A new series of APT’s ‘Out of the Woods’ play readings

American Players Theater

American Players Theatre (APT) is proud to once again partner with PBS Wisconsin to share a new series of “Out of the Woods” play readings, performed and recorded live.

This new series will kick off on Friday, November 6 with The Sins of Sor Juana by Karen Zacarías, and will be followed by Nathan Alan Davis’ Nat Turner in Jerusalem on Friday, November 13, and Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People on Friday, November 20. 

The play readings will be posted at 7:00 pm Central Time on those dates, and will be available to stream for free on demand through December 31, 2020 at pbswisconsin.org/apt. Each play will also stream in full at 7:00 pm CT on those dates on the PBS Wisconsin and APT Facebook pages for viewers to watch along together.

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.”

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 http://www.americanplayers.org/news/video. APT also just concluded it’s premiere immersive audio experience, “If These Trees Could Talk” this past weekend, which gave audience members an opportunity to safely attend an APT event on the grounds for the first time this year.

APT is grateful for the sponsors whose support helped make this play-reading series happen: Arcadia Books, Dane Arts, Nancy A. McDaniel, Orange Tree Imports and Wilson Creek Pottery.

7 p.m. Nov. 6
The Sins of Sor Juana

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. 

7 p.m. Nov. 13
Nat Turner in Jerusalem

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.”

7 p.m. Nov. 20
Smart People

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.