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Digging Deeper

Local theater programs help audience members get more out of their experience

As a part-time arts-and-entertainment reporter, I get to see a lot of plays – but I realize that most people don’t have that privilege because most people’s jobs aren’t as awesome as mine. (Sorry about that.)

Local theater companies understand that, too, so if going to a play is a once-in-a-blue-moon event for you, they want to help you out. Each of the Door’s four professional theater organizations – Door Shakespeare, Northern Sky Theater, Peninsula Players Theatre and Third Avenue PlayWorks – offer programs before or after their shows to help you get the most out of your theatergoing experience.

Door Shakespeare

July 29 and Aug. 12 are both Shake It Up Saturdays at Door Shakespeare. These 45-minute preshow gatherings introduce audience members of all ages to the evening’s play so they can better understand the story. The program is also designed to help families with kids get the “wiggles” out before the show begins, but all ages are welcome. Meet at the box office of Björklunden, 7590 Boynton Lane in Baileys Harbor, at 3:45 pm.

Door Shakespeare also organizes “Will in the Woods,” a series of preshow discussions that offer audiences insight into the theatrical traditions, techniques and themes they’re about to see onstage. In addition to featuring the theater company’s directors and designers as the presenters, the program brings in guest presenters from the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society, Door County Maritime Museum and Open Door Bird Sanctuary. This program takes place July 27 and 28, and Aug. 2 and 10, 6:30 pm, at Björklunden.

Both programs are free, but they require reservations. Save your spot by calling 920.854.7111 or emailing [email protected].

Northern Sky Theater

After a show at Northern Sky’s Peninsula State Park amphitheater at 10169 Shore Road in Fish Creek, head to the outdoor fire ring for a Post-Show Afterglow. There, company members will discuss the performance, answer questions and sing a few additional songs. This program runs Monday-Friday during the summer. 

Peninsula Players Theatre

Like Door Shakespeare’s “Will in the Woods,” Peninsula Players’ preshow seminars welcome a range of experts to discuss topics related to the evening’s play. 

On July 22, Agatha Christie scholar Christopher Chan will take the stage to discuss Blithe Spirit’s playwright, Noël Coward; on Aug. 11, artistic director Linda Fortunato and music director David Corlew will talk about Dames at Sea; and on Aug. 22, the spotlight will shine on Judge D. Todd Ehlers, who will discuss the night’s performance of Trying. The seminar associated with Peninsula Players’ final show of the season, Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, has not yet been determined. 

Each preshow seminar will start at 6:30 pm, before the play begins at 8 pm. No tickets are required for the seminars.

After the curtain call on Aug. 3, Aug. 23 and Sept. 16, stay in your seat for a postshow discussion to chat with company members and ask them questions about the performance. 

Third Avenue PlayWorks (TAP)

After watching a 2 pm matinee performance on Aug. 6, Oct. 8 or Dec. 17, join Write On, Door County for an Art/Speaks program to reflect – through writing – on what you just saw. 

Or head to a play-reading club meeting hosted by TAP’s artistic director, Jacob Janssen, to learn about how a production goes from the page to the stage. This club meets monthly on the third Wednesday at the Sturgeon Bay Library, 107 S. 4th Ave.