American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
June 17 – October 9
Batten down your bonnet – Jane Austen returns to the Hill with this soaring romance. All the lovers are here. The get-swept-off-your-feet-in-the-rain type, shoulder to shoulder with the considered, slow-burning dreamers who pine away the days until they will…or they won’t. But look closer, and we see that all the circles are concentric. There’s the complex and unbreakable love between sisters; between mothers and children; husbands and wives – some for better, some for worse. And at the center, a quartet of women who absorb their hardships and come out the other side singing. This one’s sure to get even the most stalwart heart racing – a beautiful, swirling saga about all the ways we love.
THIS PRODUCTION IS FUNDED, IN PART, BY A GENEROUS GIFT FROM THE CONNOR FAMILY.
Featuring Tracy Michelle Arnold, Sarah Day, Ty Fanning, Tim Gittings, Jamal James, Brian Mani, Samantha Newcomb, Nancy Rodriguez, Laura Rook & Marcus Truschinski
When the well-off Henry Dashwood passes away, his estate, by law, goes to his eldest son, John, leaving Henry’s second wife and three daughters – young Margaret, tempestuous Marianne and reserved Elinor – with no home, and little income. Those are high stakes for women in the early 1800s, and the ladies are forced to rely on the kindness of the good-hearted (and gossipy) Middletons. Though times are hard, the sisters meet many new friends along the way, and soon Marianne and Elinor find that, while love is easy enough to fall into, it can be a hard emotion to negotiate when your family and future are on the line. A charming romance from Jane Austen. Originally slated for the 2020 season.
Silly Sensibility at American Players Theatre
Aaron R. Conklin, Madison Magazine, July 25, 2022
I have been a bit of a Janeite since high school; re-reading Austen’s witty, heartrending, and sumptuous novels with frequency, and being swept up in the cinematic re-tellings of these stories again and again. When I began work on this piece in 2019, I was excited to explore the lushness of the romance, the rich expansiveness of the story and the vibrancy of the imagination required
to achieve it. It meant a great deal that APT asked me to return to this piece. Austen’s work belongs to those who love it, and to craft this piece with such brilliant collaborators, who love both the story and the process of bringing this world to life, is joy. And, in returning to the work in 2022, we’ve found more and deeper resonances in Austen’s story.
Sense and Sensibility, like Hamlet, begins with the death of a father. With the loss of this father, the Dashwoods freefall into devastation, chaos and turmoil. With the loss of a head-of-household, the Dashwoods are plunged into a patriarchy without a patriarch. They have no right to their family’s fortune, no right to advocate for themselves, no right to pick up and work. Instead, the Dashwoods must use their resiliency, will, and wit to survive. They must fight not only for their hearts, or their futures, but for their basic agency and autonomy against a system designed to keep them down.
Making this play in the United States in 2022, I find the impact of loss and the life-or-death circumstances for these women to be more proximate to our moment. Whether the profound loss at the beginning of the play or Marianne’s illness in Act 2, life in the wake of loss and life amidst the threat of death is a potent part of this story. Making this play now, I am also inspired by Austen’s portrait of a family whose love gets them through the most trying circumstances. It is deeply moving to watch the Dashwoods contend, clash and celebrate with each other as they navigate how to approach the world with their heads or their hearts. Along the way, we follow so many stories of love—romantic love, platonic love, sisterly love, maternal love; there are so many gorgeous examples of how to deeply care for one another. And it is pure joy to make a play steeped in laughter and celebration right now. It means more that I can say to craft this piece with such brilliant and wonderful collaborators, and it means the world that we now get to share it with you.