#MeToo theatre panel photo

Four centuries after they were written, the plays of William Shakespeare continue to have tremendous influence in the world of theater. This is particularly true in Madison, where nearby American Players Theatre is one of the country’s most successful classical repertory companies.

Yet classical plays can be problematic, with relationships, treatment of people and circumstances that make contemporary audiences cringe. Artists and audiences alike may be troubled by the sexism, racism and outdated views of sexuality and class embedded in these centuries-old stories.

For this talk, our panel will consider a few of the thorniest issues. How do artists, critics and academics think about the agency of women in a silly farce? How do we decide when and how to handle racial slurs? How do we maintain the integrity of great works of literature when presenting them for a contemporary audience? How do we stage Shakespeare in the age of #MeToo?

The Cap Times has assembled an outstanding group to discuss these questions at Overture Center on Tuesday, July 10. Cap Times arts writer and theater critic Lindsay Christians, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, will moderate the panel, whose members are:

  • Brenda DeVita, artistic director at American Players Theatre, director of this season’s “Born Yesterday”
  • Melisa Pereyra, acting core company member at American Players Theatre, currently playing Rosalind in "As You Like It." This is her sixth season at APT
  • Aparna Dharwadker, professor of English and interdisciplinary theatre studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison (recent seminar: “The 21st Century Restoration”)
  • Kerry Reid, Chicago theater critic at the Chicago Tribune and Windy City Times, among others; executive committee, American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)

The event is free and will start with a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m. in Promenade Hall (second floor) in Overture Center, 201 State St. The discussion itself will start at 6:30, ending after an hour or so.

Members of the leadership of the national ATCA are expected to be in attendance as well because their annual conference is taking place in Spring Green this year and starts the day after the panel talk.

This is the latest installment in the 3-year-old Cap Times Talks discussion series. We hope to see you there. If you plan to go, please RSVP on our Facebook event page, though doing so isn't required to attend.


Editor's note: This story was updated on July 9 to reflect the addition of Melisa Pereyra to the panel in place of Jim DeVita.