Regional Companies Want to Stay In Touch
American Players and Milwaukee Rep seek ways to perform in a pandemic.
Area theaters are looking for ways to create performances at a time when filling theaters isn’t safe. Here’s what two of the state’s biggest heaters are doing:
American Players Theater.
As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, American Players Theater (APT) chose to cancel their traditional performances on the outdoor venue in Spring Green, Wisconsin. (See our earlier reporting) But APT was equally committed to their fans and finding other ways to serve them.
And so APT is putting together a series of readings it is calling Words From The Woods. The first of these readings being streamed is entitled, In the Summertime, by Paul Laurence Dunbar and read by Gavin Lawrence. This piece is selected to make the observation and acknowledgment of racism’s current discussion in our society. They enhanced the poem using a slide show of images relevant to the poem. There will be more. To make sure you receive them, click on the subscribe button on the YouTube page.
For those of us that do not understand what a reading of a play entails, I talked to Jessica Amend, Marketing Content Mgr, for APT. “The reading you will see on our PBS presentation varies a little depending on the director,” she said. “But you will see the actors working from their own home. Each actor will be displayed in typical Zoom-like boxes. However, ones you will see are the actors that would be on stage if they were doing it live. The actors haven’t worked this for very long, and they will be reading it from the script. However, they are actors, so expect gestures and emotions consistent with the character they are playing.”
Since they have already recorded a performance of Three Chekhov One-Act Plays, I clicked in and watched. Because of the technical limitations, the presentation lacked certain elements, but the performance soon captured me. The slight irritations I saw faded into the background, and I enjoyed the play.
Milwaukee Repertory Theater
The Rep announced their online presence until the next season begins. A robust schedule of entertaining vignettes by cast members performing from home, seminars, readings, and informational presentations is called From our Home to Your Home. The Rep was able to do this because of a fundraiser that produced over $100,000.00.
Artistic Director Mark Clements explains the intention of this outreach: ”While we cannot gather together in person, it is wonderful to be able to provide the content you can enjoy from your home and employ a diverse group of artists to entertain, uplift, and enlighten us in ways that only theater can during these extraordinary times.”
Some of the things you will see are What’s the Tea?, interviews with Clements and different featured artists post every Tuesday: Featured Artists Songs with some of Milwaukee Rep’s most beloved artists; Commissioned Pieces, which consist of a 3-5 minute monologue/dance piece/song centered on the themes of connectivity, hope and the need for community; Online Workshops, which continue in June with a wonderful line-up: Reprise Series, which provides artists a platform for a combination of storytelling, monologue and songs, and an opportunity to display their own unique creative talents; and Wellness Videos, which feature resources to help nurture the mind and soul as part of #WellnessWednesdays.
While all of us love the theater and are missing it, It is encouraging to see theater reach out to us. They are reminding us they are not gone and will not be forgotten.