Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Drama new to the area, ‘The Dig,’ opening next week in Sturgeon Bay

Critic At Large

Third Avenue Playhouse

Marie Kohler is playwright and Alexander Coddington is director of the Third Avenue Playhouse production of “The Dig,” opening June 27. (Third Avenue Playhouse photo)


Third Avenue Playhouse will present its third production of the season starting next week,

Marie Kohler’s “The Dig.”

Performances start with a pay-what-you-can preview at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 26. Regular performances through July 20 follow this schedule starting June 27: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays except July 4; 2 p.m. Sundays; and 7:30 p.m. July 2 and 16. Info: thirdavenueplayouse.com.

The June 27 performance will be followed by a talkback with Marie Kohler and guest director Alexander Coddington.

According to press releases:

Kohler has been in-residence since rehearsals began.

The play is the story of two siblings, Mattie and her brilliant older brother, Jamie. As a lonely girl of 14, Mattie said goodbye to Jamie when he flew across the globe for a career in archaeology. On a dig in Lebanon in 1968, he had a psychological breakdown, transforming him forever. Thirty years later, an international inquiry compels Mattie, now a successful businesswoman, to investigate the provenance of an ancient pot from her brother’s past. Moving between layers of the 1950s, ’60s and ’90s, “The Dig” dramatizes Mattie’s belated realization of her loss – and acceptance of who her brother has become.

“This is the first play I wrote that was not a literary adaptation,” says Kohler. “Though fictionalized, ‘The Dig’ has some personally-felt aspects. My family has experienced mental illness; I have had a long-standing fascination with archaeology; family dynamics and psychology are my perpetual fascinations.”

The cast includes Sturgeon Bay native Karen Moeller (Mattie), Peter Reeves (Jamie), Christopher Sheard (Young Jamie), Eva Nimmer and William Bolz. Though they are all new to the Third Avenue Playhouse stage, these actors have performed in Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago and Pennsylvania.

Third Avenue Playhouse’s presentation will be the second production of “The Dig.”

Marie Kohler thanks Third Avenue Playhouse and the cast and crew.

“(The play’s) subject is not easy,” Kohler says. “The characters are complex. But its story, I believe, holds hope: hope for those who stand outside mental illness to more fully fathom the experiences of all those touched by it – and perhaps, find peace.”

Kohler is a long-time member of the professional Milwaukee theater community. She is resident playwright and a co-founder of Renaissance Theaterworks, where she served as co-artistic director from 1993 to 2012. Raised in Wisconsin, Kohler holds a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University and a master of arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in Milwaukee and Spring Green with her actor husband, Brian Mani.

Coddington previously directed a staged reading of “The Dig” play during Third Avenue Playhouse’s 2018 Winter Play Reading Series. He has also directed projects for Renaissance Theaterworks and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. His assistant directing credits include two seasons at American Players Theatre and for productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Hartford Stage, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Next Act Theatre and UPROOTED Theatre.

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