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MICHAEL VENSKEWriter / Performer
Much to his parent’s chagrin, Michael Venske has been a performer since he could show you his age on one hand.
In 2008 Michael was cast at the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater and decided to pursue performing full-time. Venske started self-producing sketch comedy shows which, in turn, honed his comedy chops thus leading to a gig with the Actors Theater of Minnesota where he originated a role in the Twin Cities’ premiere of the long-running "Bye Bye Liver." It was around this time that Michael realized the work that drives him isn’t entertainment for entertainment’s sake.
Michael believes time is our most valuable resource and, as such, he spends his on projects that help the greater good. He's recorded voiceovers for the world-renowned Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, taught de-escalation techniques in an effort to help eliminate the use of force for individuals in mental health crises, appeared in videos for HIV awareness with the University of Minnesota, twice toured environmental comedy shows with the National Theatre for Children, performed throughout the St. Croix Valley with The (Alzheimer’s) Remember Project, and has worked with First Witness Child Advocacy Center teaching law enforcement how to conduct forensic interviews with victims of childhood sexual abuse.
In 2012 Venske entered the solo theatre world as writer/performer in Thumbs Up which premiered in Washington, D.C., as part of the Capital Fringe Festival where the DC Theatre Scene said, “…the improv-trained Venske is at his best, unafraid to bust a move or pull out a silly dialect. His intensity is impressive, and each short scene ends on a poignant or fun note.” Recurring themes in Michael’s work are relationships, cultures, and societal issues with bright pops of comedic overtones.
While Venske planned on touring for a third time with the National Theatre for Children, his world was turned upside down when he was offered a job teaching in China. For three years Michael taught English to primary and middle school students in Zibo, Shandong, China. Pieces of Michael’s experience living abroad are published in a coffee table book,A Different Perspective: Expat Life, which explores the unique viewpoints expats have and how their adventures shape their perceptions of home.
Michael received his training at, and is a former company member of, America's oldest satirical comedy theater, Brave New Workshop.
He makes his home in Minneapolis with a handful of dying plants. In his spare time Michael can be found listening to his grandparent’s vintage Hawaiian records and sipping scotch in front of a fireplace crafting his next story.
To see the inspiration for these stories visit @michaelvenske on Instagram. This fall Michael embarks on the "Home" house tour. If you'd like to bring Michael to your sacred space please visit MichaelVenske.com.
Athena Pelton creates kickass imagery for real people and incredible brands. Her photographs tell a story –your story – in a unique, authentic, and badass way. So it’s safe to say that she's not your average photographer. Then again, she's not your average anything. Chances are, neither are you.
Ms. Pelton's photography isn’t about magazine features or wedding day details, and it is not about matching outfits or stone bridges. It’s about everything unplanned and spontaneous. It’s about you; your life – real, authentic, uninhibited – being lived out loud in front of her lens. Her imagery stems from a desire to tell a story (yours!) and create kickass images (that matter). It’s about kindness and grace and spontaneity and awkward humor. The truest beauty – the heart of your story – exists not only in what she sees, but in everything we feel.
Whoever you are and whatever your story, her heart – and her camera – would be honored to document it for you and bring your story to life.To learn more visit AthenaPelton.com or follow her work, words, and wisdom on Instagram @athenapelton.
Representative Theater: The Illusion, The Woodsman, 1984, Twelfth Night, Elephant’s Graveyard, Little Lifeboats: Confessions of a Butter Princess or Why the Cow Jumped Over the Moon, Parhelion; Meiningens: Adventures in Mating; University of Minnesota, Morris: Emperor’s New Clothes. (As Assistant Stage Manager) Meiningens: Closer; University of Minnesota, Morris: Anything Goes. (As Rehearsal Stage Manager) CLIMB Theatre. (As Stagehand) Phipps Center for the Arts: Becky’s New Car, It’s a Wonderful Life, On Golden Pond. (As Wardrobe Mistress) Phipps Center for the Arts: The Producers. (As Translator) Meiningens: The Juggler’s Tale. (As Assistant Producer) Meiningens: Medea. Training/Education: University of Minnesota, Morris, B.A. in Theatre Arts. Member of: Theatre Pro Rata (Company Member); Little Lifeboats (Company Member).
Brittany Pooladian is a graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul and has served as Theatre Unbound's Technical Director since 2013. She freelances in the Twin Cities area as a lighting designer and technician and also works at Andover High School as their technical director and scenic/lighting designer.