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DETROIT - Puzzle Piece Theatre, founded by recent Chicago transplant D.B. Schroeder, brings a new perspective to the Detroit arts community. Puzzle Piece Theatre serves the community by bringing to life a wide variety of theatrical texts through storytelling that re-imagines what is possible in live performance. Incorporated in May 2011, the group's leadership has spent the last year building relationships with community leaders, urban planners, and business professionals. "A strong foundation is absolutely vital for any organization to achieve the type of impact envisioned by the group's founders," says Puzzle Piece's producing artistic director D.B. Schroeder. With that foundation in place, Puzzle Piece Theatre is ready to engage audiences starting by participating in Figment Detroit on Belle Isle July 21-22.
Schroeder comes to Detroit after spending the last seven years working in Chicago's off-Loop Theatre scene and serving as artistic director of the acclaimed Thunder and Lightning Ensemble, a group he co-founded in 2004. "The thing most striking about Detroit is the passion residents have for their city, and that excitement is what drew me here from Chicago," Schroeder explained.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has been examining the levels of the Detroit's residents attachment to the area, and the survey's results are striking. Fewer than 10 percent of people surveyed say Detroit is a good place for young, talented college graduates, and that "social offerings" and "openness" are the key attributes to improve the area. The Knight Foundation's Detroit Implications can be found at http://www.soulofthecommunity.org/content/knight-soul-community-2010-detroit-implications.
Theatre as an art explores themes that speak to our universality and directly sparks conversations and debate that will lead to an improved level of community openness, making it a more desirable community. Schroeder's perspective and approach, forged in one of the nation's most competitive theater markets, offers a new, outsider perspective that alters Detroit's arts scene. "Each time an audience enters our doors, we want our events to be tantalizingly unexpected; the focus of our productions is how we tell the story to the audience," he says. "We tell big stories in bold ways, and through our community programs and main-stage season we will excite both long time residents and young professionals new to the city who are ready for engaging entertainment."
Puzzle Piece Theatre's first offering will be "Community Puzzles," a performance installation hybrid that will be included as part of Figment Detroit that takes place July 21-22 on Belle Isle in Detroit. "We are telling the folktale 'Stone Soup' where the audience will be very involved in the performance, and we also will have some 'super-sized puzzles' that require a group of people to put together. 'Community Puzzles' is part of our community programming, and we are thrilled that the organizers of Figment invited us to be a part of their festival."
"Stone Soup" was chosen as his initial offering, Schroeder says, because it is about a stranger coming to a new town and getting the community to join together in new and unexpected ways. "That story fits Puzzle Piece Theatre perfectly."
"Community Puzzles" will perform at Figment Detroit July 21-22 from noon to 6 p.m. both days on Belle Isle.
For more information about Puzzle Piece Theatre and this project, visit www.puzzlestage.org