New Programming!

“Young Americans” by David Wells at Tipping Point Theatre. Pictured: Katie Terpstra and Michael Brian Ogden. Directed by Frannie Shepherd-Bates.


  • Connect BoxFest directors with the greater Metro Detroit professional theatrical community
  • Support the education of female-identifying directors
  • Connect BoxFest directors with other female-identifying directors working in the Metro Detroit professional theatrical community
  • Remove challenges for BoxFest directors associated with the cost of education and travel
  • Remove challenges for professional theatres associated with artist salaries

Our 2017-18 Mentorship Associate is Frannie Shepherd-Bates and our Partner Theatre is Tipping Point Theatre.

Mentorship Biographies

Frannie Shepherd-Bates (Mentorship Associate) is an accomplished prison theatre practitioner, director, educator, designer, choreographer, administrator, and performer.

Frannie has directed nearly 40 productions and staged readings throughout Southeast Michigan, including for Detroit Public Theatre, Williamston Theatre, Tipping Point Theatre, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, Shakespeare in Detroit, Planet Ant Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Water Works Theatre Company, the Abreact, Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus, and the Roeper School. She has taught, directed, and/or coached for Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Matrix Theatre Company, and Royal Oak High School.

Frannie’s direction of “King Lear” for Shakespeare in Detroit garnered the “Best of the Bard’ Wilde Award in 2015. “Sex With Strangers,” which she directed for Detroit Public Theatre, was nominated for the “Best Play” Wilde Award in 2016. Her work as an artist and arts advocate has been recognized by the Critics’ Choice Wilde Award (2013), CBS Detroit, and an Arts Achievement Award on behalf of Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company, which she led from 2008-2014) from Wayne State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

Frannie is Director of Programs and Shakespeare in Prison at Detroit Public Theatre. As the founder, director, and lead facilitator of Shakespeare in Prison, she has spoken about prison theatre at conferences such as Shakespeare in Prisons (2013), Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (2017), Art X Detroit (2015), and Human Rights Through Education (University of Michigan, 2013). Her prison work has been featured numerous times in local, regional, and national media. Frannie also serves as Director of Education and Development for Water Works Theatre Company.

Upcoming directorial projects include “Out of Orbit” at Williamston Theatre and “The Impossibility of Now” at Tipping Point Theatre.

Tipping Point Theatre (Partner Theatre) is Northville’s live professional theatre. Just 20 minutes from Ann Arbor and 30 minutes from Downtown Detroit, they present six main stage productions each year, attracting over 15,000 audience members. As they enter their 11th season, Tipping Point’s audiences have come to expect consistently high-quality productions featuring some of Michigan’s best actors, directors and designers.

Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director, James R. Kuhl, the theatre continues to grow and aims to support all artists, including those that are otherwise underrepresented in the theatre community. In an effort to address the issue of gender-parity in theatre, five of the six shows during Tipping Point’s 10th season were directed by women, and 50% of the 11th season will have female directors. The partnership with BoxFest Detroit is just one of many new initiatives that will continue to position Tipping Point Theatre as an organization dedicated to helping the arts grow and thrive in Southeast Michigan.