As an American, I pride myself on having pierced the Poutine Curtain to bring news of Canada’s theatrical riches to my benighted fellow countrymen. Now I discover that Ilana Lucas, an intrepid reporter for Intermission, a Canadian online magazine devoted to theatre, has made the reverse journey and returned with valuable intelligence.
It seems that, unbeknownst to me, a number of small, professional theatre companies I’ve never heard of on a small peninsula I’ve never heard of in a state I actually have heard of are doing something I’ve become rather passionate about.
Wisconsin is famed for its dairy industry and its residents proudly own the nickname “Cheeseheads,” which to some folks is a bit of a slur. Wisconsin’s Door County occupies most of a slender sliver of land that juts tentatively into Lake Michigan just north northeast of Green Bay and Manitowoc. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, this bucolic, rural area hosts a number of successful theatre companies, most of them professional. Door County is, among other things, a popular destination for summer tourists.
What struck me about Lucas’s report was that most of these companies are doing exactly what I have heaped praise on Huron County’s Blyth Festival for doing – creating theatre that directly reflects the lived experience of the local population.
A perfect example is “Cheeseheads: The Musical,” which has been produced four times by Northern Sky Theatre. That wouldn’t have happened unless the show was a hit with audiences.
There are exceptions to the home-grown rule, of course. One company presents plays by some dead white guy from England. (Yawn.)
But the salient takeaway is that these small Wisconsin theatre companies are thriving by creating their own theatrical culture, albeit with the occasional nod to stuff imported from New York and elsewhere.
Rather than cribbing from her article – unlike the ex-president of Harvard University, I am loath to plagiarize – I’ll let Ilana fill you in on what’s going on in Door County, Wisconsin.
Click here to read Ilana’s article. Trust me, it’s an enlightening read.
Intermission, by the way, is a great source of information for what’s going on in the Canadian theatre scene. Subscribe to Intermission HERE.
And speaking of subscriptions, you can subscribe to OntarioStage HERE.