Hollins Partnership

Hollins/Mill Mountain Theatre Partnership

A Dynamic Academic/Professional Partnership

Mill Mountain Theatre has a longstanding relationship with Hollins University, and the Hollins Theatre Institute. Among the exciting collaborations currently on the boards are:

Hollins-Mill Mountain Winter Festival of New Works. Each year new works from HTI are given world-premiere and workshop productions on MMT’s professional stages, fulfilling Roanoke’s long-standing enthusiasm and support for the development of new works.

Todd Ristau, Playwright's Lab Director
Todd Ristau, Playwright’s Lab Director

M.F.A. Playwright’s Lab summer residency at MMT. For six weeks every summer, the M.F.A. program in playwriting (also known as Playwright’s Lab) splits its time between the Hollins campus and MMT’s various stages, hosting guest speakers of national renown, the annual Summer Festival of Play Readings, and Overnight Sensations, a 24-hour play event.

Faculty and guest artists. Working professional artists from MMT serve as adjunct faculty and guest artists at the Hollins Theatre Institute throughout the year.

Musical theatre training at Hollins is directly connected to the excellent artistic staff at MMT, with professional artists providing classroom instruction at Hollins and at MMT. Audition and performance opportunities are available, and performance internships give Hollins students the chance to work with professional performers while earning academic credit.

Director Bob Moss, Playwright’s Lab Visiting Faculty

Undergraduate Internships. Hollins students have the opportunity to complete internships throughout the year, while obtaining academic credit.

Post-graduate apprenticeships. Upon graduation, Hollins students can apply for a paid professional apprenticeship at MMT, allowing them to begin their careers in the city where they trained.


Summer 2017 New Works Events through our partnership with the Hollins Playwright’s Lab

For more than four decades, Mill Mountain Theatre has had the development of new plays as part of our core mission.  We have been home to a prominent national playwriting contest, premieres of new plays on both the Trinkle and Waldron stages, the Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works, CenterPieces and our ongoing partnership with the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University has helped Roanoke gain an international reputation as an artistic home for new work since that program launched in 2007. Each year, Hollins brings dozens of professional theatre artists from all over the globe to our city as faculty, guest speakers and visiting artists mounting productions.

We are proud to provide our theatre spaces and resources so that Playwright’s Lab events can be off-campus, downtown, and open to the general public. We invite you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to share in these events. A complete listing can be found on the Playwright’s Lab Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/hollinsplaywrights/events.

A brief description of the free Playwright’s Lab events hosted at Mill Mountain Theatre follows. All events take place at MMT’s Waldron Stage (20 Church Avenue SE) unless otherwise noted.


July 8  Overnight Sensations, 8PM (Trinkle Main Stage, 1 Market Square)

Since 2006, the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University has partnered with Mill Mountain Theatre to present our version of the 24-Hour Plays. On Friday night six playwrights are randomly paired with six directors, randomly draw from a hat a variety of writing prompts and a pre-selected cast of local actors, and overnight write a 10-minute play. The next morning, they meet with their directors to make any last minute changes before the actors arrive and the play begins rehearsal. When 8 PM rolls around, and the audience are in their seats, the show begins! Always a packed house, always free, and always lots of fun for everyone. This year we are excited to welcome Jim Beaver as our special guest!


July 12  CenterPieces Reading: The Gymnast by Shelby Taylor Love, 12:10PM

This joint venture by Mill Mountain Theatre and the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University brings new plays and new audiences together over lunch.


July 21-23  Hollins Playwrights Festival of New Works

Each summer at the end of July, we present a three-day event showcasing ten readings of student work from the Playwright’s Lab. These readings are minimally staged for the general public and close to a dozen guest professional responders from all over the globe. Get acquainted with these plays and playwrights before they are famous, and engage in a conversation about theatre with our students, faculty, and some established theatre professionals. Seating will be very limited! Free tickets will go “on sale” beginning June 21.


Each Monday night on the Waldron Stage of Mill Mountain Theatre, the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University presents a talk by a prominent working professional theatre artist:

June 26  Guest Speaker: Charles Smith, 7:30PM

Charles Smith – playwright – is a distinguished professor of playwriting and head of the Professional Playwriting Program at Ohio University. Charles is an alumnus playwright of the Tony Award-winning New Dramatists in New York, graduate of the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and one of the founding members of the Playwrights Ensemble at the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago.


July 3  Guest Speaker: Paul Pierce, 7:30PM

Paul Pierce – artistic director – is in his 29th season as producing artistic director of the Springer Opera House in Columbus, GA, a 146-year-old National Historic Landmark theatre. He also produces Springer Theatricals, a national touring company that presents theatre in some 60 American cities annually.


July 10  Guest Speaker: Jim Beaver, 7:30PM

Jim Beaver – actor, playwright – is best known as Ellsworth on HBO’s Emmy-award winning series Deadwood and as Bobby Singer on Supernatural. He has also starred in such series as Harper’s Island, John from Cincinnati, Breaking Bad, Justified, Big Love, Timeless, and Thunder Alley. His performance in The Silence of Bees won him the Best Actor Award at the 2010 New York Film and Video Festival.


July 17  Guest Speaker: Alea McKinley, 7:30PM

Alea McKinley – theatre teacher – is a National Board Certified High School English teacher with over nine years of professional experience in a range of high schools. She has a B.A. in theatre from the College of Charleston and an M.Ed. from DePaul University with a focus on English.


July 24  Guest Speaker: Morgan Jenness, 7:30PM

Morgan Jenness – arts activist – spent more than a decade at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater. She was also associate artistic director at the New York Theater Workshop and an associate director at the Los Angeles Theater Center in charge of new projects. She has been one of the earliest supporters of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins, and was among the guest speakers in 2007, our very first summer.

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