Mitzi Sinnott
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Mitzi Sinnott

Allendale, Michigan, United States

Allendale, Michigan, United States
Band Comedy



The best kept secret in music


"Powerful One-woman Play Brings Search for Identity, Self to Joan C Edwards"

Powerful one-woman play brings search for identity, self to Joan C. Edwards Playhouse

The Herald-Dispatch
The Explosive Dynamiks, a 1960s R&B group, featured lead singer Lorenzo Batts (first row, center), the object of the search in the play ÒSnapshot.Ó
February 05, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
When Russell, Ky., native playwright, dancer and actress Carmen Mitzi Sinnott moved back to the Tri-State from New York City a year and a half ago, she found herself having lunch one day at G.D. Ritzy’s.

Scanning the 45s that wallpaper the old-school burger and ice cream joint, her eyes caught “Whole Lotta Loving,” the 1966 hit by the Explosive Dynamiks.

Her soul heaved.

That tiny, black vinyl circle on a wall was just another snapshot reminder of her family’s life scattershot by the Vietnam War.

You see, the Dynamiks, that was her daddy Lorenzo “Zo” Batts Jr.’s band before he was drafted into the Vietnam War — a war that killed more than 58,000 Americans and that scrambled the lives of so many like Batts.

The sweet soul singer/songwriter and musician who played guitar and harmonica came back broken — combat-wounded, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that progressed into schizophrenia, and then he was gone.

He left Huntington and his family in 1978 never to return to his hometown, becoming one of the thousands of homeless veterans living in Hawaii.

Born while her dad was in Vietnam, Sinnott has been on a journey since 2005 telling her family’s story with words, dance, music and film in a powerful one-woman play, “Snapshot: A True Story of Love Interrupted by Invasion,” that she has performed around the world from South Africa to Scotland.

Currently touring the play at universities across America, Sinnott will present “Snapshot” here at home 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse at Marshall.

Presented by All Here Together Productions, as well as Marshall University’s Center for African American Students’ Programs and Center for International Program, the play is free and open to the public.

Using photographs and film accompanied by a soundtrack of R&B tracks, Sinnott plays 15 different characters giving a personal account of her search for certainty, bringing each character to life, with her father in the leading role. Her insights reveal how the forces of history, race and war affected her and her family, and how the torn fragments of her life began to reconnect.

A professionally trained dancer who worked for a while with the Alvin Ailey dance company in NYC, Sinnott said the personal work that is “Snapshot” began when she was living in New York City in the harrowing shadows of Sept. 11, 2001.

When the American war machine began turning, Sinnott’s artist friends organized an open mic protest and she volunteered to speak out against war.

“I said, ‘Sure, I will do it,’ and then I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to say?’” Sinnott said. “Literally that night, I wrote the whole premise for the show. It kept flowing and flowing. What do I know about war? I know my whole life has been affected by war.”

Talking to her mother, poring through albums of faded photos and listening to his music, Sinnott said she tried — through a daughter’s foggy lens — to tell the story of her father. A father she only knew as a shell-shocked man who was trying as best as he could to navigate the trip-wired American world of being a black man with a white woman in the 1970s.

Sinnott said in talking to her mom, she found out that people had come into her mother’s business to spit on her — a white woman having a black man’s baby.

And that no one knew what to do with “Zo,” a once-rising star and sweet-singing neighborhood hero who came home wandering the streets staring at trees as if they were going to do something, laying down in parking lots in the rain trying to somehow wash off the war.

“I think it was hard for everybody,” Sinnott said. “Many men committed suicide and I think Black Americans and White Appalachians have a similar attitude in that they don’t know what to do with strange. Nobody knew what to do. I don’t know what happens when you are forced to kill people you don’t want to kill.”

Sinnott said she did know that telling her family’s story, of how war doesn’t just impact one soldier but generations of their family, was something she had to do.

“Honestly, I was doing my own emotional evolution in New York at the time,” Sinnott said. “A counselor was saying where is your dad? And I’m like, what do you mean? Who cares? It was evident and showing up in my relationships that I didn’t deal with it and I was repeating unhealthy patterns, and we don’t break them quickly. So I felt looking at my dad and knowing all of the great things about him, then seeing how devastated he was and how his life was lost, that it was important for my sanity. I felt like if I didn’t speak out on his be - Herald Dispatch

"Actor Writer Wants to Make Movie of Her Father's Story"

ss, writer wants to make movie of her father’s story

Published 10:08am Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mitzi Sinnott turned her search for her father into a one-woman drama, “Snapshot,” that has garnered international accolades.

Now she wants to turn the multi-layered stage production into a movie and will perform a special show on Friday that will be filmed to pitch to Hollywood.

“Theater is not enough,” Sinnott said.

In April she premiered the show at the Greenway Theater in Los Angeles.

“The reviews were incredible,” she said. “It re-inspired me. I watched the audience interviews and a few people were crying. They were moved by my family’s story, from here, Appalachia. I was reminded again the story is profoundly affecting people and I want to make it into a film.”

The performance will be at the Francis Booth Experimental Theater on Marshall University’s campus.

“A director in Los Angeles asked for it,” she said. “They want to do what they can to help push it. It is the next logical progression.”

Sinnott is the daughter of Yvonne Sinnott, founder and creative director of Yvonne DeKay School of Dance in Ironton, and the late Lorenzo Batts Jr., vocalist for the Explosive Dynamiks, a Tri-State pop music band in the 1960s.

“He was really looked up to as an artist,” Sinnott said.

However, that was not the man Sinnott knew. Batts was drafted into the Army and spent several tours of duty in Vietnam just before Sinnott was born.

For awhile after the war, the three lived as a family in Hawaii. However mental illness began to grab hold of Batts. The family split with Sinnott and her mother returning to the Ironton area.

Hospitalizations at VA medical centers for Batts were followed by a self-imposed exile in Hawaii.

“The mental illness got progressively worse and progressed into schizophrenia,” Sinnott said.

It is that journey from a biracial child to a young woman who finally meets her father after decades of separation that is the focus of “Snapshot,” where Sinnott plays 15 different characters.

“I may be prejudiced but it is incredible and the story should be told,” she said.

The Friday production starts at 7 p.m. and tickets, which are free, can be found at Sinnott’s website at

- See more at: - The Ironton Tribune



Written by Mitzi Sinnott

Review by Rose Desena

Driven by an antiwar rally, Mitzi Sinnott was forced to answer the burning question: “what do I know about war?” Mitzi leads us into a self-exploration of her search for her farther and the answers to many social issues that have plagued so many men and women who have been affected by the casualties of war, and living life with a war vet or in this case without one. Mitzi seamlessly changes characters becoming her mother, her dad healthy and unhealthy as well as a helpful vet who assists in locating her dad in Hawaii. Unlike the vets of today Mitzi’s dad was a victim of the forced draft, and stuck with the social issues that were very active in the south in the 60s. His options were limited: the war zone or jail. Snapshot is just not a war story, but a personal travel through both lives of father and daughter and the effects of the unspeakable tragedies.

This well written show is just as relevant today as it was after Viet Nam. Do we know the real cost of war? How many men and women will return home suffering with severe mental trauma, how many personal lives as well as families will be and have been destroyed by the sheer brutality of it all? What do any of us know about War?

Mitzi Sinnott script was recognized by Brooklyn Art’s council, she was awarded there NYSCA artist Regent Award 2 years in a row and a best Actress Nomination from the Stage at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is a recipient of the Kentucky Foundation for Women Arts Activism grant. I can see why the play is well written and Mitzi’s presentation is flawless.

This is a short run, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm, until April 21st.


Writer: Mitzi Sinnott

Cast: Mitzi Sinnott

Greenway Court Theater

544N. Fairfax Ave. La Ca.

323 655 7679

4 Roses Rating

- The Los Angeles Post

"Review for "SNAPSHOT: a true story of love interrupted by invasion" at the Greenway Court Theatre."

"Mitzi Sinnott has the kind of story that a writer would kill for, a story that makes most other personal journey tell-alls seem somewhat trivial...

She deftly moves between the roles of unsure enlisted, worried mother, bullying schoolmate, scared little girl and confident storyteller. And she does it with humor and levity...

It helps that the woman we see in front of us is a sheer delight, brimming with confidence, glowing with the desire to let us in, because we know she made it through to the other side, a better person — not to mention, storyteller — for it."
- Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative - Jessica Abrams

"Play Review: A Theater of War"

“What do I know about war?” That question ricochets through SNAPSHOT: A True Story of Love Interrupted by Invasion, Mitzi Sinnott’s powerful solo show about her quest to find her father, and herself, which played recently at L.A.’s Greenway Court Theatre.
As it turns out, Sinnott – a mixed-race child of the American South whose father returned from Vietnam wounded, haunted, and ultimately absent ­– knows as much about war as anyone who has experienced its ripples over time; and as much as anyone who grew up in the context of racial conflict.

A “snapshot” is the trace of a long-gone moment. Pulled out of time, it lacks detail; there is no sense of “before” and “after.” We first see Mitzi’s father, Lorenzo Batts, Jr., as a very young man in blurry black-and-white photographs that are projected behind the actress. Performing in front of the pictures, Sinnott single-handedly populates the stage, fills in the details she has learned, and drives a gripping narrative engine.
With enormous skill and a tightly packed physical intensity, she becomes her African-American dad. With a hitch of her hips and a shift of her shoulders, she embodies the talented lead singer of the Southern Appalachian R&B group The Explosive Dynamics, handsome and confident. Then she becomes the Vietnam draftee; in-country, hot, shooting the breeze with his buddies, waiting for his baby to be born back home. Writing home: “every day I’m here, I can feel my mind getting blacker.”
Morphing again, Ms. Sinnott becomes her toddler self, then a growing girl. Running together as memories do, the vignettes draw us into the connections and confusions of childhood. They speak to Sinnott’s relationship with her father and her dance-teacher mother, to her father’s deteriorating health, and – most particularly when she breaks into dance – to the inexpressible pain of losing a parent.
If Snapshot were fiction, that wordless dance would likely be the lowest point of the heroine’s journey, and Sinnott’s subsequent quest to find her dad would result in a healing reunion, perhaps even in some triumphal reclamation of Mr. Batt’s musical past. (Which, I’ve since discovered, is enjoying something of a revival among the UK’s Northern Soul aficionados.)

However, while there are undoubted resonances between Snapshot and Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable duet with her dead father Nat King Cole, Sinnott’s award-winning true story is both deeper and more complex than that. Rather than offering us sweet nostalgia and elegant pacification, Snapshot brings us into the harsh reality of life for a homeless veteran.

Hoping that you’ll get the chance to see Snapshot yourself – a film could be in the offing – and not wanting to give too much away, I can tell you that Sinnott does trace her father to Hawaii. Encountering systemic bureaucracy and interpersonal kindnesses ­– especially from a veteran who has not been in touch with his own child for many years – she moves between the streets, the shelters, and the Tripler Army Medical Center.

So many dislocated people, so many families with holes, so many experiences of war; Snapshot is a story of specific loss that reaches beyond its specificity. While the impact of war on an individual combatant and his daughter provides the play’s most fully explored lyric, the continuing impact of our heritage of racial division and oppression supplies its compelling chorus.

I leave the last word to Dr. Judith Broder, a psychiatrist and the founder of The Soldiers Project, a nonprofit that provides free counseling outside the VA structure to veterans, active-duty military, and their families. After seeing Snapshot she wrote in an email:
“I can’t thank you enough for reminding me about this play! We saw it last night and it is truly a work of art! I laughed and cried (mostly the latter!).”

Real life is just so much less tidy than fiction.

The Explosive Dynamics:

Something of a revival:

Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable duet with her dead father Nat King Cole:

The Soldiers Project: - Strawberry Quarterly - Lauren Bon, Editor-in-Chief


Programs Include:
-SNAPSHOT: a true story of love interrupted by invasion" (a solo play)
-"What's Your Story?" (an interactive workshop)



Mitzi Sinnott is a border-crossing multidisciplinary performing artist, educator and activist. She has toured her critically acclaimed, one-woman play “SNAPSHOT: A true story of love interrupted by invasion” on three continents. SNAPSHOT premiered at Brooklyn’s BRIC Studio, with support from the Brooklyn Arts Council. She was then invited to stage SNAPSHOT at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for which she was nominated for Best Actress. While at the Ed Fringe, the CEO of the Cape Town Festival approached her and said "You must bring this play to my country; this is the kind of piece my people will love…" Mitzi took him up on the invitation and premiered SNAPSHOT at the Cape Town Festival in South Africa. The following year, the European Women’s Theatre Festival in Tornio Finland-Haparanda Sweden extended another special invitation to premiere SNAPSHOT there.

In SNAPSHOT, Mitzi shares her literal and figurative journey to reconcile with her father, a veteran haunted by his experience in Vietnam. "I've always felt I wanted to share my family's story with others in a way that would touch hearts and open minds..." As the biracial daughter of a black man and white woman from Central Appalachia, Sinnott’s story is in many ways a singular one; but at the same time, the themes she addresses – racial identity, mental illness, and the legacy of war – are anything but rare. With her interactive workshops, she brings students on a similar journey, helping them articulate their own unique stories, while also identifying common struggles and strengths.

Sinnott has staged productions of SNAPSHOT and workshops at DePaul University, Syracuse University, Oregon State University, the University of Hawaii, The Ohio State University, Berea College, Marshall University, Shawnee State University, Central Connecticut University, Indiana State University, and Eastern Kentucky State University. Sinnott has received multiple individual artist grants in support of her work, from the Brooklyn Arts Council and she is a three-time recipient of the Arts Meets Activism Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

Mitzi began her career in New York City, where she established one of Manhattan’s leading after-school arts programs as the Director of the School of the Future’s Extended Day Program, with the mission to help young people create original work and share it with their communities. Sinnott firmly believes in the transformative power of creative collaboration as a force for positive change for individuals and communities, a conviction based not only on her work as an educator, but also her personal experience as an award-winning playwright and actor. She has facilitated staff development workshops with Development Without Limits and The After School Corporation’s Director’s Institute at Columbia University.

Sinnott holds Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Communications from The Ohio State University. She has trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the T. Schreiber Studio, and the MTB Studio, all in New York City. She was born in West Virginia and raised in Southern Ohio and Kentucky.