Isadoora Theatre Revived

After a two-season hiatus, Isadoora Theatre Company is reentering the Door County theater scene.

With its mission of celebrating the basic elements of theater and presenting intellectual, thought-provoking plays on current issues, Isadoora and its new board launched its newest season Jan. 31 with a staged reading of Disgraced: A Play by Door County Reads 2016 author Ayad Akhtar.

It was the first time the group has put on a production since 2013’s Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, an absurd, satirical play on America’s hot-button issues. For current board member Pamela Johnson, who also served on the board from 2008-10 and was part of the group that rebooted the theater, that’s where Isadoora’s strengths lie.

“When I was involved with it, it was really about putting on good, thoughtful theater,” Johnson said. “We wanted to do things that weren’t necessarily what you would find in just any theater. We wanted to take a look at current issues and stimulate people’s thinking and people asking questions about things.”

She points to some of their last shows as an example of that – The Cover of Life, a 1943 story about three young wives whose husbands are off to war and a female journalist who brings that story to the cover of Life magazine (“It really brought out a lot about women’s issues and what women were dealing with,” Johnson said) and Working, a musical on “the plight of working people in the world and what they dealt with,” as Johnson described.

In previous years, the “roaming theater” primarily staged its three annual off-season shows at three venues on the peninsula: Ephraim Village Hall, Third Avenue Playhouse and Sturgeon Bay High School.

Those stages welcomed a range of theatrical talents – from first-time actors to seasoned directors – but also served as a launching pad for some of the county’s best-known actors, including Amy Ensign, Mark Moede and Anne Herring, among others. Johnson estimates upwards of a hundred people had been involved in Isadoora’s 12 seasons (from its inception in 2002 to its final show in 2013).

The board hopes to continue that into its 13th season.

“It’s all about the community, it’s all about having open auditions, it’s all about giving other people an opportunity to direct if they want to direct, get involved in a lot of different things,” Johnson said. “I think we just kind of missed that. I know I did. It’s fun to have some of the thought-provoking, edgy things that look at current issues as well as getting other people involved. Just about every show I had been involved in, there were people who had never been on stage before so it was a lot of fun to be up there with people who had never been on stage. We were all kind of learning the process together.”

The current board includes Edward DiMaio (President), Marcel Bruyere (Vice President), Pamela Johnson (Treasurer), Renée Kujawski (Secretary), and Bill Bauernfeind and Sheila Saperstein, Members-at-Large.

“We’re excited to be back and be a part of this,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of good theater in Door County, both professional as well as community theater, and I think there’s room for all of us here and it’s just a matter of getting involved. We’re looking forward to people who want to act, people who want to try a hand at directing, we’re looking for people who want to get involved in the theater experience; it’s a lot of fun and we’re happy to be part of it again.”

The group’s 2016 season has not yet been announced but they invite people to keep up with them on Facebook.

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