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Classic and contemporary sensibilities align at American Players Theatre this season.

Summer may be in the dog days, but American Players Theatre in Spring Green isn’t ready to just coast into autumn. August will see the premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good, a 1988 drama about British convicts and their overseers staging a play in 1780s Australia, which was then a penal colony. The play within the play in Wertenbaker’s drama is George Farquhar’s 1706 comedy The Recruiting Officer, which also is being staged at APT this season.

That kind of inventive programming doesn’t happen accidentally. According to APT Associate Artistic Director Carey Cannon, the selection process for APT’s season of nine plays kicks off a full two years before the season starts. “We always start with Shakespeare,” she explains, “so that’s two out of nine down. Once those plays are in place, that informs the rest of the selections.”

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The lineup this season seems tailor-made for the #MeToo moment. In Born Yesterday (running now through Sept. 22), for instance, an ex-showgirl puts the screws to her condescending, con-artist boyfriend, and in Measure for Measure (opening Aug. 10) a would-be nun must contend with a powerful man’s advances.

So how does that years-long process result in a season that resonates so strongly with current events? “We live in the world,” says Cannon. “All of us are informed by what happens in that world. We couldn’t have known how prescient some of these stories might be. But we are interested in stories that feature women and women’s journeys.”

Our Country’s Good was written by a woman, and even if it doesn’t have the same kind of #MeToo resonance as other plays this season, it certainly does speak to contemporary times. “We still have this bad habit of rolling into nations where there are indigenous people and declaring, ‘This is now ours,’” says Ameenah Kaplan, who will direct the play in the 201-seat Touchstone Theatre. “Australia is now a thriving country with several booming metropolises, but underneath all that is an aboriginal culture fighting to have its voices heard and its faces seen.”

Off-Stage

There’s plenty to do at APT even when you’re not in the theaters. See americanplayers.org for details.

Sunday Salon

APT folks hold informal discussions about the plays, the company and anything else that comes up. They meet in Spring Green’s Post House Park at 10 a.m every Sunday through Sept. 9.

Tours

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the grounds and the theater facilities – including the costume and scene shops and dressing rooms – on select Saturday mornings.

Fat Jacks Barbecue

A feast of ribs and chicken and sides, over in time to get to the stages for the 6 p.m. performances, is held on select Sundays during the season.

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“Acting Out” appears in the August 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning July 30th, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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