PRESS RELEASE:  April 2, 2008 Contact:  Liz Engelman (609) 865-1139 or Michael Dixon (612) 803-0958                        1915 Fremont Avenue S., # 2, Minneapolis, MN   55403              ,  Tofte Lake Center Announces First “Creative Summer” Programmingat Norm’s Fish Camp near Ely, Minnesota 

            Playwrights, scientists, poets, painters, anthropologists, choreographers, directors, blacksmiths, dancers, journalists, sculptors, museum curators and more will partake in the first annual “Creative Summer” program at Tofte Lake Center, explained TLC founder and co-director Liz Engelman.  “This new creative retreat near Ely, Minn., was established in 2007 to help artists expand and deepen their creative potential through collaborations with creators and thinkers in all fields.  2008 marks our first full summer of programming.”


            Guests can work on individual or group projects, noted Engelman, who is a theater dramaturg and director working in the Twin Cities and with numerous theaters around the nation.  Group projects include a conference on the future of American theater titled “Swimsuit Think Tank” that will be moderated by St. Paul Pioneer Press theater critic Dominic Papatola, a week of dance with the national Minneapolis-based company Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, a session for actors and directors on political theater headed by renowned Minnesota playwright/screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher, and a retreat for writers with the Boston-area Playwrights’ Commons led by that organization’s director Ilana Brownstein.  There will also be a workshop and public reading of a new play, Newsman’s Dream Comes True: Film at 11, by Graydon Royce, theater critic with the StarTribune.


“Creating Art Naturally”Tofte Lake Center at Norm’s Fish CampLiz Engelman and Michael Bigelow Dixon, Co-Directors2209 Fernberg Road, Ely, MN  55731    218-365-7769 



            TLC is nestled in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota.  The largest wilderness area east of the Rockies, the BWCAW consists of more than one million acres of forest and 1,500 waterways that remain untouched by civilization.  TLC takes place at Norm’s Fish Camp, which is located on Tofte Lake, a pristine, secluded trout lake 15 miles from Ely.  The facilities include five residential cabins, three artist work spaces, a library/conference cabin, two rehearsal/work rooms, and recreational features such as a sauna, boat docks, campfire/picnic area and beach.


            Three kinds of residency options are offered at TLC.   There are designated weeks available to anyone who would like to rent a cabin and enjoy the facilities.  Creative weeks with discounted rates are set aside for those who enjoy working on their art in a community of artists and creators in varied disciplines.  And curated weeks are dedicated to projects identified by staff and guest artists. 


            “We believe that creativity can be stimulated and enlivened by quality time, reflection and insightful conversation in a natural setting,” said TLC co-director Michael Bigelow Dixon.  “That includes swimming, boating, hiking, biking, fishing, time in the sauna, and plain old hanging out with interesting people.  The model of the suffering artist in the urban garret is fine, but creativity and fun should not be mutually exclusive.”


            TLC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  Its Board of Directors includes Minnesotans Jeffrey Hatcher (Minnetonka) and Rick Clark (Tower), as well as John Warren (Berkeley, CA), Mara Isaacs (Princeton, NJ) and Robert Manning (Louisville, KY).  For more information about TLC, visit or email


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 “Creative Summer” Programming – 2008 

June 9 – 16                  “The Right to Laff,” Political Theater Week, headed by Jeff Hatcher

                                        Artists include Craig Johnson, Sarah Gioia, Warren Bowles and others


                                                                                                MORE, CONTINUED ON PAGE 3




June 16 – 23                Interact Theater Project :  “Northern Lights, Southern Cross, Tales

                                        From the Other Side of the World”

    Interact Artistic Director Jeanne Calvit

    Playwright/storyteller Kevin Kling    

    Pat Rix, Director of the Tutti Ensemble in Australia

                                    Carey Bagdassarian, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry,

    College of William & Mary

                                    Amy Wegener, Literary Manager, Actors Theatre of Louisville

                                    Rohan Preston, poet (also critic with The StarTribune)


June 30 – July 6            TBA


July 10 – 20                 Gaia Fenna, landscape artist


July 20 – 23                 Conference on the Future of American Theater, Swimsuit Think Tank

    moderated by Dominic Papatola, theater critic with

    the St. Paul Pioneer Press


July 23 – 27                 New Play Reading

Newsman’s Dream Comes True: Film at 11 by Graydon Royce,  

    playwright and critic at The StarTribune, with cast.


July 28 – August 3        Charles Keller, blacksmith, Forge and Anvil, Newman, Illinois

                                    Janet Keller, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, & Museum Curator,                                            Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois

                                    Frank Dixon, painter, teacher, Santa Ana, CA

                                    Joycelyn Monier Dixon, painter, teacher, Santa Ana, CA


August 4 – 10  TBA


August 11 – 13             Jerome Fellow Playwrights from The Playwrights’ Center

                                        Polly Carl, Producing Artistic Director, The Playwrights’ Center


August 15 – 17 McKnight Fellow Playwrights from The Playwrights’ Center

                                        Polly Carl, Producing Artistic Director, The Playwrights’ Center

  < p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">August 18 – 24 Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, a national Minneapolis-based dance

                                        company, Stuart Pimsler & Suzanne Costello, Artistic Co-Directors


August 25 – 31 Playwrights’ Commons, Boston-area play development organization

                                        Ilana Brownstein, Director, Playwrights’ Commons


September 8 – 14         Liz Fentress, playwright, Louisville, Kentucky

                                    Yvonne Green, visual artist, Slaton, Texas


September 15 – 21       Lisa Arnold, mosaicist/sculptor, Minneapolis, Minn.

                                    Hamlin Metzger, Senior Manager of Corporate Responsibility, Best Buy


September 22 – 28       TBA

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