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Cap Times Talk: How can a classic theater company tell more diverse stories?

Cap Times Talk: How can a classic theater company tell more diverse stories?

Gavin Lawrence as Orsino

Gavin Lawrence plays Orsino in "Twelfth Night," currently running in the Hill Theatre at American Players Theatre.

American Players Theatre started in Spring Green 40 years ago on a foundation of Shakespeare, with some Chekhov and Marlowe for variety. This year the company presents a much more contemporary classic — August Wilson’s “Fences,” written in the early 1980s about a black family in Pittsburgh.

As new APT core company member Gavin Lawrence said, “There’s this idea in the theater that ‘classical’ means ‘white.’” Playwrights of color, Wilson among them, have a classical language and poetry that companies like APT are just starting to explore.

The Cap Times has invited a panel of professional theater artists and educators to discuss how established classic companies can tell more diverse stories on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Madison.

Theater critic Lindsay Christians will moderate the panel, whose members are APT artistic director Brenda DeVita, Gavin Lawrence and David Alan Anderson — who play Gabriel and Troy in “Fences” respectively — and Patrick Sims of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sims founded Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness and is now the university’s deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.

The event is free and will take place 7-8 p.m. in the main sanctuary of the church at 2019 Fisher St.

The talk is the latest installment in the 4-year-old Cap Times Talks discussion series. We hope to see you at this one. If you plan to go, please RSVP on our Facebook event page to give us an idea of how many people will be coming, but doing so is not required for attendance.

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