About Melissa Cabaret Character Circus Collab Consent Critique Dance Dialogue Drama HahaHahaha Inquiry Image Jazz Musical Mayhem Original Portfolio Performance Puppets Research Rhythm Riff Rock Opera Somatics Text Theatre Video Voice
Writer, vocalist, director, and live artist Melissa Birch creates interdisciplinary performance works that transpose social contexts into live installations. Her stage work, dance theater & music collaborations have been presented via numerous commissions, productions & collaborations throughout the Twin Cities, U.S, & abroad since her first professional performance at the Walker Art Center in 1993.
At 19, she trained in improv comedy & commedia dell'arte with Elaine and Dennis Kern @ the Ark Theatre (Madison), producing her first written works in popular feminist revues. After 2 years in San Francisco, she returned to the midwest to A burgeoning MPLS comedy & cabaret scene. Her immersive training in Margolis Method rooted her performance practice in a lyrical physical vocabulary. melissa's solo characters, singing style, & one-woman shows courted the mainstream while upending conventional rules of spectatorship, in collaboration with jazz wunderkinds Drew Jansen, Eugene Huddleston, Jimmy Kennedy & Dan Chouinard.
In 1997, cabaret bookings brought melissa to New York's don't tell mama. A year later her work found homes @ PS122, Cornelia Street Cafe, Dixon Place, Here & more. As a teaching artist in the NYC boroughs, she taught playwriting & theater skills to elementary & middle schoolers. In late 2001, Melissa returned to MPLS to produce the Tuesday night new performance revue Red Curtain Cabaret. A few months later, she was joined onstage by pianist & twin-flame Stevie Pomije. for two years Together they would re-codify volumes of country, jazz & B-side innovations, producing the sleeper hit The Elton John Show.
In 2007, an embodied physicality infiltrated Melissa's installations. For the next decade, Melissa wrote, directed & performed in numerous dance-theater collaborations, including the 2 year work-in-process Flying Nuns, War Queer Peace Solo & undying regrets for the future @ open eye figure theatre.
In 2016, Melissa directed the BareBones Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza, You Were Once Wild Here. Also in 2016, her evening-length work-in-progress, Who Moved My Child, was presented by Right Here Showcase @ the Illusion Theater, co-directed by Sharon Picasso & choreographer Deborah Jinza Thayer. Caroline Palmer of the Star Tribune called it "the fever dream that is female adolescence". Meet the WMMC cast. In October 2018, Melissa wrote & performed the vagina piece in All Hail the Queen at The Cowles Center in downtown Minneapolis.
The Presidensity Project was a 4-year research residency (11.16-1.21) addressing American complicity through performance research & studio practice. The project built on Birch’s reputation for delivering vanguard performance products within a flexibility of form ahead of mainstream articulations.