American Players Theatre, known as APT, performs traditional theater shows in an outdoor arena, located in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
Unlike Peninsula Players, APT has no overhead covering for audience members or actors. Thus, their works must fully adjust shows for weather including costumes, stage settings and audience members.
On the other hand, when the night turns out just right—when the moon is high in the sky and a soft summer breeze whistles through the woods—a little bit of magic happens. “One thing we talk about a lot is how our natural surrounding and the sky really enhance the work that we’re doing on stage,” says Sara Young, the director of communications for APT. “On a practical level, if we’re doing a show that has a scene that’s outdoors, we’re outdoors.”
Nature’s coincidental timing never hurts a show’s realistic quality either, Young says. Performances that involve natural happenings sometimes perfect their execution. Young tells two stories: one of a performance of “King Lear,” when a storm opened up during a scene involving harsh weather and in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” when the moon rose over the characters in congruence with a night scene in the show.
For Young, the experience of working in the outdoors and juxtaposing long-lasting nature and everlasting art is unlike any other. She says that constantly being rooted to Wisconsin land reminds her of the magnitude of the world.
It’s a special experience “to think that these are classic stories that have lasted through the centuries and that we’re combining that with this land that has lasted through the centuries,” she says. “When you look up at the sky at the stars, it’s the same stars that were there when Shakespeare wrote these plays.”