American Players Theatre’s Back to the Woods Campaign

One of my biggest disappointments for the summer of 2020 was the cancellation of American Players Theatre’s summer season. This theater has meant a lot to me over the past 18 years or so. I had wanted to attend their theater for years but there were always things that got in the way. But while going through a divorce, I made the time to go. Some very important alone time that let me restructure my life and rediscover the arts that lived in my heart and my soul. At first I attended every Shakespeare play that they were presenting, usually one per month in June, July, and August. I made friends with a couple who ran a Spring Green motel and they always put me in the same room on every visit. But they moved on and I had to find other digs. sigh.

And then I met the love of my life and I was so eager to share my experiences at American Players Theatre with her. And she loves it as much as I…and we expanded our interests in plays and playwrights and also embraced the Touchstone Theater as it came into its own. And we visited my cousin who had a shop in Spring Green…and found favorite restaurants…and cherished our evenings (and matinees…something unusual for us) spent at APT. Magic memorable times. What an exciting period for both of us.

Over the past five years, we have changed our habits and attended a number of plays over a number of contiguous days around my birthday in mid-August. And this was the plan for 2020…and celebrate a milestone birthday as well. So this summer has given me a real sense of loss in any number of ways. But I will endure and look forward to the future of American Players Theatre. And that’s where we are today…let’s insure the future of APT. Read the email below…watch the video from Brenda DeVita…and please donate something! I will be giving them $70 to celebrate my 70th birthday and I intend to have drink at APT in 2021 on my next one!

Last week we celebrated Founders’ Day – the anniversary of APT’s first performance, which took place on July 18, 1980. Since that day more than 40 years ago, APT’s season has been in full swing at this point in the summer. Until now.  As soon as we announced the cancellation of our season, we began diligently planning and analyzing how APT is going to come out the other side of this. Here is our plan.

Today, we announce Back to the Woods: A Campaign for American Players Theatre. The campaign will raise the funds APT needs to literally get back to the woods and produce a full season in 2021. In the meantime, it keeps basic operations running and allows us to create a bit more virtual theater along the way (more news on that in the coming weeks and months). The goal is to raise $5 million by the end of 2021. Thanks to the generosity of thousands of you, we are already close to the halfway mark, with a total of $2,290,000 in hand already.

Once again, we ask for your help. And this time, we’d like to take it a step further. We want you to be our partner in reaching an even larger community of people who care about APT’s future.

Please visit our campaign site. There, you’ll find stories from people who love and believe in our theater and the work we do. Stories from people whose lives have been changed by APT. Each of them has volunteered to become a fundraiser. We hope their experiences inspire you to support their effort.

And we invite you to go a step further; to join them and become a fundraiser yourself for APT’s Back to the Woods Campaign. Tell your story. Then share it with friends, and help us get the word out to people who care but may not have given yet. Whether you join a team or fundraise on your own, starting a page is fun and easy, and any amount raised will go a long way in helping us reach our goal.

Above all, we treasure the relationship we have with our supporters, and our audience. We want to strengthen that relationship even further, as we fight for the future of our theater, together. And as always, we hope you’re remaining happy and healthy, and that we’ll see you safe, sound, and as soon as possible.  

Announcing American Players Theatre: Out of the Woods Readings

EDITOR’S NOTE: The videos of the readings have been extended and are available for viewing through AUGUST 9! Here’s the link: https://pbswisconsin.org/out-of-the-woods/

This is very exciting news. I have been hugely disappointed that I won’t be making a trip to Spring Green this season to see one or two or three shows:

Beginning Friday June 12 and for several consecutive Fridays, American Players Theatre of Spring Green Wisconsin will be joining PBS Wisconsin in presenting six play readings performed and directed by members of APT. The readings will be performed and recorded live. That opening Friday will feature three one-act plays by Anton Chekhov.

APT’s Core Acting Company, along with other APT actors, will be reading a selection of plays using Zoom virtual meeting software. The readings are streamed live and recorded by PBS Wisconsin. Play readings will be posted on Fridays at 7:00 PM CST on pbswisconsin.org, and free to view. On opening night, they will also stream on both APT’s and PBS Wisconsin’s Facebook pages. All six readings will be available on PBS Wisconsin’s website the week of July 12 –19.

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita said of the play-reading series, “As it became increasingly clear that we would not be able to safely produce plays this summer, we knew we would need to find new ways to connect our art with our audience. Sharing stories can be healing; creating conversations and remaining curious is more important than ever -so we knew we had to do that in whatever way we could. So we’re so thankful to PBS for partnering with us on this beautiful project. And thankful that we will be able to continue to bring the words of these great playwrights, and the talent and voices of these phenomenal actors, and just this little piece of our Hill to our audience where they live. We encourage you all to stay safe and take care of each other.”

Here is the entire schedule:

June 12 Chekhov One Acts By Anton Chekhov. Directed by Aaron Posner. Three stories about the complexities of love and life; marriage and moving on. These one-act plays were produced at APT in 1985 and 1986. The Bear featuring Tracy Michelle Arnold (Popova), Brian Mani (Smirnov), James Ridge (Luka). On the Harmfulness of Tobacco, featuring David Daniel (Nyukhin). The Proposal, Sarah Day (Chubukov), Colleen Madden (Natalya Stepanova), Marcus Truschinski (Lomov).

June 19 As You Like It By William Shakespeare. Directed by John Langs. A quite-nearly-perfect Shakespearean comedy, featuring one of his greatest heroines. As sure as anything to make you feel like you’re at home in our woods for an evening. Featuring: Tracy Michelle Arnold (Jaques), Kelsey Brennan (Phoebe), Nate Burger (Orlando), David Daniel (Touchstone), Sarah Day (Madame Le Beau/Reverend Olive Martext), Jim DeVita (Charles/William), Alys Dickerson (Celia), Tim Gittings (Corin/Jaques de Boys),Gavin Lawrence (Silvius), Colleen Madden (Audrey), Brian Mani (Duke Frederick/Duke Senior), Melisa Pereyra (Rosalind), James Ridge (Adam/Hymen), Marcus Truschinski (Oliver/Amiens), Marco Lama (Lucius).

June 26 Arms and The Man By George Bernard Shaw. Directed by William Brown. Love and war collide in a uniquely Shavian fashion when an “enemy” soldier climbs in through the idealistic Raina’s window, throwing her life and worldview into disarray. Featuring: Kelsey Brennan (Louka), Nate Burger (Bluntschli), David Daniel (Russian Officer)Sarah Day (Catherine), Tim Gittings (Nicola),Melisa Pereyra (Raina), James Ridge (Petkoff), Marcus Truschinski (Sergius).

July 3 Julius Caesar By William Shakespeare. Directed by Stephen Brown-Fried. Growing unease over Caesar’s popularity spreads through Rome, spurring good people to do terrible deeds. A riveting political thriller about blood spilled in the name of the republic, and hands that hold the blades. Featuring: Tracy Michelle Arnold (Cassius), Kelsey Brennan (Marulius/Metellus/Titinius/Ensemble), Nate Burger (Flavius/Trebonius/Pindarus/Ensemble), David Daniel (Carpenter/Decius/Lucilius/Ensemble), Sarah Day (Caska/Dardanius/Ensemble), Jim DeVita (Brutus), Tim Gittings (Cinna/Caesar’s Servant/Messala/Ensemble), Gavin Lawrence (Marc Antony), Colleen Madden (Soothsayer/Portia/Cinna the Poet, Volumnius/Ensemble), Brian Mani (Julius Caesar/Ghost), Melisa Pereyra (Calphurnia/Octavius’s Servant/Clitus/Ensemble), James Ridge (Cicero/Ligarius/Lepidus/Ensemble), Marcus Truschinski (Cobbler/Artemidorus/Octavius/Ensemble), Marco Lama (Lucius).

July 10 Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been…By Carlyle Brown. Directed by David Daniel. Writer and activist Langston Hughes faces down his fears by writing a poem on the eve of his appearance before the Senate Permanent-Sub-Committee on Investigations on Un-American Activities. Featuring: Jim DeVita (Senator Dirksen), Jamal James (Frank Reeve), Gavin Lawrence (Langston Hughes), Brian Mani (Senator McCarthy), James Ridge (Roy Cohn), Marcus Truschinski (David Schine).

July 17 An Improbable Fiction By James DeVita. Directed by Tim Ocel. A world-premiere reading of James DeVita’s new play, told largely in Shakespeare’s own words. It’s plague time, and Shakespeare’s characters are out of sorts (and out of work). Several of our favorites reunite at The Boar’s Head Tavern to celebrate life, and ruminate on the state of the world. Featuring: Brian Mani (Falstaff), Sarah Day (Mistress Quickly). Also featuring Tracy Michelle Arnold, Nate Burger, Gavin Lawrence, Melisa Pereyra.

For more information, visit their website here!

About the Theatre: APT is a professional repertory theater devoted to the great and future classics. It was founded in 1979 and continues to be one of the most popular outdoor classical theaters in the nation.

The Theatre is located in Spring Green, Wis., on 110 acres of hilly woods and meadows above the Wisconsin River. The outdoor amphitheater is built within a natural hollow atop an oak-wooded hill. Under the dome of sky, 1,089 comfortably cushioned seats encircle three sides of the stage. In 2009, APT opened the 201-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre, offering a different type of play and experience.

and that’s not enough? try these:

Out of the Woods joins other virtual content APT and its acting company have been involved in creating, such as the Words from the Woods poetry-reading series and APT Diversions newsletter including Artist at Home videos and behind-the-scenes stories–these videos can be found at americanplayers.org/news.

American Players Theatre Cancels Their 2020 Season

This isn’t the news that I was expecting…not news that I wanted to hear. I hadn’t ordered my tickets for the season yet because I was waiting to see how the summer was going to shake out and how the safer at home programs were going to be administered. I have only missed one season since 2002…and I had really hoped to squeeze a play into the summer.

But here is the news from the email that I received this afternoon:

We have some news. And it’s not the news we were hoping to share today.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, and for the safety of us all, we have made the painful decision to cancel APT’s 2020 season. With so much research garnering so few answers, and knowing that venues hosting large public gatherings will be among the last to reopen, we do not see a path to a summer season this year. We’ve included some information below on ways you can see a bit of APT in the coming months. But first, there are a few things we’d like you to know.

First of all, we miss you. Wow, do we miss you. As we continue to work in the ways we are able, the recurring theme from our actors and artists and staff is how palpable it is that you, our incredible audience, are not with us in person. It’s difficult to fathom that, at a time when we’re all craving a deeper connection, we have to take care of each other by keeping to ourselves. So while we regret that we won’t see you as soon as we’d like, we’re working on some beautiful ways to be together while we’re apart. The first of those endeavors is the “Out of the Woods” series, which you can read about below.

Second, you will still have the chance to see this season in full. Our plan is to move this group of glorious plays to 2021 en masse. So while the 2020 season may be cancelled, the stories within it are simply delayed. In the meantime, if we can safely do so, we’re looking into producing different plays later in the year. And we promise that as soon as we know if that is possible, you’ll know.

Finally, please consider a tax-deductible donation. Cancelling our season will be an unprecedented hardship for APT, as we stand to lose 75% of our annual income. Your support will help sustain our acting company, staff and property so we can rise to this enormous challenge and preserve the APT that you know and love.

The APT Board and APT Foundation Board are leading the charge. We’re proud to announce that they have offered to match all income from donations – dollar for dollar – up to $750,000 between now and June 5. Please help us to realize this amazing gift and to show your support for APT’s future. There are many other benefits to donating, including a new one: exclusive content created by APT’s Core Company. Get all the details about that and the other benefits here. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

What happens in these woods, on these stages…it’s special. The combination of these exquisite stories, these actors, this audience – that’s not something that just happened. It’s been a four-decade labor of love. And it’s clear that there is much more hard work to come. And, like everything else that happens here, we cannot do it without you. We have endured tough times before, and this may prove to be the toughest yet. But we know that, with you on our side, we will be able to return to our Hill again. Until then, we are with you from afar.

We’re very excited to announce that APT has partnered with PBS Wisconsin to bring you Out of the Woods, a virtual play reading series featuring APT’s Core Acting Company, along with a few other great actors. These play readings will be posted on the PBS Wisconsin website on the dates below, and be available to view for free for a limited time.

Out of the Woods::

Chekhov One Acts By Anton Chekhov. Directed by Aaron Posner Friday, June 5 Three stories about the complexities of love and life; marriage and moving on, last seen at APT in 1985 and 1986.

As You Like It By William Shakespeare. Directed by John Langs A quite-nearly-perfect Shakespearian comedy, featuring one of his greatest heroines.

Arms and The Man By George Bernard Shaw. Directed by William Brown Friday, June 19 Love and war collide in a uniquely Shavian fashion when an “enemy” soldier climbs in through the idealistic Raina’s window.

Julius Caesar By William Shakespeare. Directed by Stephen Brown-Fried Friday, June 26 Growing unease over Caesar’s popularity spreads through Rome, spurring good people to do terrible deeds.

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been… By Carlyle Brown. Directed by David Daniel Friday, July 3 Writer and activist Langston Hughes faces down his fears by writing a poem on the eve of his appearance before the Senate Committee on Investigations on Un-American Activities.

An Improbable Fiction By James DeVita. Directed by Tim Ocel Friday, July 10 A world-premiere reading of James DeVita’s new play, told largely in Shakespeare’s own words. It’s plague time, and Shakespeare’s characters reunite at The Boar’s Head Tavern to celebrate life, and ruminate on the state of the world.

For more information please visit : American Players Theater