatre! — With OUTSIDE/IN
for Encore Stages (June 1, 2019)

Once summer rolls around, nothing can stand between a Seattleite and the outdoors. Which is why the Pacific Northwest Ballet made outdoor performance an annual tradition.

A Conversation with Choreographers Dammiel Cruz, Miles Pertl and Kiyon C. Ross
for Encore Stages (June 1, 2019)

Dammiel Cruz, Miles Pertl and Kiyon C. Ross aren’t yet household names, but they will be. Cruz joined the Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2016 and was promoted to corps de ballet later that same year. Pertl joined PNB as a corps de ballet dancer in 2015. And Ross joined PNB in 2001, the very same year he created his first piece of choreography.

JACK Quartet Gears up for ‘Human Subjects’ at Meany Center
for Encore Spotlight (May 9, 2019)

An innovative collaboration between the JACK Quartet, neuroscientists and educators at the University of Washington is preparing for a performance at the intersection of science and music. After three years in the making, Human Subjects is ready to make (brain) waves.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Seattle Theatre
for Encore Stages (April 9, 2019)

In October 2018, the Dramatists Guild and The Lilly Awards released The Count 2.0, a national census that analyzed data from six seasons of theatre, 2011 to 2017, looking at the production history of theatres of all sizes. The Count was focused on playwrights, lyricists and book writers—the content creators of the theatre—and released information that doesn’t feel all that surprising: of all the major cities surveyed, Seattle has the most room to grow. Between 2011 and 2017, only 8% of produced plays in Seattle were written by artists of color and only 24% by women. 

Sensory-Friendly Performances in Seattle — And Beyond!
for Encore Stages (March 1, 2019)

Being an audience member is powerful. Going to the symphony can connect you with a piece of music that feels like it was made for you. Surrounding yourself with opera can feel like communion with the soul. And that perfect piece of theatre will make you forget that you weren’t right on that stage with them. But too often, the performing arts are created for a very specific audience—an audience without sensory sensitive disabilities like autism spectrum disorder. That’s where sensory-friendly performances come in. 

Round Table Discussion with the TeenTix Press Corps
for Encore Stages (January 8, 2019)

Since 2006, the TeenTix Press Corps has collaborated with professional critics to mentor teens interested in arts journalism through workshops and intensives. In 2015, TeenTix put the Press Corps on hiatus in order to put racial equity and social justice at the center of the program. They relaunched in Spring 2018 and we couldn’t be more excited.

Why You Need an HR Department
for American Theatre (January 1, 2019)

Theatre is an industry built on human stories that move audiences. So it may come as a surprise that many regional theatres don’t have a dedicated human resources professional on staff. But HR, it turns out, can actually have an impact on the quality of the art an organization delivers, mainly by keeping tabs on the quality of life enjoyed by artists, administrators, and theatre staffers.

A Conversation with Courtney Sale
for Encore Stages (October 4, 2018)

Courtney Sale describes herself as a director who’s passionate about new work and devised theatre. As the artistic director of Seattle Children’s Theatre, Sale has directed adaptations of Black Beauty and The Little Prince. But her work isn’t just limited to theatre for young audiences. Sale proudly collaborates with a number of nationally produced playwrights, including Steven Dietz, Kirk Lynn and Allison Gregory. Encore Stages had a chance to speak with her about the upcoming production of The Velveteen Rabbit at Seattle Children’s Theatre, a co-production with the Unicorn Theatre in London. The play runs November 1 to December 30 at Seattle Children’s Theatre. 


The Future (of Seattle Theatre) is Female
for Encore Stages (October 4, 2018)

According to a nationwide study conducted by Theatre Communications Group, during the 2016–17 theatre season, only 26% of produced plays were written by female playwrights. This statistic is personal to me. I’m a female-identifying playwright working nationally. I’m a speck on that scale, but I do count. Which is why I’m a little ashamed to say I was actually excited to see this number. For several years, I’d been telling folks that female playwrights make up only 20% of produced plays. That six percent jump—that’s huge!

The Next Generation of Arts Advocates
for Encore Stages (September 12, 2018)

When you think about the board that supports your favorite performing arts organization chances are you’re picturing an older sect—folks who are established in their careers, have saved for retirement and have money to spare. It’s a group, when imagined this way, that’s difficult to join and impossible to keep up with. But what if I were to tell you that performing arts boards come in all shapes and sizes, and that some are even actively recruiting young people into their fold? I had the pleasure of speaking with members of the BRAVO! Council at Seattle Opera, Young Patrons Circle at Pacific Northwest Ballet and New Guard at TeenTix—three organizations that are not only recruiting Millennial and Generation Z board members, they’re also training the next generation of arts advocates.

A Conversation with Yussef El-Guindi
for Encore Stages (June 20, 2018)

If you’re an avid theatre-goer in Seattle, chances are you’ve seen a Yussef El Guindi play. This prolific playwright has become an artistic staple here in Seattle, a city he has called home since 1994. (Upon reflection, he shared that he’s lived in Seattle longer than he’s lived anywhere else—even England, where he was raised after his family emigrated from Egypt.) We had the opportunity to speak with him about his writing, being a theatre artist in Seattle and ACT’s 2018 Core Company.

A Conversation with Rachel Guyer-Mafune
for Encore Stages (June 19, 2019)

As a fourth generation Seattelite, Rachel Guyer-Mafune lives with the Pacific Northwest in her DNA. She’s a 2016 graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and a member of ACT’s 2018 Core Company. And like any great actor, she considers her artistic identity a work in progress. 

Arts al Fresco
for Encore Stages (June 19, 2018)

Living in Seattle means living for the summer. Between hiking, biking and visits to the city’s incredible beaches and lakes, it’s easy to fill every evening and weekend with glorious outdoor activities. But while you’re solidifying your summer schedule, don’t forget to make room for the arts. Several intrepid Seattle arts organizations program their summers around the great outdoors, taking advantage of public spaces to bring art to the entire city. 

A Conversation with Bobbin Ramsey
for Encore Stages (March 9, 2018)

Bobbin Ramsey has lived and breathed Seattle art her entire life. This 27-year-old theatre and film director has touched almost every arts organization in town: from attending Seattle Children’s Theatre as a child to volunteering at the Vera Project in high school to internships at Intiman and Book-It Repertory Theatre. She even attended the University of Washington, obtaining degrees in Drama and Creative Writing.

All the World’s a Stage at the Seattle Celebrates Shakespeare Festival
for Encore Stages (March 9, 2018)

Tell your friends you’re going to a play and chances are their minds will unconsciously jump to William Shakespeare, the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, the pained “Et tu, Brute?” from Julius Caesar, Lady Macbeth scrubbing her hands of blood. Shakespeare is part of our cultural landscape. And soon, permutations of his work will be all over Seattle.

A Conversation with SassyBlack
for Encore Stages (January 12, 2018)

SassyBlack self identifies as a psychedelic songstress and that description couldn’t be more apt. She’s an energetic and hypnotic performer who forms community with her audiences. SassyBlack has called Seattle home for the last twenty years and says that she’s learning more about the city every single day.  “Seattle is a quirky town blossoming into a city that’s constantly moving forward,” she said. “It’s a rich, bountiful natural environment.” I had the pleasure of speaking with SassyBlack about her writing process, social media’s impact on her career, and how Seattle permeates her music.

Samie Spring Detzer on Washington Ensemble Theatre
for Encore Stages (November 27, 2017)

Samie Spring Detzer is a true Seattleite. She grew up just north of the city and moved here to attend Cornish College of the Arts where she graduated with a BFA in theatre and original works. She’s the Artistic Director of Washington Ensemble Theatre, but always identifies as an actor first, theatre administrator second. She joined the ensemble of WET six years ago and has performed in at least one show a season ever since. This season, she’ll be directing Monstrosityby Lucy Thurber – a co-production between the University of Washington and WET. We had the pleasure of talking to her about WET’s fourteenth season, being an artist in Seattle, and what makes her “an opinionated, loud-mouthed, head-bitch-in-charge” – in everything she does. 

Erin Murray on Women in Theatre
for Encore Stages (November 27, 2017)

Erin Murray is a “femme forward” theatre maker and educator. A native of Washington, Erin grew up in University Place, just outside of Tacoma and describes herself as a PNW woman through and through. She’s a director with affiliations with seemingly every theatre in the area and recently added podcast host to her resume with her show That’s WOW: That’s Womxn of Washington, where she talks to femme culture makers and leaders in the area about their work. We had a chance to talk to her about her passion for plays from the female perspective, her love for the Pacific Northwest, and her dream project.  

A Conversation with Simone Hamilton
for Encore Stages (October 6, 2017)

Simone Hamilton is the Artistic Engagement Coordinator at Seattle Repertory Theatre. She identifies as a producer and curator of spaces, aiming to bring audiences closer to the art on stage. She’s a Washington native and calls both Seattle and Whidbey Island her home. Encore Stages contributor Danielle Mohlman spoke with her just before tech week for the Public Works production of The Odyssey. In addition to the core cast of professional actors, over 100 performers flooded the stage in this musical adaptation of Homer’s poem – performers from the King County Boys and Girls Club, the Ballard NW Senior Center, the Jubilee Women’s Center, and beyond.