Mudlark Theater Company is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit children’s theater company dedicated to providing professional-level theatrical training to children 6 to 18 years of age, and to collaborating with children to produce great theater. Each year, we stage a full season of theatrical productions with casts of 18 to 30 children, performed at various venues in Evanston. Through our work, we aim to demonstrate to audiences the unique power of children's theater and the substantial contribution it can make to the public discourse.
Our mission was conceived by our founder, Amy Eaton, who envisioned a theater company where young people could get hands-on experience by collaborating on productions with professional artists. She started Mudlark in 2005 and quickly established a community in which children could feel at home exploring the depths of their creativity and imagination. Amy believed that the secret to unleashing children's creativity is to take them and their ideas seriously. This meant empowering them, but it also meant expecting more of them than most adults expect. This approach has resulted in children's plays that are enjoyable and interesting for the broader public, not just the friends and family members of the actors involved.
Under the leadership of Andrew Biliter (Artistic Director)and Michael Miro (Executive Director), Mudlark has stayed true to its founder’s vision while expanding its programming and outreach.
Mudlark Board of Directors
- David Soglin, President
- Sherry Thomas, Vice President
- Molly Dumbleton, Secretary
- Shelley Sutherland,
- Judy Krizmanic
- Brooke Saucier
- Laura Eilts, Treasurer
- Andrew Biliter, ex officio
- Michael Miro, ex officio
Mudlark Advisory Board
- David Kersnar, Lookingglass Theatre
- Lynne Pace Green, American Theater Company
Andrew Biliter – Artistic Director
Andrew is a director, writer, actor and teacher. He became Mudlark’s Artistic Director in December 2009. In his tenure, he has expanded the season from two shows a year to eight, and shifted the theater’s focus from quirky modern plays to adaptations of classic literature. Mudlark shows he has adapted and directed or co-directed include The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, The Inspector General, The Light Princess, Frankenstein, Through the Looking Glass, and the summer Shakespeare adaptations. Before Mudlark, Andrew spent three years working as an editor for an art and culture magazine in Moscow, Russia. He holds a BA in Russian Studies from Carleton College, where he studied direction and dramaturgy under theater scholar Anna Dotlibova. Andrew is also a lifelong Evanston native—an alumnus of Washington Elementary, Nichols Middle School, and ETHS. Andrew got his start in children’s theater at Ridgeville Arts Camp, where he and best friend Michael Miro ran the drama programming from 2002 to 2005. Andrew is delighted to be back in his hometown, working with Michael again, and making theater in the community that has given so much to him.
Michael Miro – Executive Director
Michael’s artistic partnership with Andrew began ten years ago at Ridgeville Park District. Together, the two of them wrote and directed original theatrical productions with 8- to 13-year-olds, which were performed for the community on an outdoor stage. They also taught classes in long-form improvisation using many of the techniques employed by the Royal We Improv Troupe, of which they were both founding members. Michael received his B.A. in Theater Arts from Marquette University. He performed in a wide variety of productions, one of which received national recognition by the American College Theater Festival Board and was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. While in the Milwaukee area, Michael directed productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Into the Woods. Since joining Mudlark in the spring of 2010, Michael has directed four Mudlark mainstage productions:This Is Just to Say, Robin Hood, Mudpie 2011, and Antigone. He has also co-directed the summer productions of Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night's Dream with artistic director, Andrew Biliter.
Janna Sobel – Instructor
Janna is an actress, improvisor, director, writer and creative performance teacher. Since moving to Chicago in 2008, she has worked with Chicago Dramatists, Second City, 16th Street Theater, Pegasus Theater, The Old Town School of Folk Music, and the Lincoln Square Theater. In San Francisco she founded and directed the Performing Arts program at Presidio Hill School, California’s oldest K-8 progressive school, and taught performance there for ten years. Janna’s work with young people spans a wide range of performing arts, including acting, playwriting, ensemble play creation, improvisation and storytelling, and she enjoys working with young people of all abilities and experiences. Her secret agenda in teaching performance is to instill a sense of “enoughness” in young people, and to reveal to them the secret joys of self-trust and generosity. And also, she really likes to play.
Jake Cohen – Instructor
Jake Cohen has been working as an actor and teaching artist in Chicago since 2005. As an actor, he has worked at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook and the Griffin Theatre. He has worked as a teaching artist for the Goodman Theater and the National High School Institute, in addition to his position as a teaching assistant at the Montessori Academy of Chicago. Jake first worked with young people from the Evanston area as a student at Northwestern University, where he worked on several TYA productions and a number of residencies in local middle schools. He is thrilled to continue this work, play, and learning alongside Mudlark's inspiring young artists.
Amy Eaton – Founder and Artistic Associate
Amy began performing at age thirteen at Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton, New Hampshire, under the artistic directorship of Dan Hurlin. It was there that she learned the tremendous value of having young people collaborate with grown-up professional artists in a supportive, challenging work environment—a lesson she would carry with her in all her work with kids. Before forming Mudlark, Amy taught under the auspices of Urban Gateways, Gallery 37, Tellin’ Tales Theatre, The Old Town School of Folk Music, YAP (Young Artists Program) and the Evanston Children’s Theatre, where she was creative director from 2000 to 2004. With Mudlark, she sought to create a place where young people could develop their creative selves, take artistic risks, and be funny.