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About

Passage Theatre Company

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Mission

Passage Theatre Company is committed to creating and producing socially relevant plays and arts programming that deeply resonate with and reflect our community. Through professional productions, educational programs, and community engagement, we present diverse voices that inspire audiences and invigorate the art of live theatre.

Vision

At Passage, we believe that theatre has the power to transform its participants; to illuminate the rich diversity of the human experience; and to serve as a passage between our own lives and the empathy we can feel for others. Each production is a shared experience that we carry into the world as a catalyst for inclusive conversation, connection, and change.

Core Values

Inclusion, Community, Empathy

Land Acknowledgement

Passage Theatre Company would like to acknowledge that the Mill Hill Playhouse sits on the traditional land of the Lenni-Lenape tribe past and present, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. Please take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us to where we are today, and join us in our commitment to learning how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.

Passage History

The Passage Theatre Company developed from a 1985 initiative to create a professional theater project in Trenton. The effort to mount a production of nationally known Trenton playwright William Mastrosimone’s new play The Undoing was a continuation of collaborative work developed through the Original Trenton Coffeehouse, Trenton Theater Guild, and the Trenton Artists Workshop Association. Trenton resident Dan Aubrey, acted as the company’s first producer, negotiated the initial Actors’ Equity Association contract, and hired the artistic staff and crew. That included director Veronica Brady, who became the company’s first artistic director. The success of the project allowed the original organizers to establish a new nonprofit company and continue producing new works by regionally and nationally recognized playwrights.

Aubrey left the company in 1988 and Brady departed soon after in 1991, following the successful commission of Roebling Steel by Jim McGrath, which was the beginning of oral-history based Trenton stories at Passage Theatre. Elizabeth Murphy served two stints as Producing Artistic Director, surrounded by periods of uncertainty. Murphy saw the company through a difficult transition period but still managed to produce some of Passage’s most famous plays including Avenue X and Mastrosimone’s Sunshine.  

 
Following a stint as Passage’s Education Director, June Ballinger became Artistic Director in 1995 and expanded Passage’s mission to include socially relevant work. During her 22-year tenure with Passage, June had an enormous impact on the company’s growth, with the help of Associate Artistic Director, David Lee White. Ballinger and White solidified Passage’s education program, then called The State Street Project and sought out opportunities to employ a more diverse and inclusive staff and artist pool. For over two decades, Mrs. Ballinger was the face, spirit, and embodiment of Passage Theatre Company. Notable productions include Mastrosimone’s Afghan Women, White’s Blood: A Comedy, and a Passage original titled Trenton Lights, which continued the legacy of plays written with local history and interviews.

In 2014, Damion Parran became Passage’s first full-time Managing Director. Ballinger, White and Parran produced some of the most successful plays in Passage’s history, including Little Rock: An American Play, White Guy on the Bus, and Caged. Ballinger retired from her position in 2017, and C. Ryanne Domingues became Passage’s next Artistic Director. In 2021, Brishen Miller was promoted to Passage’s Managing Director building on the foundation laid by Damion.

Beginning in 2019, Domingues reimagined Passage with an intense eye on new play development, with a reinvigoration of Passage's PlayLab. At the start of 2022, against all odds and a global pandemic, Passage Theatre mounted three, brand-new, world-premiere scripts in under 100 days: The OK Trenton Project, Janet Wide Awake: The Hedgepeth-Williams Dream, and GROUP!: A New Musical. Most notably was The OK Trenton Project, based on real-life people and events, taken from over 40 interviews, and surrounding censorship and the “Helping Hands” statue built by Camp Mercer summer camp students. C. Ryanne Domingues shaped and molded the modern artistic integrity of Passage Theatre. Domingues stepped down in 2023 to cement her career in higher education. At that time, Brishen Miller was promoted again, to Executive Artistic Director. 


Passage continued to develop new plays, most recently developing Ghetto Gods in Divineland, based on the vibe and music of Trenton’s own Hip Hop legends, the Poor Righteous Teachers. In 2024, Mr. Miller rebranded the company’s programs into the Three Passage Pillars: TrentonPREMIERES (the main stage), TrentonMAKES (new play development), and TrentonPRESENTS (the community stage).

The Mill Hill Playhouse

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The Gothic Revival building was originally built in 1873 for the Messiah Adventist Chapel. In 1902 it became the home to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Savior, which merged with another Lutheran Church in 1967 and left the building vacant. After a fire ruined the church’s interior and roof in 1977, the City of Trenton took ownership and secured funds to create The Mill Hill Playhouse. Opening during the 1981 Eye on Trenton Festival, the venue has served as a showcase for a variety of city groups and the home of Trenton’s only nonprofit professional theater company, Passage Theatre. 

For more information about the history of the Mill Hill Playhouse, please visit the link below.

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