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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Readers theater a growing trend in Northeastern Wisconsin

Critic At Large

More plays are performed

Susaan Jamshidi and Chad Luberger read “The Who and the What” on the 2016 season of readers theater of Peninsula Players Theatre. (Company photo)


For a lot of reasons, theater companies in Northeastern Wisconsin are putting on skeleton productions along with their full-blown shows.

The result is an additional variety of plays to experience.

Performances primarily are one night only with actors standing in a bare setting and reading from scripts.

Let loose are characterizations and ideas.

There simply is more theater action to be had.

Here is an overview:

+ For the first time in fall 2019, Door Shakespeare put on readings with flashy casts of William Shakespeare-related plays in Egg Harbor.

Door Shakespeare’s presence is primarily summer. This is an “off-season” reminder of its existence, now 25 years.


+ Peninsula Players Theatre is in its 10th year of presenting a play reading series in Bjorklunden lodge near Baileys Harbor.

The chance to see professional actors perform sometimes brand-new works has gained popularity.

Some plays end up as world premieres on Peninsula Players Theatre’s summer schedule (heading into its 85th year).

The most recent example is 2019’s “A Trick of the Light.”

Link to this winter’s offerings, which start Feb. 3:

+ In Sturgeon Bay, the year-around Third Avenue Playhouse is in its fifth season of its Winter Play Reading Festival featuring notable playwrights.

Again, professional actors take a crack at titles seldom fully staged around here.

Link to this season’s offerings, which start Feb. 1:

+ Thursday, Jan. 23, Theatre Z of greater Green Bay will make a run at “It’s True, It’s True, It’s True,” a sensational saga from Rome of the 1600s. The performance is in Robert Lee Brault Playhouse of Green Bay Community Theater.

The independent Theatre Z also has scheduled a full version of the art-related “It’s True, It’s True, It’s True” in May in an art gallery at St. Norbert College in De Pere.


+ New to the readers theater trend is Green Bay Community Theater.

Details are being worked out for presentations in March and May in the troupe’s historic playhouse.

+ Kind of part of the trend are old-time radio plays put on regularly by the Green Room Lounge Players in De Pere and Radio Madness of Green Bay.

+ In a blending of the styles, today, Sunday, Jan. 19, Kaukauna Community Players Radio Theater is winding up a weekend of performances of the most infamous of all radio plays, “War of the Worlds.”


An interesting thing at these productions is, even without costuming or sets or props, the actors still get into their roles and play off one another like a “regular” play.

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