Founded by playwrights Ian Drife, Kristine Biadaszkiewicz, Steve Schultz, Ann Eskridge and Edward J. Thomats in June 2009, The Extra Mile is a group of Detroit-area playwrights, actors, directors & producers dedicated to showcasing local theatre. The six founding playwrights held script-reads of their pieces and later presented them to the public at AJ’s Coffeehouse in Ferndale, Michigan.
The make-up of the group continuously evolves which means we've created in many different genres and been fortunate to work with some incredible artists. At the 2010 Nöel Night in the George N’namdi Gallery, we presented short pieces about an art gallery. In 2011 we created the Raw Festival, a three-day festival of short plays at the now-defunct Park Bar in downtown Detroit, In 2012, we held a Children’s and Youth Festival at the Ferndale Library.
In 2013, we followed up with creating dramatic scenes from oral histories for the University Commons area, six square miles from 8 mile to the Lodge and Wyoming to Woodward.
The University of Detroit Mercy's (UDM) Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) then awarded a grant to develop “pop up” ideas for the Livernois business district - the Avenue of Fashion. We partnered with them and received a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council to present three separate performances of Voices from the Neighborhood. This led to a full performance at The Detroit Design Festival's Light Up Livernois event.
Our 2014 and 2015 we began holding community nights, when we invite audience members to be actors and do a cold read of a new 10 minute script set to a theme. Community nights are a great way for us to connect with the community as well as meet new playwrights as we open up two spots for non EMPT members. Community nights have been held at a few different venues around the University District including Detroit's Good Cakes and Bakes coffee shop and bakery as well as Detroit Sip. Like every Extra Mile event, the audience is given the opportunity for a talk back session, where playwrights gain insight and reactions to their work. We continue to do Community nights least once a year.
A Detroit Carol, a one-act play following the tradition of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, was presented as a full-production as a guerrilla theater piece at Detroit's 2016 Light Up Livernois, where two vacant store fronts were transformed into the Cathartic Cacophony of Compassion, bringing community members into a heartfelt discussion about their wishes for their neighborhoods as Detroit's revitalization highlights new challenges and opportunities.
'67 Rebellion: A Memory Play, was the combined work of EMPT writers, with an EMPT member directing and EMPT member actors and guest actors. It was based on oral histories collected by The Detroit Historical Society, and personal interviews and perspectives. ’67 Rebellion: A Memory Play had its first reading at Detroit Sip in July 2017 which gave the public a chance to respond to the readings. The play then had a staged reading at the Southfield Unitarian Universalist Church to a standing room only audience where lively tap back ensued, in November of that year.
We wouldn't be Detroiters if we didn't mark the legacy of ArethaFranklin. 2018 and 2019 we worked on a Aretha Franklin tribute play. We visited the Charles H. Wright Museum and talked to the curator for her exhibit. We also talked with various people who attended, watched her funeral or were touched by her life, in order to compile a dramatic interpretation of how Aretha Franklin's life and death affected Detroiters. We will do our first reading of this new collaborative work in 2020.