MEET THE TYLERS

Have you been wondering who's behind Trademark? Well today, we're introducing you to our fearless leaders, aka 'The Tylers'. Read on for a Q&A with the guys behind the curtain.

TYLER MICHAELS  |  Founder / Artistic Director

EXPLAIN YOU ROLE AT TRADEMARK.

Since there are only two of us administratively running the company, my role covers quite a bit! I lead everything on the artistic side from casting shows, to finding collaborators, to commissioning future seasons, to directing, coordinating with designers. On the admin side I’m in charge of planning budgets, developing and meeting with our board, signing checks, and paying bills! It really is a team effort though. Together, Mills and I are planning, building contracts, programming our seasons, etc… We have really been investing in the future of the company and finding out what it means to run it along side each other. We also rely a ton on volunteers who have helped us build up Trademark with their time and talents. We could not do it without them.

WHY A THEATER COMPANY AND WHY NOW?

I have been passionate about new works ever since I started studying Theater Arts. And, while we have one of the most vibrant arts communities in the nation, I want to bring even more focus to the development and production of new works in our state. With Trademark we want to help artists here bring innovative, exciting pieces to our stages and then be able to share them with the rest of the world. It is time for Minnesota to be at the forefront of the new works community! 

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN TM’S FIRST YEAR?

We have been preparing and developing THE BOY AND ROBIN HOOD for over two years now, knowing that it would be Trademark’s first full production. Putting this show up will make all of our work to this point real. And I hope, with the show’s success, we will have established ourselves as an exciting and vital part of this killer community. 

THE COMMUNITY PRIMARILY KNOWS YOU AS AN ACTOR, WHY DIRECT?

While I love performing, I want to make more of an impact as an artist, and I think the best way to do that is to manifest my other skills via this company. I would like to be known as a "theater artist", which to me means you are fluent in many aspects of the art form. I want to direct, I want to write, I want to produce, I want to act. All of these roles influence each other. If I can be a good director, it will make me an even better actor. 

WHAT WORKS ABOUT YOUR ARTISTIC PARTNERSHIP?

You know, I think we are a bit like peanut butter and jelly, two different tastes that go well together. We are such different beings with different intentions and processes, but when we smash our talents together it creates something unique. I think normally this would be a difficult partnership, but we have learned to ‘yes and’ each other as we create (thank you, improv). And we are constantly learning from each other, which keeps our artistic perspectives moving forward.

WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?

A lot of the stories I want to tell right now seem to be rooted in myths and legends. I am intrigued by tales that have stood the test of time and continue to be a part of our cultures. While I don’t think all of the stories we tell will be rooted in myth, I seem to always loop back to them for inspiration. 

WILL WE EVER SEE YOU PERFORM AGAIN?!?!

Don’t worry, I will still be performing! I hope for the rest of my life! 

Image by Laura Posterick

TYLER MILLS  |  Artistic Associate / Resident Playwright

EXPLAIN YOU ROLE AT TRADEMARK.

My role as Artistic Associate continues to develop as we discover what directions Trademark will take. Because the company is currently a small one, my creative efforts are also accompanied by assisting with administrative, development and marketing work. I also try to be a sounding board for ideas and offer my own perspective as a writer on the best ways to create and foster new work.

WHY A THEATER COMPANY AND WHY NOW?

My dream career has always been to be part of a group of people that have a love for one another and make art together. That is what drew me to working with Tyler in Trademark. There are a lot of exciting changes happening in the Twin Cities theatrical community, and I think that Trademark can contribute to those changes.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN TM’S FIRST YEAR?

I am most excited to see how audiences respond to The Boy and Robin Hood. Having worked on the play for over two years now, we (David Darrow, Tyler and I) are very close to the material. In many ways, this closeness means we have a deeper understanding of the work, but in other ways, it probably means we know a lot less than those that can look at it with fresh eyes.  We only have three perspectives, and the audience will have hundreds of them.  They will, inevitably, see things that we do not. Getting to share those moments of discovery with an audience is one of the very best things about creating new work.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR PROCESS FROM A WRITING STANDPOINT.

I try to stay open to what the inciting idea is to each piece and let that help shape what my process is like. One thing that has been consistent across my experiences thus far is that I do very little pre-planning of the story or structure of a piece before I begin it. When I am writing something, I like to stumble through it. I want to learn the best way to tell the story through the errors I make as I go along. The mistakes often yield the most interesting material, and I would not make them if I plotted everything out ahead of time.  I also thrive when I am able to have consistent feedback from those I am collaborating with during the writing process. I am always excited to see what those other eyes will find in my scripts, because it is often more interesting than what I saw there myself.

WHAT WORKS ABOUT YOUR ARTISTIC PARTNERSHIP?

I think that Tyler and I are very complimentary as collaborators. We often come at things from different perspectives, but each of us has always appreciated and respected what the other brings to the table. It is overly simplistic to put it this way, but I tend to like to be confusing and Tyler loves to be very clear. In our better moments, we allow each other to strike a balance between what is very novel and what is very familiar, and I think that is where the best work lies. 

WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU RIGHT NOW?

I am most inspired by the people in theater who are trying to find new ways to tell stories. I love to see work that is attempting to discover what will move live performance into the future. Companies like The Nature Theater of Oklahoma, NYC Players and Mammalian Diving Reflex are doing beautiful work that does not always resemble anything that has come before it. These new strategies for live performance are not always successful but they are necessary for finding a way forward for the art form. I hope that Trademark will be a part of finding that way forward.