A New “Out Of The Woods” Series From The American Players Theatre!

This is great news as we get further into the fall season. By now, in a normal arts fall season, most of us would have attended one or two or three arts performances…whether theater, music, or dance. And you are probably very much like me and frustrated that we aren’t yet ready to attend live performances. But after a very successful virtual play reading summer via their Out of the Woods series, Spring Green’s American Players Theatre is back with three new events!

There will be three readings. Each will originally stream live on a Friday night at 7 PM CST (see dates below) and then will be available for viewing on PBS until December 31, 2020. Here’s a few more…well actually a lot more…details:

For the last few years, APT has been exploring the idea of just what makes “a classic.” In that vein, this reading series focuses on plays by playwrights who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color, and are created in collaboration with BIPOC directors and artists.

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita said, “People who’ve been in our audience for a while will be very aware of our growing exploration of new voices; of new stories; of asking ourselves again and again what does it mean to be a classic? And we were blown away by the response from our audience – people who have been coming to APT for years, and from people who’ve never set foot on our property – about the first “Out of the Woods” play readings. And it was always our hope that we would be able to produce a second series of play readings written by BIPOC writers, and created by BIPOC artists. It feels vital in this moment to keep pushing ourselves to understand more deeply what it means to be human and to keep ourselves moving forward on our path toward a more equitable theatre space, and a more equitable world.”

And here are the times, dates, and plays that will be performed!

November 6 The Sins of Sor Juana By Karen Zacarías Directed by Jake Penner

Juana Inés de la Cruz is a brilliant and controversial poet making waves throughout the Mexican Viceroy’s court –particularly with his wife – in the 1600s by writing about love, feminism, religion and other topics not deemed “appropriate” for women of the time. The Vicereine is so taken with Juana that she arranges an engagement to keep her in court, while the Viceroy plots to ruin her reputation. Told by Juana from the perspective of two different worlds –the court and the convent – it’s the story of her battle for independence and intellectual freedom; weighty and funny and utterly relevant.

Featuring Melisa Pereyra as Juana, Janyce Caraballo as Novice, Triney Sandoval as Padre Núñez/Viceroy, Ronald Román-Meléndez as Silvio, Jeliannys Michelle as Madre Filothea/Xóchitl, Cher Álvarez as Sor Sara/Vicereine, Sebastian Arboleda as Pedro

November 13 Nat Turner in Jerusalem By Nathan Alan Davis Directed by Gavin Lawrence

In 1831, Nat Turner led a slave revolt that has been credited by some with accelerating the onset of the Civil War. While he was in prison awaiting his execution, Turner dictated his story to attorney Thomas Gray, and it was published as “The Confessions of Nat Turner, the leader of the late insurrection in Southampton, VA.” In Nathan Alan Davis’ 2016 play Nat Turner in Jerusalem, Turner’s final night in jail is reimagined in a meditation on past deeds and future repercussions that The New York Times called “an earnest, gravely lyrical gloss on a document that will surely always evoke passionate and widely different responses.”

Featuring La Shawn Banks as Nat Turner and Nate Burger as Thomas Gray.

photo courtesy of the American Players Theatre

November 20 Smart People By Lydia R. Diamond Directed by Melisa Pereyra

Just before Obama’s first election, four of Harvard University’s brightest – a surgeon, an actress, a psychologist and a neuropsychiatrist – struggle with a society that considers itself “post-racial,” and is all too often proven wrong. Jackson, Valerie, Ginny and Brian are all interested in different aspects of the brain, particularly in how it responds to race. But they’re also on a quest for love, success and identity in their own lives. A fiercely funny play about social and sexual politics.

Featuring Rasell Holt as Jackson Moore, Cassia Thompson as Vanessa Johnston, Amy Kim Waschke as Ginny Yang and Jeb Burris as Brian White.

*Please note: This play contains profanity, and sexual content and language.

As I said in my opening statement, this is exciting news and I am really looking forward to these productions. The plays that they read/performed earlier this year were marvelous.

But that’s not all that’s been going on in Spring Green! Check this out:

This latest edition of the “Out of the Woods” series joins other virtual content APT and its acting company have been involved in creating, such as the Words from the Woods poetry-reading series; Six Feet Apart: Conversations with the Core Company;and The Empty Box: Tales of Royal Screw Ups And/Or Extraordinary Scene Chewing from the APT Core Company.These videos can be viewed for free at americanplayers.org/news/video.

And as always, for more information, visit www.americanplayers.org

See you at APT this fall, virtually!

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.